Five cheap ways to enjoy summer family fun in Vancouver

A bargain 'staycation' is a chance to see it all as a tourist in your own town.

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Cyquabus, the bicycle-friendly aquabus at Granville IslandBike on, bike off the Cyquabus to cover a lot of the city's cycling paths in one day.

3. See Vancouver by sea

Looking for a unique perspective of the city you live in? Go on a tour or buy an all-day “hop on, hop off” pass with False Creek Ferries and explore areas from the West End to Olympic Village to Vanier Park, with possible stops in between. This is a fun way to visit several museums, parks and Granville Island.

Set tours start at $4.50/children; $7.50/adults while flexible, all-day tickets are $11/children; $14/adults.

St. Roch, Maritime Museum, Kits Point, VancouverThe city's Maritime Museum at Vanier Park is more intriguing than one might assume.

4. Be a tourist for a bargain

Much like rent prices, Vancouver attractions can sometimes feel unaffordable. Luckily, several museums across the city offer discounted or “by donation” times. Visit their websites for more information and event updates. 

Vancouver Maritime Museum: By donation every Thursday evening from 5-8 p.m. Also, admission is free on Canada Day from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and the museum will be hosting several special events to celebrate.

Museum of Vancouver: By donation on the last Thursday evening of the month from 5-8 p.m.

HR MacMillan Space Centre: While the observatory typically opens late in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays, it is always by donation when it does. Additional shows and daytime admission require purchase of tickets, however.

Vancouver Art Gallery: By donation every Tuesday evening from 5-9 p.m.

Burnaby Village Museum: Gate admission is always free.

5. Get Out and Away

Sometimes the best way to celebrate summer is to get out and away from the city. While an extended family vacation sounds idyllic, it’s not always feasible or budget-friendly.

Plan a day trip 

Luckily, Vancouver is close to several beautiful locations for a relaxing day trip that the whole family can enjoy. Head to the North Shore and spend the day at Lynn Canyon where you can cross the free suspension bridge, visit the ecology centre by donation or swim in freshwater pools by the river.

The village of Steveston is also accessible by public transit from Vancouver and offers seaside shops, an historic cannery, shipyard and beautiful walking trails.

Plan a camping trip

If you have two or three days to spare, picturesque campgrounds are as close as 90 minutes away. While most require a reservation months in advance, British Columbia Magazine has compiled a list of free, first-come, first-serve campsites. Don’t have camping gear for the family? For as low as $18/day, you can rent a tent from Mountain Equipment Co-Op. They also offer sleeping bags and cooking supplies, but recommend reserving early as availability is limited.

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