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Spring Break Activities in Vancouver

26 of the hottest places to entertain tots, tykes and teens this month

By Sheri Radford

Bill Reid's sculpture outside the Vancouver Aquarium. Photo by KK Law

1) Richmond Olympic Oval
From Mar. 12 to 23, kids aged six to 15 participate in week-long camps in everything from hockey to badminton to volleyball—and explore this stunning building, which was built for the 2010 Winter Games.

2) Maplewood Farm
Animal lovers and future farmers go behind the scenes to groom farm animals, collect and wash eggs from chickens, set up feed and prepare animal bedding, Mar. 20 and 24.

3) Bloedel Conservatory
This triodetic dome atop Queen Elizabeth Park overflows with exotic plants, flowers, fish and birds from around the world. On a grey and rainy day, entering the conservatory feels like flying off on a tropical vacation.

4) Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
In the heart of Chinatown, kids learn about some of ancient China’s amazing inventions and innovations, such as paper-making, flying lanterns and kites, fire arrows, tea and tai chi, Mar. 19 to 23.

5) Vancouver Aquarium
Young humans meet hundreds of young animals in the Babies exhibit, running Mar. 9 to May 6, which includes tiny and unusual babies such as jellyfish, stingrays, clownfish, seahorses, wolf eels and dart frogs. Experience the animated movie Happy Feet as never before, complete with 4-D multi-sensory effects.

6) Minoru Aquatic Centre
Avid swimmers make a splash in the five pools, then relax in the two whirlpools and sauna.

7) Vancouver Art Gallery
Fun hands-on activities let eager young artists look, make, create and explore from Mar. 12 to 25.

Bloedel Conservatory. Photo by KK Law

8) Burnaby Village Museum
The spring break scavenger hunt brings puppets and pageantry to the museum from Mar. 19 to 25. Work on crafts, ride on the carousel, then sample sweet treats in the ice cream parlour.

9) Bookstores
Junior bookworms and bibliophiles spend hours browsing in Kidsbooks and the expanded kids’ section at Chapters/Indigo, looking for their next great read.

10) Capilano Suspension Bridge
Thrill-seekers adore the 137-m- (450-ft-) long bridge suspended high above the Capilano River. The newest eco-friendly attraction, Cliffwalk, offers sweeping views—and one heck of an adrenaline rush—from the suspended stairs, bridges, walkways and glass-bottomed decks.

11) Watermania
Water babies splish and splash in the wave pool and on the waterslides, while parents head to the competition pool, whirlpools, steam room and sauna. Good luck getting kids to leave the colourful new play structure, with its interactive sprayers, water wheels, tot slide and giant animated seahorse, clown fish and octopus.

12) A Year with Frog and Toad
For kids aged three and up comes this tale of cheerful Frog and grumpy Toad, based on Arnold Lobel’s beloved children’s books and running Mar. 3 to Apr. 8 at the Waterfront Theatre.

13) Kids Market
A tiny tot’s allowance disappears quickly in this popular spot on Granville Island, spent on magic cards, Lego blocks, kites, costumes, games and puppets.

Kidsbooks photo by KK Law

14) Stanley Park
Nature-loving kids are drawn to this 400-ha (1,000-acre) park, with its many beaches, playgrounds, horse-drawn carriage rides and abundance of cute critters, including squirrels, raccoons and geese—but keep an eye out for wayward skunks. Around the outside of the park winds the picturesque seawall, ideal for strolling, running, blading or biking.

15) Science World
Medieval Mayhem fills the geodesic dome with medieval-themed make-and-take activities from Mar. 12 to 23: create a crown, learn about plant-based remedies formerly believed to ward off plagues, and build a catapult using household items. Lego fanatics can’t resist the Lego Castle Adventure exhibit, on until May 20. Adults and kids all feel tiny compared to the creatures in the Extreme Dinosaurs exhibit, on until Apr. 1. Arabia and Rocky Mountain Express play on the giant OMNIMAX screen.

16) Vancouver Maritime Museum
Small sailors and little landlubbers alike enjoy all the hands-on activities in the Children’s Maritime Discovery Centre, taking the controls of a full-sized replica of a tugboat’s wheelhouse, seeing the port of Vancouver through a telescope and searching for precious treasures in the Discovery Wall.

17) Britannia Mine Museum
From Mar. 10 to 25, inquisitive kids do hands-on activities related to the Stolen Lives: Remembering the Japanese Canadian Internment exhibit.

18) Make
This fun shop on Granville Island keeps creative kids busy with free scarf-making workshops and half-price button- and t-shirt-making during spring break. Check www.makevancouver.com for specific dates and times.

19) Vancouver Police Museum
The CSI investigators of tomorrow spend hours examining exhibits of counterfeit money, confiscated weapons, burglar kits and autopsy tools. Forensics workshops are ideal for kids with an interest in the science of police work.

Kids Market photo by KK Law

20) Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Young bird watchers and aspiring ornithologists discover a bonanza of birds through hands-on activities with real bird specimens, tours, puppet shows, storytime, scavenger hunts and crafts.

21) Museum of Vancouver
Kids travel back in time, playing with toys from the 1930s, wandering through the 1950s gallery, and trying on clothes from the 1960s and ’70s. The Neon Vancouver/Ugly Vancouver exhibit shows what the city looked like half a century ago.

22) Vancouver Lookout
From one of the tallest buildings in Vancouver, both kids and adults marvel at 360-degree views of the city.

23) H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
Future astronauts and budding scientists explore the mysteries of the cosmos. From Mar. 10 to 25, themed weekdays range from Martians to black holes to life on other moons.

24) Vancouver Public Library
During the Spring Break Film Fest at the library’s central location, school-aged kids enjoy daily films Mar. 12 to 15 and 19 to 22. Teens get their own films Mar. 16 and 23. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Shamrock Shenanigans! takes over the library Mar. 17.

25) Grouse Mountain
Snow bunnies aged seven to 14 become skilled skiers and snowboarders during five-day camps offered Mar. 9 to 23, while kids 10 to 16 learn to ski and ride steep runs, tree lines and terrain parks. All ages enjoy sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ice skating, ziplining and taking in spectacular views from atop the Eye of the Wind turbine.

26) BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
Throughout March, future hall-of-famers play bubble hockey and try indoor rock climbing in the Participation Zone, receive a guided tour of the new Hall of Champions and relive Olympic memories in the Vancouver 2010 Gallery. A trivia challenge and daily free family membership draw round out the two-hour group visit, which must be booked in advance.

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