One of our favorite road trips from the Thompson/Okanagan is to Vancouver with kids. It is an easy three-hour drive, and with one 20-minute stop to charge at a Tesla Supercharging Station along the way, it makes for the start of a fun adventure for our family.
Both Andrew and I used to live in Vancouver for many years, so we have lots of friends and family to visit while we are there, but sometimes it is just fun to stay in our favorite hotel and be tourists for a couple of days.
We had our Tesla packed and ready to go, and we left our home at 8 am to head to Vancouver with the kids. When we first bought our Tesla we were shocked at how much we could pack in it! It can hold so much more than any other seven seat vehicle and costs only a fraction to power it.
Charging Stop in Hope, BC
The surprising thing about making road trips in our Tesla is how much more we enjoy the actual drive since we always have a planned stop when we have to charge.
There is no more snacking in the car as we eat while the Tesla is charging, and it forces us to get out and walk around instead of just grabbing food on the go.
The charging station in Hope is 90 minutes outside of Vancouver and it breaks up the drive nicely. This time we headed to Artisans Attic to get some gelato and enjoyed it at the park across the street while we waited.
It usually takes 20-25 minutes to charge our Tesla at the supercharging station, and it is a perfect amount of time to stretch our legs and get some fresh air.
First Stop: Canada Place, Downtown Vancouver
After another ninety minutes in the car, we arrived in Vancouver with the kids by noon. We had planned to take our boys around the city and pretend we were tourists, as we rarely have the opportunity when we normally visit friends and family.
Our first stop was Canada Place on the waterfront, right in downtown Vancouver. It was also the location of my favorite hotel in the city, The Pan Pacific Hotel, but we didn’t want to check in so early, so we walked along the waterfront to Coal Harbour.
If you are in Vancouver with kids for the first time, a great place to start is at Tourism Vancouver’s visitor center, which is across the street at 200 Burrard St.
They will often have coupon books for you to use during your stay and can suggest personalized activities for your family that will fit in with your itinerary.
I was lucky to take in many events during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and I will always remember where I was when we won our first Olympic gold of the games.
And, of course, all Canadians will remember when Sydney Crosby scored to win Olympic Gold in men’s hockey! Visiting the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver always brings back so many memories.
Walking Along the Waterfront to Coal Harbour
If you haven’t explored downtown Vancouver with kids, you must take a stroll along the waterfront to Coal Harbour. There is a playground right next to the marina and lots of benches to sit on and look at all the beautiful yachts.
Our boys have always been fascinated with boats, and wherever we are in the world, if we find a marina, we will sit there and watch the comings and goings of boating life.
Watching the seaplanes land and take off in the harbor is always a sight to see. We have taken a few flights on seaplanes, and it is quite an experience landing on the water!
Geocaching is a fun family activity that we have recently discovered, and doing it while traveling takes it to a whole new level. It is a fantastic way to explore a city, and while geocaching has been a thing for many years, we are newbies at it but are completely hooked.
Normally we would have brought our bikes and biked along the seawall through Stanley Park, but we also wanted to hit the beach in Kitsilano.
We made our way back to check into the Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver, which I like to stay at when we don’t stay with friends in the city. I used to work at this hotel, so I know it well and love returning as a guest.
After a swift check-in, we dropped our bags and headed right back out to hit the beach. Andrew and I both lived in Kitsilano, and the beach was one of our local hangouts and had beautiful restaurants right on the beach.
The Boathouse Restaurant in Kitsilano offers spectacular views and a great atmosphere for lunch or dinner.
My sons love the beach. They love playing in the sand, building sandcastles or walls, and playing in the waves. Andrew and I are always content to sit back and relax while they play, and it’s easy to do at Kitsilano Beach with the stunning views of the city all around.
Kitsilano Beach is a gem in Vancouver. If we weren’t heading to dinner with friends, we would have packed a picnic and had it on the grass in the sunshine.
There is also an outdoor swimming pool right on the ocean that opens during the warmer summer months, which was always a favorite when we lived a few blocks away.
Ambleside Beach West Vancouver
The next morning we had a lazy start to the day, hopped in the car, and drove across the Lions Gate Bridge to West Vancouver. Our destination was Ambleside Beach, and we planned to have a picnic brunch and spend a few hours at the beach.
The streets in West Vancouver by Ambleside are lined with restaurants and cafes, and cute little shops, so we had endless options for our picnic. First priority was coffee!
My son had a Zoom call with his class, and it was a perfect setting to do it on the beach. Sometimes you need to take school work outside and change it up for the sanity of both parents and kids.
Vancouver is glorious in the sunshine. It does rain a lot throughout the year, but when the sun shines, it is easy to forget about the rain and bask in the sun. After a few hours of watching the kids play in the sand and finishing up our picnic, it was time to get back in the car and start the drive home.
Twenty-four hours in Vancouver with kids is not nearly enough time to explore this beautiful Canadian city. Here is a list of other popular activities that we recommend for families:
- Stanley Park
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Granville Island
- Kids Market
- Aqua Bus
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Science World
- Grouse Mountain
- Museum of Anthropology
- Greenheart Tree Walk
- Playland Amusement Park (May until Labour Day)
- Vancouver Canucks NHL Hockey Game
We discovered on our drive to Vancouver that there was a new Tesla Supercharging Station that was installed in Abbotsford, which is just an hour outside of Vancouver. We normally stop in Hope to charge our Tesla, but we decided to check out the new station on our way home.
We were disappointed to find out that the Tesla charging station was in an underground parking lot. The benefit was that it was located next to Walmart, so we could use the bathroom and pick up a few snacks, but we missed walking to a playground like we usually do at the Tesla charging station in Hope.
All in all, it was a wonderful road trip even though it was short and sweet. Sometimes spontaneous trips are the best kind, and having glorious sunshine is always a perk when visiting Vancouver with kids.
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.
You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.