Wondering what to do in Vancouver for some family fun? Have you been to the River Market in New Westminster lately? A few years ago the New West Quay was, well, let’s just say past its prime. However, since 2010 the River Market has undergone a major shift. Gone are the cheap fast food restaurants and tacky souvenir shops of the 1990s. Today, the revitalized River Market is all about fresh, local food and fun. It’s a great place to eat out with Wild Rice, Re-Up BBQ, Wally’s Burgers and Crepe des Amis opening up. If you just need groceries, there’s Donald’s Market and Pamola Bakery. While you’re there, take a peek at the fun stuff happening on the second floor in the Vancouver Circus School.
What to do in Vancouver with Kids
Since the revamp, River Market has made it a priority to appeal to everyone — kids in particular. They have recently started a number of fun programs like the River Critter Kids Club, a membership program that encourages children to explore their culinary, artistic, musical and physical talents. There are tons of fun activities for kids from a year old right up to age 12. Members receive a T-shirt, monthly special offers with vendors, pre-registration to classes, VIP Tickets to a twice annual River Critters Party, plus birthday deals. Memberships are $15 and $10 for the second child in the household.
For parents who are free weekdays and wondering what to do in Vancouver to keep their wee ones busy and happy, River Market offers free Kids Programming Mornings. River Critters Baking Class for ages one to five happens every Tuesday from 10:00 to 11:00 am in the Food Hall. I brought my almost-two-year-old and he had a ball rolling and cutting sugar cookies then decorating cupcakes from Pamola Bakery. Every second Thursday from 10:30 to 11:30 am dance instructor Lana Friesen shakes up the Food Hall with River Critters Groovin’ Children, for ages one to five. Kids can learn some fancy dance moves–parents are welcome and encouraged to join too.
Something for all Ages
If your kids are school age, there are Kids Programming Afternoons for ages six and up from 3:30 to 4:30 on Tuesdays. For these free activities, parent participation is not necessary, though they ask that you stay on the premises and enjoy the services that River Market has to offer. Yes, you read that right: one hour of time to yourself, and it’s free! If you’re wondering what to do in Vancouver that everyone in your family will enjoy, this is a winner for sure. Space is limited, register in advance to participate.
June workshops include activities like soap making, where kids will make their own handcrafted aromatherapy soaps to take home. In culinary class, kids will make fresh pasta in various shapes and take some home to cook for dinner. There will be dance lessons to show your kids how to move to Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz or Tap. In July kids can build a terrarium, creating their very own little ecosystems in a bowl with rocks, soil, moss and plants.
Summer Camps and More at River Market
Wondering what to do in Vancouver with older kids? If you have children aged nine through twelve, you may want to check out River Market’s Junior Reporters Summer Camp Program this year where kids can write and produce a Food and Fun 360 Magazine. The camp is led by an experienced teacher who will help keep it fun with games and magazine themed workshops. Weekly camp dates are July 16th to Aug 10th. Camp fees are $235 per child plus HST.
Contact [email protected] for more information and to register for programs. The River Market is easily accessible on transit—New Westminster Station is just steps away—or if you drive, remember that you can get $1.50 back for parking if you spend $15 at Donald’s Market.
Lisa Corriveau is our East Side Contributor. When not writing, she can often be found at the park chasing her little boy, sewing clothing, cycling, reading just about anything, performing on stilts, eating chocolate or drinking craft beer. (Sometimes several of the above simultaneously.) Lisa lives car-free in East Van, with toddler, husband and a few bikes. You can also find her on her blog, The Sprog.