There is no shortage of amazing Vancouver beaches for kids. Located on the beautiful West Coast of Canada, Vancouver is home to a plethora of marine beaches. It’s proximity to many beautiful lakes & rivers means that there are also stunning fresh water beaches just a short drive out of the city.
As a family of 5 living in Vancouver with three young kids, we spend many days at the beach. In fact, we typically head to a beach to play at least once every week. One of our favourite things to do is to pick a new beach on the map and take an adventure to check it out. Needless to say, we have visited MANY Vancouver beaches with kids.
So what makes a family friendly beach in Vancouver? To decide if a beach is good for little kids, we look for a few things. First, we usually like to pick beaches that are sandy. Rocky beaches are definitely fun for exploration. But, if we’re looking to spend the day swimming & playing at a beach, soft sand is a must. Second, we also look for amenities like bathrooms, food and playgrounds. All of the beaches on our list have public bathrooms (or at least outhouses) very close to the beach. And, almost all of them also have a playground alongside the beach! Lastly, we look for extra fun features like proximity to easy walks/hikes or swimming pools.
After sifting through many possibilities, we’ve come up with a list of our favourite beaches for kids in Vancouver, BC. These are all beaches that we have personally visited and would recommend to our own friends & family. Check it out!
Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver
When it comes to Vancouver’s best beaches for kids, Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver is one of our all time faves. The beach itself is made up of beautiful soft sand. There are public bathrooms right beside the beach. And The Boatshed Restaurant, which is located right alongside the beach in Ambleside Park, serves up delicious food, hot drinks & cold treats. It also has a beautiful beachfront patio.
But what really sets Ambleside apart as one of the best Vancouver beaches for kids are all of the other amenities right within the park. First, there are ample opportunities for spotting wildlife. We have seen seals, starfish, oysters, crabs & herons regularly on the beach. There is also a beautiful duck pond with a short, stroller friendly path. In the Spring, the pond is often occupied by many species of nesting birds. We have seen many baby ducks & baby swans here! In addition to spotting wildlife, Ambleside is a great place to watch the huge ships coming and going from Burrard Inlet. There is also a huge playground, a long, paved pathway for walking & a farmer’s market every Sunday from May through October.
Second Beach, Stanley Park, Vancouver
Second Beach in Stanley Park is a great spot to spend a day with kids, right in the city. The beach has a large sandy section. There are also rocky sections of the beach that are fun to explore, especially when the tide is out. In the summer, there is a lifeguard on duty.
Alongside the beach you can find bathrooms, a playground and a concession stand. Another huge attraction is the large outdoor swimming pool that is located right beside the beach! The pool has a beach style entry into the shallow end, a cute toddler slide in the shape of a seal and a slightly larger slide in the deep end for the bigger kids. There are also great views out over English Bay!
It’s location in Stanley Park also means that Second Beach is right along the Sea Wall where you can take a gorgeous stroller friendly walk or bike ride! There are also many other trails within the Stanley Park forests. An easy, yet interesting, walk for toddlers within the park is the Beaver Lake Trail. Stanley Park also has a splash pad and a cute little train that takes you on a ride through the forest!
Centennial Beach, Delta/Tsawwassen
Centennial Beach in Delta is a beautiful soft sandy beach with great amenities. When the tide is out, the tidal flats make a great place to search for treasures like shells & tiny sea creatures. The beach is also very close to the parking lot & there are few barriers to reaching the beach, making it a reasonably stroller-friendly option. Right beside the beach, there is a huge accessible playground. There are also bathrooms & a concession stand. The beach is located within Boundary Bay Regional Park, which also has beautiful trails for walking and biking.
Parking at the beach is limited, but during the peak summer season there is also a shuttle available from South Delta Recreation Centre. The shuttles run every half hour beginning at noon.
Crescent Beach, South Surrey
Crescent Beach is a popular spot among South Surrey & White Rock locals. The beach itself is sandy & in the summer months there is a designated swimming area with a lifeguard. There is a packed gravel path running the length of the beach & more walking trails are available in the Blackie Spit natural/wetland area, which is located at the north end of Crescent Beach. Bathrooms are located at the Beecher Street entrance & at the parking lot located beside the Crescent Beach Swimming Club.
The surrounding neighbourhood has a beachy community vibe. There are plenty of great little cafes and restaurants to grab lunch, a coffee or ice cream. While there is not playground located directly at the beach, the very cute Alexandra Tot Lot is located just a couple of blocks from the beach (at Sullivan Street & Kidd Rd).
Parking can be a struggle in the busy summer months so go early to avoid frustration!
Rolley Lake, located about an hour and 15 minutes outside Vancouver in Mission, BC, is a great beach for families. The beach is sandy and the water is reasonably warm. There is a roped off swimming area that is mostly shallow (though it does drop off closer to the rope so be sure to keep a close eye on the kids!) Beside the beach is a grassy area with some large trees, which provide shady spots to set up a picnic. There is also great family-friendly trails around the lake that lead to a waterfall!
In comparison to some of the other beaches on our list, there are fewer amenities at Rolley Lake, but honestly, we think this adds to its charm (and also what makes it slightly less busy than some other lake beaches in the area)! There are no flush toilets at the beach, just a few outhouses. There is also no playground and nowhere to buy food within the park, so you’ll need to pack in your own picnic. If the lack of amenities is not an issue for you, then this is a great beach to spend the day with kids.
Harrison Lake, Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Lake is quite a bit further from Vancouver than some of the other beaches on our list, but well worth the drive in our opinion!! Located in the touristy resort town of Harrison Hot Springs, the beach is about 130 km from Vancouver and it takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to reach it, depending on traffic.
If you’re willing to make the drive, you’ll find a beautiful white sandy beach located on a large lake. Because Harrison Lake is quite large and glacier fed, it can be cold. But, there is a human-made lagoon on the beach, separated from the lake by a sand bar. The lagoon was built to provide a more safe, warm swimming hole. Alongside the lagoon, there is a great playground with big kid & little kid structures as well as lots of swings. And the best part is that you don’t need to leave the beach to access it as it is set right in the sand!!
The surrounding community of Harrison Hot Springs is very touristy and provides plenty of restaurants & shops to explore. If Harrison Lake seems a bit far for a day trip there are plenty of accommodations available in the area, including the Harrison Hot Springs resort where you have access to the beautiful hot pools!
Lost Lake, Whistler
Like Harrison Lake, Lost Lake in Whistler is also a bit of a drive outside of Vancouver, but trust us, it is SO worth it. Lost Lake beach, located within Lost Lake Park is about 125 km from Vancouver and it takes approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to drive there. BUT, the drive along the Sea to Sky highway is stunning. And, once you reach Whistler, you’ll find a true gem.
Lost Lake beach has the most magical summer vibes. There are stunning views of the mountains surrounding the lake, a beautiful sandy beach, grassy area for setting up a picnic, and docks out in the middle of the lake that kids love to swim to and jump off! If that’s not enough, there is also a stroller friendly loop trail around the lake, bathrooms and a concession stand (note that the concession was not open last we were there due to Covid so plan to bring your own food, just in case).
One drawback to Lost Lake is that there is not parking available at the beach during the summer months. The parking lot is restricted to a 5 minute drop off zone so you’ll need to arrange another way to reach the lake. There are shuttles that run from Whistler Village, however, our favourite way to reach the beach is by parking in the municipal Lot 5 and walking or biking the approximately 1.5 km stroller-friendly path to the lake.
Know of other great Vancouver beaches for kids?! We would love to hear from you!