Vancouver – Family Activities and Olympics

People may regard the Olympic Games as family fare, but it is certainly not for young children. It’s much better for children to have the option to watch it on TV than to be asked to brave the crowds, cold / heat and long distances to bathrooms and maybe standing-only areas to observe.

And when the parents in the local host city, along with Olympic visitor parents, want a respite and a chance to meet other children, then what?

Shamefully, this year’s organizing committee made very few family options, and other countries which established pavilions have not catered to the needs of parents, either. Some of the waits are 2 – 4 hours to get inside these pavilions. That’s insane.

At Expo ’86 in Vancouver, we had a young child and an elderly handicapped person, so I found out what the rules were, and we were accommodated more times than not. Here, that seems to be lacking.

The Vancouver Sun published an article to help parents with information on fun things for kids to do in Vancouver which are free and almost without waiting lines. Vancouver Olympics Family Activity Choices.

Of the ones mentioned, I like the:

  • Olympic Streetcar – Olympic Village Canada Line station to Granville Island. Be sure to have fun at Granville Island Market.
  • Royal Canadian Mint pavilion – Unlike the 3 – 4 hour wait to see what real Olympic medals look like, the rest of the pavilion has some interactive exhibits for kids on the main floor. And on the second floor, you can pick up one of the least expensive souvenirs of the Games: a commemorative Olympic quarter. Their price: 25 cents, of course! What a deal, no mark-up. The Mint will even throw in a free cardboard sleeve to collect all the different coins in the series (they only hand out one kind of quarter each day).
  • On Granville Street, the Lunar Fest sculpture garden is between Georgia and Robson – doubling up on Chinese Lunar New Year. There are a number of cool public-art sculptures, including lantern trees and shapes of different athletic events. Obviously, this makes for lots of cool photo opportunities and neat stuff to see. LunarFest
  • Near the front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, there’s a handful of cool things to see just north of the VAG (off Georgia between Hornby and Howe). The Olympic clock is there, as is a bobsled which you can have your photo taken in (while this sometimes has a lineup, it’s rarely very long). Then, wonderfully, on the east end of the plaza there’s also a spot where you can watch First Nations native totem pole carvers at work. That’s a treasured part of Canada and the art is SO beautiful. See more completed totem poles at the University of British Columbia and First Nation artwork in the museum there, too.
  • The Aboriginal Pavilion store is where you can meet members of the Four Host First Nations without a line. Their formal pavilion is at Georgia and Hamilton, but like all pavilions, it often has a crazy long lineup to get in. However, the adjoining store usually does not.

    The Four Hosts First Nations’ store features a special line of Olympic T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies with have distinctive aboriginal patterns and designs. A portion of their sales goes to Aboriginal youth programs, so while everyone else lines up for “official” Olympic and Team Canada gear at The Hudson’s Bay store a few blocks away, you can go here instead. By doing so, you’ll do social good, meet First Nation members and go home with something distinctly Olympic that doesn’t look like what everyone else is wearing!

    I did this at Expo ’86 and people still comment on those art and souvenir First Nation treasures they see in my home.

    First Nations Hosts Pavilion – Vancouver Olympics

  • Enjoy!

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