PNW Adventures: Vancouver Waterfront


I grew up in a town in New Jersey that was 10 minutes from the ocean. Any inch of property with a water view was occupied by homes, beaches, marinas, parks, or restaurants. Since moving to Portland 10 years ago, I’ve always wondered why Portland doesn’t use it’s waterfront better. I may never know the answer, but Vancouver transformed their waterfront into a lovely family-friendly area.  If you haven’t taken the kids to the Vancouver Waterfront lately, go check it out! 

Vancouver WaterfrontWhat you will find is a beautiful space with a wide walkway, perfect for a socially-distant walk with strollers or bikes. Bring the mask along as it can get crowded, especially on weekends and during warm weather.

Other highlights include a sand play area, climbing structure, and viewing platforms.  There isn’t a full playground, but what is available is plenty to keep the kids moving.

Our kids’ favorite is the water zone. The water cascades down a large wall, over steps, and ends in a knee-deep wading pool. It’s architecturally beautiful and tons of fun for the kids. Parents can sit on nearby benches while watching the kids run, jump, splash and giggle with excitement. The view of the Columbia is not necessarily something to write home about, but the bridges and water make for a cool backdrop.

Nearby Food and Drink

If hunger strikes, there are many eateries with outside seating. One great option a walk-up fish and chips window that also has soft-serve ice cream. There are a few wineries open now, most of which also have outdoor seating with ample space for physical distancing. Parking is on the street or in free lots.

Further Exploration

If you still have time left in your day, you can wander along the waterfront on a long walkway under I-5 and watch boats go by. There is a nice beach area to the east of I-5. This one definitely fills up fast on the weekends and on hot days. We were lucky and snagged a spot with plenty of space on a weekday.

Standard COVID advice still applies: bring masks, hand sanitizer, snacks, water, wipes and a portable potty. There are public restrooms at the renovated area of the Vancouver Waterfront, though it’s worth double-checking to see if they are open, as that situation changes. Most of the restaurants have restrooms for customers only.

If you are looking for a place to escape the heat, grab a bite, and get the legs moving, the Vancouver waterfront is an excellent option.