Vancouver Weekend: We're Thinking....Rainy Day Field Trips

    1 of 5 2 of 5

      Need something to do this weekend? Here are five places to check out when you don't want any contact with rain.

      Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way

      It’s raining the whole weekend (what else is new?), and you want to partake in a fun indoor activity where you can stay dry? Simple—just make your way to an attraction that holds 9.5 million litres of water, also known as the Vancouver Aquarium. Delighting visitors young and old, the energetic belugas, hand-holding sea otters, and waddling African penguins are always crowd-pleasers and continue to fascinate guests even after their third or fifth visit. After checking out Canada’s Arctic exhibit, make your way through the Amazon gallery and then the tropics for a toastier experience. If you see people craning their necks upward in the Amazon area, it’s because they’re looking for the sloth. It’s hidden up there somewhere, so consider it a game of “I Spy” with the kids. When it’s time for lunch or a midday snack, head over to one of the aquarium’s two cafés for some tasty drinks and bites. After filling up on grub, maybe catch a show or two that features dolphins and porpoises, among other species. You can’t leave the grounds of the nonprofit conservation organization without experiencing its high-tech 4D show—it’s like watching a movie that also involves smell and touch. If you happen to see a whale splash the kayakers on-screen, be prepared to get a few drops of water on your face. Yes, we know that you wanted to stay dry, but did you really expect to not to come in contact with water at the aquarium?

      One of the Bharti Kher exhibit installations at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
      Maegan Hill-Carroll/Vancouver Art Gallery

      Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby Street

      If it's been a while since you spent an afternoon at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is celebrating its 85th birthday this very week, the first thing that will hit you is the quiet. As you come in from the beeping horns and pelting rain on the downtown streets, the sweet, sweet silence first hits you, then envelops you. Once you get over/past that shock, you can lazily wander up through the former courthouse's historic rotunda and into exhibition rooms that invite the kind of contemplation you won't ever get from your TV set or smartphone. Peruse the programming if you want, but we like stumbling on surprises and unexpected names--the exact rewards that come from the current Bharti Kher exhibit, Matter, now on view: think room-filling installations with antler-and-twig-sprouting female forms that pose many questions about gender. In one room, you'll come across a row of naked, elderly female forms, lined up, life-size, on chairs—an installation that pretty much forces you to confront your society's derogatory notions of aging. You can also escape into the otherworldly, shadowy photographs of caverns in NEXT: Stephen Waddell. A survey of funky Superflat culture, germinated in Japan, hits the facility in November—proof the 85-year-old landmark isn't afraid to mix it up. If you've got a few hours, fork out for a gourmet lunch—delicious fresh salads and artful sandwiches—in the atmospheric gallery cafe. Then book a free tour (yes, free!) of one the shows to really get your art on. Don't forget that the VAG hosts free family activities every Sunday, including hands-on art making for kids with their parents. And make sure to check out the bold architectural model of the new Vancouver Art Gallery before you leave, and think about how many more rainy days you can spend exploring that massive landmark when it finally gets built.

      Science World's new Zoom Into Nano exhibit is engaging, informative, and indoors.
      Amanda Siebert

      Science World at Telus World of Science, 1455 Quebec Street

      Did you know that the human nose is so sensitive that it requires as few as 40 odour molecules to detect scent? Or that one grain of sand is approximately 1,000,000 nanometers wide? Well, you would if you checked out Zoom Into Nano, the latest exhibit to be the field trip of choice (rainy-day or otherwise) for elementary schools across the Lower Mainland. Once again proving that Science World ain’t just for tots, the museum offers curious visitors a close look at a world invisible to the naked eye, from now until January 2. Ever wonder what atoms look like when magnified 100 million times? Or what walking through a chamber of giant silicone molecules feels like? Or maybe you’re just interested in peeping through a super- strong microscope to see the tiny structures in action. Not to worry, champ: the installation has got you covered. Walk away with a slight boost in IQ, then stroll around the seawall to Tap & Barrel—for an indoor seat if the rain persists—and wax poetic about the beauty of nanoscience over a couple of beers.

      Richmond Oval offers everything you need to keep fit, while keeping you dry (from the rain at least).
      Richmond Oval

      Richmond Oval, 6111 River Road, Richmond

      Assuming your idea of a good time isn't a Mumbai bicycle tour during monsoon season, the problem with the rain is that it interferes with one's exercise schedule. Normally, there's nothing we look forward to more than taking to the field Trout Lake for a baseball triple-header. Or a best-of- 13-sets tennis match at Queen Elizabeth Park. Or a three-times-around-the-seawall speedwalking session. For those to whom exercise is as essential as PowerBars and Gatorade, few places in the Lower Mainland match the array of options at the Richmond Oval. Built as a speed-skating rink for the Vancouver-hosted 2010 Winter Olympics, the massive sports complex has been reconfigured as a multipurpose facility. Strap on the blades for drop-in figure skating, speed skating, stick-and-puck, or hockey. Warm up for the Toronto Blue Jays’ next thrashing of the Texas Rangers in the on-site batting cages, which come complete with automatic ball retrieval. Make like summer at Kits Beach never ended with a drop-in game of beach volleyball, or save yourself a visit to the Stawamus Chief by tackling the Oval climbing wall. There's also open-court  basketball, drop-in wheelchair rugby, table tennis, yoga, row after row of exercise machines, and, well, you get the idea. At some point this rainy weekend, you're going to end up sitting on the couch with a bowl of Halloween-themed Bag of Bones Cheetos. The least you can do is earn it.

      Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun speaking about his work in the Audain Gallery at the Museum of Anthropology. 
      Amanda Siebert

      Museum of Anthropology at UBC, 6393 NW Marine Drive

      If, like us, you’re a shameless history buff, the urge to curl up on the couch on a miserable day with a documentary can be irresistible. But why watch history when you can experience it? Brave the drive out to UBC and visit the Museum of Anthropology, where you’ll find one of the finest collections of historical artwork in the province. With a primary focus on First Nations art, the museum offers a look at British Columbia’s history through the eyes of its first peoples. Viewing these century-old carvings, totems, and regalia on the backdrop of old growth trees—visible through floor-to-ceiling windows in the museum’s main hall—reinforces the beauty of not only the art, but the circumstances in which it was created. Rotating exhibits in the museum’s Audain Gallery—like First Nations artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s Unceded Territories installation—make for the perfect blend of history and commentary. With just 10 days left until the renowned exhibit comes to a close, a wet weekend like the one coming up is the perfect opportunity to head down to MOA.

      Running every Thursday, Vancouver Weekend spotlights five Straight-approved places around the city worth discovering.