Vancouver’s most famous urban space, the thousand-acre Stanley Park, epitomizes everything that locals here love about the outdoors, and visitors have many ways to explore the expansive grounds. Hiking trails weave around totem poles and hemlock trees, while at the beaches, you can swim, people-watch and picnic. Rent a bike or a pair of in-line skates for a scenic ride along the Seawall, or wander through the many gardens where rhododendrons, azaleas and roses bloom.
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Stanley Park: One of the Best Parks in North America
My personal joke after visiting Stanley Park is that it's like Central Park in NYC but on crack. Stanley Park is much more spacious, with amazing views along 22 km of the seawall. It's difficult not to want to spend the whole day here. You can walk here, but to get the most out of the park, I highly recommend a bike ride to see more.
Grab a bike rental near Canada Place (make sure you have a credit card upon rental) and bike past the marina over to the park. A good ride overview of the park will last 2 hours, but I highly recommend taking at least 4 hours if you have the time. Bring some water and a snack!
Highlights include Coal Harbour and the Totem Poles. I got lost quite a bit, so I highly recommend having a map with you. This park's active lifestyle is so close to the downtown core. It's quite incredible to have that access.
If the image that comes to mind when you think of a city park is the carefully designed works of the landscape architects behind, say, New York's Central Park or London's Hyde Park, Stanley Park will come as a surprise. Much of it is a preexisting old-growth forest, centuries older than the city that now neighbors it. There is a wildness about the wilderness in this urban park with only a few buildings dating from the early 20th century. One of my favorite ways of experiencing the park is on a carriage ride. Offered from March to October, these tours take in the sites along the eastern edge of the park. However you want to get around as you explore Vancouver, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a custom itinerary.
In Vancouver, B.C., on business this fall, I spent one morning zipping around Stanley Park on a bike I borrowed from my hotel. These totems, which were carved and painted by people from the Squamish Nation, stand to honor the original residents of what is now Stanley Park.
The park is home to some 400 hectares of rain forest, crisscrossed by numerous trails, and with a lengthy Seawall—with paths for walkers, joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters stretching over 9km around the park's perimeter—that is a favorite destination for locals and lovers of the outdoors.
The trail that follows the shoreline of Vancouver's Stanley Park provides stunning views of English Bay and West Vancouver. Stanley Park is Vancouver's oldest and largest park, covering nearly 1,000 acres and dotted with landmarks and trails.
It's what all the locals will tell you to do when you visit Vancouver—rent a bike and cycle around Stanley Park, the extraordinary nature site that makes up a considerable square footage of the city. Of course, once you're on the paths you'll be able to spot the difference between visitors and Vancouver citizens immediately. We visitors were the ones wobbling slowly around the seawall path, stopping frequently to take snaps, while the locals whizzed down the roads on their super speed racing bikes. There was lots to see—from the huge bridge that spans the bay to the "lost lagoon" that is a special conservation site for birds. But my favourite moment was running into the little guys above, a family of raccoons who were happy to pose for pictures.
Located close to downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park is one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever been to. Approximately 1,000 acres, it includes bicycle, rollerblading, and pedestrian paths. There are numerous landmarks to stop and see, like the totem poles at Brockton Point. Gorgeous in rain or shine, it is an amazing place to take pictures, walk, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors.
Pictures (from top left): totem pole, lighthouse, and view from Stanley Park. For more information visit: http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley/index.htm
In BC, the First Nation presence seems to be prominent and distinguished and I love it. In a section of Stanley Park, there are totem poles. Each having it's own meaning and story. Cool place to stop and spend some time.
During our trip to Vancouver last winter, my husband and I faced cold, rainy, and gloomy weather just about everyday which is not uncommon. But the weather didn't stop us from falling in love with the city. Vancouver is such a green city that's full of art, culture, and good food. As we waited for our train ride which was included in our ticket to Stanley Park's Bright Nights event, we embarked on a leisurely walk. During our stroll, my fingers were numbed by the cold as I was constantly removing my gloves to snap photos of everything from the totem poles and the aquarium to the yellow leaves on the ground and Lions Gate Bridge. But this photo of Vancouver's skyline is one of my favorites.
Best (and Most Beautiful) Bike Ride for the Average Joe
A self guided bike tour through a new city always seems like a good idea. But, weird traffic patterns, crazy big hills and unexpected cobblestone streets can really put a damper on good intentions. If you want a surefire way to happily explore via two wheels, go directly to Stanley Park in Vancouver. There are no traffic woes. There are no hills. And there are no bumps in the road! It's bicycling for the everyman. Plus, it's 13.7 miles of gorgeous panoramic views of Vancouver. The biggest problem you'll encounter is trying to juggle your camera while pedaling. I'd outline the highlights of the ride, but what fun would that be? Skip reading the guidebook and hop on the bike to watch the scenery and attractions unfold.
All of the Lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park
At the Bright Nights Christmas Train event in Stanley Park, you can celebrate the holiday season by riding through a display of Christmas lights from the comfort of a choo-choo train. A portion of the proceeds from this annual event are used to benefit the British Columbia Professional Firefighters' Burn Fund which assists burn survivors and their families.
I am staying at the Fairmont Vancouver and before attending a business meeting I decide to take my early run. Instead of the usual 3 miles I am going for 6. Crossing downtown toward the water and running towards the Lions Gate Bridge, the view ahead is spectacular, a wonderful park in a peninsula edging the Pacific Ocean with curves and lots of trees. After 3 miles I have to come back and during 3 miles I can contemplate the planes landing on the water, Canada Place, the Marina, and the multiple ships arriving at the harbor.
One of the more tranquil spots in Stanley Park is the Ted and Mary Grieg Rhododendron Garden. About 4,500 plants surround the Pitch & Putt golf course with a couple of trails winding their way through the colourful scenery.
The garden is on the southwest side of the park, between the Lost Lagoon and second beach. The location is out of the way of most visitors, who either head toward the main part of the park or stay on the roadway and go right past the garden. However, it is the perfect spot for any photographer or those wanting quieter moments with nature.
Peak season for the Rhododendrons is in May, but the garden's other plants provide a nice backdrop for most of the year.
By AFAR Traveler
Walk the Seawall
The most important thing you can do in Stanley Park is to walk (or cycle) along the Seawall that lines Vancouver's waterfront. The gorgeous views and people-watching opportunities will give you a feel for Vancouver at its finest.