A fusion of natural and urban worlds, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s premier park at 405 acres. It is located at the western tip of the downtown peninsula, within walking distance of the office towers and shops. This proximity to the city makes Stanley Park’s giant century-old red cedar and Douglas fir trees all the more beautiful. Originally intended for repairs to British naval ships, these huge trees escaped the woodcutter’s ax and were preserved as part of the park in 1888. Wooded trails crisscross the park, leading to rides and restaurants. But the most popular route is undoubtedly the Seawall – a walking, jogging, and biking path along the water that trims Stanley Park.
1 Cycle or walk the sea wall
Many visitors choose to cycle the seawall as the quickest way to get around the large and beautiful park. It is a loop of about six miles, starting in Coal Harbor and going around the peninsula via Brockton Point, the Lions Gate Bridge, Third Beach, Second Beach and Lost Lagoon. One beautiful view follows the other. The Stanley Park Seawall is always a popular place (especially on summer weekends), so there are lanes so walkers don’t have to worry about getting run over by cyclists.
Historic stops are located along the entire length of the seawall route. The Nine O’Clock Gun explodes at dusk each evening, the Brockton Point Lighthouse guides ships through First Narrows, and the Canadian Pacific Line’s replica figurehead of the Empress of Japan commemorates a great seagoing vessel. Favorite stop photos include the Vancouver equivalent of the Copenhagen Mermaid – Girl in a Wetsuit, the totem poles at Brockton Point and Siwash Rock.
Read also: trips from Vancouver
2 Vancouver Aquarium
In the heart of Stanley Park, the internationally renowned Vancouver Aquarium features many species of marine life from the Pacific Ocean. The playful sea otters are particularly captivating and other marine mammals such as dolphins, belugas and sea lions draw large crowds. Opened in 2016, the Discover Rays Touch Pool exhibit is also a big hit. Free-roaming animals can be found in the rainforest-like Amazon Gallery, a walk-through experience.
Address: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
Official site: https://www.vanaqua.org/
3 Scenic drive
The one-way scenic drive around Stanley Park starts from West Georgia Street and is a great way to get a quick overview of the park. Pullouts and parking are positioned at all attractions, including the totem poles at Brockton Point and the lookout at Prospect Point . The view from Prospect Point is particularly beautiful, viewing the North Shore Mountains is busy Lions Gate Bridge . It also has a certain drama, being the highest point in Stanley Park.
All major sightseeing tour companies cover the scenic drive to introduce the park. Bus tours are a regular in the park (usually stopping at the totem poles and Prospect Point), and there are also horse drawn carriage tours that run around Brockton Point.
4 Totempalen van Brockton Point
The collection of totem poles and carvings at Brockton Point represents First Nations cultures from across British Columbia. The display began in the park about a century ago, but the original posts have since been replicated and the weathered heritage carvings are preserved in local museums. The totems are located near Brockton Oval, within sight of the seawall. Also in the Brockton Point area, tiny Deadman’s Island is an important First Nations landmark that is now a naval base and off limits to the public.
5 Second Beach
A family-friendly destination, Second Beach rates as a favorite for its large outdoor pool, sandy beach, extensive playground, and proximity to English Bay in the West End. Sand dredged from False Creek was used to build up the beach, and the area can be very busy on summer weekends. A number of other fun things to do are nearby, including an 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course, park walking trails, and public tennis courts. Near the tennis courts, great blue herons gather to nest each spring – their broad nests and laughable silhouettes make an interesting sight in the bare branches of the trees.
6 Lost Lagoon
Before the road was built through Stanley Park, the swampy Lost Lagoon was virtually dry at low tide and became part of Coal Harbor at high tide. But the construction of the causeway and the Lions Gate Bridge changed the landscape. Despite this human intervention, large numbers of waterfowl continue to gather at Lost Lagoon. Canada geese, swans and ducks clearly enjoy being fed, even when the practice is discouraged. On the shores of the water body, the Stanley Park Nature House on Lost Lagoon displays natural history exhibits and especially welcomes families.
7 Editor’s Pick Third Beach
This is another of Vancouver’s beautiful beaches, enchanting cyclists on the seawall and families with its natural sands and scenic vistas. The Stanley Park forest shields the beach from the city and it feels more private than many other city beaches. This is also one of the best locations for sunsets in the city and an evening picnic is highly recommended.
8 Beaver Lake
The walk to attractive Beaver Lake (supposedly because it houses a beaver colony) is well worth the effort and introduces a different side to the park. In summer, the lake, the only natural freshwater lake in Stanley Park, is a mass of differently colored water lilies . Waterfowl, Douglas squirrels and passerines are usually quick to approach visitors. From the lake, the trails fan out into the western and eastern half of the park.
9 Stanley Park Pavilion
When it was built a century ago, the wooden pavilion at Stanley Park housed park management. Today it is used as a restaurant and is convenient for the Malkin Bowl outdoor performance venue, a lovely Rose Garden and park trails. Other tourist attractions in this part of the park include the First Nations cultural demonstrations at Klahowya Village and the narrow-gauge Miniature Train , which often incorporates seasonal themes for different holidays.
10 Hollow tree
Estimated to be about 800 years old, this hollow, western red cedar is an easy walk from Third Beach or Siwash Rock . Although the tree is dead, it is a local favorite and families have long gathered in the park to take a picture with the famous conifer. Indeed, when the tree was about to fall, residents shelled out thousands of dollars to add metal supports and save the park icon.
11 Ferguson Point
Once a military station, Ferguson Point is now a destination for scenic panoramas and dining options. The Teahouse restaurant on Ferguson Point, formerly the CO’s quarters, is a favorite because of its views. The outdoor patio is perfect for hot summer days and the indoor dining area has windows across the street that overlook the ocean. From the point, it is possible to walk to many of the park’s attractions and beaches.
Where to stay near Stanley Park for sightseeing
We recommend these highly rated hotels near beautiful Stanley Park in Vancouver:
- Fairmont Pacific Rim: 5-star luxury, park and harbor views, rooftop pool, luxury spa.
- Coast Coal Harbor Hotel by APA: mid-range pricing, contemporary decor, outdoor heated pool, hot tub.
- Times Square Suites Hotel: affordable apartment hotel, city views, fully equipped kitchen, rooftop terrace with BBQ facilities.
- Buchan Hotel: budget hotel, quiet street, family rooms, free tea and coffee.