Stanley Park is Vancouver’s oldest, largest park! Oh, and it’s beautiful! In 2014 it was even voted the most beautiful park in the world on TripAdvisor!Vancouver’s Stanley Park, on the edge of Vancouver’s West End (my favourite part and my home). It’s 400 hectares large and is full of natural West Coast rainforest and scenic views. As you walk around the park you’ll see water, mountains, and, on a clear day, Vancouver Island too! There’s so much to see and do in Stanley Park that you’ll never get bored of it! If you’re headed to Vancouver you simply must check it out and when you do here are some of the best adventures and things to do in Stanley Park.
Walk (or run) the seawall
Every visitor to Vancouver should make sure they walk the Stanley Park section of the seawall. The seawall is exactly as it sounds: a wall which follows the sea. It goes not just around Stanley Park but also out to False Creek and over to the beaches of Kitsilano too. The whole wall is 22km long but the Stanley Park part is just 9km.
When you walk it make sure you don’t step into the cycle path as you may get some angry stares and comments from locals!
The northern edge of Stanley Park is my favourite, there’s Pineapple Rock (actually known as Siwash Rock), the mermaid statue (see below) and a lighthouse too! It’s well worth the walk.
Hire a bike and cycle
If you’re short on time or just like to cycle then hire a bike from one of the shops on Denman Street and cycle around the seawall.
If you do this there are a few things you should know so as not to annoy the locals! 1) Cyclists can only go one way around the park (anti-clockwise) and make sure you stick to the cycle path, not the pedestrian lane. Though they’re very clearly separated so it’s easy to follow.
Or hire roller blades
If you’re feeling brave you could also hire some roller blades and hit the sea wall that way. Remember to stick to the bike path and take note of signs that tell you when to slow to walking pace!
Watch wildlife at the Lost Lagoon
The Lost Lagoon is a little gem in Stanley Park. I love walking around the lagoon early in the morning when there’s hardly anyone around. If you keep your eyes open you’ll likely see some heron and maybe even an otter! Oh and there’s bound to be plenty of squirrels and ducks too!
Chill out at the beaches
There’s English Bay Beach which is just on the outskirts of Stanley Park, Second Beach and then Third Beach too. They’re all sandy and perfect for a spot of sunbathing!
See the Totem Poles
Stanley Park is pretty famous for its Totem Poles which are created by the First Nations. There are nine totem poles in total and they’re actually BC’s most visited tourist attraction. The collection of totem poles are still being added to with the most recent one being added in 2009!
Keep your eyes peeled while you’re exploring the rest of Vancouver, as you’ll notice more of these around the city!
Chill out at the pool at Second Beach
Second Beach is the first beach you come to if you’re walking around Stanley Park in a clockwise direction. It’s probably the biggest of the beaches and it’s very popular in the summer months!
The pool here is open from May – September and it’s heated so you don’t need to worry about cold water!
It’s a great place to swim as when you take a break at the end of the pool you can look out to the sea and the mountains. There’s also a few slides for children (or just the child in you).
Walk up to Prospect Point
Head into Stanley Park and climb up to Prospect Point which is probably the best spot to get views of Lion’s Gate Bridge (below). This lookout sits about 200ft about the seawall and the view is beautiful! Oh and if you need a snack when you get up to the top then there’s Prospect Point Café and Restaurant which serves great ice cream!
Stroll over Lion’s Gate Bridge
Lion’s Gate Bridge is Vancouver’s answer to San Francisco’s Golden Gate (but I think it has a better view!). Lion’s Gate Bridge opened in 1938 and connects Vancouver with North Vancouver.
Pedestrians and cyclists have a separate lane to cross the bridge and it’s worth walking onto the bridge (if only half way) just to take in the views of the North Shore.
Hit the trails
Leave the seawall and make head into Stanley Park. There are so many trails criss-crossing through the park and they’re beautiful. Some of the trails are much lesser walked and so you’ll escape some of the seawall crowds. Plus, you’ll be amongst the old growth trees. If it’s rainy the atmosphere is even better as you’ll get the mist of the rainforest.
Have a picnic
If the sun is shining make sure you pack a picnic for your visit to Stanley Park. There’s plenty of open space in Stanley Park and there are areas (like near Second Beach) where you can even take a BBQ and make a day of it.
Find the ‘Girl in a Wetsuit’ statue
The Girl in a Wetsuit statue is a life size bronze sculpture on the northern side of the park. Some think it’s based on the Copenhagen Statue (The Little Mermaid) but the artist denies this. Either way I think it’s a very Vancouver-y statue!
See the gardens
Stanley Park has loads of gardens to explore. Some of the best are the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden and the Rose Garden. In the Rhododendron Garden there are about 4,500 plants and the Rose Garden has over 3,500 roses. They’re best to see in Spring but even later on in the year they’re still worth visiting.
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