An urban oasis with bucolic beauty, Stanley Park is the soul of Vancouver and envy of the world. Ever-blooming gardens, majestic cedar trees, and string of beaches waddle their way into every traveler’s heart. It is a downtown sanctuary that offers nature lovers and city dwellers multitude of recreational activities. Whether you drive a golf ball into the hole, watch cruise ships passing beneath the Lions Gate Bridge from the Prospect Point, or rollerblade on the famous Seawall – the choice is yours!
The region has been inhabited by different coastal aboriginal tribes for more than 3,000 years. In 1790s, Spanish Captain Jose Maria Narvaez and British Captain George Vancouver were among the first Europeans to discover the peninsula that later became a park. It is named after Lord Frederick Stanley – the sixth Governor General of Canada.
Things to Do in Stanley Park
Stanley Park Tours – You can challenge yourself to walk more than 16 miles of trails, cycle through dense foliage, or just lie back and admire the scenery on a tour. You can explore the park in the way that suits best. Rent a bicycle or roller blades and meander along the 5.5-mile-long seawall that encircles the park. Ride the Miniature Train that runs through the forest, tunnels and over trestles, or opt for horse-drawn carriage tours for a guided tour of the park’s history and secrets. In summers, San Francisco-style trams offer narrated hop-on-hop-off tour of the most popular spots.
Vancouver Aquarium – Opened in 1956, it is the oldest and the most visited aquarium in Canada. Covering an area of 9,000 square meter, it is home to nearly 70,000 creatures including dolphins, sea otters, reptiles, eels, and more. Treasures of the BC Coast, Penguin Point, Pacific Canada Pavilion, and Amazon Rainforest educate you about marine life.
Brockton Point – It is the easternmost point in the park, about 1.4 miles from the Georgia Street entrance. Hand-carved ten totem Poles, 9 O’clock Gun, and a 100-year-old lighthouse are main attractions here.
Lost Lagoon – Well, it’s not really “lost” as it is very easy to spot. This artificial lake is named after a poem. It is an ideal spot to see wildlife strutting by. It is a nesting ground for many species of birds including Canada geese, mallard ducks, swans, and Great blue herons.
Beaches – Park’s lesser known gems, Second Beach and Third Beach, lie on its southern coastline. While Second Beach is ideal for warming up in heated fresh water pools, Third Beach offers phenomenal views of West Vancouver and English Bay.
Gardens – Near the Lord Stanley Statue, visitors can admire the Shakespeare Garden embraced by numerous floral displays like Darling buds and around 3,500 vibrantly colored plants in the Rose garden. It is a popular spot in spring and summers among locals and tourists alike.
Surrounded by Vancouver Harbour and English Bay, this public park is located near downtown Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
How to Reach?
By Air – Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located 7.5 miles south of downtown Vancouver, is served by North American, European, and Australian airlines.
By Train – Burrard Station is the nearest SkyTrain (rapid transit rail system in Greater Vancouver) station that is served by the Expo and Millennium Lines. Pacific Central Station is the western terminus of Via Rail’s cross-country passenger train, The Canadian. Moreover, the Amtrak Cascades provides two round trips to Seattle (Washington) and Portland (Oregon) from Vancouver.
By Road – Walk, bike, take transit, or just drive, with its proximity to downtown Vancouver, the park is easily accessible from any mode of transportation. Bus 19 of city’s public transit, TransLink, has stops in the park. Also, bike racks are provided on all TransLink buses.
For a luxurious stay, you can choose from Fairmont Waterfront, Wedgewood Hotel, Pan Pacific Vancouver, and Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Mid-range travelers should check out Times Square Suites, Buchan Hotel, Empire Landmark Hotel, and Oceanside Hotel. For budget accommodations, HI-Vancouver Downtown, American Backpackers Hostel, and The Urban Hideaway Guesthouse are good options.
Seafood, locally made cheese, and fresh produce dominate Vancouver’s food scene. In the park, you will find casual bites on the menu of Prospect Point Cafe, Teahouse Restaurant, The Fish House in Stanley Park, and Lift Bar Grill View. In the city, Dinesty Dumpling House is known for Chinese cuisine and Vij’s Rangoli serves innovative Indian dishes in modern setting.
Best Time to Visit
March to May and September to November, when the weather remains mild, are ideal for visiting Vancouver. The Park is open year round. It’s best to visit the park early in the morning or late afternoon.
Facts about Stanley Park
- The park was officially established on September 27, 1888.
- It is the oldest and largest urban park of the city.
- The park covers an area of 405 hectares (1,001 acres).
- It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988.
Things to Remember
- Visitor Information Center is located near the Georgia Street entrance.
- Try to spend at least a day in and around to see the attractions.
- Consider buying a daily parking pass, if you are planning to drive to the park.
- Please follow the posted speed limits while driving, biking, or rollerblading in the park.
Lions Gate Bridge, Granville Island, Queen Elizabeth Park, Pacific Spirit Regional Park, and Kitsilano Beach.
Image Credit: Craig NagyPublished On: Monday, December 14th, 2015