Vancouver's Stanley Park
Vancouver's Stanley Park
An urban forest surrounded by an iconic seawall
Named after Lord Stanley, Canada’s Governor General (1888-1893), Stanley Park was officially opened and declared Vancouver’s first “greenspace” on September 27, 1888. Today, this urban park remains a wonderful evergreen sanctuary of 400 hectares (1,000 acres) offering a natural oasis in downtown Vancouver along with access to all kinds of recreational activities.
Enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, the park has grown as a major city attraction with its spectacular 100-year old forest, beaches, trails and its well-known Seawall – a paved waterfront walkway that loops around the park. In addition, a number of Vancouver’s public art and monuments are displayed in Stanley Park, with none more visited than the famous totem poles at Brockton Point made by BC’s First Nations people.
Stanley Park is a year-round playground where people of all ages come to walk, jog, skate and cycle or simply to enjoy the cultural events throughout the park at Malkin Bowl, Ceperley Meadow, Painters Circle, and the Cricket Pavillion. While the fabulous section of Seawall (8.8km/ 5.5 miles) provides one of the main scenic connecting routes, there are many well-maintained paved and natural forest trails all over the park. The woodland, gardens, lakes and beaches offer plenty to explore and see, and the forest, with approximately 150,000 trees, is a quiet refuge for a host of small wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rabbits and birds.
There are two main beaches, named Second Beach and Third Beach, which are wonderful for relaxing, and swimming during summer. From May through to early September, the large heated outdoor pool located on the park’s west side is very popular with families. With picnic locations, well-maintained facilities, tennis courts, a pitch and putt golf course, and children’s playgrounds, it is easy to enjoy a full day of activities in Stanley Park.
But these attractions are not all that there is here. Stanley Park is home to Canada’s largest aquarium with its beloved white beluga whales, the Stanley Park horse-drawn tours, and other installations for fun things to do. The free Variety Kids Water Park, an outdoor shallow-water spray playground with random water geysers and canons, is a particular summer favorite with young children.
For garden lovers, the Shakespeare Garden with its show of beautiful trees, the Rose and Perennial Gardens, and the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden are lovely to stroll through. Showcasing an amazing collection of azaleas and rhodos and extensive floral displays, these gardens are a great for a spring or summertime visit.
For sports enthusiasts Stanley Park has a few traditional sports clubs and facilities, some dating back to the late 1880s – the Lawn Bowling Club, the Brockton Oval for cricket and ruby, tennis courts, the Rowing Club and the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
Dining options in Stanley Park provide yet another reason to linger, including The Prospect Point Café open year round, and the Teahouse with wonderful views of English Bay. Restaurants nearby also provide a variety of eating-out settings from fine dining to casual pub fare or for those who prefer their food on the go, fast food options with concession stand goodies.
Getting to Stanley Park from downtown Vancouver is easy, simply head for the main entrance located at the west end of Georgia Street. If driving, the main one-way road offers a number of paid parking areas throughout the park. It is worth noting that Vancouver’s parks and beaches are now considered ‘smoke-free’ zones. This ban took effect in September 1, 2010 prohibiting smoking in all parks.
Main image: Totem Poles in Stanley Park Photo Credits: Tourism Vancouver/Al Harvey
Enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, the park has grown as a major city attraction
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