Overall Score: A
Recommended?: Absolutely! As long as you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll find Stanley Park to be a great place to visit.
Stanley Park, one of Vancouver’s top tourist destinations, is the first and largest park in all of Vancouver. Located at the tip of the downtown district, it also serves as the connection between downtown and Northern Vancouver. Just slightly larger than New York City’s Central Park, Stanley Park evolved over the years as a forested retreat, not imagined and created by a park architect.
This urban park offers a plethora of things to do within its nearly 1,000 acres. This land is filled with trails for cyclists, walkers/runners, and in-line skaters, including the famous Seawall Path. The Seawall Path is nearly 14 miles long and goes entirely around the park. Be sure to follow the rules on the trails, as walkers and runners have the outside path that’s closest to the water and the cyclists and skaters get the innermost path.
There are also beaches, cafes and concessions, historical landmarks, monuments, a picnic area, playground, gardens, and pavilions. The immense forest and natural areas of the park are also abundant with wildlife (don’t worry, there are no large mammals). You can also find the Vancouver Aquarium here in Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is recognized as a west coast rainforest that provides visitors with plenty of views of beautiful mountains, gardens, and water. Because of the extensive history of the park, many of its half a million trees are hundreds of years old! As the park is outfitted with pavilions and wide open spaces, the park also hosts live music, concerts, fairs, and festivals throughout the year.
At the eastern end of the park at Brockton Point, you can find exquisite totem poles and art from the people of the First Nations. The totem poles at Brockton Point are beautifully displayed, showcasing the traditional art and culture of the First Nations. Keep in mind that this is a very popular tourist area of the park, so when you visit, it’s better to show up earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.
Families visiting Stanley Park will enjoy the park’s train ride, which offers young children and their parents a 15 minute train ride through a forested area of the park. In the southwest area of the park, there is a swimming pool, beach, playground, as well as tennis courts and golf.
Open during summer, children and parents can keep cool at Fox’s Den water spray park. The water park is located near the Lumberman’s Arch sculpture, northwest of the popular totem pole display.
During the warmer months of the year, take a tour of Stanley Park by horse or by trolley. The park offers one hour narrated tours by horse-drawn carriage, as well as 45 minute narrated hop-on, hop-off trolley tours. So no matter how you decide to see the park, by foot, bike, or narrated tour, you can find a way explore here that best suits you and your family.
Not far from the totem poles at Brockton Point is the Brockton Point Lighthouse. Established in 1890, with the current lighthouse erected in 1914, the Brockton Point Lighthouse is no longer a functional lighthouse but stands as a landmark in Stanley Park. Walking to the lighthouse requires a short, yet scenic walk along the Vancouver Seawall if you park near the totem poles. There is also parking at the lighthouse if your mobility is limited. If you’re coming from the seawall, climb the stairs at the base of the lighthouse to get a better view of the lighthouse and the surrounding area.
Stanley Park offers those visiting and living in Vancouver an excellent place to get back to nature, take in the views of the city, and provides the space for plenty of outdoor activities to participate in.
Stanley Park offers many places to get good food. In addition to the many concession areas, you can find The Teahouse and Prospect Point Restaurants, great options for sit-down dining. For more information on the Teahouse, click here and for Prospect Point, click here.
Prospect Point offers a unique vantage point to dine as their outdoor seating faces Lions Gate Bridge. Sitting outdoors on their patio is a popular place to dine so get there early or expect to wait for the seats with a great view.
After dining at Prospect Point, be sure to head north and take the short path to the Prospect Point lookout for great views of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbor, and North Vancouver. This view provides a fantastic overlook from the north end of Stanley Park.
When visiting the park, one helpful tip is to remember you will have to pay for parking here. There are several lots and all of them have paid parking. Pay at each lot’s central kiosk or download the park’s parking app to pay online. Also, if visiting Stanley Park during the weekend, I recommend visiting either earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. Bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and a thirst for adventure!
If you’re headed to Vancouver, check out my previous post on the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and Canada Place.
Enjoy your visit to Vancouver! What are your favorite places there to visit? Let me know in the comments.