Is there a more famous landmark in Vancouver than Stanley Park?
Stanley Park may be a tourist destination--it attracts 8 million visitors a year--but it is also cherished by locals. Stanley Park is the true heart of Vancouver, an emblem of our passion for nature and the importance of public outdoor spaces in our city-dwelling lives.
Top 10 Things to Do in Stanley Park
Traversing the 8.8km (5.5 miles) Seawall that circles the Stanley Park (and extends into downtown Vancouver) is one of the most famous things to do in Stanley Park. No matter what the weather, there will always be people walking, jogging, rollerblading, or cycling along this scenic, paved pathway. The Seawall makes a complete loop around the park's coastline and boasts fabulous views of the city, northern mountains and Lion's Gate Bridge.
When it comes to things to do at Stanley Park, walking through majestic ceders and firs is more commonly thought of than stopping to smell the flowers, but that doesn't mean there aren't gorgeous gardens there, too.
The park's three must-see gardens are the Stanley Park Rose Garden, the Ted & Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden and the pictorial carpet bedding at Prospect Point, the highest point in the park.
3. Stanley Park Walking Trails
The Seawall isn't Stanley Park's only walking trail, not by a long shot. There are over 27km of forest trails, winding through the park's dense foliage, offering hikers and walkers a quiet, more secluded getaway.
One of the most popular things to do at Stanley Park is to visit the BC First Nations totem poles, displayed at Brockton Point. The park is home to a wide variety of monuments, but none are as popular as these totems; in fact, the totems are the most-visited tourist attraction in all of BC!
The largest aquarium in Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium has been a resident of Stanley Park since 1956 and is definitely one of the top things to do in Stanley Park. Home to 70,000 creatures, including Beluga whales, dolphins and fish from around the world, the Aquarium is a leader in aquatic conservation and offers a wide variety of educational programs for all ages.
The Stanley Park Miniature Train is one of my favourite things to do in Stanley Park for younger kids: the mini train carries its passengers through the forest on winding tracks, over trestles and through tunnels on a 2k wilderness journey.
You can ride the Miniature Train over the summer (when the Miniature Train Plaza becomes the Aboriginal Klahowya Village), or at special holiday events during the year, including the Halloween Ghost Train and the Christmas-themed Bright Nights.
7. Stanley Park Beaches, Outdoor Pool & Water Park
Vancouver's Second Beach and Third Beach are both part of the southern coastline of Stanley Park. Beautiful throughout the year, the beaches really come to life in the summer. Second Beach's heated, fresh-water pool is open from Victoria Day to Labour Day, and kids can run through water geysers and canons at the Variety Kids Water Park, open late-May to Labour Day.
Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon is one of its most famous landmarks. This beautiful body of water is located just inside the park's main entrance off Georgia Street and is a sanctuary for many types of birds and animals. Enjoy discovering the Lost Lagoon yourself, or visit the Lost Lagoon Nature House--one of the lesser-known things to do at Stanley Park--to learn from the experts. Operated by the Stanley Park Ecology Society, the Nature House functions as an ecological "gateway" to the park, providing lots of fun, interactive ways to learn about Stanley Park's flora and fauna.
9. Stanley Park Sports & Recreation
Sports and recreation lovers will find so many things to do at Stanley Park they won't know where to begin. Among the many offerings:
- Stanley Park Pitch & Putt Golf Course
- Brockton Point Cricket Club
- Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
- Vancouver Rowing Club
There are also 17 free, public tennis courts, at the Beach Avenue entrance to the park. These are first-come, first-serve; six of the 17 become pay-courts during the summer season.
Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) has been a summer tradition in Stanley Park since the 1940s: Musical theatre performed outdoors at the park's Malkin Bowl. Each season brings two big musical productions; previous seasons produced acclaimed versions of Oklahoma!, Grease, and Annie Get Your Gun.