The 5 Best Parks in Vancouver

World-Class Stanley, Queen Elizabeth, Lynn Canyon Top the List

The best parks in Vancouver offer free fun and outdoor activities for all ages. There are scenic parks, parks with great hiking trails, parks where the dogs can run free, and parks for kids. Some are world famous, like Stanley Park, but many are local favorites that you won't see on tourist lists of Vancouver attractions. 

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    Exercising on the sea wall of Stanley Park with a view of tranquil English Bay, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    ••• Brian Phillpotts/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    At the top of any list of parks in Vancouver is the city's world-renowned Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. It's a natural rainforest that touches the ocean right in the midst of the city. There are so many free things to do in Stanley Park: biking or walking the seawall, nature walks on the park's miles of forest trails, exploring the Stanley Park gardens, or visiting the totem poles. You can also eat in Stanley Park at one of its four restaurants, all with outside seating and a backdrop of the forest or ocean.

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    Queen Elizabeth Park's garden, Vancouver, BC
    ••• Queen Elizabeth Park's garden, Vancouver. Image Courtesy of the City of Vancouver / VanDusen Botanical Garden Association

    Situated in the heart of Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park is also the highest point in the city, boasting spectacular views of the downtown skyline. It's one of the best parks in Vancouver for gardens, and the free quarry gardens are in bloom virtually year-round and are truly spectacular. The park is also home to the "dancing fountains" (at its top), the Queen Elizabeth Pitch & Putt, and lots of open, green spaces for playing ball or just laying on the soft grass.

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    Suspension bridge, Lynn Canyon Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, North America
    ••• Richard Cummins/Getty Images

    Located just 15 minutes from Commercial Drive in East Van or about 25 minutes northeast of downtown Vancouver, Lynn Canyon Park is one of the best parks in Vancouver that doesn't have a high tourist profile. Beloved by locals, this (semi-)hidden gem has a free suspension bridge, walking and hiking trails, waterfalls, and a natural swimming pool. And they are all surrounded by trees that are 80 to 100 years old. One caveat: Lynn Canyon Park is not accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, or people who have mobility issues.

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    Trout Lake in Vancouver, BC
    ••• Trout Lake in Vancouver. Image Courtesy of Alan Bruce / Flickr Creative Commons

    One of the best parks in Vancouver for dogs and kids is John Hendry Park, locally referred to as Trout Lake, in East Van, just south of Commercial Drive and within walking distance of the Commercial SkyTrain Station. Situated around Trout Lake, the park includes trails for walking/biking/pushing strollers around the lake, an off-leash dog park on the north side, and a sandy beach and playground on the south side. Plus it has lovely views of the northern mountains.

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    parks in vancouver: pacific spirit park
    ••• Pacific Spirit Park. Image Courtesy of Pacific Parklands Foundation

    Located near the University of British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional  Park is an ideal destination for running, cycling, and hiking. Its extensive cycling/hiking trails offer some of a gorgeous Pacific Northwest scenery in the city; you'll marvel at views of the dense forest and rugged beaches. If you have a full day to spare, you can combine a trip to Pacific Spirit Park with an exploration of the top attractions at UBC. First-time visitors can pick up a map and visitor guides at the Park Centre at 4915 West 16th Avenue.