Covering 1,000 acres, Vancouver's Stanley Park is a downtown sanctuary that offers city dwellers and visitors alike a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities that are appropriate for the whole family. When planning your next vacation to Vancouver, make sure to check out this popular tourist attraction, perfect for a day-trip to escape the hustle and bustle of one of Canada's largest cities.
Whether you're a single adult out with friends or married and traveling with your spouse and children, Stanley Park offers hours of entertainment—from hiking and biking to playing golf and great restaurants, this famous 1,000-acre park has something for everyone.
Stanley Park is open from sunrise to sunset daily and offers special events in the summer months. The following list covers some of the most popular things to do in Stanley Park; explore the following activities and plan your next family vacation.
Rent a bike, including a bicycle built for two, or rollerblades and ride the park's 9-kilometer (5.5-mile) seawall path, which is part of the 28-kilometer Seaside Greenway, the world's largest uninterrupted seawall path.
It's also worth noting the efforts of the Stanley Park Cycling Plan, whose goal is to improve bike paths and reduce the environmental impact of cycling, which has worked to greatly improve Stanley Park and its Seawall paths in the last 10 years.
Take a 15-minute ride through the towering cedars and Douglas fir trees on a miniature replica of Locomotive Engine #374, the first transcontinental passenger train to pull into Vancouver in 1886.
This Miniature Train is perfect for children and open year-round with special events in October (Ghost Train) and over the Christmas holiday (Bright Nights Train). Originally constructed in 1964 in the wake of the damage caused by Typhoon Frieda, the Stanley Park train is now one of the park's biggest attractions, drawing in over 200,000 visitors each year.
In addition to the numerous monuments and sculptures that have been donated to Stanley Park, art enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to discover the unique culture of Vancouver's historic and modern art community.
One of British Columbia's most popular tourist attractions, the "People Amongst the People" Coast Salish Gateways and the collection of First Nation's totem poles at the Brockton Point Visitor Centre, is the perfect place to start your art tour of the park.
You can also check out the Malkin Bowl, an outdoor performance venue that routinely hosts free and ticketed concerts for some of Canada's top music artists including Broken Social Scene and The Tragically Hip.
A number of artists also come to the park daily to paint, draw, sketch, and even sell their pieces in certain designated areas. Whether you're just wandering around the park or visiting the Painter's Circle, you're sure to run into at least one artist at Stanley Park, especially on beautiful summer days.
Running alongside the English Bay, the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt and Putting Green are perfect for vacationers who enjoy a good round of golf, but keep in mind playing a round of golf will cost you and tee times are first-come, first served.
The course closes for the season typically at the end of October, so if you plan on golfing on your vacation to Vancouver, make sure you book your trip in late spring through early autumn.
If you get hungry during your day at the park, you can stop by one of the many concession stands and restaurants in Stanley Park including the Fish House, the Sequoia Grill, and the Prospect Point Café.
Dining in Stanley Park offers some of the best meals in the city; we recommend checking out the newly constructed Waterfall Cafe. For a lighter snack, you can also stop by one of the many concession stands including the Railway Café at the Miniature Railway, Lumberman's Arch, Second and Third Beach snack stands, the Stanley Park Information Booth, and the Totem Poles concession stand.
Visit Canada's largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium, which houses more than 70,000 animals in 116,000 square feet of facility space. Opened daily, the aquarium charges an admission but profits go toward supporting its mission to conserve aquatic life.
Free public parking is adjacent to the Aquarium, but travelers can also visit the Aquarium via the Translink Bus and Skytrain, which both operate year-round.
Starting in mid-February and going through the middle of November, Stanley Park offers groups of visitors the opportunity to take up to 26 people on a guided tour on a horse-drawn carriage.
Departing every 20 to 30 minutes, rain or shine, during the busy tourist season, the horse-drawn carriage rides offer a unique perspective on the sights and attractions of Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is home to two gorgeous lakes—Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon—which both offer tourists numerous opportunities for bird watching, relaxation, and even some great displays during the holiday season.
Visitors to Lost Lagoon can enjoy feeding Canadian geese, swans, and ducks, or venture over to the Nature House to check out the natural history exhibits while those visiting Beaver Lake might happen upon a beaver or start their adventure out on one of the many trails that fan out into the rest of the park.
Head into Stanley Park's interior and hike the paths that run through the park, which features fabulous flora and fauna including a number curated by the Parks' Department.
Journeying on these bark-mulched paths offers visitors up to 27 kilometers of trails to explore, which provides a nice escape from the large population of Vancouver—you'll almost forget you're even in the city at all.
Cool off at the free children’s water park or the heated freshwater pool at Second Beach (admission fee required for entry).