Vancouver's Stanley Park is a downtown sanctuary that offers city dwellers and visitors alike a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities appropriate for the whole family.
Whether you're a single adult out with friends or traveling with a family, Stanley Park offers hours of entertainment—from hiking and biking to playing golf and great restaurants. The famed 1,000-acre park has something for everyone and is open from sunrise to sunset daily, plus offers special events in the summer months.
It's perfect for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of one of Canada's largest cities.
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 to renovate bike paths and reduce the environmental impact of cycling has worked to significantly improve Stanley Park and its Seawall paths.
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).
Initially 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 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, are the perfect place to start your art tour of the park.
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. Even 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 is perfect for vacationers who enjoy a good round of golf. Keep in mind playing a round of golf can be crowded in the high season 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.
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. 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.
Canada's largest aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium, houses more than 70,000 animals in 116,000 square feet of facility space and is open daily. The aquarium charges admission, but profits go toward supporting its mission to conserve aquatic life.
Travelers can visit the Aquarium via the Translink Bus and Skytrain, which both operate year-round, or there is free public parking adjacent to the compound.
Starting in mid-February and going through the middle of November, Stanley Park offers groups of visitors the opportunity to take 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 hold 26 people and provide 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 for natural history exhibits. 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, featuring fabulous flora and fauna, including many locations 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. In addition, two lifeguarded bathing beaches are open from Victoria Day (third Monday in May) through Labour Day, so you can easily spend a day at the beach with your family before or after exploring the rest of Stanley Park. There is an admission fee required for entry.