Vancouver's gardens may not be as famous as some of the Canadian city's other sites—like Stanley Park or Kitsilano (Kits) Beach—but they deserve to be. If you're a fan of gardens, landscaping, and nature, don't miss the gorgeous public spaces in Vancouver.
The two quarry gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park are among the best gardens in the city, and they're free. Situated near the peak of the 128-acre Queen Elizabeth Park, the highest point in Vancouver, these gardens have beautifully manicured landscaping, with pathways, bridges, and mini waterfalls.
During your visit to Queen Elizabeth Park, you can also enjoy the indoor Blodel Conservatory (it's not free, but it is very inexpensive), which houses an array of tropical plants and birds. There are also the park's famous "dancing fountains," incredible views of Downtown Vancouver, and the Seasons in the Park restaurant, which has one of the best skyline views of Vancouver.
An oasis of serenity in the heart of Vancouver's historic Chinatown, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden combines elements of traditional Chinese architecture and landscaping. Walk around the garden and you'll find weathered rock paths, jade-green pools, and penjing trees. On Friday afternoons in the summer, there is a traditional Chinese tea service and guzheng music performance.
There are both free and ticketed portions of this garden. The free area is fairly limited, so purchasing a ticket is recommended.
A fairytale land of vibrant flowers, winding paths, and lily-pad covered ponds, VanDusen is one of the most peaceful spots in all of Vancouver. Although it's famous for its Festival of Lights in the wintertime, the garden can be enjoyed at any time of year. VanDusen is truly glorious in the spring and summer, when all the flowers are in full bloom.
You can also explore the European-style hedge maze and VanDusen's Truffles Cafe (in the Visitor's Centre), which has one of the best afternoon teas in Vancouver.
Stanley Park is known more for its majestic cedars and firs than for its flowers, but that doesn't mean there aren't gorgeous gardens to be seen here, too. The Stanley Park gardens include a rose garden, a rhododendron garden, a Shakespeare garden, and a picturesque lawn at Prospect Point, the highest part of the park. Bonus: These gardens are completely free to visit.
You can easily combine a trip to the Stanley Park gardens with other Stanley Park activities, including biking the scenic Seawall, visiting the Vancouver Aquarium, or seeing the Stanley Park Totem Poles, which are within walking distance of the Stanley Park rose garden.
The Botanical Gardens at the University of British Columbia are a favorite among residents and tourists alike. While all of the UBC Botanical Gardens are worth visiting, the 2.5-acre Nitobe Memorial Garden is a must-see. This zen haven is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America.
Head there on the last Saturday of the month during the summer, and you can enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in a tea house overlooking the waterfalls and Koi ponds. Spring is also a popular time to visit for those who want to see the cherry blossoms.