Vancouver’s beautiful green refuge is an expanse of cedar, fir, and hemlock trees, flower gardens and beaches on a strip of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. At 1,000 acres (400 hectares) it is one of the largest urban parks in North America, beating New York’s Central Park by about 150 acres (60 hectares).
Originally a base for the Royal Navy, the land was given to the city by the British government in 1888 and named after Lord Stanley of Preston. He was the governor general of Canada at the time the park was opened and was committed to preserving the area’s natural resources.
While much of the park can be strolled, some of the interior is a dense stretch of forest. The park is home to lots of wildlife including coyotes, raccoons, beavers, skunks, gray squirrels and eagles. It’s an ever-present reminder of the region’s wilderness past.
The park is surrounded by ocean on three sides and tracing its perimeter is the Seawall. This 13-mile (22-kilometer) path is one of the city’s most popular recreation spots, attracting cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers, and walkers. There are two clearly marked sections, one for walkers and joggers and the other for cyclists and skaters. Allow two to three hours for a leisurely stroll of this path, an hour for biking.
For a novel way to explore the park, try a horse-drawn carriage ride for one hour, (running from March-Oct) or a ride in a miniature train (closed January and February).
Discover rose gardens, pitch-and-putt golf, the collection of totem poles at Brockton Point, lawns, and plenty of open spaces to enjoy a read, sleep, or picnic. There are many swimming opportunities at the park’s beaches, including an outdoor pool at Second Beach that’s usually open during the summer months.
The entrance to Stanley Park is located at 2000 W. Georgia Street, in the West End neighborhood. You can buy a daily parking pass, which allows for moving and parking your car anywhere within Stanley Park during operating hours.