Lose Yourself in Stanley Park, Vancouver’s Urban Oasis

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While stunning all year round, Vancouver’s Stanley Park truly comes alive in the summer. With over 405 hectares (1,000 acres) of natural beauty to explore, this urban oasis welcomes millions of people each year to enjoy the forest, ocean, beaches and attractions. Here are five things to do at Stanley Park, courtesy of the staff at the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Peace Arch.

1. Get Moving

Two cyclists cycling along the Stanley Park Seawll in Vancouver on a cloudy day with the city skyline in the background.

Cycling Vancouver’s Stanley Park Seawall. Photo credit: iStockphoto.com

There are so many ways to get moving in Stanley Park; wheels, feet, rail or hooves – the choice is yours. Drive your vehicle around the park and stop in at the various parking lots to enjoy the view, or take advantage of the park’s hop-on/hop-off shuttle. Take the Miniature Train through a 2-kilometre (1.24-mile) journey into the forest, around a lake, through tunnels and over trestles, or travel by horse drawn buggy for a guided tour of the park’s history. Prefer to get active? Rent a bicycle or rollerblades and meander around the 9-kilometre (5.5-mile) seawall that encircles the park, or put on your walking shoes and go for a stroll along the 27 kilometres of trails that wind their way through the park.  There are so many sights and sounds to experience deep within the park, so make sure to explore more than just its perimeter!

Insider Tip: If you’re travelling through the park by car, one parking ticket can be used for all of the parking lots, as long as the time on your ticket hasn’t expired!

2. Get Wet

The pink skies of Vancouver at sunset from a beach in Stanley Park.

Looking at Vancouver from Stanley Park. Photo credit: Destination BC/Hubert Kang

Beaches, pools and waterparks – oh my!  There is no better place to be on a hot day than Stanley Park. Second and Third Beaches are awesome swimming and sunning spots – but they can get busy so get there early. There’s also the incredible outdoor pool at Second Beach. Swim in the pool, but feel like you’re in the ocean – it’s right near the water’s edge! There’s also a fantastic playground nearby as well – it’s a one stop shop for all day entertainment! The Variety Kids Waterpark is located near Lumberman’s Arch and offers kids a fun place to run around and play with water cannons, sprays and fountains. There’s lots of seating for parents to sit back and enjoy the view of the North Shore Mountains while keeping an eye on their kids. Once the kids are done playing, send them through the kids’ dryer and they’re good to go!

3. Get in Touch with Nature

Stanley Park's seawall on the left with the ocean in the centre with Vancouver's skyline reflecting in it.

The Stanley Park seawall at Coal Harbour in Vancouver. Photo credit: Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Stanley Park is a rainforest featuring some pretty incredible nature from Hemlock, Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees, to wetlands, shorelines and beaches. Many species of wildlife call the park home, including squirrels, raccoon, migratory birds, eagles, beavers, sea stars and more. You never know who or what you might run into, so have your camera ready! Learn more about Stanley Park’s nature and wildlife by visiting the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

Insider Tip:  Please remember that the animals are wild and should be respected. Do not feed or approach them. 

4. Get Entertained

A beluga whale floating in the Vancouver Aquarium at Stanley Park, Vancouver.

A beluga whale in the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, Vancouver. Photo: Destination BC

The first thing that comes to mind when many think of entertainment in Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium, which does an incredible job of introducing people to the wonders of the ocean. They have an amazing exhibit, Treasures of the BC Coast, that shows what the coastline is like and how it changes as you travel from one part of BC to another. There’s also the Malkin Bowl, which hosts a variety of musical acts for summer concerts, and the always fun Theatre Under the Stars which features evening theatre performances in a gorgeous setting within the park – this year’s selections are Hairspray and Oliver! The Musical. Lastly, there’s the Summer Cinema Series, where you can join thousands of your closest friends on the grass at Ceperley Meadows (near Second Beach) for outdoor movies on a giant screen.

5. Get Snapping

With so many experiences to enjoy and incredible views around every corner, don’t forget to capture your memories with photos! From Hallelujah Point, you can take amazing photos of downtown Vancouver; Prospect Point gives your camera unrestricted views of the North Shore Mountains, and the beaches are the perfect place to snap those stunning ocean views.

There’s so much more to do in Stanley Park – golf, tennis, gardens, eating, sunsets, history…  make sure you leave lots of time to see it all!

Did we miss your favourite thing to do in Stanley Park? Let us know in the comments below!