Look at an aerial map of Vancouver and you’ll see the huge patch of green dominating the downtown peninsula. This green patch is Stanley Park Vancouver, the gem of the city that makes Vancouver what it is. The park is nearly 1000 acres in size, reflecting the city’s love for nature and appreciation for preserving green spaces, even in such a quickly-growing area.
Stanley Park is the largest urban park in North America, and opposed to other famous North American parks such as Central Park in New York, Stanley Park Vancouver is not just a manicured sprawl of lawns and neatly planted trees. What makes Stanley Park unique are the amazing views on the wrap-around Stanley Park seawall, the dense rainforests, the marshland, and the beaches.
The Stanley Park seawall follows the park along the oceanside with bike and pedestrian pathways. Every day joggers, bikers, rollerbladers, walkers and others out to enjoy the view can follow the Stanley Park seawall for 10.5 km along the beach. Away from the seawall and the perimeter of the park, a dense forest grows, where few people actually spend much time. Like other parks, there are also plenty of lawn areas to play soccer or toss a frisbee, and a number of beaches for sunbathing and volleyball.
Stanley Park history begins in the early stages of the city’s development. In 1886 the city council made the insightful decision to turn what had become a military reserve into a park. The towering cedars, swamp lands (now known as Lost Lagoon), and prime water-front property were all set aside for the “use and enjoyment of people of all colors, creeds and customs for all time,” according to Lord Stanley, Canada’s governor general from1888 to 1893. Stanley Park history set the tone for the way the city would evolve; deeply committed to the preservation of its natural resources.
To best enjoy Stanley Park, try renting a bicycle at one of the many bike rental stores along the way. To walk the entire Stanley Park seawall it takes about two hours at a brisk pace, so don’t expect to be able to breeze through the park in a few minutes. Besides, there is so much to do and see in the park, you’ll want to take your time.
There are a number of restaurants in Stanley Park where you can enjoy a delicious meal with a stunning view. Try afternoon tea at the Rose Garden or lunch at the scenic Sequoia Grill (formerly the Stanley Park Teahouse). The Fish House has delicious seafood in a beautiful heritage house. At the Prospect Point viewpoint there is a nice cafe.
While touring around the park, make a stop at the totem poles, and plan some time to see the Vancouver Aquarium.
If you decide to tackle Stanley Park Vancouver on foot, the Translink bus system can make the distance between attractions much quicker. Look for the ‘’Stanley Park Shuttle’’ which runs on a fifteen-minute schedule daily from June through August. The bus makes fourteen stops around the park.