The beloved green lung of Vancouver is a living, breathing medley of majestic cedar, fir and hemlock trees, blooming gardens and pristine beaches along the peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Spanning over 400 hectares, Stanley Park beats New York's Central Park in size by 60 hectares making it the third largest urban park in North America, visited by about eight million people annually.
Formerly designated as a military reserve and logged for timber, the land was given to the city by the Dominion government in 1888 and named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the governor general of Canada at the time, and a dedicated preserver of the area's natural resources.
More than 27 kilometres of forest trails weave through the lush foliage of the park, some of which were once used by lumberjacks to drag fell trees to the water. Look out for some of the park's wildlife, including coyotes, raccoons, beavers, skunks, grey squirrels and eagles. A stroll along one of these trails gives you a glimpse into the region's wilderness history.
Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the park's perimeter is lined with a 22-kilometre path called the Seawall. The arresting views of the water from this path make it a popular spot for joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers, and walkers. Two to three hours make for a leisurely stroll along this path, while cycling would take about an hour.
For a fun way of exploring the park, take a one-hour horse-drawn carriage tour, (running from mid-March to late Oct), or take the miniature train through the forest (closed January and February).
The park has enough on offer to fill an entire day and more, being home to spectacular gardens, pitch-and-putt golf, Canada's largest aquarium, the renowned totem pole display at Brockton Point, and plenty of beaches and open spaces perfect for a nap, a picnic, or to delve into a good book. Take a dip at one of the beaches or check out the heated outdoor pool at Second Beach with stunning views of English Bay that’s usually open from late May until early September.
Located in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood, there are multiple entrances to the park which are easily accessible on foot, bicycle, public transport or car. If you’re driving, you can park can buy a daily parking pass valid for moving and parking at any car park within Stanley Park during operating hours.