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Dec 12, 2022
Everything you need to know about Stanley Park

Vancouver outdoor activities and recreation

If you’re planning to visit or relocate to Vancouver, you may have heard of a the world famous Stanley Park. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, it’s one of the largest parks in North America, and attracts over 10 million visitors each year. This is our guide to Stanley Park, with everything you need to know about how to make the best of your visit. From its history and attractions to practical advice.

What is Stanley Park?

Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s greatest attractions and serves as an oasis to locals, commuters and tourists. Located at the edge of Downtown Vancouver and surrounding Burrard Inlet, Stanley Park encompasses 400 hectacres of dense forest, native vegetation, waterfront trails and recreational sites. The park opened in 1888 and welcomes millions of visitors annually with its adjacent seawall promenade that extends for 8.8 kilometers around the shoreline. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife from bats to bald eagles, so visitors can expect a dynamic outdoor experience year round!

Background of Stanley Park

Named after Lord Stanley, the park has seen a lot in its more than 135 year history. Originally inhabited by the Musqueam people, who occupied the area for thousands of years, the land was colonized by the British in 1858. A petition was made to the city council in 1886 and it was put under the control of Vancouver’s park board – making it one of Canada’s oldest public parks. The seawall was constructed during the early 20th century, and the Vancouver Aquarium opened its doors in 1956. As an important part of Vancouver’s history and identity, Stanley park is an integral part of Vancouver’s cultural life. Today, it continues to bring in thousands of tourists each year from around the world who come to enjoy its trails, wildlife, and breathtaking views.

Things to do in Stanley Park

Stanley Park offers many exciting activities for all ages. The expansive park includes attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium, Miniature Train, and Beaver Lake, along with other stunning views of nature. Active visitors can hike or bike the 8-mile Seawall trail around the park perimeter, while leisurely guests may simply want to stroll or picnic along trails or near one of the several totem poles throughout the area. Don’t forget to check out some of the fine dining options located inside Stanley Park, as well as its public tennis courts for those looking for a great game in the middle of this incredible park. Discover Canada’s temperate west-coast rainforest by strolling along the many softwood trails, kayak around the coastal cliffs and islands, or join an environmental tour to learn more about the local wildlife. There truly is something for everyone at Stanley Park.

Best Hikes in Stanley Park

Stanley Park offers visitors a range of picturesque hikes to choose from. From easy trails that meander through sandy beaches, to more challenging hikes that journey around coastlines and rainforests, there is something for everyone. The experience at Stanley Park is described as ‘magical’ as it encompasses some spectacular views, wildlife experiences and historic attractions. Some of the best hikes include the Seawall Loop, Beaver Lake Trail and Prospect Point Trail, which showcase breathtaking scenes of Vancouver’s skyline, natural ecosystems and wildlife. For a truly unforgettable experience, venture deeper into the park to explore the lighthouse. Finally, Blackpool Cove is an accessible trail that will take you past some stunning oceanside scenery and intimate hidden beaches.No matter what hike you choose to do at Stanley Park, rest assured you will be rewarded with beautiful memories – an escape into nature like no other.

Wildlife in Stanley Park

Stanley Park is an outdoor paradise for wildlife lovers. It serves as a natural refuge for many species of animals, including coyotes, raccoons, river otters, mink, beaver, songbirds and bald eagles to name just a few. Those who venture off the beaten path are likely to encounter wildlife nonchalantly snacking on plants or searching for food around streams and lakes. This natural oasis provides a place where animals can thrive without disruption from human activity and explore miles of lush vegetation while providing urban dwellers with a chance to glimpse some of nature’s most captivating creatures. To get a closer look at marine life, visit the Vancouver Aquarium which is conveniently located inside the park.

Places to eat in Stanley Park

There are a variety of great restaurants just outside the park in Vancouver’s Westend, but if you would rather stay inside the park or dine while experiencing the nature of the park. You can find quick snacks from vendors stationed along the Seawall. The most well known restaurant is the Teahouse, located in the heart of the park. It’s a pleasant dining experience located just steps away from the water. Constructed in 1940 by the Vancouver Park Board, the Teahouse building has featured a restaurant serving top quality Pacific Northwest cuisine for more than 80 years. As one of Stanley Park’s premier destinations, visitors can expect classic food served with stunning views that span across Vancouver’s harbour and the North Shore.

How to get to Stanley Park

Getting to Stanley park is quite simple. There are several options to choose from depending on your starting point. For those traveling in or out of downtown, the Skytrain can take you right to Granville station where you can hop on a bus to take you the rest of the way. If you’re coming from further away, hop on the #19 Metrotown–Stanley Park bus line to get there quickly and efficiently. While driving yourself is another possibility, parking in the park can be both difficult and expensive during peak times, so it’s best to plan ahead if you decide to go that route. Although each means of transportation has its pros and cons, it’s almost certain that with some planning and consideration you’ll have no trouble getting to Stanley Park for your next visit.

Tips for visiting Stanley Park

Start your expedition to the park by planning ahead; know the hours of operation, research the attractions that are available and check which activities or events may be taking place during your visit. Ensure you bring enough water and snacks to keep you energized throughout your journey and don’t forget your camera for capturing fun moments in the park! For a unique experience, consider biking or roller skating around the seawall. The views are outstanding and it’s a really fun and active way to experience the entire park and downtown core. For an even more immersive adventure, take part in one of the many guided tours – these are truly a one-of-a-kind way to learn about, appreciate and explore this historic park. If it’s a rainy day and you’d rather keep dry, visit the Aquarium which is a must see!


Stanley Park has a rich history and is one of Vancouver’s most important attractions. It’s a natural oasis in the heart of the city that provides wildlife refuge for many species of animals. Visitors can enjoy hiking, swimming, cycling and a variety of other outdoor activities. Pay a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium or simply relax and enjoy the nature. If hunger calls, try out one of the many great restaurants in the Westend, or dine in nature at the Teahouse. Getting to Stanley Park is quite simple, and there are several options depending on your starting point. So what are you waiting for? Visit Stanley Park today!

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