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Vancouver Attractions –Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Of the many jewels  in the crown of Vancouver’s attractions, Stanley Park is undoubtedly the largest and most brilliant.  Consisting of 1001 acres bordering on downtown Vancouver, this urban park  was established in 1888 and was named after Lord Stanley who was then the Governor-General of Canada. It is 10% larger than Central Park in New York City and an estimated 8 million people a year visit Stanley Park.

There is such a wide variety of things to do in the Park that one could easily devote several days to exploring and experiencing it.

As a natural preserve, Stanley Park has over half a million trees – mostly Douglas Fir, red cedar, and Sitka spruce – and over 200 km (120 miles) of trails. It’s hard to believe that pristine forest trails exist right in the middle of a busy city.  In the middle of the Park is Lost Lagoon, a large freshwater pond that serves both as a bird sanctuary and a marsh with rushes and grasses.

Circling the Park is an 8.8km (5.5 miles) paved promenade known as the Seawall. Hugging the Pacific Ocean, it’s divided into 2 lanes, one for walkers and joggers, and the other for cyclists and in-line skaters. And speaking of the Pacific Ocean, Stanley Park has 2 bathing beaches with lifeguards, one at Second Beach and the other at Third Beach. Second Beach also has a children’s playground and a large outdoor heated swimming pool that has a special section for young children, as well as lap lanes for adults.

At nearby Lumberman’s Arch there is a water park for children that consists mainly of water geysers and canons, with the water being only at ankle depth.

For sports other than swimming,  Stanley Park offers lawn bowling, tennis courts, a 3 par 18 hole pitch and putt, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Vancouver Rowing Club.

In keeping with gorgeous private and public gardens throughout the city  of which Vancouverites are so rightly proud, Stanley Park has a large rhododendron and azalea garden, a rose garden and a Shakespeare garden. The latter contains plants and flowers that are mentioned in the bard’s works.

The Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park is world class with daily dolphin and whale shows.  Near the Aquarium is Painters’ Circle where local artists display and sell their creations. There is an outdoor theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, which stages Broadway musicals in August.  Nearby are the Totem Poles, which is the most visited tourist attraction in all of British Columbia, with  imposing poles from Native communities from all over the province.

In addition to driving through Stanley Park by car, one can also be transported on a horse drawn tour, or there is a miniature train which takes a picturesque journey through the forests.

And for personal refuelling, there are 3 excellent restaurants: the Fish House, the Prospect Point Café, and the Teahouse, as well as many kiosks and  picnic areas.