20 Things to See in Stanley Park in Vancouver BC (Full Guide!)

Last Updated on March 8, 2022 by admin

If you’re planning a trip to Vancouver BC, you absolutely have to see Stanley Park. Located right in the heart of Vancouver, this public park is where locals and tourists alike come to enjoy the outdoors. Just like New York City has Central Park, Vancouver has Stanley Park. (In fact, Stanley Park is actually bigger than Central Park!) We make sure to visit Stanley Park every time we are in Vancouver. This post will cover some of our favorite things to do at Stanley Park, which includes things like walking the Seawall promenade, seeing the old growth forest, admiring the totem poles, exploring the aquarium, and so much more.

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If you’re planning to visit Vancouver, be sure to check out our post on how to spend a weekend in Vancouver. We share the must-see attractions, the best places to eat, and where to stay to make the most of your trip to Vancouver BC. Also be sure to check out our guide on the best places to eat in Vancouver.

About Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a very large park, with over 1,000 acres of outdoor recreational space. The park is located in the northwestern portion of Vancouver’s downtown peninsula. The park is located on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and there’s evidence of their presence there as far as 3,000 years ago.

British settlers later arrived to Vancouver and the area was opened as a city park in 1888. The park was named after Lord Stanley, who was a governor general. (That’s also the same guy that donated the Stanley Cup for the National Hockey League.)

In 2010, a Squamish tribe elder (Robert Yelton) proposed that the name of Stanley Park be changed to Xwayxway Park, named after the First Nations village that was located within the park. (His own mother was born in Xwayxway.) This name was not adopted, but perhaps it will be one day.


 

20 Things to Do in Stanley Park

1. Walk the Seawall

The most iconic thing to do at Stanley Park is to walk the Seawall. It’s the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path! The Seawall extends a total of about 17 miles (28 kilometers) as part of the Seaside Greenway, and the portion that wraps around Stanley Park is about 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) long. It takes most people two to three hours to walk the Seawall. (And it takes about an hour to cycle around the park.)

A printable map of the entire Seawall is available here.

Construction of the Seawall began over 100 years ago, in 1917. The Seawall was officially completed in 1980, although there have been some significant renovations since then.

Rain or shine, you will find locals enjoying this immense park.

2. Visit Hollow Tree

Within Stanley Park is an old growth rainforest. The Hollow Tree is one of the oldest trees in the park, estimated to be between 600-800 years old. The tree is a Western Red Cedar that has died and left a giant hollow stump. People from across the world travel to Vancouver and have their picture taken within the stump. The circumference of the stump is about 60 feet! After a storm in 2006, the stump began to lean at a dangerous angle. Instead of letting the tree fall, the Vancouver Parks Board inserted a metal frame to make sure that it would be a safe attraction for years to come.

If you want to see some historical photos of the tree, check out the link here. There’s even a photo from the 1930s with an elephant inside the tree!

3. Admire the Totem Poles

Head to Brockton Point to check out the totem poles created by the First Nations people and reflect on their important contributions to the area. There are a total of 9 totem poles in this area. Many of the First Nations people in British Columbia created totem poles. These include the Haida, Kwakiutl, Tlinglit, Coast Salish, and Nuxalt.

The reason why there are so many totem poles in Stanley Park is because the Vancouver Parks Board began buying them in the 1920s with the hopes of creating a replica First Nations village. 

Each totem pole was carved from Western Red Cedar and each totem pole depicts a specific story.

Some of the oldest totem poles are believed to have been created in the 1880s. 

Some of the totem poles are replicas of the originals, which were removed from the park to protect them from the weather. 

Stanley Park Totem Poles

The Rose Cole Yelton Memorial Totem Pole is the most recent totem pole at Brockton Point. The totem pole honors Rose Cole Yelton, the last surviving resident of the Brockton indigenous community. 

Below are a couple of books for further reading about these important topics:

4. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is a special place for us, because it was one of our baby daughter’s first excursions. She loved the bright lights in the tanks, and she especially liked watching the jelly fish float around!

The Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park. There are over 30 exhibits that house over 65,000 animals. We especially liked watching the sea otters and jelly fish. There’s also a 4D cinema and touch pools.

The Vancouver Aquarium’s hours shift depending on the season. You can find current visit information here. At the time of this writing, an adult admission ticket was $42 CAD. 

We wrote all about our visit to the Vancouver Aquarium (linked here) if you’re interested in visiting this amazing place!

Vancouver Aquarium

5. Check Out Siwash Rock

Siwash Rock is between 49 and 59 feet tall. The rock has special significance to the Squamish people because the rock represents a man named Skalsh who was transformed into the eternal rock as a reward for unselfishness. There was a motion for the rock’s name to be changed to Slhx̱í7lsh, which is the original word for the landmark. 

Siwash Rock

6. Rent Bikes

One of our favorite things to do at Stanley Park is rent bikes. Doing so allows you to quickly see the Seawall, as well as traverse many of the inland trails. 

There are no bike rental businesses within the park itself, but there are several just before the entrance to the park. 

We rented bikes from Spokes Bike Rentals. They have all sorts of bikes you can rent, including tandem bicycles, child trailers, dog baskets, and performance bikes. (We rented a tandem bike, and it was a super fun way to see the park together!)

tandem bike Stanley Park

7. Visit the Gardens

Stanley Park is home to several beautiful gardens.

The Ted and Mary Grieg Rhododendron Garden is filled with rhododendrons. (These flowers also happen to be the state flower of my home state, Washington.) The best time to visit this garden is in early May, during peak season. However, you’ll be able to see some rhododendron blooms as early as March and as late as June.

The Shakespeare Garden pays homage to Shakespeare, who was believed to have been a very knowledgable gardener. In the early 1900s, many Shakespeare gardens were built around the world to mark the 300 year anniversary of his death. The first tree was planted in the Vancouver Shakespeare garden in 1916 to mark the occasion. The garden was officially opened in 1936 as part of Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Many of the trees and plants in the garden were chosen to be placed in the garden because they were specifically mentioned in Shakespeare’s writing. Where appropriate, plaques name the plants with corresponding Shakespeare quotes.

The Rose Garden was created in 1920 by the Kiwanis Club. The roses bloom in the summer (best to see them in June and July), but there are a variety of flowers that also bloom in the spring and fall. The garden is located in the center of the park. 

Rose Garden

8. Go Swimming at the Second Beach Pool

The Second Beach Pool is a heated outdoor pool that is 80 meters long. It’s a graduated depth pool and it has designated swimming lap lanes. The pool is open seasonly, typically from late May to early September. It’s a great place to take children, because there are two slides and a large shallow area. 

The pool overlooks the English Bay at Second Beach, so it has quite the view. There is a small fee to swim in the pool.

9. Spend the Day at the Beach

There are two popular beaches within Stanley Park: Second Beach and Third Beach. (I’m not sure why there isn’t a First Beach!) 

Second Beach is popular for the heated pool, volleyball court, and nearby playgrounds. This area also has public restrooms and a seasonal concession stand. 

Third Beach is a bit more secluded and is an ideal spot to watch the sunset. This beach also has public restrooms and a seasonal concession stand.

10. Ride the Stanley Park Train

Located within the park is a miniature train. The 15-minute train ride will take you through the forest. The train features a vintage engine and passengers can take a quick photo before boarding. An adult ticket costs $7 CAD.

The train is a popular attraction for many holidays, including the Ghost Train for Halloween (currently canceled for 2021), and a holiday lights train for Bright Nights.

11. Attend a Concert at the Malkin Bowl

This outdoor venue seats 2,000 people. If you want to catch a show at Stanley Park, be sure to view their upcoming events schedule (linked here). 

12. Visit the Lost Lagoon

The Lost Lagoon is located near the entrance of Stanley Park. If you want to walk around the lagoon, it’s about a 30 minute walk. The lagoon is a man-made water feature. In the center of the lagoon is the Jubilee Fountain. The fountain was installed in 1936 as part of Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebration.

Prior to the creation of the lagoon, the area was a mud flat. At low tide, the lagoon would disappear, hence it’s name “lost” lagoon. The Stanley Park Nature House is adjacent to the lagoon and is operated by the Stanley Park Ecology Society. 

13. Take a Walk to Beaver Lake

The trail to Beaver Lake is 1.5 kilometers. This wetland area has a lot of diverse wildlife. The lake is really more of a wetland, and is not suitable for things like swimming. We visited Beaver Lake when we rented bikes, and it was a fun little trail within the park.

Beaver Lake Vancouver BC

14. Visit Ferguson Point

Ferguson Point is located on the west-facing portion of the park. During World War II, artillery guns were placed on the point. Now, there is a plaque providing a brief history of that time period. Ferguson Point is named after A.G. Ferguson, who was one of the first park commissioners. He used his own money to pay for the park’s maintenance when the budget was gone. In addition to the artillery plaque, there’s also the Teahouse, the E. Pauline Johnson Memorial (the poet who named the Lost Lagoon), and the Burma Forces Cairn.

15. View the Nine O’Clock Gun

The Nine O’Clock Gun is a cannon located in the park that fires at 9pm each evening. During the covid pandemic, the gun fired off at 7pm in support of essential workers. The gun was originally located at the Brockton Point Lighthouse. It was fired at 9pm every night so that citizens could set their clocks. The gun was cast in 1816 in England and brought to Vancouver in 1894. The gun has fired nightly for most days for nearly a century. 

16. Visit Lumbermen’s Arch

This giant arch was created by three very large trees. The first version of the arch was created in 1912 for a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The arch was replaced by a much more simple version in 1952.

17. See Two Lighthouses

There are two lighthouses located in Stanley Park: The Brockton Point Lighthouse and the Prospect Point Lighthouse. The Brockton Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1890. It’s a square tower that’s painted red and white. The base of the lighthouse is arched and even has a walkway beneath it. Currently the lighthouse is inactive. The Prospect Point Lighthouse is much smaller. It was built in 1888, just four days after Stanley Park opened. 

18. Explore the Many Trails

In addition to the Seawall that surrounds the park, there are numerous trails within the park itself.

The Cathedral Trail leads to the Seven Sisters Replantation. The original Seven Sisters were large old growth trees that needed to be cut down for safety purposes. The city planted new trees in honor of those giant trees.

The Avison Trail is a steep trail that will give you a glimpse below the Lions Gate Bridge.

The Beaver Lake Trail is also a pretty trail that leads to the lake. It’s a nice place to get away from the sounds of traffic and people. 

19. Engage in Sports and Recreation

Stanley Park is home to a number of clubs, including the Golf Club, Rowing Club, Yacht Club, Brockton Point Cricket Club, and the Lawn Bowling Club. 

In addition to the activities above, there are also volleyball courts, basketball courts, and tennis courts.

20. Visit Ceperly Park

This park within a park features a large grassy area, two large playgrounds, and a basketball court. Ceperly Park is close to the beach and is a popular destination for families. 

 

 


 

20 Things to Do in Stanley Park

1. Walk the Seawall

The most iconic thing to do at Stanley Park is to walk the Seawall. It’s the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path! The Seawall extends a total of about 17 miles (28 kilometers) as part of the Seaside Greenway, and the portion that wraps around Stanley Park is about 5.5 miles (9 kilometers) long. It takes most people two to three hours to walk the Seawall. (And it takes about an hour to cycle around the park.)

A printable map of the entire Seawall is available here.

Construction of the Seawall began over 100 years ago, in 1917. The Seawall was officially completed in 1980, although there have been some significant renovations since then.

Rain or shine, you will find locals enjoying this immense park.

2. Visit Hollow Tree

Within Stanley Park is an old growth rainforest. The Hollow Tree is one of the oldest trees in the park, estimated to be between 600-800 years old. The tree is a Western Red Cedar that has died and left a giant hollow stump. People from across the world travel to Vancouver and have their picture taken within the stump. The circumference of the stump is about 60 feet! After a storm in 2006, the stump began to lean at a dangerous angle. Instead of letting the tree fall, the Vancouver Parks Board inserted a metal frame to make sure that it would be a safe attraction for years to come.

If you want to see some historical photos of the tree, check out the link here. There’s even a photo from the 1930s with an elephant inside the tree!

3. Admire the Totem Poles

Head to Brockton Point to check out the totem poles created by the First Nations people and reflect on their important contributions to the area. There are a total of 9 totem poles in this area. Many of the First Nations people in British Columbia created totem poles. These include the Haida, Kwakiutl, Tlinglit, Coast Salish, and Nuxalt.

The reason why there are so many totem poles in Stanley Park is because the Vancouver Parks Board began buying them in the 1920s with the hopes of creating a replica First Nations village. 

Each totem pole was carved from Western Red Cedar and each totem pole depicts a specific story.

Some of the oldest totem poles are believed to have been created in the 1880s. 

Some of the totem poles are replicas of the originals, which were removed from the park to protect them from the weather. 

The Rose Cole Yelton Memorial Totem Pole is the most recent totem pole at Brockton Point. The totem pole honors Rose Cole Yelton, the last surviving resident of the Brockton indigenous community. 

The Totem Poles at Brockton Point in Stanley Park Vancouver BC

Below are a couple of books for further reading about these important topics:

4. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is a special place for us, because it was one of our baby daughter’s first excursions. She loved the bright lights in the tanks, and she especially liked watching the jelly fish float around!

The Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park. There are over 30 exhibits that house over 65,000 animals. We especially liked watching the sea otters and jelly fish. There’s also a 4D cinema and touch pools.

The Vancouver Aquarium’s hours shift depending on the season. You can find current visit information here. At the time of this writing, an adult admission ticket was $42 CAD. 

We wrote all about our visit to the Vancouver Aquarium (linked here) if you’re interested in visiting this amazing place!

Vancouver Aquarium

5. Check Out Siwash Rock

Siwash Rock is between 49 and 59 feet tall. The rock has special significance to the Squamish people because the rock represents a man named Skalsh who was transformed into the eternal rock as a reward for unselfishness. There was a motion for the rock’s name to be changed to Slhx̱í7lsh, which is the original word for the landmark. 

Siwash Rock

6. Rent Bikes

One of our favorite things to do at Stanley Park is rent bikes. Doing so allows you to quickly see the Seawall, as well as traverse many of the inland trails. 

There are no bike rental businesses within the park itself, but there are several just before the entrance to the park. 

We rented bikes from Spokes Bike Rentals. They have all sorts of bikes you can rent, including tandem bicycles, child trailers, dog baskets, and performance bikes. (We rented a tandem bike, and it was a super fun way to see the park together!)

tandem bike Stanley Park

7. Visit the Gardens

Stanley Park is home to several beautiful gardens.

The Ted and Mary Grieg Rhododendron Garden is filled with rhododendrons. (These flowers also happen to be the state flower of my home state, Washington.) The best time to visit this garden is in early May, during peak season. However, you’ll be able to see some rhododendron blooms as early as March and as late as June.

The Shakespeare Garden pays homage to Shakespeare, who was believed to have been a very knowledgable gardener. In the early 1900s, many Shakespeare gardens were built around the world to mark the 300 year anniversary of his death. The first tree was planted in the Vancouver Shakespeare garden in 1916 to mark the occasion. The garden was officially opened in 1936 as part of Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebration. Many of the trees and plants in the garden were chosen to be placed in the garden because they were specifically mentioned in Shakespeare’s writing. Where appropriate, plaques name the plants with corresponding Shakespeare quotes.

The Rose Garden was created in 1920 by the Kiwanis Club. The roses bloom in the summer (best to see them in June and July), but there are a variety of flowers that also bloom in the spring and fall. The garden is located in the center of the park. 

Rose Garden

8. Go Swimming at the Second Beach Pool

The Second Beach Pool is a heated outdoor pool that is 80 meters long. It’s a graduated depth pool and it has designated swimming lap lanes. The pool is open seasonly, typically from late May to early September. It’s a great place to take children, because there are two slides and a large shallow area. 

The pool overlooks the English Bay at Second Beach, so it has quite the view. There is a small fee to swim in the pool.

9. Spend the Day at the Beach

There are two popular beaches within Stanley Park: Second Beach and Third Beach. (I’m not sure why there isn’t a First Beach!) 

Second Beach is popular for the heated pool, volleyball court, and nearby playgrounds. This area also has public restrooms and a seasonal concession stand. 

Third Beach is a bit more secluded and is an ideal spot to watch the sunset. This beach also has public restrooms and a seasonal concession stand.

10. Ride the Stanley Park Train

Located within the park is a miniature train. The 15-minute train ride will take you through the forest. The train features a vintage engine and passengers can take a quick photo before boarding. An adult ticket costs $7 CAD.

The train is a popular attraction for many holidays, including the Ghost Train for Halloween (currently canceled for 2021), and a holiday lights train for Bright Nights.

11. Attend a Concert at the Malkin Bowl

This outdoor venue seats 2,000 people. If you want to catch a show at Stanley Park, be sure to view their upcoming events schedule (linked here). 

12. Visit the Lost Lagoon

The Lost Lagoon is located near the entrance of Stanley Park. If you want to walk around the lagoon, it’s about a 30 minute walk. The lagoon is a man-made water feature. In the center of the lagoon is the Jubilee Fountain. The fountain was installed in 1936 as part of Vancouver’s Golden Jubilee celebration.

Prior to the creation of the lagoon, the area was a mud flat. At low tide, the lagoon would disappear, hence it’s name “lost” lagoon. The Stanley Park Nature House is adjacent to the lagoon and is operated by the Stanley Park Ecology Society. 

13. Take a Walk to Beaver Lake

The trail to Beaver Lake is 1.5 kilometers. This wetland area has a lot of diverse wildlife. The lake is really more of a wetland, and is not suitable for things like swimming. We visited Beaver Lake when we rented bikes, and it was a fun little trail within the park.

Beaver Lake Vancouver BC

14. Visit Ferguson Point

Ferguson Point is located on the west-facing portion of the park. During World War II, artillery guns were placed on the point. Now, there is a plaque providing a brief history of that time period. Ferguson Point is named after A.G. Ferguson, who was one of the first park commissioners. He used his own money to pay for the park’s maintenance when the budget was gone. In addition to the artillery plaque, there’s also the Teahouse, the E. Pauline Johnson Memorial (the poet who named the Lost Lagoon), and the Burma Forces Cairn.

15. View the Nine O’Clock Gun

The Nine O’Clock Gun is a cannon located in the park that fires at 9pm each evening. During the covid pandemic, the gun fired off at 7pm in support of essential workers. The gun was originally located at the Brockton Point Lighthouse. It was fired at 9pm every night so that citizens could set their clocks. The gun was cast in 1816 in England and brought to Vancouver in 1894. The gun has fired nightly for most days for nearly a century. 

16. Visit Lumbermen’s Arch

This giant arch was created by three very large trees. The first version of the arch was created in 1912 for a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The arch was replaced by a much more simple version in 1952.

17. See Two Lighthouses

There are two lighthouses located in Stanley Park: The Brockton Point Lighthouse and the Prospect Point Lighthouse. The Brockton Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1890. It’s a square tower that’s painted red and white. The base of the lighthouse is arched and even has a walkway beneath it. Currently the lighthouse is inactive. The Prospect Point Lighthouse is much smaller. It was built in 1888, just four days after Stanley Park opened. 

18. Explore the Many Trails

In addition to the Seawall that surrounds the park, there are numerous trails within the park itself.

The Cathedral Trail leads to the Seven Sisters Replantation. The original Seven Sisters were large old growth trees that needed to be cut down for safety purposes. The city planted new trees in honor of those giant trees.

The Avison Trail is a steep trail that will give you a glimpse below the Lions Gate Bridge.

The Beaver Lake Trail is also a pretty trail that leads to the lake. It’s a nice place to get away from the sounds of traffic and people. 

19. Engage in Sports and Recreation

Stanley Park is home to a number of clubs, including the Golf Club, Rowing Club, Yacht Club, Brockton Point Cricket Club, and the Lawn Bowling Club. 

In addition to the activities above, there are also volleyball courts, basketball courts, and tennis courts.

20. Visit Ceperly Park

This park within a park features a large grassy area, two large playgrounds, and a basketball court. Ceperly Park is close to the beach and is a popular destination for families.