Trip and Wellness

12 Best Things To Do in Stanley Park

Blending the natural and urban landscapes, Stanley Park stands as Vancouver’s best park, housing some of the city’s renowned tourist attractions. Nestled at the western tip of the Downtown peninsula, it is within walking distance of office towers and shopping areas. The proximity to the city enhances the allure of Stanley Park’s majestic centuries-old red cedar and Douglas fir trees.

Today, the park ranks among Vancouver’s top attractions. Interwoven with forested paths that lead to scenic viewpoints, key sites, and restaurants, the most favored route remains the seawall—a waterfront path catering to walking, jogging, and biking enthusiasts around Stanley Park.

It’s advisable to have a plan in mind before visiting the park, as parking can pose a challenge at times. Get started with our list of the best things to do in Stanley Park.

1. Brockton Point Totem Poles

Brockton Point Totem Poles
Brockton Point Totem Poles

The assembly of totem poles and carvings at Brockton Point showcases First Nations cultures from across British Columbia. The exhibit commenced approximately a century ago within the park, but over time, the original poles have been duplicated, and the weathered heritage carvings have been safeguarded in local museums.

These totems are situated in proximity to Brockton Oval, visible from the seawall. Additionally, in the Brockton Point vicinity, Deadman’s Island, a significant First Nations landmark, has transformed into a naval base and is restricted from public access.

2. Lost Lagoon

Lost Lagoon
Lost Lagoon

Before the road was built through Stanley Park, the marshy Lost Lagoon would almost completely dry out during low tide and merge with Coal Harbour during high tide. However, the construction of the causeway and Lions Gate Bridge altered the landscape, creating a permanent water source. Today, Lost Lagoon is a habitat for a diverse array of waterfowl.

Canada geese, swans, and ducks appear to enjoy being fed, even though this practice is discouraged. Exercise caution with the swans, as they tend to nip at fingers along with any treats being offered! Along the shores of Lost Lagoon, the Stanley Park Nature House showcases natural history exhibits and warmly welcomes families.

3. Bike or Walk the Seawall

Bike or Walk the Seawall
Bike or Walk the Seawall

Opting for a bike ride along the seawall is a popular choice among visitors for swiftly navigating the expansive and beautiful Stanley Park. The approximately ten-kilometer loop commences in Coal Harbour and circumvents the peninsula via notable points such as Brockton Point, the Lions Gate Bridge, Third Beach, Second Beach, and Lost Lagoon.

If you’re unsure where to start, consider joining a guided Stanley Park bike tour to explore key attractions in the company of a small group of riders.

The route offers a sequence of splendid views, making the Stanley Park seawall a consistently favored location. Given its popularity, especially on summer weekends, designated lanes ensure that pedestrians can stroll without concern about encountering cyclists.

Historical landmarks are scattered along the entire stretch of the seawall route. The Nine O’Clock Gun fires off at twilight every night, the Brockton Point Lighthouse aids ships navigating through First Narrows, and the replica figurehead from the Canadian Pacific Line’s Empress of Japan pays tribute to a majestic ocean-faring vessel.

Notable spots for capturing memories include Vancouver’s counterpart to the Copenhagen Mermaid – Girl in a Wetsuit, the totem poles at Brockton Point, and Siwash Rock.

4. Second Beach

Second Beach
Second Beach

A popular choice for families, Second Beach stands out for its expansive outdoor pool, sandy expanse, extensive playground area, and proximity to English Bay in the West End.

The beach was enhanced with sand dredged from False Creek, and during summer weekends, the area experiences high activity. Various enjoyable activities are available nearby, including an 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course, park walking trails, and public tennis courts.

Near the tennis courts, great blue herons congregate for nesting each spring, presenting an intriguing sight with their spacious nests and distinctive silhouettes against the backdrop of bare branches.

5. Hike among the Towering Trees

Trail in Stanley Park
Trail in Stanley Park

Stanley Park boasts some of Vancouver’s most well-preserved forests, and the optimal way to immerse yourself in the presence of these colossal old fir, cedar, hemlock, and spruce trees is by taking a stroll beneath their branches. As you wander along the even trails covered in bark, the tranquility of the forest will envelop you. The cool shadows harbor abundant wildlife – it’s not uncommon to encounter deer, foxes, rabbits, and a diverse array of bird species.

Despite the park undergoing logging in the late 19th century, certain trees were deemed too immense to be harvested and were consequently spared. These designated “monument trees” are situated along Siwash Trail, Third Beach Trail, and Lake Trail (north of Beaver Lake). Most of them are estimated to be 400-450 years old.

6. Stanley Park Gardens

Stanley Park Gardens
Stanley Park Gardens

Stanley Park is a haven of beauty, and nowhere is it more evident than in the three featured gardens within the park: the Rose Garden, the Ted & Mary Grieg Rhododendron Garden, and the gardens at Prospect Point.

Timing is crucial to witness two of the gardens in their prime. April and May showcase the rhododendrons and azaleas, with these low, bushy trees displaying breathtaking blooms in pink and white.

The rose gardens reach their peak in June and July, boasting a dazzling array of colors and captivating fragrances.

Don’t be concerned if your visit falls outside of these times. The bedding plants at Prospect Point offer a visual delight throughout the spring into the fall.

7. Stanley Park Pavilion

Stanley Park Pavilion
Stanley Park Pavilion

A century ago, the wooden pavilion in Stanley Park functioned as park administration. Presently, it serves as a wedding venue, and the restaurant named Stanley’s offers West Coast cuisine. Conveniently located near the Malkin Bowl outdoor performance venue, a charming Rose Garden, and park trails.

Stanley’s, the onsite restaurant, proudly claims to have the park’s largest patio. And indeed, it is a remarkable patio! Offering stunning views over well-kept lawns, it provides a welcoming setting to enjoy fresh and flavorful local favorites. Don’t miss the Pacific cod fish and chips or, for a land-based option, consider the House Burger featuring Wagyu beef.

8. Third Beach

Third Beach
Third Beach

This is another one of Vancouver’s charming beaches, captivating cyclists on the seawall and families with its natural sands and picturesque views. The Stanley Park Forest acts as a screen, providing a sense of privacy compared to many other city beaches. The water is shallow and somewhat shielded from waves when the wind is from the north, thanks to a rock seawall extending into the ocean.

It is also one of the finest spots in the city for watching the sunset, and an evening picnic is highly recommended.

9. Scenic Drive

Prospect Point
Prospect Point

The one-way picturesque route encircling Stanley Park commences from West Georgia Street and serves as an excellent method to quickly acquaint oneself with the park. Convenient pullouts and parking lots are strategically located at all attractions, including the totem poles at Brockton Point and the viewpoint at Prospect Point.

The perspective from Prospect Point is particularly stunning, encompassing the North Shore Mountains and the bustling Lions Gate Bridge. It carries a certain dramatic flair, being the highest elevation in Stanley Park.

All major sightseeing tour companies include the scenic drive as part of their introduction to the park. Bus tours are a common feature in the park, typically making stops at the totem poles and Prospect Point. Additionally, there are horse-drawn wagon tours that follow a loop around Brockton Point.

10. Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver Aquarium

Nestled in the heart of Stanley Park, the globally acclaimed Vancouver Aquarium showcases an array of over 50,000 animals, encompassing various species of Pacific marine life. The endearing sea otters hold a particular allure, and other marine mammals such as dolphins, belugas, and sea lions draw substantial crowds.

A highlight of the aquarium is the Discover Rays Touch Pool exhibit, widely regarded as one of the most popular attractions. The rainforest-like Graham Amazon Gallery offers a walk-through experience with free-roaming animals.

Daily animal shows at the aquarium feature engaging presentations with sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, and even frog feedings.

11. Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake
Beaver Lake

The stroll to the charming Beaver Lake, named for its resident beaver colony, is truly rewarding and offers a different perspective on the park.

During the summer, this natural freshwater lake in Stanley Park transforms into a kaleidoscope of colors with various water lilies. Visitors can often expect encounters with waterfowl, Douglas squirrels, and other wildlife. Trails radiate from the lake, leading into both the western and eastern sections of the park.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore north of the lake along the Lake Trail; this area is home to some truly massive trees, some of which are over 400 years old.

12. Ferguson Point

Ferguson Point
Ferguson Point

Having once served as a military station, Ferguson Point has transformed into a spot renowned for its picturesque vistas and dining options. The Teahouse restaurant, housed in what used to be the CO’s quarters, is particularly popular due to its stunning views.

The outdoor patio offers an ideal setting on warm summer days, while the indoor dining room features windows across the front that provide a scenic overlook of the ocean. Positioned perfectly, you can observe ships entering and leaving Vancouver harbor, and with a bit of luck, you might even catch sight of a pod of orcas.

This serves as a convenient parking spot, allowing easy access to walk to various attractions and beaches within the park from the point.

Accommodation: Where to Stay near Stanley Park


Q: Is Stanley Park suitable for families with children?

A: Absolutely! Stanley Park offers a range of family-friendly activities, from the Miniature Train Ride to the Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours.

Q: Are there entrance fees for Stanley Park?

A: No, entry to Stanley Park is free, allowing everyone to enjoy its beauty without any cost.

Q: Can I bring my own bike to Stanley Park?

A: Yes, you can bring your bike, or you can conveniently rent one within the park.

Q: Are there guided tours available in Stanley Park?

A: Yes, there are guided tours, including informative walks and horse-drawn carriage tours, providing insights into the park’s history and attractions.

Q: What is the best time to visit Stanley Park?

A: The park is beautiful year-round, but summer offers pleasant weather, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities.