Stanley Park, Vancouver
Vancouver , British Columbia
Tel: 604 257 8400
Concierge.com's insider take:
Described as a "1,000-acre therapeutic couch" of majestic evergreens, formal gardens, hiking trails, and kids' activities, Stanley Park is the third largest public park in North America. Set at the northwest corner of Downtown, it occupies a bulb-shaped peninsula that juts out into English Bay and Burrard Inlet. The park's summit, Prospect Point, is at its northern edge and has sweeping views of the inlet, North Vancouver, and the Lions Gate Bridge. Looking straight down from the point, you'll see the parade of walkers, bikers, and in-line skaters plying the park's prize attraction, the 5.5-mile seawall path that runs along the perimeter.
The entire park can be walked in two and a half hours at a brisk pace, but if you're pressed for time or have little ones in tow, you can also drive through the park and hit some of its high points—like the eight soaring totem poles carved by the Squamish people near Brockton Point. Bring your camera and in the evenings, maybe your earplugs: Nearby is the Nine O' Clock gun, an old English sea cannon placed in the park more than 100 years ago and fired nightly. The most developed area of the park includes the Vancouver Aquarium; the nearby Miniature Train, a delight for kids of all ages; and the Children's Farmyard, a petting zoo with barns full of sheep, goats, and pot-bellied pigs (and one grouchy llama).
In December 2006, hurricane-force storms uprooted and damaged some 10,000 trees in the park. All the roads and hiking trails have been cleared of debris and are again open to the public, along with the seawall. But Stanley Park is so beloved by locals that any change to the natural landscape is an issue of study and contention. Even an offer of a free concert by hometown hero Bryan Adams was turned down, as was a request from Jaguar to use the seawall as a backdrop for the unveiling of its snazzy coupes. That said, numerous annual events are held in Stanley Park; call the Parks and Recreation Board office for information and maps.—Kasey Wilson