When we told our waiter at The Keg, a favorite restaurant, that we had a day to spend in Vancouver, BC with no plan, he walked away. He came back in about 20 minutes and told us about his favorite place in his hometown, Stanley Park. He called it his favorite time-occupier and recommended that we spend the day there. I now had a choice. I could tell him about our many visits to this grand attraction over a lifetime or simply thank him for the tip. I thanked him and we actually spent most of the next day in Stanley Park and did not get bored once. The totems proved to be a stunning attraction. This park was again amazing to both Ruth and I. We spent most of an entire day there, did not repeat a single activity, and we were certainly never alone here.
Established in 1888, Stanley Park is like a giant magnet for the people of Vancouver and its visitors. Most of them can be found either on a walking trail, riding a bike, or having a picnic. Stanley Park shares a large peninsula with a vast urban space called downtown Vancouver. They take up equal space on this dramatic peninsula.
This more than one million acre park contains more than half a million trees. Its red cedars, Douglas firs, hemlocks, and big leaf maples both entertain and amaze. Stanley Park has 2 beaches for swimmers. It contains at least 2 lakes, Beaver and the man-made Lost Lagoon near this park’s entrance. It offers some of the world’s best attractions, like a fine aquarium that has been a presence here since 1956. I was most recently in this aquarium with visitors from Australia. We all enjoyed this wonderful attraction on a rainy day that required a long walk from a parking spot not close enough to it. I was ultimately soaked but happy. Its miniature railway that one website describes as kitsch is much newer but not less popular. This railway’s trestles and tunnels are seen by 200,000 people each year. This is mostly a summer and special events train. A storm cleared its route. Storms are not unusual in this park. It has experienced major winds over the years. One storm occurred in 2006 that was especially memorable. Horse driven carriage tours are also popular as are seaplane flightseeing tours. They take off almost continuously from near this park. There are 3 very popular picnic spots and any number of playgrounds, monuments, sculptures, and plaques scattered about.
But the largest number of people come to Stanley Park to walk or bicycle. It contains the longest uninterrupted waterfront walking path in the world. This amounts to a 14 mile long Seawalk that is wildly popular and the attraction that our waiter most enjoys. It is such an attraction here that the park overseers have planned one lane around this park for vehicles and a separate one for bikes. It’s very easy, by the way, to miss both this park’s entrance and exit. The entrance is from Georgia Street, and it’s quite easy to get into the wrong lane for entry into it. We also missed the exit and had to go around the entire park to exit it.
Parking in this park is never a problem, but where you park can lead to long walks. There are many attractions once you get into Stanley Park. There are many attractions to entertain both locals and visitors in the form of gardens, restaurants, and huge forests. One time Ruth’s cousin’s husband and I spent an inordinate amount of time examining a hollow tree here. This time Ruth and I spent a large block of time paying attention to a lighthouse and then a sculpture of a girl in a wetsuit. Tripadvisor spends time on the internet recommending particular restaurants in Stanley Park. The Teahouse that we have enjoyed in the past was listed as one of the 5 best.
An attraction that makes Stanley Park totally unique is the presence of the Lion’s Gate Bridge over it. Stanley Park is both surrounded by water and densely forested. It was fun to cruise under this bridge on our way to Alaska. One major disappointment we experienced in Vancouver is the closing of our favorite visitors’ center across the street from the cruise ship terminal.
Stanley Park is not the creation of a landscape architect. It is an evolutionary park that 8 million people a year enjoy. Just ask our waiter!