Stanley Park

Vancouver, Canada

Submitted by: Andrea Winkler

A unique urban forest in the middle of Vancouver.

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Why It Works

Stanley Park is a unique place, not only for its magnificent trees--like giant fir and cedar--which are unusual for an urban park, but also its variety of activities, which make it one of the top destinations in Vancouver for locals and visitors alike. The park spans 1,000 acres and includes sandy beaches, swimming pools, lakes and stunning vistas from the sea wall. The large expanse of grassland through the park provides an ideal spot for picnickers, and many groups organize outings and sports activities here: family reunions, groups of friends hanging out, or even company picnics.

The array of activities available have inspired nicknames like "Vancouver's playground." Its rolling hills host numerous events throughout the summer, from 'Theatre Under the Stars' to the annual Chihuahua walk-a-thon (thousands of Chihuahuas -- a sight not to be missed!). The park is also home to the Vancouver Public Aquarium and Zoo, nestled among the trees. The large grounds of the zoo are not visible from the road; they unfold into an unexpected animal kingdom. A network of trails lead visitors through the forest along "Lost Lagoon" (a tranquil habitat for many animals and birds that has an almost ethereal quality) to a majestic fountain. Moving along the beachside, there are food kiosks, playgrounds and an outdoor swimming pool that overflows with children in the summertime. Two wonderful restaurants benefit from some of the most spectacular natural settings of any urban park in North America.

Stanley Park is a great lesson in public space real estate: Its best asset is location, location, location. Only minutes from downtown, it is easily accessible by foot, bike and car. A road meanders through the park taking drivers from downtown to the Lions Gate Bridge, which hosts marathon runs in the summer months. The seawall, which circumnavigates the park, extends from Coal Harbour to the West side. The wall is used by pedestrians, bikers and rollerbladers. It's a calming and enjoyable way to commute to work, and a great way to take in the scenery on a Sunday afternoon stroll.

History & Background

Originally used as a military installation for the British and named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the acreage is now protected and remains Canada's largest public-funded park.

Contact Info:

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation: (604) 257-8400

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