Spending a weekend in Vancouver like the locals!

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by RLB2 on August 13, 2011

Vancouver is amazing, Mum and I loved the place. It's a weird juxtaposition of the outdoors, for which British Columbia is so well known, and city life...skyscraper city life. Everyone in Vancouver seemed to be fit and healthy and so when the weekend comes it shouldn't be a surprise that you'll find the majority of the city's inhabitants enjoying the wonders of Stanley Park.

Forget Central Park in New York, this bad boy is bigger..10% bigger. It covers an area of over 1000 acres and it borders downtown Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. The park has a seawall that stretches for nearly 9 km around the edge and this has a wonderful path for cyclists, skaters, walkers, joggers and runners. In the centre of the park there are lots of trees, not just pre-planted trees, but the original trees that covered British Columbia when white settlers first arrived from Europe. In an incredible act of foresight this area was protected from the loggers and became Stanley Park in 1888, it's named after Lord Stanley, the first Governer General of British Columbia.

Well enough of the history, Mum and I set off on a sunny Saturday morning and wandered down to the seawall. The whole area is quite strange in the sense that tankers and other ships are busy using the inlet and sound and there are lots of people flying past in bikes or overtaking you jogging. You can hire a bike for around CAD$10 for the day and it is the quickest way to get round the seawall, and even do a bit of mountain biking on the trails within the park. But we decided to take our time and walk, and I'm kind of glad that we did.

We started off at the end that has an outdoor pool and had a coffee while watching people enjoy a dip. Then we wandered a bit further round and found an artist doing sculptures with rocks. I've attached a photo because these have to be seen to be believed, they were just balanced on top of each other. Now if I hadn't seen him setting them up myself I wouldn't have believed it, but they looked great and he had obviously been busy because he had almost filled the beach with them.

Just as I thought I couldn't be amazed any more I looked out to sea and saw a sea otter, just playing around in the shallows. I was amazed, these creatures were nearly extinct not too many years ago, before we realised that they are better to see like this in the wild than as a fur hat! Just as I turned to carry on I heard a squawking and looked up to see two ravens attacking a sea eagle, who was obviously after their nest. Phew so much wildlife in such a short space of time...I can see why the Vancouverites come here.

Off we toddled around the seawall and took in lots of wonderful sites and lovely groups of people out for exercise, fun or a day with the family. One of the best things in the park, in my opinion (after only being there once) was the view of Siwash Rock (see photos). The park was an important area for First Nations and this rock was a landmark for them. Apparantley in their oral history, a man was transformed into the rock by the three transformer brothers (and we're not talking about Optimus Prime here!). I just thought that this little outcrop was beautiful and could have looked at it all day.

We continued, passing under the Lion's Gate Bridge, which connects Vancouver to North & West Vancouver (see pictures). It was pretty amazing passing underneath such an amazing bridge and again I got this weird feeling of being in a City whilst overlooking hundred year old trees and the mountains as a backdrop....stunning that's all I can say!

Anyway onwards, we passed plenty of places to stop and eat and we eventually got back to downtown Vancouver after passing the Vancouver Aquarium. We didn't visit there, mainly because I am a marine biologist, so it feels a bit like work, but I'm sure lots of people would love to take their kids there. We ended up watching the lit fountain in the Lost Lagoon, before heading for a cheeky cupcake...but I think we deserved it!

I would totally recommend visiting this park if you're in Vancouver, especially if the city is a bit much for you. Once you've got halfway round you don't even feel like you're in a city.
Stanley Park
843 Avison Way
Vancouver, British Columbia, V5K 1A1
(604) 257-8400


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