Stanley Park is the green heart of Vancouver. The city’s residents flock to its 400 hectares of natural beauty to relax and unwind. And there’s plenty to do in between all the greenery! The following top five provides a good itinerary for a fantastic day out in the park.
The seawall is a 22-kilometre wall that runs alongside the water’s edge. More than a third of this length runs around Stanley Park. Every day, large numbers of joggers, walkers, skaters and cyclists find their way to the path on the seawall, construction of which began in 1917 to prevent further erosion of the coast. It would take another 60 years before the seawall was finally completed but, according to Vancouver residents, it is one of the best improvements ever introduced in the city.
One of the most relaxed ways to become acquainted with the park is via the Stanley Park MiniatureTrain. The train follows a roughly two kilometre route past stunning scenery, over bridges and through tunnels. The locomotive is a replica of Canadian Pacific’s Railway #374, which pulled the first passenger train to arrive in Vancouver in 1887. A couple of times a year the train is transformed into a theme ride. In October it becomes a Ghost Train for Halloween and during the festive season it becomes a Bright Nights Train travelling through an enchantingly illuminated park.
Boarding point: Pipeline Road, Stanley Park
Stanley Park’s best-known attraction is its collection of totem poles at Brockton Point. Over the years many totem poles have been discovered in and around Vancouver, replicas of which now stand in Stanley Park. The originals, some of which date back to 1880, are exhibited in various museums. Mythical tales passed on by old Indian tribes are engraved on the totem poles. Eight of the nine poles are painted. In 2009 the ninth, unpainted pole was added by Robert Yelton, a member of the Squamish Nation tribe, on the spot where the Yelton family originally lived. The pole is a memorial to Yelton’s mother who, according to her birth certificate, was born in Stanley Park.
Address: Brockton Point, Stanley Park
Vancouver Aquarium is situated amongst Stanley Park’s rich natural surroundings. It houses more than 50,000 animals at which to marvel, including sea otters, dolphins, anacondas and sharks. They swim around in gigantic water tanks among other sea life, such as coral, starfish and aquatic plants. The aquarium champions the cause of ocean conservation and raises visitors’ awareness of this issue through (interactive) exhibitions. Any profits are invested in projects that contribute towards ocean conservation.
The Stanley Park Hollow Tree holds a special place in the hearts of many Vancouver residents. The tree is between 700 and 800 years old and has a giant hollow centre, where cyclists, people in cars and even elephants have posed for photographs over the years. The tree was damaged during a heavy storm in 2006 and the decision was taken to remove it for safety reasons. A group of residents vehemently disagreed with this decision. Following a large-scale fundraising effort, they were able to collect sufficient funds to stabilise the tree and save it from being felled. Thanks to their efforts the Hollow Tree remains one of Stanley Park’s best-loved attractions to this day.