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Stanley Park: an urban oasis

 

Local artists share their talent in the park’s open-air exhibition
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Stanley Park is one of those rare urban spots where people can find solitude in the city. Some enjoy a relaxing game of golf at the par 3 Stanley Park Pitch & Putt. Others go up to Prospect Point to watch cruise ships sail under the Lions Gate Bridge, with views of the North Shore mountains in the background.

The 1000-acre park was officially opened in 1888, and it was declared a National Historic Site on its 100th birthday. It’s easy to get into the park — there are no gates — just drive in from West Georgia Street or Beach Avenue, or take one of the city buses. You can also walk into the park from one of the pathways and trails from the West End and Coal Harbour.

Many visitors rent a bike and cycle the 8.8-kilometer paved seawall that surrounds the park, stopping at monuments like the 9 o’Clock Gun, an old cannon that emits a blast at 9 p.m. It takes about two hours to walk around the park but allow some extra time if you plan to stop for a picnic, or watch a cricket match at Brockton Oval, while enjoying a cold beer in the clubhouse. A few sandy beaches can be accessed directly from the seawall. At Third Beach, the water is calm enough for swimming, and a concession stand sells snacks.

Paved roadways criss-cross the park’s interior, and a network of wooded trails let nature enthusiasts wander among thousand-year-old cedars and look for raccoons and swans that make their home near Lost Lagoon. The Vancouver Trolley company offers guided tours, stopping at 15 locations throughout the park, including the nine totem poles at Brockton Point, and the new aboriginal exhibition, Klahowya Village. You can also get off this shuttle bus to explore on your own. Visit the Vancouver Aquarium, which is home to 70,000 animals including sea otters, jellyfish and the Great Pacific octopus. Ride the miniature train through the lush forest. Have afternoon tea at the Fish House restaurant, and during summer evenings, enjoy a musical at Theatre Under the Stars in Malkin Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater.

 

See also:

Explore the gardens of Canada’s west coast