Vancouver's top attraction is totally free!
Over 8 million people visit Vancouver's Stanley Park each year, yet it rarely feels crowded. Instead, it feels like the city has suddenly opened up into your own private nature oasis, one that you might occasionally share with picnic-ing families or dedicated joggers. With over 1,000 acres of green space to explore, you could live in Vancouver for years and still not discover all of Stanley Parks' best nooks and crannies. So if your time in the city is limited, here are some not-to-miss park highlights.
Swimming - For the First, Second, or Third Time?
Nature loving Vancouverites will have you feeling guilty for not focusing more on fitness, but a visit to First, Second, or Third Beach will change that. These are the only accessible swimming beaches on Stanley Parks' rocky shoreline. First Beach (aka English Bay Beach) is the most popular, Second Beach is home to a heated swimming pool and spectacular views. Third Beach is the most secluded of the group and offers soft sandy shores.
Roses and Wine.
Stanley Park is equally wonderful as a relaxation destination. The rose garden is nearly 100 years old and contains over 3,500 specimens. It's the ideal location to take a book, seek out a bench, and enjoy a bit of solitude.The nearby Stanley Park Pavilion is host to a bar and grill where the wine menu focuses on local British Columbia vineyards.
A Tale of Two Lighthouses
When I think of coastal port cities, I think about lots of lighthouses but Vancouver is home to only two - one in Lighthouse Park and one at Brockton Point in Stanley Park. If you enjoy people watching when you travel, you should visit the Brockton Point Light and watch the boats go by - from tiny pleasure crafts to massive cruise ships. Don't let yourself be (too) surprised if you hear a bit of an explosion - every day a gun is fired at 9:00pm, a tradition from the late 1800s when it was used to help mariners set chronometers.
The Days Inn Vancouver is just a short walk from the park and is reasonably priced. The nearby Gastown neighbourhood has a fun cafe scene for affordable eats. Local favourites include Cafe Medina (try the waffles!) Nelson the Seagull (lots of vegan options) and Trees Organic Coffee (cheesecake!)
Have you been to Vancouver before? What are your favourite things about the city?
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