Corraled by the English Bay on one side and the Vancouver Harbour on the other, this stunning stretch of land was declared the city's first public park in 1886. Unlike most city parks, Stanley Park was not laid-out by a landscape architect, but instead, grew organically over the years. The rainforest forms the core of Stanley Park, with trees towering to a height of 76 meters (249 feet) and close to 100 years old, while the seawall hems the park's waterfront. Scattered throughout are monuments, landmarks and public art, as well as gardens with vivid floral displays and totem poles; a tapestry of varied habitats teeming with native wildlife that is held together by a network of trails. The park is also home to attractions like a miniature railway, the Malkin Bowl and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Stanley Park's Seawall is one of the most famous places for outdoor activities in Vancouver. The 5.5-mile (8.8km) concrete route circles the perimeter of the park, offering a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. The salty breeze fused with hemlock and cedar, immense open space, and surroundings rejuvenate even the staunchest of workaholics. Parents pushing strollers, joggers, walkers, cyclists, and rollerbladers traffic the pedestrian thoroughfare. Benches are placed along the way. The sandy beaches that lay just off the wall are ideal for picnics and naps.
Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park is a myriad of awe-inspiring sights rolled into one. This verdant retreat is the crown jewel of Vancouver's urban landscape, perched at the city's highest point, in full view of the North Shore Mountains and the city itself. The park is a diverse tapestry of luxuriant spaces, each a cornucopia of delights. At the Quarry Garden, the former wasteland has been transformed into a lush garden complete with a babbling brook and cascading waterfall, while the Rose Garden abounds in variously hued floral displays. Nearby, the Arboretum shelters a collection of native and exotic trees, interspersed with sculptures and public art by the likes of Henry Moore. The Dancing Fountain is another popular feature, as is the Painters' Corner where local artists can be seen working on picturesque landscapes, their original artwork on display. For the more actively inclined, the park also features sports facilities like tennis courts, mini-golf and lawn bowling.
Although it's safe, you will want to grip the rope as you step out on to the creaky wooden planks of Capilano Suspension Bridge, which provides a look at the glorious Capilano River raging down at 230 feet (70 meters). This popular attraction, situated at the park of the same name, isn't recommended for those who fear heights. Ten minutes from Downtown, the attraction includes a restaurant, post and gift shop and offers guided tours as well. All the park attractions are included in the admission price.
Towering at 1,250 meters (4,100 feet), Grouse Mountain's ethereal peaks bear testament to the unspoiled beauty of British Columbia. Named after the native dusky grouse that inhabits the alpine reaches of the province, this soaring attraction forms part of the North Shore mountains of North Vancouver. The mountain's all-year-round access means that life's luxuries don't escape even this great natural landmark. Grouse Mountain is home to a stunning mountaintop cinema, a chalet and lodge built along its base, and a nifty chairlift that allows for sweeping panoramic views of the soul-stirring scenery of the region. There is also a wildlife refuge and a ski area that occupy the mountain's alpine corners.
Get a 360-degree view of Vancouver and its outlying areas from one of British Columbia's tallest buildings at the Harbour Centre. Its observation deck gives an unobstructed view of the city, Burrard Inlet, the North Shore mountains, Burnaby Mountain, West Vancouver and Bowen Island. Getting there is a fun experience in itself; glass elevators whisk you up 168 meters (553 feet) in just 40 seconds. There are multilingual guides available for those who are interested.
Charleson Park is a 2.89-hectare (7.14-acre) park nestled in the Fairview neighborhood and overlooking False Creek. Its northern end that touches the creek offers a panoramic view of the Downtown skyline. This park is frequented by adults and children alike for its greenery, pond, waterfall, trails and playgrounds. It also has a seawall, five tennis courts and a soccer ground. It houses a Dog Park where dogs can roam freely off-leash while their owners enjoy some moments of peace.
Choklit Park features a gradation of terraces and steps lined by shrubberies and tall trees. This 0.07-hectare (0.17-acre) park has been so named as it was originally the site of Purdy’s Chocolate Factory. Besides natural beauty, this park also affords glimpses of the tall buildings of Downtown Vancouver, from open spots between trees. Certain areas within the park also have views of False Creek. This park has a playground and is a good neighborhood spot for a leisurely walk or for children to run about.
The False Creek is a creek that divides downtown from the rest of the city. You can see that the creek is made up of the four major water bodies of Vancouver. The creek was named by George Henry Richards a hydrographer in his survey of 1856-63. A beautiful inlet and a must-see.
Granville Loop Park has an area of 0.42 hectares (1.05 acres) and is situated in the Fairview neighborhood of Vancouver. This neighborhood park, though not usually on tourist must-see lists, is popular with locals for walking and recreational activities. It has fountains and water bodies, gray walkways stretching through green lawns, beautiful vegetation and benches at regular distances for relaxation. It also houses two tennis courts and a playground, and thus, it is often frequented by amateur tennis players.
This company offers a variety of guided tours ranging from walking tours on Granville Island to seaplane tours of Howe Sound. Highlights are the old-fashioned Paddle-Wheeler Cruise and the Seawall cycling or kayaking tour of False Creek and English Bay to Stanley Park. The Fraser Riverboat and Nature Tour takes you through the Gold Rush route, stopping by the fishing village of Steveston, a bird sanctuary, and visits sea lion dens.
Located in the Little Mountain-Riley Park neighborhood, Hillcrest Park is a public recreational center which is home to the Vancouver Curling Club and Little Mountain Baseball club. This sports facility is equipped with a ballpark, clubhouse, curling arena, library, ice rink, gymnasium along with an indoor/outdoor aquatic center. This fitness center is also equipped with treadmills, stationery bikes, an indoor cycling arena, sauna, steam room and a swimming pool. While being wheel-chair accessible, Hillcrest Park also provides child-care services, WiFi and a cafe on its premises.