Land Acknowledgement: Stanley park is located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. It was occupied for thousands of years by First Nations before they were evicted in the 20th century. Unceded means that First Nations people did not legally sign away their land to Britain or Canada. 95% of British Columbia is on unceded First Nations land. You can learn more here.
Stanley Park is one of the first places that comes to mind when you think about what to do in Vancouver. It’s one of the most popular recreational areas for residents and tourists alike. The urban park is so accessible, it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, and there are a variety of sights to see in the park.
I heard that biking is one of the best ways to get around, so I rented a city bike from a rental shop called Spokes (1798 W Georgia St) for about $10.50/hr. All of the bikes there are comfortable, colourful and easy to use, and the rental shop is just a couple of minutes outside the park.
The multi-purpose trails in Stanley Park are very smooth and perfect for riding your bike. There were also a ton of people walking and jogging as well. Stanley Park is one of those places that is great for someone to go by themselves, with friends or with family. When you’re on the trail, on one side you have a sparkling aquatic view of the Vancouver Harbour, and on the other side there’s a beautiful forested area with luscious, towering, old-growth trees that are part of the temperate-zone coastal rainforest. The 10km seawall loop in Stanley Park will take about an hour to cycle, and 1-2 hours to walk around.
One of the first things I passed was the charming white and red Brockton Point Lighthouse. I spotted a seaplane flying right behind the lighthouse. I had never heard about seaplanes until I came to Vancouver. Flying on a seaplane is an authentic and scenic way to view the west coast. There are tons flying around the Vancouver Harbour. You can even book 10-min seaplane tours for $100 through Harbour Air Seaplanes for a really special experience.
Next up is the magnificent teal Lions Gate Bridge – a suspension bridge that connects the City of Vancouver to North and West Vancouver. The name of this bridge was the inspiration for the Lionsgate movie company which was founded in Vancouver.
Here I am with my friend Kaitlyn – a local that knows all the places to take a Toronto tourist like me. Although it takes just an hour to bike around Stanley Park, we made sure to make time for plenty of stops so that we could take it slow and appreciate the surroundings. When you stop, make sure that you move to the side so other people can get through!
I was so surprised to pass by these totem poles at Brockton Point in the park. There are nine First Nations totem poles here that each have their own meaning, and the art on a totem pole can be based on a real or mythological story. On these totem poles, an eagle represents the kingdom of the air, a whale represents the lordship of the sea, a wolf represents the genius of the land, and a frog represents the transitional link between land and the sea. Totem poles are unique to the northwest coast of British Columbia, and you can also find them in lower Alaska. They are each carved out of western red cedar by First Nation artists.
It was cool to see this dragon statue which was labelled the “SS Empress of Japan Figurehead”. It was put in Stanley Park in 1927 and it is supposed to represent Vancouver’s links to Asia. There are a ton of dragonboat teams in Vancouver, so it’s a nice tribute to them. In the dragonboat sport, a colourful dragon head is usually placed at the front of the boat.
I passed a beautiful bronze mermaid resting on a rock and I remembered that Denmark has a Little Mermaid sculpture that looks just like this. Vancouver’s “Girl in Wetsuit” is a replica of Denmark’s Little Mermaid sculpture. The mermaid represents Vancouver’s dependance on the sea, and the necessity to use the sea for the benefit of all. Apparently, you can find starfish, shellfish and a whole bunch of other marine life in these waters, so look out for those (in addition to mermaids)!
There are a couple of quiet, peaceful beaches that you can stop by and enjoy including Second Beach, Secluded Third Beach and English Bay. You can swim at these beaches or just sit back, relax and enjoy the sunset. There are also two lakes called Beaver Lake and Lost Lagoon that you can spend time and spot wildlife like beavers, herons, and swans.
I am so glad I got to bike the Stanley Park seawall. I would recommend that you spend a half-day or day at this park and take in all that it has to offer. I can’t wait to come back!
Have you been to Stanley Park? What’s your favourite thing to do? Leave a comment below!