Where are Vancouver’s best parks and places for nature? The region has dozens of city, regional and provincial parks and beaches to choose from.
PARKS, NATURE AND COVID-19
The Lower Mainland is famous for its parks and places in nature, and summer is a wonderful time to visit them. With the current coronavirus situation, and indoor attractions only just now starting to reopen, parks have become more popular than ever. Health authorities are advising people not to travel though, and to get exercise close to home.
A number of local governments closed some park parking lots, roads accessing parks and in some cases entire parks completely for a while. Roads in Stanley Park, for example, were closed to vehicle traffic (but one lane has reopened as of July 6th). Since early May, however, most parks have begun to reopen their golf courses, tennis court and other facilities. Most playgrounds remained closed though until the end of May, and provincial campgrounds in the Lower Mainland didn’t reopen until June 1st (and even then only for residents of British Columbia).
To learn more about places that closed due to COVID-19, at least for a while, see our article about Coronavirus-related Closures & Cancellations. For a list of venues that have resumed operations, check out Vancouver, COVID-19 and Open Places.
Vancouver Parks and Nature
Below are lists of the best parks and places for nature in the Lower Mainland (in alphabetical order).
Best Public City Parks
Some of the best city parks in the Lower Mainland are the following:
- Ambleside – a picturesque park in West Vancouver with beaches, a walking path along the water and views of English Bay and Lions Gate Bridge.
- Barnet Marine Park – a waterfront park at 8181 Barnet Road just off the Barnet Highway between Burnaby and Port Moody.
- Bear Creek Park – a popular park in Surrey with a miniature train for kids, an outdoor pool and attractive gardens with a duck pond.
- Burnaby Mountain – a mountain with parkland overlooking the region.
- Cates Park – a waterfront park with open grassy spaces, a large children’s play area, beaches and walking trails through the forest in North Vancouver.
- Central Park – a forested park in Burnaby that’s home to Swangard Stadium.
- Deep Cove – a pretty ocean-side village that’s home to Panorama Park and the Baden Powell Trail path to nearby Quarry Rock.
- Deer Lake Park – a popular city park in Burnaby with walking trails around the lake. The park is also home to the Burnaby Village Museum, Burnaby Art Gallery and Shadbolt Centre for the Performing Arts.
- Elgin Heritage Park – the park in South Surrey near Crescent Beach. It’s also home to historic Stewart Farm.
- Inter River Park – a park on the North Shore with walking trails through the forest as well as soccer fields, a BMX bike park and off-leash dog areas.
- Jericho Beach – a beautiful beach but also a park with fields and walking trails too.
- John Hendry Park – a great Vancouver park in the summer that’s home to the weekly Trout Lake Farmers Market on Saturdays.
- Kitsilano – a popular park with a sandy beach, massive outdoor swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts, a children’s play area and grassy fields.
- Maplewood Flats – a conservation area run by the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia in North Vancouver.
- Minoru Park – a pleasant city park in the heart of Richmond.
- Mundy Park – a 178-hectare forested park with extensive trails in Coquitlam.
- Queen Elizabeth Park – a beautiful park perched on the hill and home to the Bloedel Conservatory.
- Queen’s Park – a large city park in New Westminster with forested walking trails, sports facilities and a large children’s play area.
- Rocky Point Park – an exceptional park on the waterfront in Port Moody with walking and cycling trails, a pier, outdoor pool and large children’s play area and water park.
- Stanley Park – this is the absolute best and most famous city park in the region, and one of the finest in the world. It has beaches, nature trails, a massive outdoor pool, world-class views and a seawall for walking and cycling around.
- Town Centre Park – an impressive park in Coquitlam with an outdoor stadium, skateboard park, children’s water park and Lafarge Lake.
- Whyte Lake Park – a very non-urban park with a hiking trail at the northern edge of West Vancouver.
- Whytecliff Park – a stunning place not far from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver.
Best Regional and Provincial Parks
If you are looking for nature, you’ll find lots of it in the following regional and provincial parks:
- Alice Lake – for camping, canoeing or just walking around (located near Squamish, 45 minutes north of Vancouver).
- Baden Powell Trail – a fabulous hiking trail that passes through a number of North Shore parks and includes spectacular views from Quarry Rock near Deep Cove.
- Belcarra Regional Park – near Port Moody and home to beautiful Sasamat Lake.
- Boundary Bay Regional Park – a great park near Tsawwassen that’s also a famous bird sanctuary.
- Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park – a world-famous park for bald eagles in the winter near Squamish.
- Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park – a park with a waterfall in the Fraser Valley.
- Buntzen Lake – a beautiful reservoir managed by BC Hydro that’s popular for hiking and swimming.
- Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park – a popular provincial park with hiking trails in the Fraser Valley.
- Capilano River Regional Park – home to the Cleveland Dam, nature trails and source of much of the region’s fresh drinking water in North Vancouver.
- Cultus Lake – a popular park and campground in the Fraser Valley.
- Cypress Provincial Park – home of Cypress Mountain (the ski resort), but also amazing hiking trails in the summer.
- Golden Ears Provincial Park – location of beautiful Alouette Lake and a great place for summer camping in Maple Ridge.
- Kanaka Creek Regional Park – a long narrow park in Maple Ridge that’s home to Cliff Falls, the Bell Irving Hatchery and several kilometres of hiking trails.
- Lighthouse Park – a park in West Vancouver with a rugged coastline and views of Vancouver in the distance.
- Lynn Canyon Park – a world-class park in North Vancouver with hiking trails to Lynn Canyon suspension bridge and Rice Lake.
- Lynn Headwaters Regional Park – home to some of the North Shore’s best hiking trails.
- Mount Seymour – it’s a ski hill (and that part’s not free), but also a provincial park with free trails for snowshoeing in the winter and hiking in the summer.
- Pacific Spirit Regional Park – located in the UBC Endowment Lands, it has over 70 km of walking and hiking trails, not to mention clothing-optional Wreck Beach.
- Pitt Lake – the lake and region just north of Pitt Meadows offers great places for walking and cycling along the dykes.
- Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary – the best place to see birds in the Lower Mainland.
- Rice Lake – a beautiful lake to walk around and fish at in North Vancouver.
- Rolley Lake Provincial Park – a great place for summer camping in Mission.
- Sasquatch Provincial Park – a picturesque beach, hiking trails and campground near Harrison Hot Springs.
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park – a park with a beautiful waterfall 45 minutes north of Vancouver.
- Stanley Park – yes, this is a great city park (where you can stroll and feed the ducks and squirrels), but also a place where you can hike through the forest.
- Stawamus Chief – for hiking and mountain climbing (located in Squamish, 45 minutes from Vancouver).
Vancouver’s Best Beaches
Check out Vancouver’s Top Beaches including English Bay, Kitsilano, Crescent Beach, White Rock, Ambleside, Alouette Lake, White Pine Beach and others.
Best Places for Hikes
Check out Vancouver’s Best Hiking Trails for information on great hiking areas in the region.
Vancouver’s Top Gardens
The best gardens to visit in Metro Vancouver include the following:
- Bear Creek Park (in Surrey)
- Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Classical Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown
- UBC Botanical Garden (including Nitobe Memorial Garden)
- Stanley Park
- VanDusen Botanical Garden
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Darts Hill Garden Park (in Surrey)
- Glades Garden (in Surrey)
Best Public Golf Courses
Check out Vancouver’s Top Golf Courses for the list of the Lower Mainland’s best public golf courses.