This article contains information about the following topics:
Stanley Park Drive & Video | Wildlife | Seawall | Prospect Point | Siwash Rock | Second Beach | Third Beach | Totem Poles | Bright Nights | Miniature Trains | Pitch and Putt Golf | Stanley Park Brewing and Beer Zone | Lost Lagoon | 2021 Transportation Plan | Park Tips | Other Information
Stanley Park in Vancouver
Stanley Park has a vast natural forest, miles of shoreline, beautiful beaches, an amazing seawall and some of the best walking trails in Vancouver.
With its 400 hectares of parkland attracting close to eight million visitors a year, it’s no wonder that Stanley Park is ranked as one of the best city parks in the world. It’s definitely an amazing place and it’s free to explore!
Best Places in Stanley Park
Some of the best places in Stanley Park include the Seawall, Prospect Point, Siwash Rock, Second and Third beaches and the park’s totem poles. Also, in the middle of Stanley Park you’ll find the Vancouver Aquarium, which is another of Vancouver’s best places to visit.
To see what’s where, click the Map of Stanley Park.
Stanley Park Drive & Video
Stanley Park is a great place to both walk and cycle around, and it’s accessible by Public Transit (e.g., city buses). Lots of people drive to the park though, and some folk even just go for a drive and admire the views from their cars.
Stanley Park Drive is the road that goes all around the outer edge of the park. Along the road you pass most of the park’s most famous landmarks, and from it you can see amazing views.
The following video was taken on a drive around Stanley Park in the spring of 2020, just before Easter. As you can see, the cherry blossoms were out and it was a wonderful sunny day.
The video begins on Georgia Street as we left downtown Vancouver and entered the park. We then drove around Stanley Park Drive, from the park entrance, past the Harry Jerome Statue, along the Coal Harbour waterfront and around Brockton Point to Lumberman’s Arch before heading up the hill. Our tour didn’t take us all the way around the park. Before reaching Prospect Point we took the exit onto the Lions Gate Bridge and headed towards the North Shore.
The drive in the video only features the eastern half of Stanley Park. At some point in the future we’ll do the other half and drive past Third Beach, Second Beach and Lost Lagoon. Whether you go all the way around the park, or just part of it, it makes for a wonderful drive.
For more videos about Vancouver’s world-famous park see our articles about Stanley Park in Autumn and the Stanley Park Seawall. The first has a video featuring the park and its fall colours in November. The second shows what the park looks like in early spring.
Stanley Park Wildlife
Stanley Park is one of the Lower Mainland’s best places to enjoy nature and the outdoors. You have a virtually 0% chance of running into a bear there, one of the region’s few forests where you can say that.
The odds of encountering a wild animal anywhere in the Lower Mainland is very small, but especially so in Stanley Park. The most ferocious critters you might see at Vancouver’s famous urban park are raccoons, and they are pretty tame unless you try to approach them. Once in a blue moon a deer finds its way into the area, and birds and squirrels are everywhere.
Stanley Park Seawall
The Stanley Park Seawall goes all around the edge of the park, with its breathtaking views making it an ideal route for walking, cycling, jogging and rollerblading.
The seawall that goes around Stanley Park is approximately 9 km in length and takes two to three hours to walk around, or one to two hours to bike. It’s connected to an even larger seawall network though. From Stanley Park you can walk along the waterfront all the way to the Vancouver Convention Centre in one direction or to False Creek and beyond in another. The views are spectacular the whole way!
TIP: Most of the seawall is one-way for cyclists, so you’ll need to walk your bike if you want to go clockwise. Walkers and joggers though can generally go in both directions. If you get tired cycling or walking, you can cut across part of the park and avoid Brockton Point (which is the far eastern tip and which will shorten your route by a couple of kilometres).
To learn more about the seawall, and to see a video illustrating what you will see along the way, check out our article on the Stanley Park Seawall.
From the lookout area at Prospect Point you can often see ships going under the Lions Gate Bridge. You can also see West Vancouver across the water.
At Prospect Point there is a parking lot with paid parking. There is also the restaurant, public washrooms, a gift shop and a place to buy ice cream. Nearby there is a trail that leads down to the Seawall, and another trail that leads through the forest to Beaver Lake and other parts of Stanley Park.
PHOTO TIP: The Lions Gate Bridge is in the sun in late afternoons, making it a great spot for photos from Prospect Point.
For more information about the venue, click Prospect Point.
Located just off the Seawall (so accessible by foot or bicycle), Siwash Rock makes for a great photo, especially in the afternoon or evening. The world-famous landmark is just a short walk along the Seawall to the north of Third Beach.
Though beautiful, in part because it is a bit out of the way, Siwash Rock is not necessarily a destination in itself. It is, however, an impressive sight to see while walking around the seawall.
Access to the area around Siwash Rock is either from the Seawall, or via a trail down from the main Stanley Park Drive road. You can’t actually get to the rock as it’s surrounded by water. You can walk past it along the Seawall though.
If you don’t want to walk a great distance, you can park at Third Beach and stroll counter-clockwise along the seawall back to Siwash Rock. In that direction the walk takes only a few minutes.
The other way to see Siwash Rock is via a lookout from overhead. If driving around the park along Stanley Park Drive, shortly after Prospect Point there’s the entrance to Merilees Trail which leads to Siwash Rock. You’ll need to park your car at the parking lot a few hundred metres before the trail’s entrance, or a few hundred metres after and then walk back. Or, if you park at Prospect Point, there’s a 2-km trail through the trees that will take you there.
Second Beach is perfect for young children as it’s the beach with the giant (and relatively inexpensive) outdoor swimming pool and a couple kids’ play areas. It makes for a nice pit stop while cycling around the Seawall with the family.
In addition to the swimming pool and play areas, at Second Beach there is also a sandy beach, concession stand and public washrooms. Ceperley Meadow is the large field by the beach. It’s a popular place to play and the children’s play structures are at either end.
Special events that take place in the field by the beach include Stanley Park Summer Cinema on Tuesday evenings in July and August as well as some Celebration of Light activities just prior to BC Day. One of Vancouver’s main Terry Fox Runs also starts at Ceperley Meadow in mid-September.
Click Second Beach for more information about the area.
Third Beach at Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s best beaches. It’s a great place for a swim, suntan, or break from walking or cycling the Seawall. The large sandy beach is a beautiful spot. It’s located on the western side of the park about halfway between Siwash Rock and Second Beach.
If in need of food or refreshments, an exceptional place to go is The Teahouse which is just a short walk away and up the hill. At Third Beach there is also a concession stand.
Third Beach is an interesting place to be on sunny Tuesday evenings in the late spring, summer and early fall. That’s because Brahm’s Tams Drum Circle happens then. It’s an informal and free event where a small number of people bring their drums to play together. Up to several hundred people join them on busy nights to enjoy the music, dancing and evening sunsets.
To learn more about this part of Stanley Park see our article about Third Beach.
Stanley Park Totem Poles
Stanley Park has a world-famous collection of Totem Poles that many visitors stop at for photos. You’ll find these displays of Indigenous art on the easternmost tip of the park, not far from Hallelujah Point and the Brockton Point Lighthouse.
In the totem pole area there are public washrooms and a gift shop. From nearby you can see views of the Vancouver skyline to the south and, after a very short walk in the other direction, views of the North Shore to the north.
The totem poles themselves are impressive. There are about eight of them and they are beautiful. If you have never seen them before, you should check them out!
PHOTO TIP: The totem poles at Brockton Point are in the sun in the afternoon, and especially the later part.
To learn more check out Stanley Park’s Totem Poles. (In the article you’ll see a video of the totems and other Indigenous art.)
Bright Nights at Stanley Park
During the dark month of December Stanley Park is famous for its Bright Nights Christmas Lights, which feature some three million sparkling lights and hundreds of Christmas characters and displays. This is a must-see event, especially for families with children.
Admission to Bright Nights is by donation and proceeds go to supporting the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. It’s a great cause, so give generously. Expect lots of people, and check out the Christmas Night Train.
Bright Nights at Stanley Park is well worth a visit, especially for children and people that don’t mind crowds!
Stanley Park Miniature Trains
Click Stanley Park Miniature Railway for more information.
Stanley Park Pitch & Putt Golf
Stanley Park has a 3600-foot long 18-hole pitch and putt golf course. Each hole is between 120 and 300 feet in distance and the course is surrounded by beautiful rhododendron gardens.
Pitch & Putt Hours of Operation
The Pitch & Putt course at Stanley Park runs from the end of March until the fall. Hours of operation are 9:00 am until 8:00 pm.
Pitch & Putt Rates
As of mid-May 2021, rates for the pitch and putt course are the following (although subject to change):
- Adult (age 19 – 64) – $14.83 per round or $82.25 for a monthly pass.
- Senior (age 65+) – $10.37 per round or $58.19 for a monthly pass.
- Youth (under 19 years of age) – $10.37 per round or $58.19 for a monthly pass.
Equipment can also be rented at the following rates:
- Putter – $2.33
- Wedge or Iron – $2.33
- Rubber Tee – $1.01
- Golf Ball – $2.33
For more information see the City of Vancouver‘s website about the venue.
For a list of similar places elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, click Vancouver Pitch & Putt Golf Courses.
Stanley Park Brewing and Beer Zone
Just a short distance from the pitch and putt golf course is the Stanley Park Brewing Brewpub and Restaurant. It’s located at 8901 Stanley Park Drive.
Stanley Park Brewing is one of the Lower Mainland’s best and most famous craft breweries. They also have a great pub-style restaurant. In the summer they have as many as three different outdoor patio areas.
Conveniently, as of the summer of 2021, right outside the brewery, is one of Vancouver’s public spaces where people can drink alcohol. You can take your own alcohol and drink it there during designated hours. You can also buy your beers for take-out at Stanley Park Brewing (although you might also have to buy food at the same time because of BC liquor laws that apply to the venue).
Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon
Lost Lagoon is a body of water at the southern edge of Stanley Park. It’s bordered by North Lagoon Drive to the north and West Georgia Street to the east.
The area is a popular spot for a stroll. There are walking and cycling paths along its southern shore and a walking path all the way around. Lost Lagoon is a great place for views of both nature and the city.
Stanley Park Transportation Plan
In March of 2021, the Vancouver Park Board announced changes that will impact drivers and cyclists in Stanley Park this summer. The board voted to bring the extra bike lane back to Stanley Park Drive. A detailed timeline for the summer project was released on May 5th. The plan is divided into three main stages.
The first stage begins in mid-May. Crews will create a lane for cyclists between Pipeline Road North and Second Beach, all along Stanley Park Drive. Temporary cones and similar traffic objects will divide the road into the two different lanes. These changes may be confusing at first so new signs are expected to be added. In addition, cyclists will be able to cycle along the Seawall once again.
In mid-June, the second stage of the plan is to evaluate Stanley Park Drive and consider a variety of options. The third and final phase is scheduled for mid-July. Concrete barriers will replace the temporary cones. Most of Stanley Park Drive will be divided into a bike lane and a car lane, with appropriate gaps for crosswalks and other necessities.
General Stanley Park Tips
Below are some general tips to help you make the most out of your visit at Stanley Park.
TIP #1: Don’t forget to pay for parking – the parking attendants are fast with the fines. On the bright side, parking permits are good for throughout the park, so you can buy your ticket for the day in one part of the park and then drive to another part and not have to pay again.
TIP #2: As tempting as it might be, don’t feed the wildlife, not even the birds and squirrels. In 2021 the park had a serious problem with coyotes. Because people were feeding them, the animals became quite aggressive and began attacking humans (which is an extremely rare thing for coyotes to do). Dozens of people were bitten. As a result, park authorities have gotten much more serious about penalties for feeding any kind of wildlife in the region.
TIP #3: Speaking of coyotes, be careful around both them and racoons. Both live in the park, and racoons are quite common. Coyote sightings, meanwhile, are rare. Keep your distance from both of these unpredictable animals in you see them.
TIP #4: An entertaining, informative and fun way to explore Stanley Park is on a walking tour. Forbidden Vancouver is a great local, family-run tour company that does guided walking tours around Stanley Park. They also do exceptional walking tours around Gastown and other parts of downtown Vancouver.
PHOTO TIP #1: There can be great sunsets from Second and Third Beaches, as well as from Siwash Rock.
PHOTO TIP #2: The City of Vancouver across the water from the south side of the park (from the Rowing Club on) is in the sun in the late afternoon (and evening in the summer).
Other articles that may be of interest include:
- Stanley Park Seawall
- Stanley Park in Autumn (with Video)
- Prospect Point
- Second Beach
- Third Beach
- Vancouver Aquarium
- Vancouver’s Best Parks and Nature
- City of Vancouver