Blast Off to Family Fun at Stanley Park


If you have only one day to spend in Vancouver, take your family to Stanley Park.  You can't go wrong.  Stanley Park is the jewel of Vancouver.  With 1,000 acres of pristine parkland, I guarantee it has something to offer every member of your family.  The seawall is incredible: an 8 km walkway that circles the park and shows off some of Vancouver's most postcard-perfect scenery.  You can walk, cycle, scooter, or rollerblade.  No bike, no problem-there's plenty for rent close to the park entrance.

As you make your way around the seawall, watch out for these landmarks:  magnificent Totem Poles, panoramic view of the city skyline, Nine O'clock Gun, Brockton Point, Lumberman's Arch, Lion's Gate Bridge, and Siwash Rock.

If you'd like to get a bird's eye view, check out the Prospect Point Lookout.  It's the highest point in Stanley Park and showcases the North Shore mountains.  We once made the mistake of buying the homemade fudge at the gift shop there; now we're addicted.

If cruising the seawall doesn't inspire your family, maybe the Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours will.  Everybody can sit back, and listen to the narrator as the Clydesdales take you around the park.

If it gets hot, Stanley Park has a number of ways to beat the heat.  Our kids have a blast dodging the spray guns at Lumberman's Arch.  Third Beach is the perfect spot for your kids to search for critters in the tidal pools.  If the ocean's too cool for comfort, Second Beach has a huge heated outdoor swimming pool, complete with a special tortoise slide for the little ones.

If your kids get waterlogged, take them to one of the several playgrounds scattered throughout the park, or go for a stroll around Lost Lagoon.  If they like animals, your kids will love the Lagoon.  You'll see ducks, geese, swans and other migratory birds.  Keep your eyes open for our bushy-tailed friends as well.  They may even take a peanut right out of your child's hand.  Have your camera ready at all times!  There's also the Lost Lagoon Nature House where you can further your awareness about the delicate balance between our urban lifestyle and Mother Nature.

For families who love hiking, Stanley Park has 35 km of forested trails criss-crossing throughout the park.  Walk to the lily pad covered Beaver Lake to enjoy its tranquil beauty, check out the Hollow Tree, or search for the National Geographic Cedar Tree.

Calling all gardeners!  The Stanley Park Rose Garden is a must-see.  It has over 4,000 spectacular rose bushes, which our kids love to smell.  Set amongst the Rose Garden is the magnificent Rose Garden Pavilion, a 1911 heritage building.  How about a spot of tea in the Victorian Tea Room?

Is your family into golf?  The 18-hole, par 3 Stanley Park Pitch & Putt Golf Course is the perfect place for a round of family golf.  I'll never forget the day my 12-year-old son beat my husband, the self-proclaimed golf expert in the family.

If you have young kids, you won't want to miss the Miniature Railway and Children's Farmyard.  Even our teenage son can't hold back a smile as the train chugs through the forest.  Just watch out for those goats at the petting zoo; one ate our daughter's hat!

Last, but not least is the world famous Vancouver Aquarium.  Going to the Aquarium is like peering into a giant fishbowl, with all the neatest fish in the world swimming around in it-plus a giant beluga to boot.

Trust me on this one; Stanley Park is your one-stop source for family fun in Vancouver.

Mom's note: this activity acticle was written for Visitor's Choice Summer 2005.