Exploring Stanley Park in Vancouver is said to be the number one reason people visit the city. A little research will tell you the most popular way people go about this is via cycling. I was so excited to hire a bike and navigate my way around this world-famous park! We honestly had the best afternoon doing this, the weather was just perfect, it wasn’t overly crowded and it was a great way to see more of Vancouver.
Where is Stanley Park?
Located in downtown Vancouver Stanley park spans over an impressive 1000 acres. Wow, that is some exploring to do! Stanley Park’s most famous feature is the Seawall and in its entirety, it spans 14 miles extending from Coal Harbour all the way to Kitsilano beach park. Although there are many walking and biking paths within Stanley Park the sea wall remains a firm favourite for those visiting the city just for a few days. The most popular route is to ride the 5.5 miles paved path that loops around the park and along the waterfront. It provides beautiful views of the city, water and some of Vancouver’s landmarks along the way.
How Long to Ride Around?
You can expect to spend 1-2 hours riding around the Stanley park section of the Seawall depending on how many times you stop off to take photos.
Where to Hire Bikes?
I did my research about this and although they’re a few hire shops dotted around we opted for Spokes, which seems to be the most popular one. It is ideally located at the corner of Deman and Georgia Street and offers a large selection of bikes. As we ride mountain bikes at home this is what we opted for and we found them to be well maintained.
They required a credit card to hire the bikes which they then charge on your return dependant on how long you have been out. Helmets should be worn but if you decide not to you can sign a waiver, which we did! naughty, I know! but because we were only riding in the park we decided it wasn’t necessary. That said I think it is the law so if you get stopped you will be fined! It seems a lot of people in the park had opted out though. You can get more information on Spokes bike rental shop here.
What to Take With You…
Spokes will give a D lock with each bike which is handy if you want to stop off (which we did in the aquarium). I would recommend already having suncream on and taking your phone to snaps photos. The bikes also have a place to put a drink which I recommend taking, cycling is thirsty work! If you haven’t brought a drink with you, you can pick them up within Spokes too. Each bike has a handy little bag on the front too which is perfect to pop your phone or camera in.
Highlights of Exploring Stanley Park
Now we have got all the logistics out the way we can look at the highlights! So… what will you actually see riding around Stanley Park?!
Vancouver Rowing Club
This is where your ride begins, by Vancouver Rowing Club. As soon as you get on the cycle path you will see the city of Vancouver with all the boat masts towering in front of it, the perfect place for a photo!
Lions Gate Bridge
One of the most iconic sights of Vancouver is the Lion Gates Bridge. Built in 1938 it is one of the longest bridges in Canada and connects the city of Vancouver to the north shore. You will ride directly under it!
We didn’t actually stop off at the Totem Poles as we had seen some at Capilano Suspension Bridge but they are located near Brockton Point if you want a nosey!
Brockton Point Lighthouse
We breezed past the lighthouse as it was nice to get up some speed! haha! You do feel like you stop quite often… if you actually love riding a bike then this can get a bit tiresome. Non the less it’s worth a mention as it has been standing there since 1914! however, it has been inactive since 2008.
I realised Vancouver really has it all when I clapped eyes on Third Beach. A long stretch of natural sandy beach with views of English Bay. If we had more time in Vancouver chilling out here would definitely be on my list!
Second Beach and the Pool
As you progress a little further you come across Second Beach and a HUGE pool! The photo I snapped from the cycle path really doesn’t do it justice. If you have kids and the weather is good this is clearly the place to go, it is open May – September.
We only stopped briefly at this artificial lagoon which I now regret as I’ve since read some days you may meet a family of friendly raccoons! Sadly we only saw Canada geese, I mean they are nice sure, but raccoons would be so cool! The lagoon itself is 41 acres, so pretty impressive!
Last but not least the famous aquarium. Being the animal lover I am I had to hop off and look inside. A nicely presented aquarium full of informative exhibits. It was the sea otters that stole my heart! Sadly our phones ran out of battery so couldn’t take many photos.
I felt a little rushed as we were conscious of the bike hire time. My advice would be to enjoy this separate not as part of your bike ride. We spent maybe an hour inside, enough to have a nosey but not enough to fully take it in and read things. Also worth noting is it wasn’t particularly cheap at $38 a person – get your money’s worth.
My Top Tips For Exploring Stanley Park
- If you are short on time cycling the seawall is the perfect option
- Visit in the morning for fewer crowds
- It is a lovely place to have a picnic and watch the world go by if you have time. We didn’t stop for food but I believe the area is expensive!
- Be sure to go to the aquarium to watch the sea otters frolic!
- Spend a sunny afternoon on Third Beach if you have the luxury of some downtime
Exploring Stanley Park was a highlight of my visit to Vancouver and they say no visit is complete without it! It is actually one of the best parks I have ever visited. To spend more time in Stanley Park is reason enough for me to go book a return trip to Vancouver in the future.
Would you like to visit Vancouver? or if you have, what is your favourite thing about the city?
Rachael 🙂 x