Here are the more popular Vancouver parks : moving from west to east and north to to south:
Marine Drive Foreshore Park
(Northwest Marine Drive / Southwest Marine Drive)
This park, set on the outer perimeter of the UBC Endowment Lands is best known for its cliffs and its beaches. This Park extends from the relatively flat Spanish Banks Beach Park in the north to the (very) private Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club in the south. The park has stunning views of the Gulf Islands, encumbered only by the thicket of tall first growth trees along the cliff, usually blocking the view from the road. Along the southern edge, you also have a view of the massive log rafts, for the timber industry to process and export, sitting inside the Iona Island sandspit that protects the logs (and the Fraser River’s) flow from passing storms.
UBC Botanical Gardens & Nitobe Memorial Garden
Belonging to the University of British Columbia, these gardens cover seventy acres high on the hills overlooking the Strait of Georgia, and include a 16th century design pharmaceutical garden, as well as an authentic Japanese Garden. There garden’s seventy acres are planted with over 10,000 different trees, shrubs and flowers, including Canada’s largest collection of Rhododendrons. The neighbouring Nitobe Memorial Garden was opened in 1960 and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Inazo Nitobe, a Japanese educator and diplomat (his portrait graces the 5000 yen bank note). He died in Victoria, B.C.m while visiting Canada in 1933.The Nitobe Memorial Garden consists of a large informal Stroll Garden and a Tea Garden with a ceremonial Tea House.
The most interesting beach along the southwest-facing stretch of the Marine Foreshore Park is Wreck Beach, Canada’s most famous nude beach, which on warm summer days can have thousands of suntanners along its 6 kilometre stretch. To access the beach, you need to climb a few hundred steps down the cliffside from UBC. Nude sunbathers and beach vendors have flocked to the beach since the 1920s.
(Waterfront & Tolmie St)
This very scenic public beach, located west of Jericho Beach on the South side of English Bay. The 9 hectare beach is named for the early Spanish explorers to the region. The beach has great views of the North Shore and up the Sunshine Coast. It is lifeguarded daily from Victoria Day to Labour Day.
(Waterfront, Discovery to Tolmie)
This scenic public beach, located between Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks Bank on the South side of English Bay. It has views of the North Shore and particularly Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. It is lifeguarded daily from Victoria Day to Labour Day.
(Discovery, 4th Ave., west of Wallace)
This very beautiful 54 hectare park and public beach is on the South side of English Bay. It not only gives east-facing views of Stanley park in addition to great vistas of the North Shore Mountains, but it is treed to provide shade for family picnics. The beach is lifeguarded daily from Victoria Day to Labour Day.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park
(University Endowment Lands)
Pacific Spirit Regional Park comprises 763 hectares of forest lie immediately east of Southwest Marine Drive and Marine Foreshore Park.. The park’s forests stretch across Point Grey separating the city from the University of British Columbia, and cover a hill with mature trees of cedar, hemlock and Douglas-fir, from which you have a unique northeast-facing view of downtown Vancouver (you can also get the view from the street, along 16th Avenue above Camosun Park athletic field). The park was established and named in 1989, following a public competition.
(Waterfront & Trafalgar to Maple St)
This park is the heart of Vancouver’s “young & beautiful” set. It has a beach that is the focus of beach volleyball and attracts both young models & model wannabes and body building young men. The park has not just a sandy beach but a public saltwater swimming pool. There are lots of shops and restaurants nearby, making it easy to take a break from all the looking you have to do here.
(Chestnut & Burrard Sts)
Vanier Park is a 15 hectare fun-filled park on the south shore of False Creek, just west of the Burrard Street Bridge and adjoining Kitsilano Beach. Many people sit on the shore and watch the various boats and yachts head from their False Creek berths out to the Gulf Islands. This park is best know for its kit flying, since there are so few trees and it gets an unobstructed sea breeze. It is also the site of the Vancouver Children’s Festival and Bard on the Beach.
The park is the home of several Vancouver landmarks, including the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium, the Vancouver Museum, and the Maritime Museum. The H.R. MacMillan Planetarium offers laser shows and presentations about the stars and planets while the Gordon Southam Observatory next door offers public stargazing through its telescope. In the same complex as the Planetarium is the Vancouver Museum, with one of the largest collections of historic artifacts in Canada, including native artifacts from as old as 8,000 years. For a detailed historical account of Vancouver, visit the City of Vancouver Archives next door. The Vancouver Museum is open from 10 am to 9 pm, seven days a week during the summer (May – Sept.), but in the winter it is closed on Monday and in the evening. Call (604) 736-4431 for details
Van Dusen Botanical Gardens
(Oak Street, south of 33rd Avenue)
A spectacular 22 hectare (55 acre) garden is right in the centre of Vancouver, with a vista of rolling lawns, marble sculptures, dramatic rockwork, lakes and beautiful flowers, all set against the city skyline and a view of coastal mountains. The mild Vancouver climate allows the garden to contain one of the most comprehensive collections of ornamental plants in Canada, including many from around the world. Different areas of the garden represent different geographic regions, including the Sino-Himalayan Garden.
Queen Elizabeth Park & Bloedel Floral Conservatory
(33rd Avenue and Cambie Street)
Queen Elizabeth used to be a city landmark known as “Little Mountain,” the highest point in Vancouver with a summit of 501 feet. Its surface had been scarred at the turn of the century by a rock quarry for road building. In 1930 the B.C. Tulip Association suggested the notion of transforming the quarries
into sunken gardens, and in 1939 the park was dedicated by King George VI and his consort, Queen Elizabeth (the present Queen’s mother). The park now features over 500 species of plants, trees and shrubs here. For the sports-minded, the park also has a baseball diamond, a field house, a Pitch & Putt golf course, a playground, and at least 15 tennis courts. A good tip is to park on a nearby city street and walk up the hill to avoid both congestion and the parking fees.
The crowning feature of Queen Elizabeth Park is the triodetic dome of the Bloedel Floral Conservatory. Inside, you’ll see about 500 tropical species and varieties of plants, from deep jungle to desert environments. You can see colorful Koi fish swimming, and tropical birds flying overhead.
Vancouver’s crown jewel, this 4040 hectare (1,000 acre) rugged park in downtown Vancouver’s West End, is this continent’s largest urban park. It is located at the foot West Georgia Street between English Bay and Burrard Inlet. One of the best ways to see the park is to rent a bike or rollerblades and cruise the Seawall that runs along the perimeter of the park (watch the one-way signs) Stanley Park is home to many attractions including: the Vancouver Aquarium, a miniature railway, HMCS Discovery, Deadman’s Island, Lumberman’s Arch, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Vancouver Rowing Club (you can often use reciprocal club privileges). For the recreational user, there are beaches, several swimming pools, a couple of tennis courts, a pitch-and-putt. When you’re exhausted, there are several restaurants in the park.
(Beach Ave. to Bute St. to Stanley Park)
This park is at the southwest tip of Stanley Park, where the park meets Denman Street (with the blue streetlight poles). This beach is nice for its southwest exposure, getting maximum afternoon sun, but also for its proximity to shops and restaurants on Denman and Davie Street, when you want to take a break.
(Beach Ave. from Burrard Bridge to Bute St)
This park is the most convenient for most residents of Vancouver’s West End. This beach is not only one of the best places to watch sunsets in Vancouver, but its a great place to watch the boats coming in and out of False Creek. The park is beside the Vancouver Aquatic Centre, where you can do all your water sports in the comfort of an indoor pool.
(Bute & Nelson Sts)
This 2 hectare, two block park is an oasis in the middle of downtown. It is the dividing line between the business downtown and the residential West End.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
(Carrall & Keefer Sts)
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is tucked away behind protective walls in the middle of bustling Chinatown. The architecture, rocks, plants and water are carefully combined in a serene and striking setting. The garden is named for the founder of the first Chinese Republic, who regularly visited Vancouver. The Garden is the only full-sized classical Chinese garden outside China, employing the ancient techniques of the originals, a result of a cooperative effort between the Chinese an Canadian governments. The designers placed great emphasis on rockwork and judicious shrubs arrangements. Facilities include guided tours, special events, and a gift shop. Call 689-7133 for information
New Brighton Park
(Windermere, Nootka & Waterfront)
This park is one of the few in Vancouver on the Burrard Inlet, is just north of the Exhibition Park grounds on the City’s eastern edge. The park is nestled north of Wall Street, and between the docks for the Prince Rupert Fisherman’s co-op and the Alberta Wheat Pool grain elevators. The park has great views of the North Shore mountains, the Second Narrows bridge, and the busy docks on the other side of the Inlet.
John Hendry Park & Trout Lake
(13th & 19th Avenues, between Victoria & Templeton)
This 27 hectare park is an aquatic oasis in the middle of Vancouver. While the park is officially “John Hendry” most use the name of its lake. The park has 2 baseball diamonds, a beach, golf course, two playgrounds, swimming pools, soccer fields, a skating arena , and a tennis court.
(45th Ave., Kerr & Carleton Sts)
This park, south of busy Kingsway is the athletic focus of southeast Vancouver. The park has a swimming pool, an ice arena and a running track. The 13 hectare expanse of green makes it ideal for family picnics and get-togethers.
Everett Crowley Park
(Kerr St. & S.E. Marine Dr)
This park, sitting on the south-sloping hill toward the Wide North Arm of the Fraser River, provides 40 hectares of vital green space. The park is quiet, and provides an oasis from city life, and portions of the park allow you to look over the narrow light-industrial strip on the other side of South East Marine Drive onto the waters of the Fraser.