Stanley Park has been named one of the best parks in the world, and it is easy to see why. The park is over 1000 acres, and is surrounded by water. You can enjoy a walk by the ocean on the sea wall, or take a stroll on one of the trails running through the park. But besides all that, there’s so much to see, do, and discover, making it the perfect place to go for a day out with the kids. Here’s how we’d do a perfect day in the park.
A fun and educational starting point is the Vancouver Aquarium, which is located in the centre of Stanley Park. There are over 50,000 animals there, making it a wonderful place to explore and learn. Go right when it opens and work your way throughout the different exhibits and galleries inside. Visit Chester the false killer whale in The Wild Coast, and see if you can spot the sloths in the Amazon area. One exhibit you will not want to miss out on is Discover Rays. There you have the opportunity to experience the new touch pool, and have a hands-on encounter with a cownose ray, or a southern stingray.
Break time! There are lots of spots for lunch right around the aquarium. If you are looking for a place to purchase a meal from there are several options: the Café inside the aquarium, and Waterfall Café, located just outside. A short walk away is Stanley’s Bar and Grill if you are looking for a nice sit-down option. They have highchairs available, and you can even roll a stroller up to one of the tables on the patio. If you have a craving for some fish and chips, head to Lumberman’s Arch Café. Just be sure to watch out for the seagulls—they love a good French fry.
Be sure to bring your swimwear and towels, because there are a couple places you can go to cool off. Near Lumberman’s Arch there’s a great water park that is perfect for all ages (Good to know: it’s unsupervised, and we recommend packing water shoes to give little feet some grip on the cement surface.)
Also an option is Second Beach Pool, located just a short drive away or a 20-minute walk. This public outdoor pool is heated, and has a great view of the ocean. Thanks to its gradual sloped entry it is perfect for families. Younger children can splash at the edge, while older children can go in a bit further. There are also lanes for swimmers wanting to do laps. The highlight for kids swimming there is always the slide.
Tucked away in different areas of the park are two great playgrounds. One is located closer to the Aquarium, and is tucked in behind the miniature train station. It’s got a rustic feel, has a lot of wood features, and is surrounded by trees that offer some shade. You will also find lots of green space nearby that is perfect for running about, or tossing a Frisbee.
The other playground is located near Second Beach. It has several different play structures, and even a vintage fire engine to play on. Here you are also just steps away from the sea wall, and the beach. You can easily spend a lot of time searching for sea creatures hidden under the rocks, or flying a kite in the ocean breeze.
It is so incredible to be able to go from sandy beaches by the ocean to visiting a giant hollow tree tucked away in the forest—all without leaving Stanley.