City life doesn't always equal a daily grey commute. Vancouver ranks as one of the most liveable cities in the world, so it's not a surprise that it has also something to offer for every nature lover. From scenic parks to floral parks and from 'tourist attracting' to the small parks known only by locals, these are our all time favourites!
Our oldest park is not like other large urban parks: this green oasis is rather the evolution of a forest than a creation of a landscape architect. The Stanley Park attracts eight million visitors a has been named the best park in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travellers’ Choice Awards. Much of the area remains similar as it was in the late 1800s, with about a half million trees some of which stand as tall as 76 metres. Stanley Park is almost entirely surrounded by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. Its popular spot is the Vancouver Seawall which was constructed to prevent the erosion of the park's foreshore. Visitors use it for walking, running, inline skating and cycling and even fishing (with a license). Walking the entire loop around Stanley Park takes 2 to 3 hours, while biking it takes about 1 hour. There are also more than 27 kilometres of forest trails inside the park which are patrolled by members of the Vancouver Police Department on horseback.
The Rose Garden - this time with no roses
Stanley Park Causeway
Pacific Spirit Regional Park
A great escape just around the corner! The Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a nature preserve of the British Columbia government which comprises 763 hectares of forest and foreshore immediately west of Vancouver. It's easy to spend hours in this place thanks to the network consisting of 73 km of well-kept trails designated for walking and partly horseback riding. The Pacific Spirit Regional Park has many points where you can start your walk or hike from - it is best to refer to a map of the park. Once you are in, you barely hear the roads anymore and it feels like you are deep in the forest. You can also bring your dog but make sure to always check if you are in an on-leash or leash-optional area.
There are free parking lots at Acadia, Spanish Bank and Jericho beaches, and at Park Centre which is located on W 16th Avenue.
Inside the Pacific Spirit Regional Park
One of the many trails
John Hendry Park
The John Hendry Park, often referred to as Trout Lake, is another popular destination of Vancouverites. It is filled with locals all season round: casual people are enjoying their walks around the lake or having a picnic and their dogs enjoying the water. The park facilities include basketball and tennis courts, plus a lot of space for playing soccer. This park isn't crowded which is what makes it a great place to enjoy your morning jog.
The area was named after a young enterpreneur, who was commissioned to rebuild the Moodyville Mill in 1872. John Hendry soon became well known thanks to his endeavours which included the Royal City Planing Mill in New Westminster and the Hastings Saw Mill.
A painter in the John Hendry Park
Dogs enjoying the sunshine
The autumn colours of the park
The park sign
Trout Lake Community Centre
Lynn Canyon Park
When the Lynn Park officially opened in 1912 it was only 12 acres large, but it was later extended to the current 617 acres. The park is a free self-guided adventure with many trails, falls and rocks to climb, so it's not surprising that the landscape inspired and brought filmers from TV series such as Stargate SG-1.
The "major attraction", Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is 50 metres high from the bottom of the canyon and provides a breathtaking view, connecting the hiking trails on the two sides of the canyon. However some visitors come only to visit the bridge itself, it is also a great place for a picnic followed by short swims in the crystal clear waters of the canyon or to simply learn about North Vancouver’s eco-system.
Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
A great place to learn about North Vancouver's ecosystem
The crystal clear water
One of the trails
Queen Elizabeth Park
The Queen Elizabeth Park is an all seasons favourite stop for floral display enthusiasts, and also a popular backdrop for wedding photos. The park is situated on the highest point of Vancouver so you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city with the mountains in the background. Take your time to walk through the arboretum surrounded by exotic and native trees and make sure you don't leave out the sunken gardens.
The 52-hectare park is also home to the impressive Bloedel Conservatory which contains three habitats: tropical rainforest, subtropical rainforest and desert. The conservatory opened in 1969 and is home to more than 200 free-flying exotic birds.
Seasons in the Park Restaurant
The Bloedel Conservatory
Hastings Park is one of Vancouver's largest urban parks and is located in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. Despite its historical designation as green space, the park has served as a venue for horse racing, boarding and training, concerts or professional sports fair for more than a century. A Restoration Plan was prepared with the neighbourhood residents and approved by the City in 1997. The former BC Pavilion site was in 1999 replaced with the sanctuary - a nine-acre forested area with a lake, islands and pathways with bridges, creating an oasis that attracts many bird species. If you're not into bird watching, enjoy a walk surrounded by the Italian opera inspired sculptures in the Il Giardino Italiano.
Meet The Photographer: Ehsan Aghili
Ehsan is a freelance photographer currently based in Vancouver. His professional photography career started in 2003 in his home city, Tehran. Ehsan is focusing on event photography, landscapes, family portraits and much more. He has won several awards and he also received the Award of Tehran Photographers and Cinematographers.
I would love to see more photos from the places you described in the text – but I also understand that it’s not easy to take photos of flowers in this season :) The article itself is full of useful information, thanks!