15 January, 2016
Stanley ParkComments : 2 Posted in : Dining in Vancouver, Canada, Restaurants, Travel, Travel Guide for Vancouver, Canada on by : The Gourmez
Time for the next installment in my Vancouver, Canada, series! This time, I won’t make you read through the whole post to get the code for a free night’s stay at a local’s place. That comes courtesy of Nightswapping, who comped my two nights in the city. The code is Gourmez-NS, which you can redeem after making an account with Nightswapping and typing it into the “Add Promo Code” or “Add Coupon” section. What’s Nightswapping? A new global travel app I reviewed right here.
We spent one of our two days in Vancouver at Stanley Park, established in 1888. This national park takes up nearly 1,000 acres, spanning all of downtown Vancouver’s northwestern peninsula. The tundra is mainly rainforest, though the biggest draw is probably the 5.5 mile, multi-use Seawall trail that rings the park, allowing for views of English Bay and the Vancouver harbor.
Biking is the ideal way to travel the Seawall trail, but if you’re walking, like we were, you can still take in a lot of the park in a day. We started at the information center, where horse-drawn carriage tours are available for booking. The Coal Harbor views impressed me; they were my first looks at downtown Vancouver.
The first point of interest we reached, going northeast, was the totem pole art installation, which happens to be British Columbia’s most visited attraction.
These totems are the work of present-day Coast Salish artists. Coast Salish is a broad grouping of the First Nations people from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia’s coastal regions. I attempted to mimic the totem’s mostly grim expressions but did not quite achieve the look.
We cut across Brockton Point, where you can find the Brockton Point Lighthouse and the Nine O’Clock Gun, to reach the Burrard Inlet faster. It’s named for one of the Coast Salish tribes that used to live in the Stanley Park environs.
Across the water are West Vancouver and the North Shore mountains. As we made our way north, the view of the mountains opened up.
So did the next points of interest! The Empress of Japan carving–
and the Statue of a Girl in a Wetsuit–
–are side-by-sea. Stop at the benches to take them in and take a rest. To the right of the Girl statue, you can see the Brockton Point lighthouse. To the right of the Empress carving is Lions Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge built in 1938 that we’ll see closer up in a bit.
At this point, I decided to cut inland and hike through the rainforest. But I had an ulterior motive, being as this trip was in October and the village around the Stanley Park Train was transformed into the Spooky Barn for Halloween.
Yes, I love cheesy Halloween decorations, and I was thrilled to find a haunted house in Canada! I also took the opportunity to get our only couples’ photo of the trip.
If you’d like to see more of the Spooky Barn, view the full album here.
The Vancouver Aquarium, which is a tourist destination in its own right, resides in the same section of Stanley Park as the train. We bypassed it, but a friend in town at the same time greatly enjoyed her visit there. We, however, continued northwest through the Tisdale Walk, Beaver Lake, and North Creek trails. When I think of a mossy, cold-weather forest, this is exactly the terrain I picture.
It’ll likely be inspiration for the next forest fantasy scene I write. The trails were easy walking, with only a little incline — plenty of mud, though! Nearly at the endpoint of our rainforest hike, we caught up to the main road and crossed a small bridge that grants a lovely view of the much larger Lions Gate.
After crossing one road and one visitor parking lot, we arrived.
The endpoint I had in mind? Prospect Point.
This viewpoint is where Burrard Inlet and English Bay meet, granting a panoramic vista worth spending more than a few minutes to take in. It reminds me of coming across the Golden Gate Bridge as you walk around Land’s End in San Francisco.
By this time, we had worked up quite an appetite and were thrilled Prospect Point has a restaurant, one of five eateries located in Stanley Park. It’s essentially a giant patio, and being out of season, acquiring a window seat was no problem.
My husband went straight for a flight of the local beers offered–
–and I demanded pulled pork poutine!
It was very, very good. Our lunch provided a welcome, and heartening, respite before heading back south along the Seawall and inland toward the bus stops near the gardens.
It was darkening fast at that point in the day, and my energy had waned, so we did not check out the gardens, except for a quick peek at the Air Force Remembrance Garden. I imagine they are most delightful in the spring, so those, the Aquarium, and walking along the western side of the Seawall will wait for a return trip. Even then, I won’t have seen half of what Stanley Park has to offer!
Want more photos of what I did see? The full album is here. Next stop on the Vancouver blog tour is Gastown!
Visited in October 2016.