Vancouver’s Best Parks & Gardens

July 29, 2011

Bloedel Floral Conservatory: The conservatory’s triodetic dome looks like a prop from a 1960s sci-fi flick but is really habitat for hundreds of tropical, subtropical, and desert plant and bird species. W. 33rd Ave., between Cambie St. and Main St., South Cambie. 604-257-8584. Vancouver.ca/parks

Capilano Suspension Bridge: They call it bungee walking and swear it’s strong enough to support a loaded 747, but you’ll still be scared. 3735 Capilano Rd., North Vancouver. 604-985-7474. Capbridge.com

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: This re-creation of a Ming scholar’s garden was the first constructed outside China. Built in the mid ’80s by 52 artisans from Suzhou, it remains a peaceful sanctuary laden with Taoist symbolism, perfect for a sunny—or rainy—day. 578 Carrall St., Chinatown. 604-662-3207. Vancouverchinesegarden.com

English Bay: Bring a blanket and lounge, or walk the seawall and see how many dog breeds you can name. Fire dancers, jugglers, and comedians draw crowds on summer evenings. Stop at the Sylvia Hotel (1154 Gilford St., 604-681-9321) for a highball; the original heritage hotel in the West End provides the perfect water view. Denman St. at Davie St., West End. Englishbay.com

George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary: The 850-acre wetland provides habitat for more than 260 bird species and now attracts 60,000 annual visitors as one of Canada’s top birding sites. 5191 Robertson Rd., Westham Island, Delta. 604-946-6980. Reifelbirdsanctuary.com

Grouse Grind & Skyride: The Grouse Grind is the summer hike of choice for resident masochists, but the view-heavy Skyride is your year-round bet. While you’re up top, be sure to check out the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife, home to two orphaned bears and a pack of grey wolves. 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver. 604-980-9311. Grousemountain.com

Jericho Beach: Jericho is a family-oriented beach that begins just west of Alma St. and stretches kilometres down to Spanish Banks. Prime sunset watching is at the Jericho Sailing Centre (1300 Discovery St., 604-222-1331), possibly the best licensed public patio in town. West of Wallace St., Point Grey. Vancouver.ca/parks

Kitsilano Beach and Pool: Kits Beach—as it’s known to the locals—is densely populated every summer by distractingly attractive volleyball players, Frisbee flingers, and sunbathers. There’s also a giant heated saltwater pool (137 metres) where you can swim a mile in only 12 laps. 2305 Cornwall Ave., Kitsilano. 604-731-0011. Vancouver.ca/parks

Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve / Rice Lake Loop: The birthplace of North Shore-style mountain biking (steep and fast). There’s also a paved, 10-kilometre wilderness path around Rice Lake, ideal for strollers. North end of Lillooet Rd., North Vancouver. 604-990-0483. Metrovancouver.org/services/parks_lscr

Lynn Canyon: This North Vancouver park is 250 hectares of temperate rainforest surrounding Lynn Creek. A local favourite for easy hikes, summer river dips, and a lesser known but still no less nerve-racking suspension bridge. 3663 Park Rd., North Vancouver. 604-990-3755. Lynncanyon.ca

Nitobe Memorial Garden: An authentic Japanese tea and stroll garden, the Nitobe Memorial Garden offers a place for quiet reflection. 1895 Lower Mall, UBC. 604-822-6038. Botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/nitobe

Stanley Park: Over 400 hectares of evergreen forest and open green spaces are bounded by the 8.8-kilometre seawall, an essential experience beloved by local runners, cyclists, and first-date couples. From the park, marvel at the Lions Gate Bridge. Now 73, the grande dame of Vancouver bridges is still a beauty, especially since she was decked out with lights (a gift from the Guinness family in 1986) and, more recently, received $100 million in reconstruction work. North from Denman and W. Georgia St., West End. 604-257-8400. Vancouver.ca/parks

UBC Botanical Garden: Vancouver’s mild climate means that visitors will find something of interest year-round in this 70-acre garden. 6804 SW Marine Dr., UBC. 604-822-3928. Botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

VanDusen Botanical Garden: Over 7,000 plant varieties, helpfully labelled, equal garden paradise. And an Elizabethan hedge maze, too. 5251 Oak St., South Cambie. 604-878-9274. Vandusengarden.org

Wreck Beach: One of Canada’s two officially sanctioned nude beaches, Wreck is located on a private spot next to UBC. Off Trail 6 along NW Marine Dr., UBC. Wreckbeach.org

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.