With a city of Vancouver’s size, narrowing down the park selection can be quite the ordeal. Whether you are looking for a lovely little playground spot for your kids, a beach that can offer more than just sand and water, or some lush flower garden spots, Vancouver has it all and in large quantities too. Taking you through various neighbourhoods, we have selected some key parks that deserve more than a visit or two whether you are with friends, kids, family or just on your own for a stroll. So pack up your picnic basket, a bathing suit and a camera and head to one of these stunning park spots.
- Kitsilano Beach Park
Kitsilano is such a gorgeous place to hang out almost anytime of the year, but it really comes into full bloom (literally and figuratively) in the summer. Kitsilano Beach Park offers something for everyone with its playground, volleyball courts, food stands, equipment rental spots and picnicking areas. With large logs to sit on strewn about, this is an ideal hangout and sun-tanning spot. There is plenty of grassy space with trees for shades is sand is not your thing and you want to keep an eye on the kids as they check out the playground.
- Vanier Park
Home to the Vancouver Museum, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the City of Vancouver Archives and the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vanier Park is no small public park. Known for hosting many of Vancouver’s hottest summer festivals, this one is the biggest and most famous of Kitsilano’s parks. In the summer, head down to Vanier Park for the International Children’s Festival and the Shakespearean Bard on the beach. Enjoy the view of Burrard Bridge from the sands of Vanier Park, and have a lovely stroll along the waters for a truly Vancouver-esque summer experience.
- Queen Elizabeth Park
One of the most gorgeous spots—if not the most gorgeous—in central Vancouver, Queen Elizabeth Park is a botanical wonderland. Check out the fountains, plaza, garden, sculpture, and floral conservatory for a nature-loving day. But there’s more than just flower gazing and strolling! Queen Elizabeth Park features regular activities that include pitch a putt golf course, a disc golf course, tennis courts, the lawn bowling club and even tai chi. This is a must see for those visiting our fair city and is continuous pristine condition. While anyone can enjoy its beauty, flora and fauna enthusiasts will find it especially charming and even educational.
- Mount Pleasant Park
Newly renovated, the Mount Pleasant Park features a vast central lawn area perfect for picnic set-ups and yoga enthusiasts. This park has everything, and so if you are a Mount Pleasant local there is no need to head far from the homestead for your park experience. Check out one of the playgrounds, sports courts and the skateboard spot for an active time. For those who want to take in the park’s scenery, there is a community garden and multiple seating spots for reading and people watching.
- Grandview Park
Located on Commercial Drive and Charles Street, this park is made for families with kids. With its large playground featuring climbing apparatuses for both big kids and small, this park with provide hours of entertainment and is ideal for birthday parties and summer picnics. Commercial Drive is a great destination for those who want to settle in an area for a day with great food, good music and family friends hangout spots. Grab a slice of pizza, visit one of the unique shops and then head to Grandview Park to kick back while the kids burn off some energy.
- Victoria Park
Located on Victoria Drive and Kitchener—a skip and a hop from Commercial Drive—this playground-centered park also features a large sand area for the kids as well as a space for dogs to play. No one has to stay home! A great alternative to Grandview Park if it happens to be too busy on the day of your visit, Victoria Park is a great meet-up spot for families who want a good outdoor day to catch up with friends while the kids play. Also, if you love playing bocce this park’s lawn lawns are perfect for you!
- Main and 18th Park
Serving both the Riley Park and Mount Pleasant communities, this very new park features a public art piece designed by Gisele Mamantea and skateboarding sections. There are plenty of tables and chairs for families and friends to relax and enjoy the weather and their surroundings. The modern architecture of this park makes it a cool and intriguing addition to Main Street’s cultural and hip surroundings.
- Harbour Green Park
Another great spot to take the kids, head down to Coal Harbour Playground for a leash-off dog area. It features views of Coal Harbour, the North Shore Mountains and Stanley Park and is ideal for bikers, runners and in-line skaters who wan to make some distance while staying within the downtown boundaries of Vancouver. The kids will love the waterpark and anyone who works downtown will love this park for a lunch break and a reading spot. Watch the floatplanes take off and breathe in the fresh air!
- John Lawson Playground and Splash Pad
Time to put a little swashbuckling into your playtime! This sandy pirate-themed play wonderland is perfect for the pirate experience. Enjoy great ocean views while you man your ship and mates. This playground is perfect for kids that are avid climbers and danglers. After all that swings and looting, take to the splash pad and cool off before returning to the high seas.
- Sunset Beach Park
Located near the Burrard Street Bridge, Sunset Beach is a perfect first stop for those travelers staying at the Vancouver International Hostel. In the summer you will find lifeguards on duty along the beach as well as concession stands to satisfy that ice-cream craving. Enjoy some biking and inline skating along the park’s paths and follow it all the way to Stanley Park for a full afternoon. Or, go the opposite way and end up in Yaletown. For an added artistic experience, check out Dennis Oppenheim’s sculptures “Engagement”—two diamond engagement rings inserted near the water in the park.
- Murdo Frazer Park
To find this adorable park fit for the whole family, head to Edgemont Village and get ready for some perfect summer activities. Featuring trails, a duck pond, a golf course, playground and tennis courts, Murdo Frazer Park is filled with entertainment for every kind of personality and age. More of a destination for families that have kids to entertain, the park is in a beautiful location. The village has shops and plenty of opportunity for coffee and ice cream.
- Shaughnessy Park
Located in the middle of a nearly perfect oval, Shaughnessy Park is ideal for those looking for a quiet place to reflect, read and have a snack. Take a stroll along one of Shaughnessy’s curving roads and enter the well-maintained landscape. This park was named after Sir Thomas Shaughnessy the former president of the Canadian Pacific Railways and will appeal to couples looks for some romantic walking time.
- Cooper’s Park
Skateboarders gather! Under the Cambie Street Bridge you will find a skate park that includes two skate benches and a grind rail. This is perfect for those who either work or spend a lot of time downtown and want a nearby place to practice and perfect their craft. Almost right on the waterfront, Cooper’s Park has a view of False Creek, Yaletown and Olympic Village. Take a late night stroll in this park for the ocean breeze experience.
- David Lam Park
One of the best views from a park in town, David Lam Park offers exquisite views of both False Creek and Yaletown for a metro/nature feel. Enjoy sports courts and playgrounds while taking in all the carefully planted and maintained plants. For the artsy ones out there, the David Lam Park is home numerous sculptures that rest along the waterfront.
- MacLean Park
Time to cool off! Take the kids to MacLean Park to enjoy the spray-park and playground. Surrounded by colourful houses and sweetgum trees, this spot is bright and cheerful.
- Strathcona Linear Park
For nature enthusiasts, Strathcona Linear Park is lush with vegetation and features plenty of spots to read or have in-depth conversations with a friend. This park links the Strathcona Park with MacLean Park, so it is ideal for long walks and summer days where it just is not right to stay indoors.
- Ron Basford Park
This tiny yet adorable park on the end of Granville Island is the perfect place to eat whatever you picked up at the market. Given how busy Granville Island can get, Ron Basford Park is a nice little escape and relatively quiet compared to the rest of the island. Take one of the little winding paths to get to the benches, have a seat and people watch. Tucked away behind the hotel and theatre, the Ron Basford Park is a great resting spot for joggers and you will find a cute little hill with a pole flying the Canadian flag proudly.
*NOTE We haven’t forgotten Stanley Park! As it is practically it’s own little city, the park goes without saying as the perfect summer destination. Visit this historical favourite Vancouver spot for hiking, trailing, the Ceperley Playground, Vancouver Aquarium and all your botanical viewing needs.
Here are some others that we have not forgotten about and that are more than worth visiting:
- Emery Barnes Park
- Charleston Park
- John Hendry Park
- Ambleside Park
- Chaldecott Park
- Kerrisdale Park