10 Ways to Get Outdoors in Downtown Vancouver

Cyclists on the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver

Cyclists on the Stanley Park Seawall. Photo: Destination BC/Heath Moffatt

You don’t have to go far in Vancouver to experience nature. In fact, you can hike, bike, run, paddle, watch for wildlife, and more without leaving the downtown core.


Go For a Hike

The beautiful forested interior of Stanley Park is perfect for hiking. Follow trails past towering trees to several gorgeous viewpoints. Use our Stanley Park hiking guide to explore an 8 km loop route.

A couple walking on the trail in Stanley Park

Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout


Hit the Beach

Downtown Vancouver is home to several beaches. They are great for swimming in summer and picnics year-round. Second Beach is great for families, thanks to the heated outdoor pool (summer only) and grassy picnic area. English Bay has amazing people-watching. Third Beach in the heart of Stanley Park is easiest to reach by biking the seawall, making for a fun multi-sport adventure. And Sunset Beach lives up to its name, serving up great colours each evening.

Family picnicking on the beach

Picnic on Third Beach in Stanley Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver / Hubert Kang


Try Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? You use a phone app or GPS device to find hidden treasures all over the city. There are dozens of geocaches around Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver to discover. Read our beginners’ guide to geocaching to learn how to get started.

A geocache surrounded by leaves

Photo: Settergren/Pixabay


Watch for Wildlife

Despite being a busy urban centre, downtown Vancouver has lots of wildlife. Head to the seawall to watch for waterfowl and sea birds bobbing in the ocean. Or walk the trails in Stanley Park where you can spot squirrels, raccoons, and even beavers.



Go For a Bike Ride

You can find some of Vancouver’s most scenic bike routes in the downtown core. Explore the car-free bike paths on the Stanley Park, False Creek, and Coal Harbour seawalls. Or if you are looking for a workout, take on the loop around Stanley Park Drive, a favourite amongst local road cyclists.

Biking on the seawall in Vancouver

Biking on the seawall at English Bay. Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Cycle City Tours


Try Forest Bathing

Forest bathing is a Japanese form of nature therapy where participants spend time mindfully experiencing nature. The quiet trails in Stanley Park are a perfect place to try it. Read our guide to forest bathing in Vancouver to get tips for first-timers.

Lush rainforest in Vancouver

Photo: Jachan DeVol/Unsplash


Paddle a Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard

You can paddle a kayak or stand-up paddleboard through False Creek in the heart of Vancouver. Head to Vancouver Water Adventures on Granville Island to take a tour or book a rental. Note: They re-open for the season in April.

Kayakers in False Creek

Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Rishad Daroowala


Learn About Nature at an Ecology Event

The Stanley Park Ecology Centre offers regular events where you can learn about nature. Take a guided tour to learn about trees, volunteer to help remove invasive species, or join a bird-watching outing. See their website for the full event schedule.



Workout Outside

If you want to work out for free while enjoying the fresh air, check out the outdoor fitness equipment in Stanley Park. The metal callisthenics structure at Second Beach has a pull-up bar, rings, and a trapeze bar for body weight workouts. Or head to the workout area behind the fieldhouse at Brockton Oval. It has pull-up bars, angled monkey bars, parallel bars, and a sit-up board.


Go For a Run

According to Runkeeper, Vancouver is one of the best cities for running in North America. The Stanley Park Seawall and False Creek Seawall are both spectacular places to run, with incredible views around every corner. Walkers and runners get their own lane, separated from cyclists.

Two people running on the seawall in Stanley Park

Photo: Destination Vancouver: Kindred & Scout

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