Nature Lover’s Guide to Vancouver

Stand-up paddleboarding in False Creek

Stand up paddle boarding in False Creek. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehring

Sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean, Vancouver is a city for nature lovers. From parks to wildlife watching, hiking, and more, there are plenty of outdoor activities to discover in Vancouver.

Visit Stanley Park

Located right next to downtown, Stanley Park is Vancouver’s most famous park. The interior of the 400-hectare park is rainforest with gravel paths weaving between towering trees. Around the perimeter, you will find the paved Seawall, a popular walking and cycling path. The park also boasts beaches, Canada’s largest aquarium, totem poles, restaurants, and lots of off-the-beaten-path gems.

Stanley Park Forest Trail

Exploring the forested trails of Stanley Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Kindred & Scout


Go Birding

Vancouver is on the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migration route for birds flying between Alaska and Patagonia, which makes it a great birding location during the spring and fall migrations. But you can spot birds like eagles, herons, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds year-round. Vancouver is a key stop on the BC Bird Trail. Check out our guide to the best birding spots around the city.

Woman looking through a spotting scope at Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve in Chilliwack

Bird watching at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve. Photo: BC Bird Trail


Explore the Water By Kayak or Paddleboard

You can see Vancouver from a brand-new perspective when you explore by kayak or paddleboard. You can paddle in the heart of downtown in False Creek, along the beaches in Kitsilano, into the wilderness of Deep Cove and Indian Arm, or on calm lakes. Our guides to kayaking in Vancouver and paddleboarding in Vancouver have all the details.

Kayakers in False Creek

Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Rishad Daroowala

Enjoy the Blooms at VanDusen Botanical Garden

No matter what time of year you visit, you can enjoy spectacular plant life at VanDusen Botanical Garden. The 55-acre garden boasts a huge collection of native British Columbian plants as well as plants from all over the world. Don’t miss the Elizabethan Hedge Maze.

VanDusen Garden in spring in Vancouver

VanDusen Garden Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Sombilon Studios

Ride a Bike

From gnarly mountain bike trails to easy paved bike paths, Vancouver has a biking option for everyone. At the top of the must-do list is a ride around the Stanley Park Seawall. If you’re looking for more bike-only paths, check out our guide to the best car-free bike routes. If you’re a road cyclist training for your next Fondo race, challenge yourself on the city’s hill climb routes. Or head to the North Shore, the birthplace of freestyle mountain biking to tackle a huge network of trails ranging from beginner to expert.

Biking through Yaletown on the False Creek Seawall. Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver / Cycle City Tours


Spot Some Whales

Vancouver is one of the best locations in the world for whale watching. Thousands of whales migrate through the nearby waters and several pods of orcas live here year-round. Whale watch tour operators in Vancouver are focused on conservation and education. The best time of year to go whale watching between is March and October. For more details, read our guide to whale watching in Vancouver.

Whale watching near Vancouver

Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Prince of Whales Whale Watching


Get Tropical at the Bloedel Conservatory

When you step inside the dome of the Bloedel Conservatory you’ll feel the increased temperature and humidity of a tropical paradise. The conservatory is home to hundreds of exotic birds, fish, and plants. In addition to the tropical area, it also contains separate subtropical and desert sections, each with its own unique plants.

The exterior of the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver

Photo: Tourism Vancouver / Tanya Goehring


Take a Hike

With trails from the mountain tops to the ocean’s edge, Vancouver is a great city to go for a hike. The Grouse Grind, also known as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster is one of the city’s most popular and most challenging trails. But Vancouver has hundreds of other gorgeous options. Explore our Hike of the Month archives for tons of ideas perfect for each season.

Hikers climb rock and wood stairs on the Grouse Grind.

Hikers on the Grouse Grind. Photo: Grouse Mountain


Relax at Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park sits at Vancouver’s highest point, giving it a great view of the city and the North Shore Mountains. In the spring and summer, stroll through the spectacular blooms at the Quarry Garden and  Rose Garden. In the winter, locals and visitors of all ages delight in sledding down the park’s steep hills. Known as QE Park to locals, the park is also a great year-round spot for a picnic, an impromptu game of tennis, or a special occasion meal at Seasons in the Park restaurant.

A woman takes a photo at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver

Enjoy the city views from Queen Elizabeth Park. Photo: Destination Vancouver/Jason Lee Wang

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