VanDusen Botanical Garden#6 in Best Things To Do in Vancouver
Price & Hours
Often described by travelers as a hidden gem, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is spread across 55 acres in the center of Vancouver. Recent visitors called the garden very peaceful. The garden features several sections, including a stone garden and a hedge maze – a favorite among past visitors. But perhaps the most popular feature of VanDusen is the Laburnum Walk (pictured above), described on the garden's website as the most photographed area of its 55 acres. The path is made memorable by the yellow, chain-like blooms that hang from the Laburnum branches. Peak bloom for these plants occurs in mid-May but if you're not in Vancouver during their prime blooming period, check out what will be in season during your visit with this bloom calendar here.
You can explore all of the garden's meandering paths with a self-guided tour – pamphlets are available at the garden information desk. Docent-led tours (included in admission) are offered daily starting at 1 p.m. and on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. from April through the end of October. From November to March, tours are provided every Sunday at 1 p.m. If all that walking makes you hungry, refuel at the two eateries located on-site, the Shaughnessy Restaurant and the Truffles Cafe.
You'll find VanDusen a little more than 2 miles southwest of downtown Vancouver. The gardens are open daily; hours and admission rates vary seasonally, but adults (ages 19 to 64) can expect to pay CA$8 to CA$11.25 (about $6 to $7.80). Consult the garden's website for the most up-to-date information on opening and closing times and admission prices.
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#1 Stanley Park
This nearly 1,000-acre park on the tip of Vancouver's "thumb" (just north of the West End) is home to some of the city's favorite, most-visited attractions. In fact, you could easily spend more than a day here and still not see everything this urban oasis has to offer. If you want to experience the park the way the locals do, walk, cycle or jog around the nearly 20-mile-long Seawall that hugs Vancouver's waterfront. The path starts at the Vancouver Convention Centre and ends at Spanish Banks Beach Park. If you're not up for the walk, you'll find several bike rental companies near the park. With your bike, you'll be able to explore the more than 17 miles of forest trails that are much less crowded than the rest of the park. Travelers recommend biking the South Creek Trail, which leads to the lily pad-covered Beaver Lake. If you're not up for all that exercise, you can ride a hop-on, hop-off trolley or a horse-drawn carriage. Both guided tours (offered seasonally) include informational narration. Recent visitors said the park offers a great escape from the city and has one of the prettiest seawall walks around.
Families with kids in tow will find plenty of family-friendly to-dos here as well, including an outdoor water park and a separate heated, outdoor pool. The park also boasts four playgrounds and a miniature train that snakes through more than a mile of forest. The Vancouver Aquarium is also nestled within the park, but costs extra. Art and history buffs will likely want to stop at Brockton Point to see the First Nation totem pole display (along the Seawall). It's estimated that some of the original totem poles were carved in the late 1880s.
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