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I adore summer in my hometown of Vancouver. But – confession time – my favorite time of year has to be the fall. The busy summer tourist season has waned, leaving space to walk, hike and bike about town on crisp, sunny days. If autumn is the perfect time to visit this west coast city, be sure to check off these great things to do in Stanley Park, Vancouver, from your list.

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Things to do in Stanley Park, Vancouver

Stanley Park is a 1,000 acre urban oasis at the northwestern corner of the downtown peninsula. The Park sees more than 8 million visits each year, more than any other tourist destination in Vancouver. Locals and tourists alike love the Park for its nature trails, family-friendly attractions, and the popular seawall, all of which rank high on my own personal list as well.

Start at the Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is a big reason why Stanley Park is such a popular destination. Canada’s largest aquarium has been located here since 1956, and is a trove of aquatic animal and ocean life, with a mission of conservation through interpretation, education and marine research.

Pre-purchase your tickets online ahead of time to skip the long lines when doors open at 10 AM. Enjoy the morning exploring the impressive marine galleries, including Penguin Point, Canada’s Arctic, and Treasures of the BC Coast.

Who doesn't love a playful Vancouver Aquarium otter at feeding time? | thetravellingmom.ca
Who doesn’t love to see a playful otter at feeding time? (Credit: C. Laroye)

Younger kids will love some time at Clownfish Cove, and everyone will enjoy visiting with the playful sea otters. Be sure to note their feeding time – it’s such a treat to watch them eat and play with their food.

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Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour

Enjoy the colorful changing of the leaves from the vantage point of a horse-drawn carriage tour of the Park. This one hundred year old tradition provides a sedate and relaxing one-hour tour, filled with information about the park’s history and surroundings. The tours begin just south of the Aquarium. Horse-loving kids and family members will enjoy this unique way of visiting Stanley Park

The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. How to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca
Channel the 19th century and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride. (Credit: AAA Horse Carriage Tours)

Eat in Stanley Park

Stanley Park is home to three unique dining spots, including one of my favorites, The Teahouse. This restaurant is beautifully situated overlooking English Bay, and offers a west coast menu that has several kid-friendly selections, including pizzas, pasta, and fish and chips.

Weekend brunch is particularly popular with local Vancouverites, many of whom bring visiting relatives and guests for a delicious, wow-factor meal with a view.

Walk or bike the Stanley Park Seawall

Do as the locals do, and spend the afternoon on the seawall. Bike, jog or stroll the beloved 8.8-kilometre (5.5-mile) Stanley Park Seawall. This paved pathway loops around the park, connecting it to downtown Vancouver and English Bay beaches. The flat pathway is an ideal route for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy city and mountain views, complete with an ocean breeze from English Bay and Burrard Inlet. Stroller and wheelchair-friendly.

The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. How to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca
A walk around the seawall at Siwash Rock. (Credit: Tourism Vancouver)
The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Here's how to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca
Biking the Seawall is a hugely popular activity at Stanley Park. (Credit: Cycle City Tours)

Take a Talasay Talking Trees Tour

Discover Stanley Park with a local Indigenous guide on Talaysay Tours Authentic Cultural and Eco Experiences tour. The Talking Trees Tour in Stanley Park is led by a Squamish First Nations guide who shares the ecological practices, ancient and contemporary history, stories, legends, and Indigenous ways of living.

As the tour group winds through Stanley Park and to Beaver Lake, the cultural ambassador highlights how the trees and plants of the Pacific Northwest have been harvested for food, medicine, and technology for thousands of years. The guides point out local plants that were harvested by Skwxu7mesh Uxwumixw — Coast Salish people. From the drooping hemlock to the Grandmother cedar, curled ferns, and skunk cabbage, each plant and tree has its own distinct story.

talasay tour guide stanley park

Soak in the views

Stanley Park and the Seawall are filled with sightseeing spots that also make for picture-perfect photo moments. Enjoy the reflection of a golden sunset off of the city’s high rises, looking southeast along Stanley Park Drive.

Or capture the 1930s-era Lion’s Gate Bridge framed by the North Shore Mountains from Brockton Point Lighthouse (tip: also a great picnic spot), or Prospect Point.

The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. How to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca
A spectacular sunset reflected from the glass towers of downtown Vancouver (Credit: C. Laroye)

There are many vantage points to please amateur or professional photographers. The stone statue of a Girl in a Wetsuit, seemingly floating in the water at high tide, is another popular photo stop. As is the First Nations totem pole display at Brockton Point. Some of the totems date back to the early 20th century, and are fine examples of Haida and Coast Salish carving work.

Ride the Stanley Park Train

The family-friendly Stanley Park Train runs all year round, but is particularly festive in October and December. From the beginning of October to November, Stanley Park’s famous Miniature Train is transformed into the Ghost Train, a popular Halloween tradition. The Ghost Train takes those brave enough to venture on a mysterious journey into the nighttime forest, dressed up in the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve.

The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Here's how to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca
Things that go bump in the night. Boo! (Credit: City of Vancouver)

During December’s Holiday season, the brightly decorated miniature train brings all the festive joy of Christmas on-board as it chugs through the dense green forest in time with familiar seasonal carols and displays.

(Note: If a nighttime visit is too intense for the younger set, matinees are available during daylight hours.)

Read More about visiting Vancouver

Seven ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids

The Most Serene Spots for Forest Bathing in Vancouver

21 Ways to Enjoy Winter Fun in Vancouver

The Best List of Free Things to Do in Vancouver

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The green heart of Vancouver is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Here's how to spend an autumn day exploring Stanley Park | thetravellingmom.ca

Disclosure: The Travelling Mom thanks Expedia.ca for its support.

Have you visited Stanley Park? What’s your favorite thing to see or do in the Park?

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