Vancouver Wonderful Walks #1: Seawall Loop through Stanley Park

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You might say I travel a lot, and though many of those miles are spent in the air, if I kept track, I’d bet I walk as many miles as I fly! When I wrote about how to spend the perfect long weekend in Vancouver, I touched on my favorite walks, but didn’t go into much detail. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities for walking! During my recent trip to Vancouver, I took my favorite walks, only this time, I made extensive notes so I could share them with you. Here’s one of my favorites, which I call the Seawall Loop. I stay at the Hyatt Regency when I visit Vancouver, and it never disappoints me. As you’ll see in the photos, luck was on my side for this week because the weather in late October was amazing. Beautiful fall foliage everywhere.

Fall has arrived in Vancouver

So let’s start this walk from the Hyatt. You’ll exit onto Burrard Street and head north towards the water. As you walk four blocks to the water, you’ll pass a historic and architecturally stunning building, the Marine Building. The art deco details are worth seeing so make sure to go into the lobby of the building and look around. Take the elevator up a few floors and when you get out, you’ll have an overhead view of the lobby. Beautiful! On the ground floor of this building, you will find one of my favorite JJ Bean coffee locations. It has seating on the second floor if you want to relax, read, talk, and stay a while. At the end of Burrard, you’ll cross the street and be at the waterfront. The Vancouver Convention Centre will be on your left. You’ll see a walkway along the water. We’ll head left here and follow along the water.

Canada Place next to the Vancouver Convention Centre

You’ll notice that Vancouver is a very active seaplane location. Many people commute by seaplane or go to Victoria for visits. There are many seaplane destinations and it’s a great splurge just to take a tour of the area by seaplane. I did that once with a friend for his birthday and it’s really fun!

Seaplane in Vancouver Harbour

Also along this part of the walk, there are benches for sitting and taking in the views of the water, parks, and mountains. You’ll also notice history information plaques all along the walk with Vancouver, British Columbia, and Canada history stories. It’s easy to miss all these because you’ll likely be focused on all the natural beauty and watching the seaplanes land and take off! You’ll notice the big condo buildings along the water. One thing I like is that even though there’s housing and tall buildings, there’s also lots of grass. Seems like great urban planning and multi-use thinking went into developing this area.

Condo buildings along the water

Speaking of multi-use along your walk, be aware that though I usually see more walkers than bicyclists along this walk, there are designated areas for bicycling. There are specific and easy-to-see signs for where the walkers go and where bicyclists ride, so just pay attention. The next area you’ll come to is called Coal Harbour. You’ll see the Westin Hotel here, too. There are boats at docks and some large condo buildings and now you’re one mile from the Hyatt. Stanley Park is so close across the water you’ll feel like you can touch it!

View of Stanley Park from Coal Harbour

Keep following the path along the water and you’ll come to the Denman Street cutoff. Don’t follow Denman Street because we’ll be coming back to the Hyatt on Denman. Rather, head towards Stanley Park and into the park. You’re now two miles from the Hyatt and have walked for about 45 minutes.

Seawall Loop in Stanley Park

For me, the beauty of Stanley Park is best experienced by taking the seawall outer loop of the park. It does add mileage, but if you’re up for it, go for it. You certainly won’t be bored because the natural beauty in the park, plus the views you’ll have of the mountains, are truly wonderful. For me it’s the perfect walk! As you loop around, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the ocean, and at midpoint you’ll see Lions Gate Bridge. It opened in 1938 and is quite a spectacular site. You’ve now walked 3.5 miles!

Lions Gate Bridge

If you’re wondering about bathrooms or a visitor center, you’ll see them from both sides of the loop in the park. They are well marked and a good place to stop for a breather. At the visitor center, there’s also an exhibit of totem poles. It’s a popular stop for people taking photos.

Totem poles in Stanley Park

As you continue towards the bridge, you’ll see the aquarium and children’s park. I’ve never stopped to go to the aquarium so I have no idea how it compares to other aquariums. As you walk under the bridge, you’ll have a wide open view to the ocean and you’ll notice the coast and area along the seawall become very rocky. Siwash Rock is a popular place to stop for photos. There’s a plaque explaining its significance and history.

Siwash Rock in Stanley Park

As you wind around this part of the seawall, you’ll come to a beach. It’s called Third Beach. It’s a great spot to catch the sunset. I’ve been to Third Beach at many different times of the year and no matter the weather, Vancouverites enjoy this beach! And you’ve just walked seven miles :)

Third Beach in Stanley Park

After passing Third Beach, you’ll start to see the city. After miles of walking in what likely felt like the country, you’ll spot civilization and English Bay. You’ll walk past an outdoor swimming pool and another big kids park. The grassy area around this part of English Bay is heavily used for picnics and just hanging out. You’re at the tip of what’s called the West End of Vancouver. It’s one of the hip and trendy parts of the city. Even with several feet of snow on the ground, as I’ve experienced during winters in Vancouver, this area of English Bay is a destination in itself and well worth the walk!

View of English Bay from Stanley Park

At this point you’ll have two choices as to which direction to use as you head back towards the Hyatt. Keep in mind you’ve walked over 7 miles already. Usually, I choose to go back towards the Hyatt by walking up Denman and then making a right on Robson. Robson is full of eateries and stores and is a lively street no matter the time of day. Your other choice would be to continue along English Bay toward the Burrard Bridge. Then you’d take Burrard north to the hotel. This way is longer, for sure, so it depends on your energy and time of day. If you take the first route up Denman and Robson, the WHOLE loop is nine miles!

Closeup of English Bay

Congratulations! You’ve just completed one of my favorite walks in the world! I sincerely hope this seawall walking loop is something you’ll try. Walk parts of it, walk all of it, but just get out in Vancouver and walk. It’s the best way to see the city!

Have you walked the seawall? Let me know! Stay tuned for another great walking loop around Vancouver.

Here are a few extra photos of my walk:

9 thoughts on “Vancouver Wonderful Walks #1: Seawall Loop through Stanley Park

  1. Brian Cohen

    You have reminded me that I have not finished posting trip reports of my last trip to Vancouver, Shelli — but as you can see by at least one of the photographs in this article pertaining to the Lion’s Gate Bridge…

    http://thegate.boardingarea.com/lions-gate-bridge/

    …I have walked the seawall in Stanley Park — just not the entire length of it, which is something I intend to do the next time I am in Vancouver.

    Despite being in Stanley Park more than once, I never knew about Siwash Rock. I am always missing something whenever I travel. I will have to catch it — and photograph it — next time.

    Here is a link to my article pertaining to Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge — a viable alternative to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which I visited during my first time in Vancouver — in case you are interested:

    http://thegate.boardingarea.com/consider-lynn-canyon-instead-capilano-park-north-vancouver/

    Anyway, I learned some information from your article. The only thing it is missing is a listing of all of the Kosher delicatessen options in Vancouver…

    …yeah, I know — I am just starting trouble at this point…

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      First of all, thanks for the laugh, Brian. If you find any Jewish delis, please make sure I’m the second to know! Walking the entire seawall is a commitment that I never regret making. It’s a special place that really clears my head. Thanks for posting your Vancouver pieces. I hope people read them. It’s an amazingly beautiful part of North America. I hope we weren’t in Vancouver at the same time and missed each other. I’m usually good for two visits a year, no matter the season. Have a great week, and thanks so much for taking the time to add your 2 CADs to the conversation!

      Reply
  2. Jason

    Try renting a bike next time, also very fun :)

    I also love that Regency, probably go there 5 to 10 times a year just for the weekend.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Hi Jason, Lucky you at the Hyatt 5-10 times a year. Great staff! I have friends in Vancouver, so have done the loops by bike. I can cover even more miles on a bike! Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Vancouver Wonderful Walks #2: Gastown, Yaletown & False Creek Loop

  4. phoenix

    Bella Gelateria (at the Fairmont Pacific Rim across from the Convention Center) is a must. Well worth braving the summer lineups for.

    Reply

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