The West End’s beachfront access makes the neighbourhood one of the most sought-after in the city. It is home to many lively attractions such as Stanley Park’s Summer Cinema, the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks, Vancouver Pride, as well as other seasonal events and West End festivals.
Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, BBQ with friends and family, or simply explore the neighbourhood’s diversity, the beaches and parks in The West End make it easy to enjoy Vancouver’s beauty without having to drive out of the city. And it’s all within walking distance of your front door. Here are our top 5 best parks and beaches in The West End.
Sunset Beach Park
Sunset Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver and is situated in the West End near the Burrard Street Bridge and at the mouth of False Creek inlet. Sunset – as locals simply know it – is bustling with West End residents eager to sunbathe, walk the seawall, go swimming at The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, or simply enjoy the beautiful sea views. It’s easy to hop on a harbour taxi and visit neighbouring Kitsilano, go shopping at Granville Island, or ride the ferry into Yaletown. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have a blanket to sprawl on and some refreshing drinks to sip around sundown – the very moment this beach is named after.
With over 400 hectares of green space and 27 kilometres of trails, Stanley Park lives up to its reputation as the “top park in the world.” Rent a bicycle from one of the shops along Denman or Georgia Street, strap on a helmet, and be sure to ask the shop what to do when you hear someone call “on your left!” If cycling isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the day here. Wander the many walking trails in Stanley Park, or make your way to Second Beach or Third Beach to take in the spectacular ocean and North Shore mountain views. Stanley Park is also home to The Vancouver Aquarium, The Stanley Park Train, pitch & putt, first nation’s totem poles and artwork, tennis courts, water parks, and horse and carriage rides. If you get hungry mid-park adventure, fuel up at Prospect Point Cafe, The Teahouse Restaurant, or Stanley Park Brewpub.
Second Beach Park
Second Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver, especially for young families. Located in Stanley Park at the junction of Stanley Park Drive and North Lagoon Drive, this beach is smaller than some of the others in the area, but it is excellent. The major selling point of Second Beach Park is the oceanside, outdoor, heated swimming pool. Second Beach has two great children’s play areas, several picnic tables for mealtimes and BBQs at the nearby Ceperley Meadow, and a large field for sports and games.
Despite being a beach in downtown Vancouver, Third Beach naturally shields dippers and tanners from urban noise. Located on the seawall at Ferguson Point in Stanley Park, it is primed with soft sand and great views of the ocean and North Shore mountains. Third Beach is perfect for quiet sunbathing, picnics, BBQing, watching sunsets, or taking a short walk to Siwash Rock. Be sure to swing by on sunny Tuesday nights during the summer – a group of drummers often shows up for some informal jamming on the sand at Third Beach, making for some delightful free entertainment.
Nelson (Dog) Park
Nelson Park in downtown Vancouver is bounded by Nelson St., Bute St., Comox St. and Thurlow St., making it the perfect West End Park to relax with a cup of coffee and take in the sights. Its ample green space, a fenced off-leash dog area, elegant pathway system, seating plaza, and a restful water feature make Nelson Dog Park a favourite among residents. Stop by on Saturday mornings to buy local and fresh ingredients from the West End Farmers Market.