Vancouver: VanDusen Botanical Garden and Kitsilano Beach Park

IMG_20190612_121331302_LUCiDWhen one of my good friends said she was going to be in Vancouver for a work conference, I requested time off from work and planned a day trip to go see her. Brian was traveling for work so I thought it would be a fun solo road trip!

We love Vancouver and have enjoyed exploring different parts of the city each time we visit. Some of our favorite spots include:

Our first trip we drove and explored the area north of the city but on more recent adventures we’ve taken the train and spent our time downtown. Since I had my car for this trip, I wanted to see a couple spots south of downtown that I knew were not on the top of Brian’s list: VanDusen Botanical Garden and Kitsilano Beach Park.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

I’m not a big flora fan and I’m masterful at killing plants so I sort of surprised myself in wanting to go to the VanDusen Botanical Garden. However, it’s always on the top of the list of things to do around Vancouver so I thought I should check it out!

I got a bit of a late start after enjoying my morning coffee with my cat. I loaded up on sunscreen and then headed north to the border, which ended up being an easy 15-minute crossing. It was easy navigating to the gardens and there was ample parking despite a number of people coming and going, including multiple school groups.

After a quick stop in the visitor’s center for a ticket and map, I headed into the 55-acre garden. There are miles of trails taking you through all kinds of different zones. I began at the fragrance and herbal gardens and made my way to the formal and heritage rose gardens, which had a beautiful array of roses in every shape, size, and color.

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From there I made my way to the heather garden, Scottish shelter and grotto, crossing the bridge over Heron Lake to explore the gardens featuring Australian and New Zealand plants, South African plants, Chilean and Mediterranean plants and more. This section of the garden also had trails through giant redwoods, cypress and cedars.

I was a bit enamored with the water lilies all over the lake. There were lots of white flowers with an occasional pink!

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After looping back toward the visitor center I thought I had enough time to complete the Rhododendron walk through the Japanese and Korean gardens to the vegetable gardens and apple orchard where the school groups were running through the maze and eating lunch near the stone garden.

There was a lovely wooded area, waterfall and stream I was able to follow to the BC Habitat gardens. I wrapped up walking through some beautiful Japanese maples on my way back to the visitor center.

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I spent several hours in the park and was able to cover most of the trails, but it was only because I was taking it all in rather than stopping to admire individual plants. You could easily spend days exploring each area and with the ongoing plantings I am sure the experience would keep changing from one visit to the next.

Even if you’re not really into gardens and plants, I still recommend making a visit and taking some time to slow down and enjoy being outdoors among all kinds of interesting and beautiful trees and plants!

Kitsilano Beach Park

After the solitude of the gardens I made an abrupt change of environment, heading over to the thriving Kitsilano Beach Park. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and the beach was packed! I couldn’t believe the number of people sunbathing and swimming on a Wednesday afternoon.

There was a Cactus Club right on the beach so I popped inside to grab a bite before wrapping up my tour and meeting my friend. I was hoping to sit in the bar area since I was only ordering a snack and not a full meal but they were about to host an event in that space so they led me to a small table overlooking the beach.

I couldn’t have asked for a better view! The windows were open, there was a slight breeze, and I could people watch to my heart’s content while eating a delicious poke bowl and catching up on afternoon plans via the free WiFi.

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It was such a relaxing morning and put me in the best frame of mind for meeting my friend for drinks and dinner near Granville Island. The neighborhoods south of downtown have all kinds of personality and things to do—next time we visit, I might try and stay closer to those areas so we can continue to explore!

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