If you want to see Vancouver from above, the best and the cheapest option is to go to Queen Elizabeth Park. At 152 metres above sea level, it’s the highest point of the city and makes for spectacular views of the park, city, and mountains on the North Shore.
Moving around the city, and seeing them from the everyday perspective, the don’t seem to big as massive and towering over the city. You can see exactly how small the city is in comparison to the nature that surrounds it. Hundred years ago in this place, where I was standing was just a mountain. And probably acres of woods. And today you can stand here at the top of the Little Mountain, overlooking the beautiful, modern city.
The 52-hectare park is home to the stunning Bloedel Conservatory. There is also a gorgeously landscaped quarry garden, the arboretum with its collection of exotic and native trees, sculptures including one by internationally renowned artist Henry Moore, and diverse recreational offerings such as tennis, lawn bowling and pitch & putt. The park is also the perfect setting for fine dining at Seasons in the Park, a picnic or stargazing!
The main Quarry Garden is just west of the Bloedel Conservatory and offers a moment of high drama when first approached and viewed from the park’s rim.
The once massive excavation is now home to specimen trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and annuals selected for their foliage, form and flower. A stream and cascading waterfall add cool comfort and variety to the artfully contrived landscape.
Located below and adjacent to Seasons in the Park restaurant is the smaller or North Quarry Garden. In contrast to the large quarry, this is a “dry” garden and has many oriental horticultural influences including an arching bridge over a stony streambed.
Canada’s first civic arboretum was created along the park’s north and north-western sections. The first plantings were done in 1949 on the north slopes by a group of Junior Forest Wardens.
They began by planting blocks of timber species such as ponderosa pine, subalpine spruce, and Douglas fir. Most of the larger trees are about 60 years old. Among these is the coast redwood, which can grow to be one of the tallest trees in the world.
There are now about 1500 trees from across Canada, along with many exotic species, creating a beautiful landscape.
Be sure to see Photo Session, a bronze figurative sculpture of a man photographing three people, by J. Seward Johnson, Junior. This was a gift to the park from the artist in 1984.
The park’s most famous sculpture is Knife Edge-Two Piece by internationally renowned British sculptor Henry Moore. Located on the plaza to the east of Bloedel Conservatory, it was donated to the Park Board by Prentice Bloedel. The bronze sculpture is one of three copies; the others can be found in front of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, and at the Rockefeller Estate in New York.
Four sculptures by Cameron Kerr, from Campbell River, BC, are located in the plaza. The marble sculptures were commissioned by the City of Vancouver and are on temporary display outside the Conservatory.
The love locks sculpture entitled, Love in the Rain by Vancouver artist Bruce Voyce, was installed at the lookout above the Quarry Garden in August 2016. Sweethearts are encouraged to ‘lock in their love’ by affixing a padlock to the sculpture.
Bloedel Conservatory is a domed lush paradise located in Queen Elizabeth Park atop the City of Vancouver’s highest point. More than 120 free-flying exotic birds, 500 exotic plants and flowers thrive within its temperature-controlled environment.
Constructed through a very generous donation from Prentice Bloedel, Bloedel was dedicated at its opening in 1969 “to a better appreciation and understanding of the world of plants.”
Designated as a heritage building, it is jointly operated by Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Botanical Garden Association. Together, these partners also operate VanDusen Botanical Garden.
Whether you want to explore the gardens, catch amazing city views, or play tennis or pitch & putt, the park is easy to access and get around in, whatever mode of transportation you choose.
The east-west Midtown and Ridgeway bikeways form one continuous trail across Vancouver, mainly along 37th Avenue. The north-south Ontario Street bike route passes along the east side of Queen Elizabeth Park. Bike racks are provided on all TransLink buses. Bicycles are also allowed on the SkyTrain and SeaBus for no extra cost, and on the West Coast Express for a small fee.
Access the park either from Cambie Street at West 29th or 33rd avenues, or from Main Street at East 33rd Avenue.
There is limited free parking along the edges of the park. Pay parking lots are located near the center of the park by Bloedel Conservatory.
Queen Elizabeth Park is near the King Edward and Oakridge-41st stations on the Canada Line