25 Bucket List Worthy Nature Attractions In and Around Vancouver

While the term “lower mainland” is not an official designation, this region has been referred to by this term since the first settlers in the area. Currently, this area includes sixteen of British Columbia’s thirty most populated municipalities, so visitors may be surprised to know that there are still plenty of natural spaces and wild regions to enjoy here. This is home to one of the mildest climates in the country, which means that visitors can enjoy outdoor activities and sites all year long.

City of Vancouver

VanDusen Garden’s Elizabethan Hedge Maze

Part of the fabulous VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver’s city center, this is one of the few hedge mazes in North America and is well worth a visit. Hedge mazes date back to Elizabethan England and labyrinths in general even farther back than that. The maze itself is made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars – Thujaoccidentalis ‘Fastigiata’ to be specific – all planted in the autumn of 1981 and slowly grown into the form of the maze one finds today. Take some time to find your way through this bucket worthy site!
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Stanley Park

We can’t list natural attractions in the lower mainland and not include the famous Stanley Park. This park covers an incredible 1001-acres! With a great mixture of ancient forest and ocean views, you can spend all day wandering the 27 kilometres of trails or enjoy the rose garden, totem poles or lounge on the beaches. Bird and animal life abound in this park, along with unlimited photo opportunities and places to just be one in nature.
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Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

There is something very tranquil about a Chinese garden, and amazingly, this one is located near the center of Vancouver, providing some quiet space to get back to nature. This classical Chinese garden is home to amazing plant life, objects, history, and the stories that go along with them are varied and interesting. You can enjoy every aspect on your own or join a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.
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Bloedel Conservatory

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Credit: Bloedel Conservatory

Rather than being an outdoor destination, this indoor tropical garden is a great place to visit when you want some nature on a cooler day. This domed wonderland is home to more than 500 exotic plants and flowers, along with more than 230 different birds that free fly around the dome, much to everyone’s delight. An easy place to get close up to parrots and macaws along with the opportunity to enjoy plant life without being outside.
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Kitsilano Beach

It’s hard to think about must see outdoor areas without thinking about Kitsilano Beach. While it is definitely not a secluded beach, this well-known park is one of the most popular beaches in Vancouver, and most people have at least heard of it. Located on the north edge of the neighbourhood of Kitsilano, the beach faces out onto the beautiful English Bay. The Seawall System allows visitors to enjoy walking or biking as well as plenty of benches to just sit and enjoy the ocean vistas.
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UBC Botanical Garden and Greenheart Canopy Walkway

The UBC Botanical Gardens are home to more than 30,000 different plant species from various regions around the world. You can have a chance to walk through the treetops here as well, as the Canopy Walkway will take you along 310 meters of suspended walkways attached to huge cedars, Douglas Firs, and grand firs. Take your time and enjoy the walk at your own pace or join a knowledgeable guide. This is an excellent place to learn and enjoy the different aspects of nature and plant life.
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Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Neighbourhoods

One of the most spectacular natural sites in the lower mainland is the beautiful spring cherry blossoms in Vancouver. There are a variety of neighbourhoods that you can check out to experience the best blossoms and there are plenty of activities that go on through the season, including the Cherry Blossom Festival. You can get a map of the neighbourhoods and the best dates to see them online to help plan your viewing time.
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Abbotsford Area

Abbotsford’s Tulip Farm

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Credit: Abbotsford Tulip Festival

There is nothing more beautiful than looking upon rows and rows of blooming tulips, but this may not be something that you expect to see in the lower mainland The best time to view the blooms is in April, when you can also, if you like, attend a tulip festival.It is not necessary to attend the festival to view the flowers, though it is recommended to check out the websites of the farms or the festival to see when they expect the best time to view the flowers will be.
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Chilliwack Area

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve

We think that anyplace that we can see magnificent wildlife or birdlife should be included in a bucket worthy list, especially when you may be coming from a country or province where you can’t see these! The wetlands at this nature preserve provide an opportunity to view the beautiful Great Blue Herons that reside here, along with an Interpretive Center which can provide a lot of wonderful information on the birds and the area. There are plenty of trails to take you through the reserve, and it is a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors.
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Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park

Just east of Chilliwack, this provincial park only covers 32 hectares, but is home to a spectacular waterfall that is a definite must see if you are in the area. The water falls 60 meters over the smooth rock face, creating a veil effect which has provided the name. The walk to the falls is only about 15 minutes, so no real workout required to enjoy this beautiful natural site.
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North Vancouver

Maplewood Flats Conservation Area

We can’t talk about outdoor spaces without mentioning this fabulous area. Visiting the Conservation Area will give visitors the chance to see one (or many) of the 249-bird species here, or perhaps glimpse the numerous butterflies in the area. Upon arrival don’t forget to look at the signs indicating what wildlife has been spotted in the area recently. Walk the 3 kilometers of trails to really get a feel for the area and plenty of photo ops.
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Capilano Suspension Bridge

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Credit: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

There is nowhere quite like this elsewhere in the province and the site offers some of the best view of the canyon, river and towering evergreens. The 450-foot-long suspension bridge hangs 230 feet above the river and is the start of an adventure through the incredible coastal rainforest. The other activities that are available here will allow you to fully experience this incredible area.
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Lynn Canyon Park

There are several incredible aspects to this park, including a suspension bridge which hangs 50 meters above the canyon. A wide variety of lengths and difficulties of hiking and walking trails gives you ample opportunities to enjoy this outdoor space, along with picnic areas and cool swimming holes. Take a walk, breathe in the forest air and discover the beautiful waterfall here. You can also visit the Ecology Center which is in the same area, to learn about the birdlife and animal life of the park.
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Grouse Mountain

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Credit: Grouse Mountain Resort

One of the best things about the lower mainland is the diversity of landscapes available. Grouse Mountain allows visitors to enjoy all seasons with the plentiful activities available here. Of course, if you are just wanting to get into nature and enjoy the wildlife and views here, it is easy to do. Check out the year round Skyride, which is North America’s largest aerial tramway system, and which gives you the most excellent of views. There is skiing, hiking, a ropes adventure, disc golf, and so much more. Spend a day or two exploring the mountain and all the great aspects it provides.
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Norvan Falls

Another natural wonder that can only be reached by walking, this is a bit longer of a day, but worth it in the end as your destination is a gorgeous waterfall. This intermediate-level hike takes about 5 hours round trip and can be completed year-round. Take a lunch and some water and hang out looking at this natural wonder. Don’t forget to sign in before you start the hike and follow the trail directions on the website to get to the best picnic spot.
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Burnaby Area

Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area – Playground of the Gods

Along with incredible views, this is one of the most spectacular natural areas in the region to view the sunset. Called the Playground of the Gods, this conservation area is also home to a Centennial Rose Garden, which features over 900 rose bushes, and some amazing totem poles with an interesting history. Burnaby Mountain hosts many trails to enjoy, or just sit and soak up the beautiful views.
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West Vancouver Area

Lighthouse Park

Located in West Vancouver, this 75-hectare park encompasses all that we love about natural areas – ocean views, bird watching opportunities, incredible old-growth forest, walking trails and is home to a historic lighthouse. One of the most photographed areas in the lower mainland, this is a must-see natural area. Pack a picnic and spend the day, you won’t be sorry.
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Coquitlam Area

Crystal Falls

To get to this gorgeous natural wonder, you need to embark on an easy 6.5-kilometre hike along the Upper Coquitlam River.Along with fantastic photo ops, these falls also offer the opportunity to take a dip in the river or in the canyon above the falls. The river is shallow, and the cool water is a nice treat after hiking. Take a picnic and make it a full day outing. You need at least two hours to complete this activity, more if you are going to swim or picnic.
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Richmond Area

Iona Beach

This incredibly unique beach will prove an extraordinary outing in the lower mainland area. Located just north of the international airport, in Richmond, this beach is actually a narrow jetty made up of sand and grass. Walk along the shoreline to admire the view, along with the rare sand dune plants found here. Located along the Pacific Flyway, you can also observe the more than 300 different birds that migrate through here. Bike or hike along the path all the way to the end to see the driftwood that has piled up there.
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Richmond Nature Park

If you love birds, animals and the outdoors, this destination will excite you. This marvellous park hosts a Nature House for a chance to see live animals and an active beehive. There are paths throughout this beautiful area that will let you enjoy birds and wildlife through the different seasons, like hummingbirds in the spring and owls in the fall. Migratory birds visit through the winter.
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Garry Point Park

This is a 75-acre park located right along the waterfront in Richmond, and an excellent place to fly kites as well as soak in the marvellous vistas (on a clear day) across the Salish Sea all the way to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Take some time and wander through the gorgeous Japanese style Kuno Garden. If you stay all day, this is an amazing place to see the sunset.
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White Rock Area

White Rock Beach and Pier

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Credit: City of White Rock

Just as the name suggests, there is an actual large white rock on the beach here, but to us that is not the main attraction of this beautiful area. The historic pier, jutting 470 feet out into the water is a cool place to check out, and the walking trail along the beach itself will lead you up and down the touristy beach area. The beach itself is nice and an easy place to stick your feet (or your entire body) into the ocean waters. What is spectacular here though, is the incredible difference of low and high tides, which can be well over 4 meters. Check out the tide tables online and take some before and after pictures, the difference is amazing.
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Surrey Area

1001 Steps Beach

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Credit: City of Surrey

There is certainly something in the name of the beach, be prepared to go down the crisscross pattern of the stairs to the spectacular beach below, as well as climbing back up them when you are done enjoying the area. This beach is generally deserted, which gives you opportunities to explore the seashore to find all kinds of sea life, along with the possibility of seeing Harbour Seals and Blue Herons up close.
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Maple Ridge Area

Golden Ears Provincial Park

Being one of the largest parks in the province, this provincial area provides visitors with amazing views, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, boating, fishing and windsurfing on the lake, and there are plenty of trails for hiking and exploring. Check out the beautiful lower falls, an easy hour hike that allows you to arrive at the falls and a nice, albeit rocky beach for some secluded time in natural surroundings. Camping is also permitted in the park, so your time in nature can be extended.
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Delta Area

South Arms Marshes Wildlife Management Area

This humongous wildlife sanctuary is a must-do for anyone that loves a variety of outdoor activities and the beautiful scenery that can be had in the lower mainland. You can easily access the land areas to enjoy a variety of walking trails, but if you have a boat, the best way to enjoy this area is on the water. This will give you the best opportunities to view wildlife in the area. Get out on a canoe or kayak and try some fishing, or merely enjoy the quiet and nature.
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