I’ve done almost all the things you can do at Vancouver’s 130 acre Queen Elizabeth Park: gone jogging, played tennis, attended a wedding, admired the flowers, played near the water fountain, and ducked into the Bloedel Conservatory. But I have yet to play golf, do Tai Chi, lawn bowl or eat in the restaurant.
Jogging in Queen Elizabeth Park
I jog through the park on a semi-regular basis. Rolling green hills are lined with walking paths, the quarry gardens have a resemblance to the ones Alice dances through in Wonderland, and ducks swim leisurely around the ponds. I mean, how idyllic is that?
If you want to slow it down—way down—on most early mornings you can join Tai Chi under the arbours at the plaza in the centre of the park or have a go with the lawn bowling club for some quiet fun.
A Game of Tennis or Golf?
Queen E is a popular spot, so the Park Board has created 18 tennis courts that are free to use by whoever’s there first. There’s a 30 minutes max. if someone is waiting, but otherwise the courts are fair game to use. There are also a few basketball courts, roller hockey rinks and off-leash areas.
Further east on East 37 Avenue is the Pitch & Putt golf course. 18 holes cover the hilltop course that I’m told is perfect for beginners. Something about contoured par 3s that aren’t over 110 yards, but that means nothing to me. I’ve never played a game of golf in my life. The 18 holes are under $15 and club rentals are under $5. Oh, and parking is free if you use the East 37 Avenue lot.
Getting Married at Queen E
Almost everyone who lives in Vancouver has been to a wedding at the park. If you make your way to the top of the hill (the highest point in Vancouver at 501 feet above sea level), especially on weekends, you’ll likely see brides and grooms being followed around with camera-clad relatives and kids dressed up in their best clothes.
Weddings take place in my favourite spot, beside the fountain that erupts in a water dance using 70 jets (just like the Bellagio Hotel’s fountain show in Las Vegas, except minus about 1,000 volts). Sometimes children get in and play, but, as I told my little niece, they’re not supposed to be in there.
The Bloedel Conservatory
This geodesic dome is filled with tropical flowers, colourful plants and bright birds. Because of cutbacks, the Park Board has threatened to shut it down, but locals went nuts and so far it’s staying open. You can step inside for about $5.
Outside of the geodesic dome (I wonder how many times I can fit that word in?) you’ll come across one of the best views over the city of Vancouver. I won’t give you directions because you can’t miss it: it’s over there with all the snow-capped mountains and glass towers shimmering above the water.
If you can’t get enough of the view, try the Seasons in the Park restaurant overlooking the same skyline.