Queen Elizabeth Park is one of Vancouver’s prized jewels. As the highest place in Vancouver it offers great views of the surrounding city, and despite its history as a rock quarry the park boasts some of the most beautiful and well maintained ornamental gardens in the area. There are also numerous recreational opportunities throughout the park including easy walking trails, tennis courts, lawn bowling, pitch and putt as well as others. To top it off the Bloedel Conservatory, a domed building that houses numerous species of exotic plants and birds, sits atop the park as its crowning jewel.
Always up for an adventure, we started exploring Queen Elizabeth Park from the bottom of the hill at the east entrance (East 33rd Street and Ontario Street). There is a paved trail that follows the road up the hill and ends at the Dancing Waters Fountain. Just beyond the fountain lies the conservatory; this was our first stop. Despite its impressive structure the conservatory is somewhat small, but the space is used very efficiently. My children were entranced by the exotic birds, and I loved the tropical plants. It reminded me of our travels to Thailand and Mexico. My husband was quick to notice mice scampering around; he has a good eye for rodents. We concluded that the conservatory has a significant rodent problem and all they need to fix it is a handful of tropical snakes.
Beyond the conservatory there are some great views of Vancouver and below are the beautiful quarry gardens and arboretum. I have never seen such perfectly maintained botanical gardens. There are warning sign everywhere to stay on the path and I had to remind my younger children of this a few times. My children’s favourite spot was the little waterfall tucked into the corner of the main quarry garden. Here they took off their shoes and watched water striders dance on the water. The gardens were busy but not oppressively so. The size of the park makes it very easy to find a nice quiet spot to relax, picnic, read or even paint. It really is a lovely park, definitely worth a visiting if you have the opportunity to do so.