English Bay Beach in Vancouver's West End neighbourhood

©John Lee/Lonely Planet

English Bay Beach


Wandering south on Denman St, you'll spot a clutch of palm trees ahead announcing one of Canada's best urban beaches. Then you'll see one of Vancouver's most popular public artworks: a series of oversized laughing figures that makes everyone smile. Across the street is the beach, where a summertime party atmosphere has locals catching rays and panoramic ocean views…or just ogling the volleyballers prancing around on the sand.

Be sure to snap a few photos of the beach's towering inukshuk (Inuit sculpture), south of the main area, or just continue along the seawall into neighboring Stanley Park. The beach is a popular (but crowded) spot to catch the annual Celebration of Light fireworks festival, and it's also where the city's wildly popular Polar Bear Swim takes place on January 1.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Vancouver attractions

1. A-maze-ing Laughter

0.06 MILES

Created by Yue Minjun, one of Vancouver's most-photographed public artworks is just a few steps from English Bay Beach. Expect to see groups of smiling…

2. Stanley Park

0.49 MILES

One of North America’s largest urban green spaces, Stanley Park is revered for its dramatic forest-and-mountain oceanfront views. But there’s more to this…

3. Roedde House Museum

0.51 MILES

For a glimpse of what the West End looked like before the apartment blocks, visit this handsome 1893 Queen Anne–style mansion, now a lovingly preserved…

4. Stanley Park Nature House

0.58 MILES

Illuminating the breathtaking array of flora and fauna just steps from the busy streets of the West End, this charming nature center is a great…

5. Second Beach & Third Beach

0.59 MILES

Second Beach is a family-friendly area on Stanley Park's western side, with a grassy playground, an ice-cream-serving concession and the Stanley Park…

6. Lost Lagoon

0.61 MILES

This rustic area near Stanley Park's entrance was originally part of Coal Harbour. But after a causeway was built in 1916, the new body of water was…

7. Vancouver Maritime Museum

0.65 MILES

Teeming with salty seafaring artifacts, dozens of intricate ship models and a couple of walk-through recreated boat sections, the prize exhibit at this…

8. Nelson Park

0.66 MILES

A West End park beloved of local dog-walkers, this is also where you'll find the summer-long West End Farmers Market.