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My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

Lion's Gate Bridge
Lion's Gate Bridge

I’m lucky! I live in Vancouver, a city renowned for its supernatural beauty and its multicultural richness. But it’s still a city after all and sometimes you need a change of scene, even if it’s just for a few hours. Stanley Park, an oasis of green at the north western edge of downtown Vancouver is my velvet escape. I come to the park to reconnect with the ocean – and after a few hours along the seawall you feel connected!

Stanley Park is a 1000 acre preserve of temperate rain forest on a peninsula jutting into Burrard Inlet. An absolute must do is to walk, bike or roller blade the 10 km seawall loop. I love doing this, especially in the off season or on a rainy day when you feel like you’ve got the place to yourself – save for a lone runner or biker.

island
Siwash rock

You can start anywhere but I recommend the Vancouver Rowing Club as an easy spot to reach, especially since it is only a few hundred metres from bike rental shops. Head counter clockwise so you’re traveling with the flow of bikes. Enjoy watching the takeoffs and landings of float planes and the comings and goings from the marinas. As you turn to the north you have superb views of the Northshore Mountains and the port activity. Carry on and look for the statue of ‘A Girl in the Wetsuit’ who appears to be swimming if you see her at high tide. As you near Lion’s Gate Bridge you might be fortunate to see the imposing bulk of a cruise ship or container ship as it passes under the bridge. Keep an eye out for seals! Beyond Lion’s Gate, you are greeted by expansive views to the west; look out for Siwash Rock, where legend has it a young Indian Chief was immortalized. Next up are some inviting beaches where you could stop and relax. Finally the loop turns east, so head past the lagoon where seabirds and racoons beg for handouts and finish up at the Rowing Club. Chances are your soul is replenished.

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About this week’s guest writer
Leigh Leigh McAdam is the researcher, traveler and founder of HikeBikeTravel.com where you can download free hike, bike and travel guides to some of the world’s great places. Follow Leigh on Twitter.

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