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Queen Elizabeth Park and Bloedel Conservatory

Queen Elizabeth Park quarry gardens
Queen Elizabeth Park quarry gardens

Queen Elizabeth Park is situated on the highest elevation of land within the city of Vancouver, Canada. At 152 m or 500 feet, it provides panoramic views of Vancouver and the Northshore mountains. If you are cruising out of Vancouver, or just visiting friends or family, consider paying a visit to this scenic park located near the geographic center of the city. In fact, QE Park is a popular park and second only to the more famous Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. If you’re looking for something to do in Vancouver, add Queen Elizabeth Park to your travel route.

In addition to having beautiful lush surroundings and manicured gardens, QE Park also has the Bloedel Conservatory, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a celebration pavilion for weddings, pitch and putt, and more. At this high point of land, you get some fantastic views of the surrounding city and the towering Northshore mountains. However, the nearby trees have grown tall over the years and partially block the view of downtown Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park Location

  • Location: Cambie Street and West 33rd Avenue | Open: 6 am to 10 pm

Queen Elizabeth Park is located at the junction of Cambie Street and West 33rd Avenue. However, there are entrances on several sides of the park, including Ontario Street and West 33rd Avenue, or along West 37th Avenue between Columbia and Mackie streets.

Free parking was limited along the edges of the park and during our visit, these spots were full. Pay parking lots are located near the center of the park by the Bloedel Conservatory and Seasons in the Park Restaurant, and as of this writing, it costs CAD 3.50/hr or CAD 13/day (May 1 to Sep 30) and CAD 2.50/hr or CAD 7/day during the rest of the year. Alternatively, an annual parking pass is available for CAD 140.

Queen Elizabeth Park Map

The map below shows the multiple entrances to the park.

Queen Elizabeth Park map
Queen Elizabeth Park map from the city of Vancouver

‘Love in the Rain’ Love Locks

The Love Lock installation is a newer addition to the park and was erected in 2016 to prevent further damage to the Burrard St. Bridge where locks were historically placed. Entitled ‘Love in the Rain,’ the steelworks of art, showcases four couples lovingly embracing underwire umbrellas.

The installation includes a heart-shaped dropbox for padlock keys, which are generally thrown away and become litter. In addition, these keys are melted down and turned back into art installations to be installed somewhere else. What an incredible idea!

‘Love in the Rain’ is one of my favorite areas of Queen Elizabeth Park. Generally speaking, love locks have been a tradition that has spread around the world, with lovers looking for places to put a permanent lock as a symbol of their love.

During our visit, we placed our own love lock on the structure as a symbol of our ‘forever love.’ Afterward, we took some time to read the inscriptions on the locks. Furthermore, it was hard not to notice some of their unique styles and shapes. On a recent trip to Othello Tunnels in Hope, we saw some love locks on the chainlink fence inside one of the train tunnels.

Cherry Blossoms

While the park looks good at any time of the year, the month of April welcomes cherry blossom season. As soon as the spring weather warms in Vancouver, it is one of the most popular times of the year for the park.

Each year, Queen Elizabeth Park hosts The Big Picnic, which may be Canada’s largest picnic celebration. Inspired by Hanami (Japan’s viewing of the cherry blossoms), visitors are invited to share in the beauty of the flowers, all while picnicking under their fragrant branches. During the event, some of the parking lots are closed, so it’s best to plan your trip by public transit.

Weddings at Queen Elizabeth Park

The beautiful gardens provide an incredible setting for weddings at any time of the year. Also, the Celebration Pavilion provides the ideal venue to hold your wedding ceremony. The Bloedel Conservatory is also a popular location for wedding photos or small ceremonies. It can be used year-round and provides a lush tropical setting any time of the year without leaving Vancouver.

Celebration Pavilion

This picturesque circular venue can accommodate up to 100 people and can be rented year-round. Since prices start at CAD 1500 (2 hrs exclusive use) depending on the season, it’s popular amongst locals. During an event, the back walls of the Pavilion can open up to a beautiful patio. This creates the perfect setting for a summer wedding, fundraiser, or speaking event.

Seasons In The Park

Positioned near the Bloedel Conservatory is The Seasons In The Park restaurant. It offers visitors fantastic food, excellent service, and spectacular views of Vancouver. With its lovely ambiance, It’s the perfect place for a romantic dinner as you watch the sunset. The restaurant is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. However, I’d definitely recommend a reservation.

The restaurant can be booked for private functions and is often used for wedding receptions.

Queen Elizabeth Park Quarry Gardens

The two individual gardens created in former rock quarries are the showcase of Queen Elizabeth Gardens. Arriving at the rim of the large quarry (once quarried for its rock to build roadways), you can’t help but stand in awe of its incredible beauty. The sunken area exhibits immaculate landscaping and changing flowers, depending on the season. Small bridges and paved walkways meander between the fragrant blooms and enhance the visitors’ experience.

The large quarry is a horticultural dream garden with beautifully curved beddings filled with exciting flowers and perennials. Even if you lack a green thumb, you can still appreciate the work that goes into maintaining this magnificent garden. Wandering through the lower terrace, a cascading waterfall and gentle stream add interest to the landscape.

Located next to the Season In The Park restaurant, is the smaller quarry. It oozes oriental charm with plenty of Asian influences from its planting choices to its arched bridge over a dry creek bed.

Bloedel Conservatory

The Bloedel Conservatory’s name comes from Prentice Bloedel, who made his fortune in forestry in the 20th century. He donated CAD 1.25 million to build Canada’s first geodesic conservatory. The Conservatory opened in 1969 and has been enabling visitors to enjoy more than 120 exotic birds, and 500 exotic plants in a temperature-controlled environment year-round. In 2018, over 150,000 people visited the Bloedel Conservatory.

Inside the Bloedel Conservatory
Inside the Bloedel Conservatory – Photo from the city of Vancouver

We visited on a chilly October day, and the first thing that hits your senses is how warm and humid it is inside. As a tropical ecosystem, it is necessary to maintain a consistent climate regardless of the temperature or weather. Inside, the temperature remains at a constant 18-22 degrees Celsius (64-68 degrees Fahrenheit), and humidity is typically a moist 78%.

Inside the domed gem, a meandering paved path leads you through the various areas and habitats. While the dome is not big, we could enjoy the experience at our own pace. Immediately entering the Conservatory, we experienced sensory overload with a multitude of sounds, scents, and scenery. I couldn’t help but listen to the chirps and fascinating sounds of the tropical birds.

Due to the high humidity, the collection of flowers and vegetation lets off a pleasing fragrance of tropical scents. Visually, everywhere I looked, I could see a creature that I knew was not native to Vancouver or British Columbia. Overall, it was incredibly amazing and a great Vancouver rainy day activity.

Bloedel Conservatory Hours And Prices

The Bloedel Conservatory is within Queen Elizabeth Park and located at:
4600 Cambie St.
Vancouver, BC
V5Y 2M4

The conservatory is open daily (except Christmas Day) and here are the times for 2022.
January and February – from 10 am to 4 pm
April – from 10 am to 6 pm
March to September – from 10 am to 5 pm
Oct to Dec – from 10 am to 4 pm

The admission rates are:
Adult (19-64) CAD 7.20
Senior (65+) CAD 5.05
Youth (13-18) CAD 5.05
Child (5-12) CAD 3.60
Children under 5 Free
10% off groups of 10 or more

I found the Bloedel Conservatory prices reasonable and excellent value for budget-minded families. It takes less than an hour to walk through because the Bloedel floral conservatory is not massive. However, every square foot provides something to see due to the optimal design.

Interestingly enough, the city of Vancouver almost lost the Conservatory in 2009 due to budget shortfalls. Local citizens rallied to join forces to save this valuable dome. Today, the VanDusen Botanical Garden and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association jointly manage the Bloedel Conservatory.

What’s Inside the Conservatory

Inside you will find birds such as cockatoos, parrots, canaries, parakeets, starlings, finches, doves, robins, pheasants, and more. Throughout the conservatory, plentiful signs provide descriptions of the birds and their various traits. For example, “Ruby” (shown in the accompanying photo) “is a vibrant female who is gentle, shy, and a big groomer. She also loves to play with pinecones”.

As we arrived near the end of the pathway, one of the workers held “Blanca,” who is an umbrella cockatoo, born in 1998 and described as cuddly, playful, and with a big personality. While there, she would say “Hi” and “Bye-bye” to visitors. Very entertaining to everyone near her. Blanca was so close we could have touched her. You could tell she was accustomed to having people nearby and seemed to enjoy the attention.

Bloedel Conservatory Christmas – Holiday Heights

If visiting Vancouver in December, the Bloedel Conservatory hosts a special holiday event. With lots of festive illuminations, the tropical forest transforms into a Christmas celebration of lights, complete with exotic birds! If you plan to visit The Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens, remember to retain your ticket stub. Your ticket usually includes free admission to the Holiday Heights at the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

A visit to Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Observatory will take two to three hours. However, dinner at Seasons in the Park will greatly extend your day. Enjoy your visit!

If you love flowers, consider a drive to the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival in the summer months. The plethora of sunflowers is eye-candy and makes for a fun day out of the city.

Happy travels ~ Karen

Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park provides amazing views of Vancouver. See the cherry blossoms in April, the Bloedel Conservatory’s exotic birds, the stunning quarry gardens or the Holiday Heights light display in December. #queenelizabethpark #vancouvertravel #vancouverpark