Best places to de-stress during exam time in Vancouver

Dec 19 2017, 9:13 pm

We know, we know – you’ve got to keep cramming.

But if you have to dissect one more diagram, squint at one more screen or try to haul ass to the library one more time, you’re going to lose your overloaded mind.

So it’s time for an intervention – step away from the books/screen/caffeine and step into these little oases of calm instead… We promise you won’t regret it.

Here are our favourite places to de-stress when the finals hit the fan:

The Seawall

50/52 - The great outdoors

After the mental abyss of silent study, there’s nothing quite like emerging into the bright light of beautiful Vancouver, and going for a breezy bike ride on the seawall. It doesn’t take long for the waves of glistening water to wash away that stress and refresh you tired mind.

Spanish Banks


Beautiful day at #spanishbanks A photo posted by Pete (@81pete_) on

If you took our advice about studying in Locarno Beach Park, then why not take a break and stroll west along the shore to Spanish Banks? More wild than the beaches downtown, you’re sure to find some peace there to contemplate the waves and calm your nerves.

UBC Botanical Gardens

UBC Botanical Gardens-10

If you want to get some greenery but can’t leave campus, then UBC Botanical Gardens might help soothe your soul. Breathe in the Alpine air (almost) surrounded by mountainous plants from around the world, or wash away your cares in the coastal rainforest area. Where: 6804 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver Open: Daily, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. More:

Nitobe Memorial Garden

The 77-log bridge at Nitobe Memorial Garden

A traditional Japanese Tea and Stroll garden at UBC, Nitobe is considered to be one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America. Wander past the reflecting pond with Koi, streams, waterfalls, stone lanterns and the teahouse and feel the calm wash over you.

Where: 1895 Lower Mall, Vancouver
Open: Daily, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Prefer your walks on the wild side? Pacific Spirit Park is for you. Get away from it all, and take a hike through green forests, over muddy bogs and along rocky beaches. And if you really want to let your hair down, head to Wreck Beach – where clothing is optional. Where: Main entrances on 16th Avenue between Blanca Street and Wesbrook Mall, at 16th and Sasamat Steet, at Imperial Drive and 29th Avenue, at 33rd and Camosun, on Chancellor Boulevard between Blanca and Acadia Road. Reach the foreshore along Marine Drive. More:

Hadden Park


  Busy puppy   A photo posted by Kaiser & Darwin (@kaiser_and_darwin) on

Can’t make it to puppy therapy? Head to Hadden Park, my favourite off leash dog beach in Kits. You won’t get to stroke random strangers’ dogs, but you will remember what life was like before exams, when pure happiness was simply splashing around and playing catch.

Where: 1905 Ogden Avenue, Vancouver

Hot tub

Hot tub in Carnarvon Place Apartments, Vancouver (Dennis S. Hurd/Flickr)

Hot tub in Carnarvon Place Apartments, Vancouver (Dennis S. Hurd/Flickr)

Maybe you have one in your building, maybe a friend has one you can borrow. If not, the Robert Lee YMCA Pool on Burrard Street has a lovely hot tub where you can melt your troubles away. (Note – if your hot tub turns out to be a time machine, the choice is yours – go back in time to study harder or fast forward to get those exams over with?)

Comedy club

Get yourself to a comedy club and laugh away those study blues (Stock-Asso/Shutterstock)

Get yourself to a comedy club and laugh away those study blues (Stock-Asso/Shutterstock)

There’s nothing so therapeutic as laughing your ass off. Both the Comedy MIX on Burrard Street and Yuk Yuk’s on Cambie Street and W 12th Avenue have shows on most nights, for a range of prices. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing all the way to the library.

Burnaby Mountain

The View from Burnaby Mountain If you’re on the SFU Burnaby campus, Burnaby Mountain is a great place for hikers or mountain bikers to get away from it all while still staying close to campus. There are trails all over the east side of the mountain, so you can take as short or long a break as you need.

Deer Lake in Burnaby

  Deer Lake

If you want to venture further afield but still remain within easy transit from the SFU Burnaby campus, head to Deer Lake Park next to City Hall. It’s a nice, easy walk around the lake and you can always stop at the beach area, to feel that soothing sand between your toes.

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park

A North Shore breath of fresh air, guaranteed to ease your overactive mind. Wandering towards the amazing view, you’ll find lots of short, easy trails offering breathtaking ocean views and a picturesque picnic spot in Starboat Cove. Where: Beacon Lane, West Vancouver. Get there: A 40-minute drive from downtown, or take bus 250 all the way there instead.

Iona Beach Regional Park


  A photo posted by M^3 (@ming_cubed) on

If you took our advice about studying at the airport, then Iona Beach is the perfect place to stretch your legs between study sessions. Just north of YVR, the beach is made up of a long jetty of sand and grass along the mouth of the Fraser River – allowing you to truly get away from it all.

On a deck

Take a break and soak up some rays on a balcony - maybe with a margarita (A. and I. Kruk/Shutterstock)

Take a break and soak up some rays on a balcony – maybe with a margarita (A. and I. Kruk/Shutterstock)

The sun is shining but you’ve been indoors all day studying. No longer! Head out on to your deck/ a friend’s deck/ the nearest pub patio you can find and soak up the sunshine over some casual drinks. A cool margarita or fresh Radler will probably help too.

On a boat

Grab your nautical themed pashmina afghan and enjoy the life of Lonely Island – by renting a boat from Granville Island. You’ll quickly forget that life of study and those pesky exams, as you speed along that big, blue watery road with your captain’s hat on.

And finally…

At home

Take a bath, get some noodles and Netflix and chill - maybe all at once! (Yuriy Rudyy/Shutterstock)

Take a bath, get some noodles and Netflix and chill – maybe all at once! (Yuriy Rudyy/Shutterstock)

So you’ve locked yourself in your room, hit the books and fallen asleep at your desk/on the floor/face down on your bed. It’s time to escape, but you can’t face the outside world. No worries. A world of relaxation surrounds you. Have a luxurious bubble bath, get your favourite takeout, or maybe just Netflix and chill. The ultimate de-stress.