Despite being accessible only by air or water, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, offers a plethora of activities the whole family can enjoy during a weekend escape. The downtown Victoria area provides the backdrop for a majority of these activities, but the island provides several other options for families wanting to travel.
The Inner Harbor offers both indoor and outdoor activities
Take a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf on the Inner Harbor to explore unique shops and kiosks, munch on fresh fish and chips, or meet the resident seals. There is even a “sealcam” that provides streaming video of the seals underwater in the area .
Nearby are the Parliament Building and the Royal BC Museum, which overlook the Inner Harbor. The architecture of the Parliament Building is unique; visitors are invited to join group tours or explore the building on their own as they learn about British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly. The Museum showcases the history of the area as well as exhibits from other countries and cultures on visiting loans. Museum admission is 16 CAD (11.02 USD) for adults.
The Victoria Bug Zoo provides fascinating exhibits that are all things bug – Canada’s largest ant farm, opportunities to hold scorpions and tarantulas, and other unique insect interactions. Admission is 10 CAD (6.19 USD) for adults.
Barb’s Fish and Chips, located on the wharf, open only March through October, is the place to go for delectable fish and chips. If you go during other times of the year, The Flying Otter is another great restaurant for fresh seafood entrees.
Castles, water adventures, and hiking/biking are options near Victoria's Inner Harbor
The Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historical Site, meticulously restored to give visitors a glimpse into the privileged British lifestyle of the 1890s and the Robert Dunsmuir family. Self-guided tours lead visitors through libraries, bedrooms, dining areas, and even social areas to explore the intriguing family history of this site. Amazing detail in the restoration makes history come to life. Knowledgeable volunteers and staff are on hand to answer questions. Admission is 8 CAD (5.51 USD) per person.
During the summer and fall months, small guide operators make it easy to get out on the water to explore via kayak or paddleboard, go deep sea fishing, whale watching, wildlife viewing, and have sunset dinners aboard a yacht. Witness orca, grey, humpback, and minke whales in their natural environment. Catch sea lions, porpoises, and marine birds interacting with visitors and providing entertainment for all. Rates begin at 55 CAD (37.90 USD) per person depending on the activity.
For a more active experience, lace up your walking shoes. Despite being a busy metropolis and sea port, Victoria also provides plenty of wild and untouched land to explore. Grab a water bottle and your camera before you head out. Beacon Hill Park is the start of the Trans-Canadian Highway, mile marker zero. Dallas Road follows the southern tip of Victoria and Vancouver Island. Hourly and daily bicycle rentals are available to allow exploration of the Galloping Goose Trail or the Lockside Regional Trail system.
Other attractions worth the drive
Partake in a British afternoon tea party at The Teahouse at Abkhazi Gardens. The heritage garden is famous for its majestic trees and dramatic sites. Reservations are required for the traditional afternoon tea but you may explore the gardens at your leisure without reservations. The tea is complimentary with reservations.
Regardless of the season, a trip to Butchart Gardens is well-worth the drive. Located north of Victoria in Brentwood Bay, the gardens are 55 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens. Features include the Japanese, Sunken, Rose, and Italian Gardens, multiple water fountains, and a carousel. The garden changes with the seasons and is beautifully decked in holiday lights for Christmas season. Admission is 26 CAD (17.91 USD) per person.
In the summer, the Vancouver Blues Bash or International Jazz Festival are large attractions for music fans. Tickets start at 23 CAD (15.85 USD) for adults.
In the fall, the Ghosts of Victoria Festival includes tours of Victoria’s haunted locations around the city. Be prepared to have your pants scared off as you explore underground tunnels, houses, and the cemetery. Rates start at 15 CAD (10.59 USD) for adults.
Victoria makes a great family getaway in any season
No matter what season you visit, be welcomed by friendly and hospitable people willing to share their love of country. There are a plethora of activities to delight any age on your getaway.
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