Canada turned 150 this year! That’s a lot of candles! That also means a lot of parties. An impressive lineup of fun-filled outdoor events. Rocking concerts. Mouth-watering eats. Sensational sips. AND colorful fireworks…whew!
To help you celebrate this epic anniversary, we’ve created a list of 50 Victoria adventures that will earn you serious social media bragging rights. So what are you waiting for? Whether you have your eye on a weeklong adventure or a quick weekend escape, get of town and enjoy these precious summer days.
See the Sights: Quintessential Victoria
What You Will Learn:
1. The Butchart Gardens – No matter the season, The Butchart Gardens are sure to put on a show. Stroll through the Spring Prelude garden in winter, the tulips in spring, “Night Illuminations” fireworks on summer evenings, and in the fall a stunning parade of red, russet and golden maples greet the eyes.
2. Tea at the Empress –For over 100 years, the Empress’ elegant Lobby Lounge has been the place to visit for an authentic British tea and pastry experience.
3. Royal BC Museum – Discover authentic artifacts and specimens from distant times and places displayed in the museum’s interactive exhibits. Slide back into the Ice Age or stand next to grizzlies in a massive forest in the Natural History Gallery or check out intricately carved totem poles in the First Peoples’ Gallery.
4. BC Parliament Buildings – Overlooking Victoria’s majestic Inner Harbour, the Parliament Buildings are a 19th century icon, and one of the finest commemorations of Canada’s independence.
5. Abkhazi Gardens and Teahouse – Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, the gardens are known for their majestic trees and dynamic, evolving plantings. Stay for lunch or afternoon tea in the original home, where you’ll feel like a personal guest of the Abkhazis.
6. Johnson Street – Hit up LoJo (that’s lower Johnson Street for the uninitiated) to check out great shopping boutiques and pick up some new threads.
7. Pickle Boat “Ballet” – When the Victoria Harbour Ferries were originally brought to Victoria in 1990, the Skippers were amazed at their maneuverability. Every Sunday from May to September and all weekend in July and August, these little boats put on a fascinating display of beautifully choreographed sequences.
8. Miniature World – Often called “The greatest little show on earth,” Miniature World is a one-of-a-kind Victorian experience. The perfect activity for the young and young at heart, this little museum brings everything from historical battles to childhood fantasy lands to life in miniature.
Discover the Past at Victoria’s Numerous Historical Sites
9. Historic Chinatown – Canada’s oldest Chinatown district has plenty to see, we suggest exploring by foot. Visit Fan Tan Alley, discover a maze of courtyards and pathways, and find everything from theaters to one-of-a-kind restaurants.
10. Craigdarroch Castle – Take a tour of this ornate Victorian castle built by the coal baron Robert Dunsmuir between 1887 and 1890.
11. Hatley Castle – Originally serving as a dormitory for cadets at Royal Roads Military College, Hatley Castle is now the administrative center of Royal Roads University and offers daily tours.
12. Government House – Built in 1860, the Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Green thumbs rejoice, the grounds’ 36 acres are divided into numerous zones according to plant life and garden style. A seasonal tea house is the perfect pit stop for a steaming cup of herbal tea and pastries.
13. Ford Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse – At the edge of the Esquimalt Lagoon, this lighthouse was the first on Canada’s West Coast!
14. Royal Theatre – An opera house and concert hall designed in 1912, the theater retains its original Rococo/Renaissance Revival style décor.
15. Ann’s Academy – An icon from the mid-1800s, St. Ann’s is a magnificent historic treasure older than both The Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings.
16. Emily Carr House – Discover the birthplace of Emily Carr and learn more about the painter and writer who was heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
17. Christ Church Cathedral – Looking more like the work of a 14th century Parisian architect than a cathedral, the Christ Church Cathedral was built in 1929. Open daily for tours, the building’s stone foundation is impressive both inside and out.
18. Gonzales Observatory – A weather station for 75 years, the observatory now stands as a scenic heritage building in the Gonzales Hill Regional Park. Toward sunset, make the quick walk up to the top for a breathtaking waterfront view.
19. Mile “0” – Located next to Beacon Hill Park, Mile “O” of the Trans-Canada Highway marks the start of the 8,000 km road spanning the length of Canada.
20. Trial Island Lighthouse – An iconic waterside landmark, if you have a good eye, you might spot this iconic lighthouse off to the right as you enter the Inner Harbour. Once on land, the lighthouse is easily visible from Clover Point or Beacon Hill Park’s waterfront.
Soak in the Sights with Victoria’s Popular Tours & Attractions
21. Victoria Butterfly Gardens – Minutes north of Victoria, this tropical jungle is home to thousands of butterflies – some 70 species to be exact! Inside you’ll also find lush gardens inhabited by exotic plants and fruits of the world.
22. Victoria Food Tour – Treat yourself to the best of Victoria’s culinary scene on a two-hour guided walking tour. Discover the city’s secret hot spots as well as recipes provided by the chefs themselves and of course, samples!
23. Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour – Unwind Up Island in the lush Cowichan Valley. Whether it’s a romantic date escape or a girls’ weekend getaway, a visit to the valley’s world-renowned vineyards along roads with awe-inspiring viewpoints will surely leave you feeling refreshed.
24. Victoria Bug Zoo – Get up close and personal with live walking sticks, praying mantis and glow-in-the-dark scorpions! Discover 50 fascinating species, including Canada’s largest ant colony, at this must-see miniature zoo.
25. The Bay Centre – Covering one full city block, The Bay Centre is downtown Victoria’s premiere shopping destination. Fill your bags with gifts and goods from over 90 unique shops and boutiques.
26. Victoria Public Market at the Hudson – Constructed in 1912, the Market now features soaring concrete ceilings and is home to a coffee shop, hot yoga studio and, of course, local artisan tables and an acclaimed farmers market.
27. Victoria Food Trucks – If you need a quick pit stop while exploring downtown Victoria, look no further than the city’s army of delicious food trucks. From sweet and savory waffles at the WannawafelCart to grilled cheese or macaroni at Grilled to the Mac, you’ll be tempted to try them all while you’re in town!
28. Munro’s Books – You get the feeling you’re in a really good book store as soon as you set foot inside Munro’s. Settle in and you’ll feel right at home in their friendly, peaceful shop.
29. Ghost Tour – Victoria is known as the most haunted city in BC, and there are plenty of spots to visit. Bastion Square, formerly a courthouse ruled by “the hanging judge,” Sir Matthew Ballie Begbie, is one of Victoria’s most haunted spots.
Grab a Kayak, Golf Club or Bike and Get Active!
30. Kayaking in the Inner Harbour – Enjoy a leisurely day paddling the calm, protected waters of the Gorge as well as the world’s most photographed harbor, Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
31. Golfing – Jutting rocks, roaring rivers and panoramic mountain and ocean views provide a jaw-dropping backdrop for the Bear Mountain Golf Club & Academy in Victoria.
32. Zip Line Adventure – AdrenaLINE is, as the name suggests, the heart-pumping outdoor adventure that whisks you above the tree canopies along a seven-stop course.
33. Paddle Boarding – Learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding in Victoria’s Inner Harbour with a three-hour introductory course. See the city from the sea!
34. Bicycle Tour of Castles, Hoods & Legends – Journey through Victoria by bicycle! Take a two-hour guided tour past iconic landmarks of Chinatown, Beacon Hill and Cook Street Village.
35. Beacon Hill Wind & Kite Surfing – Birds aren’t the only thing in the air on a sunny Victoria day. Head to Beacon Hill’s waterfront and watch as adrenaline junkies take to the skies.
36. Mount Washington – Three hours Up Island, Mount Washington is home to a beautiful mountaintop ski resort. After a day of skiing or hiking (the lifts are open year-round) head to the water for a seaside bicycle ride or scuba diving in Vancouver Island’s famously crystal-clear waters.
37. The Galloping Goose Trail – Set up along a former rail line, this trail can be taken as far west as Leechtown and north up to Swartz Bay.
Hikes, Views and Photo-Ops: Explore the Island’s Outdoor Offerings
38. Whale Watching – Depart downtown Victoria on an exciting whale watching expedition in an enclosed, 40-person catamaran with above-deck viewing. Learn about wildlife from a knowledgeable onboard naturalist and meet the real locals in their natural habitat.
39. Goldstream Trestle – A popular hike in Goldstream Provincial Park, this impressive bridge was once a functioning railway trestle.
40. Fishmerman’s Wharf – Stroll between colorful houseboats and be sure to visit the playful harbor seals!
41. Finlayson – Enjoy the gorgeous ocean view atop the 4 km round-trip trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water and use caution, this trail can get very steep.
42. Breakwater at Ogden Point – A spectacular walkway jutting out about 800 meters from the shore, this is the go-to spot for catching the perfect Victorian sunrise.
43. Mill Hill Regional Park – Not too far out of town, Mill Hill Regional Park is an easy 200-meter climb.
44. Beacon Hill Children’s Farm – A farm in the middle of the city awaits within beautiful Beacon Hill Park. Children can get up close and personal with pigs, donkeys, chickens and peacocks. Catch the “running of the goats” at 10 a.m. daily and witness a furry, bleating stampede underfoot!
45. Ross Bay Cemetery – The grounds make for a beautiful walk, so be sure to have your camera ready. Keep an eye out for the graves of some of Victoria’s famous citizens (Emily Carr! Judge Begbie!).
46. Niagara Falls – Located in Goldstream Provincial Park, this waterfall is especially impressive in the fall. Time it right and watch the salmon run, likely followed by an eagle looking for a feast. This is the Northwest at its best!
47. Thunderbird Park – Next to the Royal BC Museum, Thunderbird park is home to many totem poles and other First Nation monuments. On a sunny day, it’s a peaceful slice of Zen in the heart of downtown Victoria.
48. Lone Tree Hill – This regional park is one of the best viewpoints on the island. Enjoy vistas of the Malahat, the Highlands, Victoria and the distant Olympic Mountains. The hilltop is an excellent spot for bird watching, keep an eye out for bald eagles, ravens and turkey vultures riding the winds.
49. Songhees Walkway – Cross the Johnson Street Bridge and take the trail just across the bridge to the beautiful walkway to the West Bay Marina. Soak up the views from across the Inner Harbour, then take a Harbour Ferry if you don’t want to walk for your return trip.
50. Tolmie Park –Spend a few hours in the bush without leaving the metropolis with a hike up the small (debatably a large hill), Mt. Tolmie. The summit gives sweeping, wraparound views of the city as reward for little physical effort.
Nestled on an island overflowing with outdoor activities, unique shops, award-winning gardens and impressive historical sites, Victoria is much more than the sum of its downtown core. Whether you are looking for fresh Northwest fare or a relaxing beach side stroll, there truly an adventure for everyone in Victoria.
Do one, do them all…whatever the case may be, we always want to hear from you and see your photos, so be sure to share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #DiscoverClipper. Happy exploring!
Have a favorite spot in Victoria for a summer escape? Let us know your recommendations in the comments!
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