It’s Cathy from My Book a Day. I’m super excited to tell you all about the time we spent in Victoria, British Columbia last summer! Victoria was probably our family’s favorite stop on our trip and everyone would be thrilled to go back. Such a fun place!
This list is “10 More Fun Things to do in Victoria” because there are so many fun activities for families here, that Allison and I both visited Victoria and only visited a few of the same places. When you're finished with this post, read her list HERE.
My family spent two days in Victoria. We have a teen, a preschooler and one in between, so we are always looking for activities that are good for all ages. Here are some of our favorite stops in Victoria.
Visit the Inner Harbour at night
My husband and I left the kids in the hotel room one night and we wandered around Victoria's Inner Harbour. We saw artisans and street performers. There was a magic show going on, and people everywhere, even late at night. You can even take a horse drawn carriage.
While you’re out at night, be sure to take the stairs down to the lower causeway right next to the water. Reflections of the Parliament Building and the Empress on the water are beautiful! The lower causeway is a calm and serene place to enjoy a quiet moment. Anywhere along the Inner Harbour feels clean and safe at night, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
Tour the Empress
The Fairmont Empress Hotel is one of the first things you’ll notice on the Inner Harbour. It’s a huge, beautiful hotel. It was built in 1908 and its location is perfect. We didn't stay there, but enjoyed wandering its' public spaces. There are shops, restaurants, and a spa – pretty much anything a guest or visitor would want. I liked being able to wander through a building that had so much history.
The British Columbia Parliament Building is a pretty building. We had a view of it from our hotel and I loved the way it was lit up at night. We went inside to take a look around during the day. The building is beautiful and it was really fun to be able to learn a bit about the history of Canada. Plus, you can’t beat the price. It’s free!
Take a guided tour, or grab a pamphlet and show yourself around. That’s what we did, since we weren’t sure how our three-year-old would do on a guided tour. There are plenty of signs and additional information.
Take a water taxi
One day we took a water taxi out into the harbour. It was really more of a tour. There were a couple of different routes. We get on and off at several different stops, then called a number to be picked up. We never had to wait long.
Our taxi took us out to the mouth of the harbour, where we had an up-close view of seaplanes taking off and landing. The driver/tour guide was excellent. He told us all kinds of interesting things about the harbour and life in Victoria.
We toured Hatley Castle, which is in the campus of Royal Roads University. I really enjoyed learning about the castle and the people who lived there. The gardens of this castle are fantastic! I could spend hours wandering around in them and never get bored. We didn’t have reservations – we just showed up and took the tour. We'd happily visit this castle again!
Craigdarroch is a beautiful castle. We didn't take the tour because our 3-year-old was only up for one castle tour on this trip, so we admired it from the outside. Craigdarroch is a historic site, built by a coal baron for his large family. It has been carefully restored to give visitors a glimpse of upper-class life in the 1890's. Craigdarroch would definitely be on our list for a future visit.
See tide pools at Cattle Point
Before we left home, we checked the Victoria tide chart so we could see tide pools at low tide. We headed to Cattle Point one morning to check them out. We saw a few animals, mainly hermit crabs. It made me want to learn more about the local marine life.
Victoria has a great Chinatown. It was so much fun to wander around the streets. They were clean and there are tons of little shops. You could wander around for hours and probably never see the same things twice. Watch for Fan Tan Alley, which they say is Canada’s narrowest “street.” It’s only about three feet wide in some places, but it’s full of fun shops and yummy treats.
Look for urban art
There's tons of fun art to look for as you wander the streets of Victoria. We loved how at almost every turn, there was something new and fantastic to look at. Watch out for the dolphins and the tulips as well as huge chairs to hang out in and some killer whales made from bushes. There was even a pay phone. I hadn't seen one of those in years! Our kids never had seen one. It was fun to watch them see a blast from the past for the first time.
Dine al fresco
Everywhere we went in the Pacific Northwest, we ate outside. We began to realize in Victoria that that’s just what you do in the summer. Many of the restaurants don’t have air conditioning, since most of the time they don’t need it. We visited during a heat wave, so the restaurants were all hot inside. It was just fun to sit outside somewhere, have a great meal and do some people watching.
When our little guy needed to get out some wiggles, being outside was the best place to be! One night we picked up a pizza and found a grassy spot to sit and eat. Our kids love picnics!
How else can we help?
Need a flight? Victoria has two airports – Victoria Inner Harbour and Victoria International. Alternately, many visitors (including us) reach Victoria by ferry and cruise ship. Click the button to visit Tips for Family Trips’ Air Travel page. It’s filled with ways to save on flights, and tips for making your flight with kids better.
Need a place to stay? There are lots of great places in Victoria for families. Click the red button to check rates and availability for hotels in Victoria. We stayed in the Embassy Inn. It's so close to everything in Victoria. We had a suite overlooking the Parliament Building. It has free parking – not all of the hotels in this area do. It also has a free breakfast made by a chef every morning. We loved it!