Wondering what there is to do in Victoria, British Columbia with kids? We've got a list of fun local activities that the whole family will love.
We planned for one day in Victoria, British Columbia to our Pacific Northwest road trip last summer and it didn't take long to figure out that we needed more time to see this beautiful city. We added an extra night and still feel like we just scratched the surface.
Downtown Victoria is walkable and most of the attractions on this list are located within just a few blocks of each other.
The Butchart Gardens
If you know anything about Victoria, you have likely heard about The Butchart Gardens. They are world famous and absolutely beautiful.
There is plenty to keep kids happy here. My children (ages 11 and 8) loved the carousel, gelato bar and having plenty of space to run and use outdoor voices. They thought the flowers were nice too.
The Butchart Gardens is located about 30 minutes drive from downtown Victoria and are open year-round. If you don't have your own car, tours are available through Viator.com that include transportation and admission. www.butchartgardens.com
Click the button to read all my tips for visiting Butchart Gardens with kids.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Imagine an indoor garden filled with colorful butterflies in many shapes, sizes and varieties. They float through the air, practically pose for photos and occasionally land on your hat and clothing. Then add a few birds, turtles, flamingos, educational exhibits and a gift shop. That is the Butterfly Gardens experience, and it's delightful.
Plan an hour or more to visit the Victoria Butterfly Gardens in Victoria. You'll pass them just before you reach the entrance to The Butchart Gardens, so these two activities make a good pair. www.butterflygardens.com
Royal BC Museum
If you love learning about local history and culture when you travel, the Royal BC Museum is a fantastic way to spend a day in Victoria. It's a top-notch museum that adults and children will enjoy.
I loved seeing the totems and learning about the First Peoples of British Columbia. My daughter loved exploring the life size gold rush town. My son's favorite parts were the animal exhibits and playing the Theme from Star Wars on a 200-year-old piano.
The Royal BC Museum is located in downtown Victoria, a short walk from the waterfront. www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca
Click the button to read all my tips for visiting the Royal BC Museum.
Fisherman's Wharf was my kids' favorite place in Victoria. It's a floating food court with lots of fun things to see and a playground just across the street. It's a bit of a walk from downtown Victoria, but we managed it for dinner one evening. You can also drive or take a water taxi. www.fishermanswharfvictoria.com
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park is a slam dunk if you're visiting Victoria with kids. Its a huge urban park in downtown Victoria with playgrounds, picnic areas, gardens, beaches and a petting zoo. Look for the 4th largest totem pole in the world. It's so big, you'll wonder how it isn't the tallest. www.beaconhillpark.ca
Click the button to get more tips for visiting Beacon Hill Park.
Go to the beach
You'll find dozens of good beaches in Victoria and the surrounding communities. We stayed within walking distance of downtown Victoria (I think we were still in Beacon Hill Park) but found tide pools, rocks to climb on, driftwood forts, playgrounds, walking paths and a great place to fly a kite along Dallas Street. www.tourismvictoria.com/things-to-do/beaches-lakes
Seeing orcas in the wild was on my bucket list, and on this trip we took an amazing whale watching tour where we saw two pods of whales meeting up for the first time in the season. It was such an exceptional sight, even our tour guides were beside themselves.
Three pods of orca whales, plus other species like minke and humpback are often seen in the summer between Victoria and the San Juan Islands. Several local companies offer whale watching tours from Victoria. Here is a list: www.tourismvictoria.com/things-to-do/whale-watching
Victoria puts the “British” in British Columbia. You'll find evidence of Canada's British roots in many of the shops, restaurants and landmarks of downtown Victoria. Afternoon tea is served in several local restaurants, and at The Butchart Gardens, but you'll have a hard time finding a grander experience than at the Fairmont Empress on Victoria's waterfront. www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/dining
Victoria Public Market
Victoria is a fun place for foodies. It is packed with distinctive neighborhoods, unique shops and local restaurants. We enjoyed wandering through the indoor Victoria Public Market, which is just steps away from Chinatown. It's a hot spot for lunch, but closes early in the evening, so check the hours before you plan a casual dinner here.
Fort Street is another good place to find Victoria's favorite shops and restaurants. We even got a kick out of shopping at the supermarket near our hotel. Victoria is a short distance from the U.S. border, but many of the brands were new to us and it was fun to try a few. https://victoriapublicmarket.com/
Candy shops are nearly always a hit with kids, and Victoria has many candy shops to choose from. Oh Sugar was our favorite. It is located downtown, within a short walk of Victoria Public Market and Chinatown. We also popped into English Sweet Shop, a couple blocks from the Parliament building to check out the imported British sweets.
Aero is my favorite Canadian candy bar. It's a chocolate bar filled with air bubbles. It's so creamy and comes in several varieties. https://www.ohsugar.ca/
Victoria is a highly cultured city against a wild backdrop, so there is plenty of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure for families to choose from. It would be a great destination for a romantic getaway too.
Two days was not nearly enough time to appreciate Victoria, and we look forward to a return trip!
Disclosure: Tourism Victoria assisted us with complimentary admission to several of these attractions for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
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Need a flight? Victoria has two airports – Victoria Inner Harbour and Victoria International. Alternately, many visitors 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? We loved the huge indoor pool, full kitchens and spacious suites at Parkside Hotel and Spa in downtown Victoria. It's located across the street from Beacon Hill Park, a block from the Royal BC Museum and within walking distance of the harbour and Fisherman's Wharf.
Click the red button to check rates and availability for this and other great hotels in Victoria.