A one-of-kind adventure destination packed full of fun and great food that caters to both kids and adults
Looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure set against the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, the Olympic Mountains, and old-growth forests with easy access to an intimate cosmopolitan city that the whole family can enjoy? The answer is Victoria, BC.
This spot was named after Queen Victoria and is known as the “Garden City,” and is also the capital of British Columbia, located on the southern point of the Vancouver peninsula. And despite its tiny size, this Canadian city packs a powerful punch when it comes to outdoor activities, history (one of the oldest cities in Canada), culture, worthwhile hidden gems, and amazing food. It’s not only a must destination for families but (spoiler alert) even makes a memorable adults-only trip to boot.
Add to that a brag-worthy list of honors (including being recently named the 2nd Best Small City in the World)—this island destination has the mildest climate in Canada, making it a good idea any time of the year. And while a 3-day itinerary will give you a taste of this utmost charming city, there’s so much to see and do in Victoria; if you can swing it, plan to stay a whole lot longer.
All the Best Things to Do in Victoria, British Columbia
Just 20 miles north of Victoria and the first of its kind in North America, the Malahat SkyWalk is a ten-story wooden structure that offers impressive views of the Salish Sea, and was intentionally (and successfully) built with a small environmental footprint. This fully accessible destination begins with an elevated “tree walk” through the arbutus forest. Keep an eye out for local driftwood artist Tanya Bub’s forest creatures (cougars, herons, an owl, and bald eagle) dotted along the way. Once you reach the wooden helix, you’ll follow a gentle-incline ramp that will lead you to views of the area including Finlayson Arm, Saanich Peninsula, Mount Baker and the Coast Mountains. It is stunning.
Frankly, the walk and the view are more than enough entertainment but surprise! Not only is there a 60-foot spiral slide you can slide down (not just for kids) but an adventure net suspended over the center of the tower to boot. The latter is not for the faint of heart (but is also so much fun if you can convince your legs to walk across with only some rope between you and the forest floor.
Insider Tip: If the line for the Malahat SkyWalk slide isn’t long when you are making your way up the tower, stop here first before making it to the very top. Word on the street is the line can sometimes back up so take your turn when you can. And bonus? On your way back down, you can jump in line again. Whee!
Good to Know: If you didn’t rent a car (you really don’t need one if you spend most of your time in Victoria), you can book a shuttle service to Malahat SkyWalk through Island Time Tours who offer daily shuttle service departing at 11:00 a.m. with pick up from four convenient locations in downtown Victoria.
Perhaps the most famous garden in Victoria, the Butchart Gardens are a privately owned and operated 55-acre garden, over 100 years old, a National Historic Site of Canada, and is an itinerary must—not just for flora enthusiasts, but has something fun for everyone. Kids will love the Rose Carousel—the only carousel on Vancouver Island that features a menagerie of hand-crafted animals and chariots—our favorite animal? The Orca whale, of course.
Next to the carousel, you’ll find “Massive totem poles (30 feet tall and 4 feet wide) that were carved on-site by Master Carver Charles Elliot of the Tsartlip Nation” in the classic Coast Salish style. According to the Burke Museum, this style generally exaggerates and depicts creatures through their most noticeable features—giant heads, eyes, snouts, and beaks.
Everyone in the family will enjoy the Ross Fountain near the Sunken Garden—a 70-foot dancing waterfall that is mesmerizing.
More Fun Things to Do in Victoria (with or without Kids)
There is so much more to see and do in this charming, historic town, whether you travel here with kids or plan a girls trip weekend away and with over 100 parks and open spaces, there’s always somewhere new and fun to check out:
7. Victoria Bug Zoo:This mini-zoo contains 50 fascinating species, including giant walking sticks, praying mantis, glow-in-the-dark scorpions, hairy tarantulas, and Canada’s largest ant colony. 8. Miniature World: See two of the World’s Largest Doll Houses circa 1880 with over 50 beautifully furnished rooms and the world’s smallest operational sawmill. 9. Royal BC Museum:Records almost exclusively from British Columbia, as well as neighboring states, provinces, and territories. 10. Clover Point Park:Play along this coastline, watch kite flyers, windsurfers, and wave to Washington’s Olympic Mountains across the strait of Juan de Fuca. 11. Ogden Point Breakwater: a 1.1-mile out-and-back trail that takes you out into Juan de Fuca Strait with a lighthouse at the end. Don’t miss the Ogden Point Victoria sundial located here—one of 11 sundials found around Victoria, BC. 12. Roger’s Chocolates:Canada’s first chocolatier (also a spooky stop on the Ghost Tour) has been dishing out quality chocolate treats since 1885. Pick up the Victoria Cream—originally made with a rich and creamy center, smothered in dark chocolate but now comes in 20 flavors like caramel, coffee, and maple. 13. Fan Tan Alley:The narrowest street in Canada, as well as Canada’s oldest Chinatown, what was originally a Chinese gambling district, is now filled with must-see shops, cafes, art galleries, and more. 14. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & Guesthouses:Canada’s oldest licensed brewpub (founded in 1984) and Victoria’s only “gastro-pub,” the food is locally sourced and a must-stop for ale-lovers and those following the self-guided Ale Trail. 15. Shopping: Whether you’re into antiques, fashion, chocolates, jewelry, or gifts—Victoria’s shopping district is relaxed, fun to wander (the streets are closed to car traffic) and are perfectly set up to leisurely walk around.
Red Fish Blue Fish: Open Mar. through Oct., this casual, sustainable seaside spot serves up the lightest and crispiest fish ‘n chips you’ll find outside of England. If you discover a queue, the wait is well worth it, and you’ll agree once you dig into their crispy tempura-battered cod (or choose halibut or salmon), dip-worthy tartar sauce, and Kennebec chips. Once you have your food, grab a spot on the wooden pier and enjoy the magical view of Victoria’s harbour.