Victoria is one of our favorite places to staycation in British Columbia. It has the best down-to-earth vibe, picturesque historical buildings, and an abundance of places to shop, eat, and play.
We spent some time here in the fall with the family. In addition, my hubby and I spent a romantic weekend away on the island in early spring.
At the end of July, my husband had to work in Victoria last-minute, so naturally, the girls and I decided to stay with him and make a little vacation out of it. After all, we’ve never been to Victoria in the summer so I fully took advantage of the last-minute opportunity to hang out with my daughters during summer holidays in our capital city.
If you’re looking for a quick summer getaway, Victoria is only a short ferry ride away. It’s super family -friendly with endless amounts of things to see and do. (Trust me. I know because I’ve been there three times this year!)
In all honesty, I would go back in a heartbeat. I truly love the island, and feel like there’s so much more I would like to explore.
15 family- friendly summer time activities you can do with your family in Victoria:
Whale Watching with Eagle Wing Tours
The reason I’m putting whale watching down as the number one thing you can do while in Victoria is because it was just so awesome and memorable. We spent three hours (which felt like half an hour) on the ocean with Eagle Wing Tours.
Did we see whales?
We sure did!
We saw Orcas and a humpback! We also saw sea lions and the cutest seals.
The boat ride was super comfortable, and the guides were friendly, informative, and funny! There was a washroom on board, and we were allowed to pack drinks and snacks.
All in all, it was a day we will never forget. I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you’re in Victoria during the warm summer months.
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I don't know why seeing things like whales is so much more exciting with my children? Perhaps it's the squeals of delight and happiness they exude when they spot the black shiny whale coming up out of the water? Or maybe it's the fact that I was able to experience it with them? I think it's a mix of both. Needless to say, I hope when they look back on the time dad was working in Victoria (and we stayed with him for a long time lol) this will be something they remember. I'm pretty sure when they're adults they won't remember the items we bought them at the mall during our stay but they will remember being out on the ocean 🌊 for three hours, the wind blowing in our hair, the splashes of water hitting our cheeks, the funny looking heavy pants and jackets we had to wear and of course, seeing the Orcas, and humpback 🐋 🐳 whales. The thing is…they didn't seem very interested in going whale watching at all! However, when it was over they said it was SO fun and they were glad we did it. ❤️🌊🐋🐳Thanks for the memorable day! @eaglewingtours #experiencesoverthings #exploreVictoria. . . . . #familytravel #hellobc #exploreBC #travelCanada #whalewatching #TourismVictoria #canada150 #travelwithkids #oceanadventure #vancitybuzz #yvrblogger #vancityblogger #vancouverblogger #travelBC #destinationBC #itsthelittlethingsinlife #parentswhowander
Celebrating 10 years as Victoria’s #1 Attraction, Eagle
Wing Tours is the leader in service in showcasing the
Salish Sea and all it has to offer. Recently awarded the
national award for sustainability in Tourism, Eagle Wing
Tours is committed to ensuring our company remains
carbon-neutral. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are
committed to educating our guests about what it is we do
to remain an industry leader in this regard. Come
adventure with us in our favourite playground, and be
prepared to learn about and enjoy all the amazing wildlife
you will see on our comfortable and high-performing
This was totally out of my comfort zone but I’m really glad I was brave enough to get adventurous with my girls at the aerial tree-to -tree adventure course at Wildplay Victoria. My middle daughter and I did the course, called “Monkido,” a play on the well-known saying “Monkey see Monkey do” which encourages visitors to follow each other through the obstacle course. It includes zip lines, bridges, scrambles nets and swing logs. I was such a chicken on the zip lines! My daughter had to “pep talk” me through it. In other words, it took me a few minutes to finally take off.
My youngest daughter took part in the children’s obstacle course and she loved it!
There is a progressively more challenging course they offer but we decided the “Monkido” was enough for us.
Have a child who seeks adventure? I highly recommend Wildplay! It’s a great way to get outside. And don’t worry about it being too hot for an outdoor adventure. You’ll have a lot of shade from the trees.
3. Watch the goat stampede at Beacon Hill Children’s farm
I thought my girls were at the age where they were kind of done with visiting petting farms. In fact, my youngest daughter didn’t really ever enjoy farms. She has a very sensitive nose and has thrown up a couple of times from farm smells. Anyhow, I was super eager to visit Beacon Hill Children’s farm because I heard they do a daily goat stampede at 5:10 pm so I drove the kids over to the farm telling them we were visiting Beacon Hill Park and then after walking around the beautiful gardens at the park I suggested we take a quick peek at the farm. In other words, I tricked them! However, once we got through the gates, my youngest daughter didn’t complain about the smell! And, my teenage daughter was in awe at how cute the baby goats were.
I timed our visit perfectly so that we would see the goat stampede and man, was it ever cute!! We laughed and laughed and when it was over the kids asked if we could come back the next day. Needless to say, we all loved it and I’m so glad I tricked them into going.
In addition, I love how this farm experience is right in the city. It was a 10-minute drive from our hotel.
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Love when a peacock flares its feathers like a bosssssss! This one was just chilling on the roof @beaconhillchildrensfarm . . Reminds me not to be ashamed to show your true self. 💙 . . We had such a great time at Beacon Hill children's farm. They do a goat stampede everyday at 5:10 pm right after they close. If you're lucky enough to be there at that time, it's worth the watch! So cuteeee!. . . . . . #ExploreVictoria #beaconhillchildrensfarm #likeaboss #creativeandjoyful #exploreBC #travelBC #tourismVictoria #yvrblogger #mumblogger #travelwithkids #experiencesoverthings #vancouverblogger #vancitybloggers #animalsofig #parentswhowander
4. Immerse yourself in a tropical paradise at Victoria Butterfly Gardens
When I heard about the butterfly gardens I felt so compelled to visit. I have this thing for butterflies. They hold a significant place in my heart because one of my mentors growing up ( who is no longer here today) loved them. She gave me a butterfly journal when I was a teenager and a butterfly magnet which I still have today.
The indoor tropical paradise with lush gardens, beautiful flowers, ponds and thousands of free flying butterflies was worth the visit. There were also birds, turtles, and flamingos.
The staff was friendly. Parking is free and there’s a cute little gift shop on your way out.
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"How does one become a butterfly?" she asked? "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar" 🦋#stylingtheinside . . . . . . . . . #butterflywings #transformation #exploreVictoria #familytravel #letthembelittle #writeyouonmyheart #travelwithkids #tourismvictoria #yvrblogger #vancouvermom #vancouverblogger #myclickstory #uniteinmotherhood #moments_of_mom #lifewellcaptured #vancitybloggers #creativeandjoyful #parentswhowander
We loved getting a ride around on Victoria Harbour Ferry! The staff was always very friendly. In fact, if there wasn’t enough room on a ferry they would make sure another ferry would be at our ferry stop as soon as possible.
We didn’t end up getting a tour on the ferry but this is also an option if you’re looking for a fun, informative tour of Victoria from the water.
Look out for the “FERRY STOP” signs located on the waterfront.
It was such a pleasure visiting Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada. This coast artillery fort was built in the late 1890s to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. Seriously, this place is so interesting!
We especially loved visiting Fisgard Lighthouse. It was built in 1860 as the first permanent lighthouse on Canada’s west coast. The former keeper’s house contains exhibits and interactive stations.
7. Enjoy a beach day at Willows Beach or Cadboro-Gyro Park
We couldn’t visit Victoria in the summer and not check out a beach or some parks. We ended up at Willows Beach, a popular destination with a playground and concession stand. It was only a 15-minute drive from where we were staying in downtown Victoria. The water is shallow for swimming and the view is gorgeous.
We even saw a seal pop its head out of the water while we were there!
In addition, the playground at Cadboro Gyro Park was a hit. The girls loved the zip line and giant octopus slide. Most of all, we couldn’t take our eyes off the stunning view from the sandy beach.
8. Have High Tea at The Tea House at Abkhazi Gardens
My girls and I have never had a high tea date just the three of us. We dressed up, walked around the beautiful garden and took photos. After we explored the garden we sat down in the tea house for high tea. The food was delicious and the tea house staff was very professional, attentive, and friendly.
Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, this
heritage garden is famous for its majestic trees and
dramatic site. The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden offers
four-star guest service and exceptional food in a beautiful
setting, giving guests an Afternoon Tea memory to
cherish. Seasonal menus showcase regional or Abkhazi
Garden-grown produce, complementing the garden’s
appearance when it is in bloom.
9. Spend the afternoon at Fishermans Wharf
The Wharf is simply adorable. Surrounding by colorful float houses, the best fish and chips, live entertainment and great energy the wharf is one of our favourite places to visit on the island again and again.
10. Catch a late afternoon or evening show at the Imax
After a long day of hanging out at Fisherman’s Wharf and exploring the museums, we watched Rocky Mountain Express at the IMAX. It was a great way to rest our feet while immersing ourselves in a high-resolution film. And of course, we had popcorn!
You won’t just see it at IMAX – you’ll EXPERIENCE it. Long
famous for extremely high resolution, image clarity,
powerful sound and of course, the enormous screen, the
magic of IMAX lies in the
ability of these combined attributes to fill your peripheral
vision and seemingly transport you into the exotic
locations. The best Hollywood hits are even better in
IMAX and are featured at the
theatre when available.
11. Take a self-guided walking tour through downtown Victoria
Our hotel was situated downtown so we did a lot of self-guided walking tours. I simply adore the historic, colorful buildings, funky shops, and friendly downtown atmosphere.
Home to the Parliament Buildings, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, and a plethora of activity in the Inner Harbour – from buskers to float planes, whale watching boats to kayaks – watch everyone weave in and out.
Wander up the cobblestone streets of the main “strip” and delight in the mix of old and new.
Upper Fort Street
Fort Street has long been known as Antique Row for its many auction houses and antique shops, but the arrival of several new fashion boutiques gives North Fort a fresh feel. From East meets West clothing lines to modern, sustainable clothing lines there are certainly unique treasures to be found. The most difficult part of guilt free shopping here is choosing just one dress to bring home.
Lower Johnson Street between Wharf and Government Street
Otherwise known as Lower Johnson, the street is characterized by colourful heritage buildings, but the shopping experiences are fresh and hip. The neighborhood defines the new buzz word “heritage.” Storefronts primarily feature locally designed fashions, but naturally-made products, cosmetics, hair salons, coffee houses and restaurants complete the mix. Nearly all 40 businesses are locally owned and many by first-time proprietors.
Fisgard Street between Store Street and Government Streets
Store Street between Pandora and Herald Street
Herald Street between Store Street and Government Streets
Victoria’s Chinatown is small, but the oldest in Canada. Once home to opium dens and gambling halls, Chinatown now mixes contemporary stores and live-work condos with traditional Asian markets and diners. Many of Victoria’s contemporary home decor and furnishings stores are found in this neighborhood. Visitors can stroll historical Fan Tan Alley – the narrowest street in Canada – or Dragon Alley
12. Want to hang out inside?
Visit the Royal BC Museum, Robert Bateman Centre or Craigdarroch Castle
The Royal BC Museum is a place of discovery. Through
unique galleries, the museum showcases the human and
natural history of British Columbia and temporary exhibits
from other countries and cultures. Authentic artifacts and
specimens are displayed in highly realistic settings, giving
visitors the experience of another time and place. Its
permanent exhibits include the First People’s, Modern
History and Natural History Gallery.
Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of
Queen Victoria and now a National Historic Site,
Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored, giving
visitors a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. The Castle
weaves a fascinating tale of an intriguing family – their
achievements, their relationships and even their quirks.
See the largest exhibit of original works by the world’s
greatest wildlife artist. In this permanent exhibit of over
100 pieces spanning seven decades of work, Robert
Bateman invites us to explore our relationship with the
environment and the Magic of Nature. Travel through our
eight galleries with Bateman’s personal multi-media
commentary on a smartphone or tablet, and hear stories
from his life and about the creatures he has so closely
observed and reflected. Create your own forest of bird
songs, curate a digital Bateman exhibit, and visit our shop
of Canadian fine craft selected by Robert and Birgit Freybe
13. Explore the city views on the Gray Line of Victoria sightseeing bus tour
We loved this experience so much when we did it in the fall we decided we had to do it again. In the summer on a hot day its the perfect way to see the city while catching a cool breeze of wind, sitting back, relaxing, and taking in the gorgeous city (while hearing about the rich history of Victoria.) We stopped off at the Craigdarroch Castle and another bus picked us up forty minutes later.
Gray Line of Victoria offers sightseeing tours, with regular
departures leaving from right in front of the Fairmont
Empress hotel in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Victoria’s
Original Double Decker Hop-On, Hop-Off tour (with
Craigdarroch Castle option), is designed to allow you
complete flexibility to explore the many points of interest
Victoria has to offer.
14. Spend some time shopping outside at Uptown Victoria
My girls loved shopping at Uptown open-air shopping center. Uptown offers a variety of stores and a water park in the middle for children to splash around on a hot day.
15. You can not visit Victoria (especially in the summer) without eating ice cream!
Let’s just say, we ate A LOT of ice cream! There’s a variety of places to have ice cream and desserts in the city. We especially loved Parachute ice cream and Chocolats Favoris. Ok. We loved, loved, loved Chocolats Favoris! You may have to wait in line but I assure you, it’s worth it!!
Last but not least, don’t forget to visit Sidney before you go home on the ferry!
We stopped for lunch and collected sea glass before we bid farewell to Victoria.
In conclusion, the girls and I will never forget the summer we stayed in Victoria and spent an immense amount of one-on-one time with each other making memories that will last a lifetime.
Evidently, there’s so much to see and do in Victoria. I hope this list helps you plan your next trip to the island.
Thank you to Tourism Victoria for providing our family with attractions passes to explore one of our favourite cities!