Victoria attractions – Vancouver Island
Victoria attractions on Vancouver Island are so much more than just The Butchart Gardens. When you stay at Gardenside Acres campground you’ll even be able to walk to some of them. This is our guide to some of the best things to see and do when visiting Victoria BC.
The Butchart Gardens
Yes, you can walk to The Butchart Gardens from our campsite! Some people spend the full day there.
Dramatic floral displays have been created during the past 100 years by over 50 gardeners on 50 acres. Highlights: you’ll never forget the Sunken Garden, a 70′ high ever-changing fountain, the sensual delight of the Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden descending to a cove. Ensure you stay for the free evening concerts on the lawn and then wander through the illuminated gardens. Saturday evenings feature their famed fireworks. Don’t worry about meals since there’s everything from gelatos and a coffee shop to a cafeteria and fine dining in the dining room. Many consider their afternoon teas are the best in Victoria (and half the price of the Empress.)
But the list of places withing walking distance doesn’t stop there. Just down the road is Butterfly Gardens 3,000 butterflies, moths over 60 birds, tortoises and frogs too. Tropical jungle includes 2,000 orchids. Illuminated on summer evenings.
Next door is Church and State Winery, the largest Victoria winery, with award winning wines.
Your camping site is in Brentwood Bay, a small community along Saanich Inlet. During the day take to the warm tranquil waters of Saanich Inlet to Tod Inlet. Pacifica Paddlesports rent kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddle boards and offer introductory courses. Dine in the village and then take an evening stroll by moored boats.
Ride the Brentwood Bay – Mill Bay ferry for “BC’s most scenic shortcut” on the main part of Vancouver Island, even if just for a return trip.
Delight in the natural beauty of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park whose trails range from an easy stroll to a stiff hike. We enjoy an easy one within walking distance of Gardenside -acres which takes you to Tod Inlet by the old Butchart Garden wharf. If guests are interested in guided hikes, Trek & Treats will help you in this area.
– all within walking distance of your campsite!
Downtown Victoria BC and the Inner Harbour
Downtown Victoria BC is much than a shopping and dining destination. The Inner Harbour is always full of life; walk along the causeway past musicians and artists, overlooked by the elegant BC Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel.
You should plan on a few hours at the magnificent Royal BC Museum with IMAX theatre. Nearby is Miniature World with over 80 miniature displays, the Robert Bateman Centre with his wildlife art, Victoria Bug Zoo, the Maritime Museum and Chinatown.
The broader downtown area can be explored on a sightseeing tour by bus or in a horse carriage. For an hour of elegance see how the rich used to live at Craigdarroch Castle. Beacon Hill Park is pleasant to relax and visit its children’s farm.
Hop on a little harbour ferry boat to Fishermen’s Wharf – feed the seals and wander past the houseboats. Here you can take a memorable whale-watching trip to see marine life including killer whales and sea lions as well as to view the beautiful coastline of southern Vancouver Island.
The Saanich Peninsula
Explore our neighbourhood with its gentle pastoral scenes. Stroll along beaches and lakes or take a quick dip, pick up strawberries from a farm fruit stand. Saanich Peninsula vineyards offer tours and samplings, generally on weekends; there’s also a distillery and a cider orchard.
In the centre of the peninsula is Elk Lake with a 10km circular trail and beaches though perhaps more popular with the locals is little Durrance Lake just south of our campground.
An alternative garden to stroll around, but without the crowds, is the Gardens at HCP (formerly Glendale Gardens) with 100 acres of themed displays including the lovely Takata Japanese Garden and new Bonsai garden.
Tee off at one of our golf courses with lovely views of southern Vancouver Island. A mini-golf course at Matticks Farm adjoins a group of pleasant shops including a tea garden. There’s horseback riding, or for the more energetic there are mountain biking trails and The Boulders Climbing Gym with 13,000 sq ft of walls. The Saanich Peninsula has two recreation centres – Saanich Commonwealth Place includes a gym, full-size pool, wave pool, sauna and steam room, and Panorama Recreation Center with lovely whirl pool, full size pool, waterslide, steam room and sauna, gym and so much more!
The nearby booktown of Sidney deserves a special mention. As well as ten bookstores, there are many gift shops and art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs. You’ll definitely want to see the town burst into life on Thursday evenings (5:30pm-8:30pm) when the street market takes over the central street. Don’t forget to visit “The Bread Lady and Family”
Three other things to do in Sidney, all near the wharf:
- Take the 15 minute ferry trip to Sidney Spit, a small uninhabited island.
- Visit Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
- Hunt for semi-precious gems and sea shells at Mineral World.
Lastly, we shouldn’t forget to mention three places just west of Victoria for family fun:
- AdrenaLine zip lines.
- Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse
- Wild Play Element Parks. Aerial Adventures. Zip lines and high ropes course.