Check out this list of things to do in Victoria with kids before your next trip to Vancouver Island. Victoria, Canada is the capital of British Columbia and a great place for a family vacation. With abundant parkland, it’s known for outdoor activities such as hiking and boating. Only a short ferry trip from Vancouver BC or Washington State, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a whole new country.
The Inner Harbour is the center of downtown Victoria located on the waterfront. This area is the beautiful heart of the city in which the Parliament Buildings and Empress Hotel are located.
If there is one spot to visit during your trip to Victoria, it is the Inner Harbour. This is where the Royal BC Museum and Tourist Information Centre are located, Harbour Air seaplanes land and take off, and the Coho Ferry and Victoria Clipper passenger boats arrive and depart from.
Enjoy a walk around the harbour with your kids. You can walk along the waterfront and view the boats and planes, then stop for lunch at one of the many family friendly restaurants.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is home to thousands of butterflies and offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience the beauty of a tropical jungle up close. It’s just a short drive from the Butchart Gardens (another fun, albeit expensive family excursion).
There’s more than just butterflies at the gardens, you’ll also find:
- Poison dart frogs,
- Tropical ducks,
- Free flying tropical birds
- There are a large variety of fish swimming in a pond and stream circulated by a stunning waterfall.
Up to 70 species of butterflies fly through the large facilities which is the size of almost 3 basketball courts. Stroll through the gardens full of tropical flowers, carnivorous plants and fruits of the world.
Miniature World is one of the most popular tourist attractions in downtown Victoria. Miniature World is around the Humboldt Street side of the famous Empress Hotel on Victoria Harbour. It consists of over 85 exquisitely detailed scenes in tiny scale, including castles, a full-on circus, an imagining of Camelot, a cosmic interpretation of the year 2201, and the Great Canadian Railway. You can also see the world’s smallest operational sawmill which took 11 years to make! The museum is also home to a collection of doll houses, one of which is among the world’s largest.
Beacon Hill Children’s Farm
The Beacon Hill Children’s Farm is located in Beacon Hill Park and brings the farm animal experience to the city. They have goats, sheep, bunnies, chickens and pot-bellied pigs. You can pet and play with the baby goats. Children also have the opportunity to groom and feed the goats.
Dino Lab is a hands on fossil experience where you can get up close with real fossils and even touch them with your hands. You can take a guided personal tour of our private fossil gallery where you will see dinosaurs, stunning mineral specimens, meteorites, fluorescent minerals, an ice age area and many other one of a kind pieces of of prehistoric history.
After your visit of the fossil gallery, you will get to tour behind the scenes in our world renowned fossil prep lab. Come see how our skilled staff have prepared specimens that now sit in museums and galleries all over the world.
Finish off your behind-the-scenes dinosaur experience by doing some hands on fossil restoration yourself using the same pneumatic tools and equipment that the experts use.
Victoria Bug Zoo
If your family likes to learn about interesting bugs and insects then a trip to the Victoria Bug Zoo is in order. There are roughly 50 species on display such as:
- Giant walking sticks
- Praying mantis
- Glow in the dark scorpions
- Hairy tarantulas
- Canada’s largest ant colony.
Tour guides will provide a wealth of information about the animals on display and if you choose- provide a safe bug handling experience! But don’t worry, none of the animals can hurt you and you don’t have to touch anything you don’t want to.
FAQ for visiting Victoria BC with kids
The best times to visit Victoria and Vancouver Island are March to May and September to November. The region sees some of the country’s mildest weather and the driest summers, so while you might experience a light drizzle here and there, plan on comfortable temperatures in the spring and fall.
At least two days. A long weekend is perfect.
With a perfect growing climate, Victoria is known internationally as the City of Gardens. The city has an annual flower count dating back to the 1970s. The total blooms counted in 2018 was over 3.4 billion. Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada.
Victoria also features a comprehensive transportation system, and ferries connect the city to other towns on Vancouver Island. If you’re not looking for a heavy workout, a car is the best way to get from Victoria to other points of interest like Butchart Gardens or the Cowichan Valley.
Generally speaking, Victoria is a very safe city, but like any cities of comparable size, they have their share of “issues”, such as homeless people on the streets, beggars, drunken louts outside bars and clubs after closing time.
You actually do not need a passport if you have an enhanced Washington State Driver’s License (“EDL”). (Or if not from Washington, check out whether your state has one or not. Most border states have one.