TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN VICTORIA, B.C.
Here are what we think are the most important attractions to visit and things to see and do in Victoria, in descending order, David Letterman style.
10 - WALKING TOURS & TRAILS:
Follow a local historian or English "Bobby" on a guided walking tour. These storytellers will uncover Victoria’s Olde
Towne and other historical areas. Truly discover Victoria’s past on a ghost walk or cemetery tour. Pick up a city map and venture away from the downtown core into
Victoria’s neighbourhoods: charming communities unto themselves.
9 - CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE:
historic residence nearby is Craigdarroch Castle, the extravagant home built for coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir. The castle has the finest collection of etched and
stained glass on the West Coast.
8 - MINIATURE WORLD:
Over 80 attractions include a tiny circus,
Fantasy Land dioramas of favourite nursery rhymes, Dickensian scenes of old London, and Fields of Glory - miniature re-enactments of famous battles. Miniature World's
35- room version of Queen Mary's famous doll house features incredible detail from the tiny wine bottles in the cellar to the royal ghost in the attic.
7 - FORT RODD HILL & FISGARD LIGHTHOUSE:
Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site commemorates the
national significance of the Victoria - Esquimalt coast artillery fortress in the defence of Victoria and the naval base at Esquimalt harbour, as part of the larger
defence strategy of the British Empire and Canada, 1878 to 1956.
6 - BUTCHART GARDENS:
created in 1904, today the 50 acre estate features extraordinary theme gardens including the Sunken, Italian, Rose and Japanese Gardens. From mid-June to
mid-September, take in the night illuminations that magically transform the entire Gardens. There are fireworks on Saturday nights in July and August, festive décor,
lighting and entertainment over the Christmas season, an indoor Historical Display from mid-January through March 31st (We would have rated Butchart Gardens higher if
it wasn’t for the admission price).
5 - MARITIME MUSEUM:
The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is housed in the historic 1889 Provincial Law Courts
building situated in Bastion Square. Besides its many fine maritime exhibits it has a caged elevator considered the oldest operating elevator in the country.
4 – B.C. LEGISLATURE:
Also known to visitors as the Parliament Buildings. Actually the parliament buildings
are only in Ottawa, Ontario where Parliament resides. Each province has Legislative Buildings which houses the Legislature. Guided tours are offered for the 100-year
old Legislative Buildings, constructed in 1898 at a cost of almost $1 million.
3 - WHALE WATCHING TOURS:
At convenient locations on the inner harbour are several tour companies
offering tickets to excitement. Virtually all of them are Ministry of Transport approved and their guides are all experienced Certified Naturalists. Enjoy the thrill
of an open zodiac style boat or the luxury comfort of a high-speed covered cruiser.
2 - ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM:
The Royal British Columbia Museum is a place of discovery. Through three unique galleries, the Museum showcases the human and natural history of British Columbia,
and features periodic exhibitions of international renown. Highly realistic and inviting displays, such as the Ice Age and Coastal Forest dioramas, provide visitors
with a sense of having truly experienced the authentic settings of many exhibits. And not to be outdone is the IMAX® at the National Geographic Theatre also
within the museum.
1 - FESTIVALS and more FESTIVALS:
Besides the many year around tourist attractions in Victoria are the many festivals and events that fill
out the summer and anyone’s vacation. Besides the natural beauty and historical significance of our locale, these annual events will make your visit a memorable one.
Here is what took place this summer; the dates are approximate for 2002.
- June 23 - Sept. 3 The City of Victoria’s Summer in the Square - Each year, over 1,500 performers bring their talents to this intimate venue. The program is varied, offering something for everyone, from daily lunch hour concerts; main stage dance performances; Sunday evening Concerts Under the Stars; Dancing under the Stars; youth events; community celebrations and much more.
- June 30 - July 8 The Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria FolkFest. With an annual attendance of over 100,000, the festival is the single largest
outdoor event on Vancouver Island and the largest multicultural festival in Western Canada.
- July 21 Luminara Victoria is a community lantern celebration. Participate in an evening of art, music and light. Imagine thousands of beautiful handmade paper lanterns lighting up the natural beauty of Victoria's Beacon Hill Park at dusk. Last year's inaugural Luminara Victoria attracted over 10,000 people from all walks of life to participate and revel in the beauty and magic of the night.
- July 20 - 22 Islands Folk Festival. Three days of non stop music from over 150 Canadian and International performers at six venues. Dancing, Children's
activities and entertainment. Participatory Workshops, Panel Concerts, Jam Sessions and an Open Stage. Arts Crafts and Food booths will be on the heritage site.
- July 27 - 29 Rootsfest brought over 15,000 friends and families together over three days for the inaugural Rootsfest Music Festival last July. The festival is nestled amongst acres of forests and diverse gardens, with the stately Hatley Castle in the background. You're sure to enjoy stunning musical entertainment of brilliant artists from all over the world while five stages resonate with the sounds of music, joy, and laughter.
- August 3 - 8 Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS) Latin Caribbean Festival. This five-day festival features free performances throughout the day
and four ticketed dances at night. While music is at the heart of the festival it also includes cultural information, a beer garden and children's arts and crafts
- August 19-20 Victoria Dragon Boat Festival - Last year, 60 dragon boat teams from the West Coast raced over Victoria's 500-metre course, paddling from Laurel Point into the Inner Harbour. Victoria's Inner Harbour is also a natural venue for the Festival's on-land multicultural extravaganza. After all, the festival is not simply a sports event it's a cultural event. This year, they're offering a panoply of multicultural events: an entertainment stage featuring live dance and music, a children's activity tent, and a food fair.
- August 24 - Sept. 4 Fringe Festival international street performers, a spectacular (and 100% FREE) "just for kids" zone, and much more.
So there you have it. Creating a Top Ten was difficult as there are so many great attractions in Victoria. However these are the ones we have found over the
years to be most popular with our guests.
MORE THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN VICTORIA
If that wasn’t enough here are a few more things you can do to while the time away.
BEST PLACES TO HIKE IN VICTORIA, B.C.
These are all day hikes and represent a graduated program for beginners of one to two hour workouts. You can go to these parks over and over again as most of them have
a number of variations on any hike in their boundaries. A few basic pointers are appropriate here even for the easiest city hikes: Never hike alone. Tell someone where
you are going. Get good boots. Take a first aid kit (and get training if you have not had it). Take water, a snack, and a head cover of some kind.
- Mount Doug
This municipal park is a good starter because you can take easy strolls around the base and extend them up to about an hour. Then you can
start some of the winding trails up. Finally, you can find the trails that go straight up to do at the end of your one hour warm up. Try some of the other parks
before you do the latter.
- Thetis Lake Park
A great park to extend the time you are hiking. There are three or four lakes and various hills to romp around on. Also in March/April
there are some of the best local wild flower displays. Lots of places to swim.
- Mount Work
The Mt. Work trail pretty well goes up, up, up without a break. Remember, the trip DOWN is the one that is harder on your body. Make sure your
knees (and boots) are ready for it. Fantastic views and a great place for a picnic. To stretch the hike take the option of the Mackenzie Bight trail across the
street down to Finlayson Arm inlet. On a hot day you can go for a dip in Durance Lake, about 100 feet from the Mt. Work main parking lot, when you're done.
- Gowlland Todd
Now for some extended up and down! This is a long trail if you go the whole way on the north trail. It's best to increase your distance
over several visits. There are fantastic views of Finlayson Arm inlet. Once you've got the north hike under your belt take the south route to the top of Mt.
Finlayson in Goldstream park. This will take several hours.
- Goldstream Provincial Park
To do the whole perimeter loop, excluding Mt. Finlayson, takes two
hours at a quick pace. It is constantly up and down. Once this is no longer a challenge, add on the Mt. Finlayson loop. This is very steep, sometimes you need your
hands, but there is no actual climbing.
- East Sooke Regional Park
This is the best place to practice for the West Coast Trail due to the
similar terrain. The coast trail in East Sooke Park takes six and one half hours from end to end. That is not return time. This is a big park. Also there are many
hikes within the interior of the park that offer opportunities to go up and down. If you and your friends can do the coast trail in a day no problem, you are
physically ready for the West Coast Trail.
- Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
This trail will give
you a good feel for the West Coast Trail. The terrain is identical but you can take it in bite sized day trips and overnights to practice getting your logistics
and planning right for the big one.