Nestled on the edge of the Salish Sea with spectacular views of the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and Mount Baker, Sidney, B.C. offers a fascinating array of fun and memorable things to do. You could easily spend several days exploring the region, but if you've only got 24 hours to enjoy Sidney, here are some of our recommendations for getting the most out of your day.
Take in Some Public ArtMaybe it's the beautiful environment and laid-back lifestyle that make the area such a haven for creative people. Whatever it is, Sidney offers an abundance of arts and cultural attractions.
Start your day on Sidney's main street, Beacon Avenue, home to stunning three dimensional murals and life-like bronzed statues. Along the way, you'll see evidence of the high quality of visual pieces in many of Sidney's cafés, which give local artists a chance to show their work to locals and visitors.
Tip: Take a leisurely stroll along the Sidney waterfront sculpture walk, where you'll see art pieces from artists across North America.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Once you've had a chance to get your bearings and explore some local artwork, you may want to enjoy some of Sidney's recreation activities. Sidney Whale Watching offers 3-3.5 hour tours starting right from Sidney's waterfront. As well as orcas, there are often sightings of minke, humpback and grey whales.
Tip: Keep your eyes peeled! The nearby islands are home to seal colonies and porpoise feeding grounds and sea lions can often be seen basking on sun-warmed rocks.
On your whale watching tour, you'll no doubt pass through the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, home to a myriad of sensitive plant species and diverse wildlife. The national park reserve offers a variety of opportunities for visitors to learn about and experience an exceptional coastal island landscape and the cultures of the people who live there.
Eat!With all this activity, you'll want/need to stop for a bite along the way. With its relaxed West Coast ambiance, Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula are home to [lots of] restaurants and cafés with a focus on all things local and a taste of the international too. Located in the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa, the Georgia Café & Deli is a local meeting spot. Grab a coffee and enjoy a light meal of ever-changing daily features including breakfast sandwiches, grilled wraps, and fresh salads.
Tip: Do like the locals and grab a loaf of Helen's fresh bread and plan your own picnic.
If you'd like to enjoy a great atmosphere and a sit-down meal, choose the slightly more formal Haro's Restaurant + Bar for their Oceanwise seafood, local meats, and house made desserts. It's the perfect spot to kick back with a cocktail after a day out on the water or seeing the sights.
Browse through BooktownNot the ourdoorsy type? Enjoy a little retail therapy in Canada's only booktown. Sidney Booktown has a great selection of new and second-hand titles in six unique bookshops, all within easy walking distance of one another.
Tip: With only one day in Sidney, you might not have much time to linger, but you can always pick up some great titles to accompany you on your travels!
Choose Family FunSidney is buzzing with things to do for kids and families. Pick one or more of these family-friendly activities as a fun way to spend the afternoon:
• Visit the BC Aviation Museum, with over 20 aircraft on display. You can even sit in the cockpit of a warplane.
• Visit Sidney's award winning aquarium, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and get up close and personal with wolf eels, jellyfish, rockfish, a giant Pacific octopus, and hundreds of other creatures, without having to get wet. Don't miss doing the scavenger hunt, looking into the microscopes, or tickling sea urchin in the touch pool.
• Get wet, giggle and wiggle your toes in the splash park at Iroquois Park
• Hunt for sea glass, shells, or pieces of driftwood on Glass Beach
• Watch for seals and minks at Sidney's waterfront
Tip: Take the 15-minute ferry ride over to Sidney Spit. Explore the spit, take a walk or try skim boarding!