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Essential Summer: Must-Do Activities in Victoria

Posted on August 14, 2017


Nothing says summer more than sleeping in the great outdoors, and in Victoria, you can pitch a tent lakeside, oceanside, or better yet - in a west coast rainforest. There are endless opportunities for camping and RV-ing at scenic locations like Sooke, Goldstream Provincial Park and Port Renfrew, all of which are within 2 hours drive of the city. 

If glamping’s more your style, check out the raised, heated oTENTik tents at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites or the yurts at Merridale Cidery & Distillery. You can also opt to stay in a vintage Airstream trailer at WOODS on Pender, or the newly-renovated Zedstream trailer at Hotel Zed in Victoria.

Pro tip: Make sure to bring a bathing suit if you're planning to stay at Hotel Zed - you'll want to ride on the Zedinator water slide.

Images: @ashvoykin on Instagram (top), Hotel Zed (bottom)


Cool Down with Ice Cream 

There's something about summer that makes ice cream taste even better. Especially when it's enjoyed outside with sunshine and good company. Grab a cone of famous soft-serve from the Beacon Drive-In at Beacon Hill Park, or indulge in a deliciously indulgent cookie ice cream sandwich from The Cookie Guy.

Image: The Cookie Guy


Hit the Beach 

Lucky for you, Victoria is surrounded by gorgeous beaches that are waiting to be explored. For a family-friendly, sandy beach with lots of space for activities, try Willows Beach in Oak Bay or Cadboro-Gyro Park in Gordon Head. For a true west coast beach adventure, head up toward Port Renfrew along the Pacific Marine Circle Route and visit the oft-photographed Mystic Beach, Sombrio Beach, Sandcut Beach, and Botanical Beach

Image: Sombrio Beach surfer, photo by Nik Dunn


Ride the Harbour Ferry 

One of the most unique ways to get around in Victoria is via Victoria Harbour Ferry, a fleet of pickle boats that zip across the Inner Harbour between iconic stops like the Fairmont Empress, Fisherman's Wharf and Spinnaker's Gastro Brewpub. You can use the ferry as transportation or enjoy a scenic harbour tour. 

Image: Victoria Harbour Ferry


Explore the Pacific Marine Circle Route

We mentioned earlier that the winding coastal road between Victoria and Port Renfew is part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route, and it's certainly worth checking out as a day trip. If you have more time (2-3 days is recommended), explore the entire 4-leg route which loops from Victoria to Sidney, over the Malahat to the Cowichan Valley, across to Port Renfrew, and back toward Victoria via Sooke. 

Each leg of the circle offers a wealth of true, west coast experiences, from coastal hiking, to surfing, to old growth forests, lake country, wine country and seaside communities. 

Image: Forest views on the way to Mystic Beach


Eat Outdoors

Tis the season for al fresco dining. Visit the Victoria Public Market and pick up ingredients for a picnic, or take a sandwich to-go from Chorizo & Co. or Agrius Restaurant. Enjoy your lunch at one of Victoria's many beaches or parks, like Gonzales Beach in Fairfield or Beacon Hill Park (only a 15 minute walk from the Inner Harbour). If a patio is more your style, check out 9 can't-miss patios in Victoria and see a full list of restaurants offering outdoor service. 

Images: Fairmont Empress Veranda (top), Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse (bottom).


Get on a Bike

Victorians are proud of the city's cycling culture, and hopping on a bike while you're visiting is a great way to explore the city and feel like a local. With two-way, paved paths that meander throughout Greater Victoria (try the Galloping Goose Regional Trail or the Lochside Trail) and new, separated bike lanes in the downtown core, it's easy to get around without worrying about traffic. Rent an e-bike with Pedego, or take a tour with Bike Tours Victoria or The Pedaler. If you'd like to experience road riding, plan a guided ride with North 48 Bicycles

Pro tip: If you're staying at the Parkside Hotel & Spa, you'll also have access to their fleet of bikes at no additional charge! 

Image: Cycling in Sidney, image via Distinctly Sidney


Enjoy the Summer Blooms 

When you're in the City of Gardens, take time to experience the full wonder of the local gardens and floral displays. From famous cultivated gardens like The Butchart Gardens and Abkhazi Garden to the iconic hanging baskets decorating the Inner Harbour causeways and city center, there's lots of opportunity to petal peep wherever you go!

If you'd like to see spectacular private gardens, take a stroll or bike ride through the neighbourhoods of James Bay and Fairfield, where residents are known for their creative and colourful displays. You can even book a guided tour with Victorian Garden Tours, where you'll get an up-close look at both public and private gardens around the city. 

Images: The Butchart Gardens (top), Inner Harbour hanging baskets (bottom).


Looking for More?

For even more summer events, festivals and activities happening in Victoria, check out the online calendar of events