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Top 10 Things to Do with Your Family in Victoria

Posted on January 29, 2018

Family day is celebrated in British Columbia on Monday, February 12. Whether you're celebrating with your kids, your partner, your parents or your friends, Family Day is a chance to enjoy some quality time with the people you care about most. We've put together some of our favourite family-friendly activities to get you inspired.

 

1. BE A COASTAL NATURALIST

It may seem odd to plan a beach trip in the middle of February, but in Victoria, it's just what we do! From sea stars and snails to chitons and barnacles, Victoria's shoreline is home to many interesting sea creatures that can be observed right from the beach.

Drive along the Pacific Marine Circle Route to Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew (about 2 hours north of Victoria). Bring a notebook and write down your observations, or sketch a picture of your favourite fish.

botanical beach
Image: @romerphotography on Instagram

 

2. TAKE PART IN SIDNEY ADVENTURES

Just a short drive up the Saanich Peninsula (about 25 minutes north of downtown Victoria) lies the beautiful ocean-side community of Sidney. A wonderful place to explore with kids, start with a visit to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, where your little ones will be enamoured by undersea creatures and even get some hands-on experience in the touch tank.

Attend the annual LEGO Brick Festival, a three-day family event that includes crafts, games, art workshops and professional LEGO displays for all to enjoy. Afterward, visit Mineral World & the Scratch Patch, a family favourite where you'll get to learn about earth sciences collect your very own gemstones to take home.

Make sure to leave time for a fun family walk through Sidney's charming downtown, taking time to explore the many bookstores or grab a snack at one of the locally-owned cafes. Don’t forget to check out the gorgeous new piece of public art along the waterfront. The 10ft sculpture by Tsartlip Nation artist Chris Paul features the Thunderbird in the Salish sky standing on the orca whale with salmon herring below.

sidney bc public art sculpture
Image: @mysidneybc on Instagram

 

3. MEET THE LOCALS

No visit to Victoria is complete without seeing the resident harbour seals at Oak Bay Marina or Fisherman's Wharf. These chubby cuties are called "dogs of the sea" for a reason, and will do just about anything to get your attention!

To see more wildlife in person, join a CRD Regional Parks naturalist on a guided walk through East Sooke Regional Park, or pack a picnic and choose from any of Victoria's other great walking and hiking trails. We love Goldstream Provincial Park for its wildlife spotting opportunities and gorgeous west coast boreal forest.

To meet our largest residents, book a family whale watching trip where you'll be treated to unprecedented coastal views and the best seats in the house for wildlife viewing. Keep your eyes peeled for marine life like humpback whales, orcas, and sea lions.

seal at fisherman's wharf
Image: @sooahlee_ on Instagram

 

4. EXPERIENCE MODERN HISTORY

Canada's Oldest Chinatown is super kid-friendly, but a truly fun experience for families of all ages. Shop local in Fan Tan Alley, Canada's Narrowest Commercial Street, snap a photo under the Gates of Harmonious Interest and enjoy lunch at Don Mee Seafood Restaurant or Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, which is just two blocks away. While you're downtown, stop in at Cherry Bomb Toys, a unique toy shop that specializes in collectable and vintage toys. They're also home to the National Toy Museum of Canada! 

For history buffs, a visit to Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites is a must when in Victoria. Wander through the coastal artillery fort and see the beautifully preserved Fisgard Lighthouse, which was built in 1860 as a beacon for the British Royal Navy's Pacific Squadron.

chinatown victoria bc
Image: @simerip on Twitter

 

5. GET IN SOME PLAYTIME

For a relaxing afternoon with family, head to Beacon Hill Park where you will see totem poles, roaming peacocks, beautiful early spring blooms and stunning fountains. There's also a playground with a kid zone for climbing and playing.

Tip: Make sure to grab a soft-serve ice cream cone at the Beacon Drive-In.

Stop in for lunch at Bubby's Kitchen on Cook Street. If the weather is nice, take your meal to go and enjoy a picnic at Willows Beach or Cadboro-Gyro Park. Both parks have large playgrounds and sandy beach access, perfect for playtime or a relaxing family stroll. There's even a mini zip-line at Gyro Park.

cadboro-gyro beach park family day victoria
Image: @allisonhyattphoto on Instagram

 

6. EXPLORE THE VICTORIA PUBLIC MARKET

Feel like a local as you join in the hustle and bustle of the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson for their Family Day events on February 12, from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm. The market will be buzzing with free live music, face painting, a free photo booth, cooking demonstrations and crafts for kids. There are always lots of awesome local food vendors to choose from, too!

victoria public market

 

7. VISIT LOCAL MUSEUMS

Spend Family Day exploring the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal BC Museum. From 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm staff will be on be on hand in the exhibition guiding guests through photography-related activities for the whole family. While you’re there, marvel at a movie in the IMAX theatre attached to the museum playing films including Justice League, Life in Space and Museum Alive.

Located on the Saanich Peninsula (right next to the Victoria International Airport), the BC Aviation Museum is a great place to visit with family. Here, you'll see lots of cool aviation artefacts and over 20 restored aircraft displays. Ask one of their many knowledgeable tour guides to share stories of their own experiences or answer any questions that you have about items on display.

royal bc museum family day victoria
Image: Family fun at the Royal BC Museum

 

8. SPLASH, SKATE, SCALE AND CYCLE

For indoor family fun, hit up one of Greater Victoria's many recreation centres. From swimming to ice skating, you're sure to find an activity that everybody can agree on. You can also try one of Victoria's escape rooms (Epic Escape Victoria, Trapped, Victoria Escape Games, Horror Escape Victoria) and work as a team to escape from a locked room before the clock runs out, or try indoor rock climbing at Crag X Climbing Gym or The Boulders Climbing Gym. For gaming lovers, head to Vic VR for a fun, virtual reality experience. 

If the weather cooperates, a family bike ride in Victoria is always a wonderful way to see the city and spend some quality time with your loved ones. Rent bikes or sign up for a guided tour with Bike Tours Victoria.

Tip: Check to see if your hotel offers free bike rentals! The Parkside Hotel & Spa has a fleet of bikes, helmets, and locks available for complimentary use by hotel guests.

cycling victoria bikes family day bc

 

9. HIT THE SLOPES

Make it a day trip with a visit Mount Washington Alpine Resort, about a 3-hour drive north of Victoria, for incredible views and great island skiing. They are offering 50% off alpine lift and Nordic trail passes for Family Day to all B.C. residents. Take a lesson, hit the terrain park, or simply enjoy your favourite runs with the people you love.

Take a selfie at the top of the Eagle Chair and share it on social media with the hashtag #ExploreVictoria

mount washington alpine resort victoria bc skiing vancouver island
Image: Mount Washington Alpine Resort

 

10. BOOK A FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT

What better opportunity to get some new photos of the family than when you're on vacation together? Book a shoot with Flytographer and capture the memories of your time together in Victoria. Your shoot concierge will set you up with a personalized itinerary of shoot locations that fit your family's personal style and ensures you get a unique set of photographs to take home. 

flytographer in victoria
Image: Flytographer

 

Looking for more?

For more inspiration, browse through the online event calendar. You can also check out options on how to get here and where to stay, plus search for deals on transportation, accommodation and activities. Have questions about trip planning? Reach out to us on FacebookInstagram or Twitter