If you’ve got the ants in your pants for a fun-filled getaway with your four-legged friend(s), we’re letting the cat out of the bag; Victoria is the pick of the litter when it comes to pet friendly vacation destinations. An urban-rural balance like no other connects our muttropolitan city centre to a network of trails and parks waiting to be sniffed and explored. Take it straight from the horse’s mouth, with endless pawsibilities, Victoria is a pet-lover’s paradise that’s the purrfect spot for your va-cat-ion*.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATIONS: CHATEAU VICTORIA HOTEL & SUITES
Stressed about finding a dog-friendly hotel? Don’t terrier self-up about it. Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites makes visiting Victoria with your dog easy-peasy. This locally owned and operated hotel offers both dog-friendly traditional and one-bedroom suites. For a pawsitively perfect stay for your pooch, the Chateau provides doggy amenities including towels and wipes, treats, bowls and dishes, bedding and blankets, and pet waste bags. Forget cat naps, this is a stay so comfortable you’ll let sleeping dogs lie.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMMODATIONS: HOTEL GRAND PACIFIC
Just because you’re travelling with your pet doesn’t mean you have to ruff it. The pet friendly Hotel Grand Pacific provides guests with a personalized experience at their luxurious harbourfront property. This courtesy is extended beyond human customers to our furry friends as well. Pre-order your Pampered Pooch Package and treat your canine companion to a stay they’ll never forget. This $50 non-refundable fee includes a doggy-bed, food and water bowls, all natural organic doggie treats, a disposable doggie clean-up kit, and more.
The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada and is home to millions of bedding plants. For over 100 years The Butchart Gardens has enchanted locals and visitors alike with immaculately manicured gardens and a fairytale atmosphere that you must experience to believe. Featuring 55 acres of gardens to discover, 900 bedding plant varieties, and 26 greenhouses, The Butchart Gardens provides hours of exploration and countless opportunities to paws and smell the roses. The Gardens happily welcomes well-behaved leashed pets (though there are some restrictions during the holiday season). Click here for more information on The Butchart Garden’s pet policy.
A little birdie told me about one of Vancouver Island’s best kept secrets, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. This farm-based cidery is located on the Saanich Peninsula just a stick’s throw away from The Butchart Gardens. This breathtaking property’s 10-acre orchard and cider house overlook the tranquil waters of the Haro Strait toward James Island. When it comes to ciders, Sea Cider is the pick of the litter; their award-winning ciders are produced using organic apples grown on their onsite orchard featuring 1,300 apple trees. Enjoy a cider flight at their pet-friendly picnic area and enjoy the serene views with your fur buddy.
Mutts about the outdoors? Well, you’re in luck; Victoria’s proximity to rugged natural landscapes provides a lifetime of exploration. Grab your purr-tner and get mewving as you explore Mount Douglas Regional Park. A local favourite for taking in an incredible sunset, “Mount Doug” as it is affectionately known, is the largest urban forest on the Saanich Peninsula boasting 21km of trails. Hike, bike, or drive to the top and take in second-to-none views of Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula, the Salish Sea, and the magnificent Gulf Islands.
It’s time to grab a bite before bed, and surely by now you’ve worked up a fur-ocious appetite. Mosey on over to The Steamship Grill & Bar. Originally built in 1924, this heritage building designed by famed architect Francis Rattenbury once welcomed steamship passengers from around the world. 100 years later, The Steamship still welcomes guests from every corner of the globe, but they do it with hand-shaken cocktails and fresh caught local seafood, and best yet, they do it all on their pet friendly patio! With so many delicious options to choose from, The Steamship will leave you in need of a doggy bag. Bon A-pet-treat!
Victoria ain’t no one horse town. If you’re chomping at the bit to get back in the saddle, then Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park is for you. Beautiful horse friendly trails hug the sides of one of Victoria’s favourite lakes and the non-profit Elk Lake Equestrian Centre is great for refining your riding skills. Elk/Beaver Lake is just one of the region’s many horse-friendly trail systems, and that’s good news for both you and the horse you rode in on.
Local Tip: Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park isn’t just for horses. A fishing dock, multiple beaches, and a 10km circle route trail make this a great stop for families and pets.
It’s time for a pick-me-up. I don’t know about you, but when I find a hot cup of locally roasted, ethically sourced coffee, I’m like a dog with two tails. Caffe Fantastico has worked for years to establish connections with farming communities, and as a result, offers a curated coffee selection of Arabica beans. One sip of any of their fine roasts and you’ll be ready to grab the bull by the horns. Enjoy Caffe Fantastico’s hot coffee, fresh snacks, and the company of man’s best friend on their dog friendly patio, while you people watch the kitty corner.
That great coffee has given you a new leash on life. It’s time for a waterfront stroll along Victoria’s picture-perfect Inner Harbour. Our oceanside walk begins at the Victoria Visitor Centre, where we follow the steps down to the main walkway. Watch seaplanes come and go and water taxis scuttle across the still waters as you take in the views of some of Victoria’s iconic landmarks, including the BC Parliament Buildings, Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort, and the Fairmont Empress Hotel (whose Canine Ambassador, Winston, will greet you with a wag). After weaving our way around the harbour, Victoria’s floating neighbourhood, Fisherman’s Wharf, bursts brightly into view. These quirky, colourful float homes are an Instagrammer’s paradise, and offer some great culinary delights. Fisherman’s Wharf is open year round, but the open-air floating network of attractions, restaurants, and homes is best enjoyed in the dog days of summer, where bright blue skies and dazzling sunsets compliment this colourful neighbourhood.
Finding great food at Fisherman’s Wharf is like shooting fish in a barrel, but no trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is complete without a stop at Barb’s Fish and Chips. This floating chippy has been cooking, what are pawsibly, Victoria’s favourite fish and chips for nearly 40 years. Through hard work and word of mouth, Barb’s has grown into a local institution that has been voted Victoria’s best fish and chips on several occasions. Barb’s takes the haddock out of dinner preparation serving up Pacific halibut, salmon, and Fanny Bay oysters. Located on dock at the dog-friendly Fisherman’s Wharf, this is a great spot for you and your pooch to enjoy fantastic fresh fish. There’s no reason to feel gill-ty about pigging out at Barb’s, a leisurely stroll back to the hotel will help you burn those batter fried calories.
Rise and shine! I’m sure you’ve slept like a dog in your pet friendly palace. Now, it’s time to hit the trails. Victoria seamlessly blends the wonder of rugged west coast nature into the heart of a modern city. No park showcases this better than downtown’s Beacon Hill Park. Steps from must-see sights like the Fairmont Empress and Royal BC Museum, Beacon Hill offers up a world of exploration for you and your pets. Sprawling green spaces, manicured gardens, a children’s petting zoo, Gary Oaks, and gorgeous fountains are just a few of the sights that await the park’s explorers. When it comes to urban parks, Beacon Hill is the cat’s meow!
Local Tip: Beacon Hill Park boasts plentiful numbers of peacocks, squirrels, and other nesting birds, please keep your dog on a leash.
All aboard! The next stop on our four-legged tour is the Victoria Harbour Ferry Company Ltd. Zip along the calm waters of Victoria’s Inner Harbour or the Gorge Waterway taking in the sights and sounds of Victoria’s modern maritime corridor. The unrivaled views of historic landmarks and marine animals coupled with the swooping buzz of landing seaplanes will surely have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. Please ensure your dog is leashed or crated, and under your control at all times.
That was a big day on your feet, and I’m sure your dogs are barking. You want to see more of this great city, but you need to get off your feet. If you’d like to take in more stunning sights of Victoria, but your feet are getting weary, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours has got you covered. Since 1903, Tally-Ho has been recognized as one of Victoria’s iconic sightseeing experience. Let their professional guides and equine partners escort you on a relaxing, yet entertaining tour through the remarkable beauty of Victoria. The longest running historical attraction in Victoria, Tally-Ho welcomes well behaved dogs on their carriage tours. Tally-Ho treats their draft horses as family and has spent decades honing their craft and providing the utmost care for their horses, including balanced health and training to ensure they are always happy in their work. Now that’s a horse of a different colour!
*Always check with hotels, attractions, and dining providers for any additional regulations surrounding pet policies.