Ferry rides, history, and hands-on fun; It’s truly a wonder that we hadn’t done Victoria with the kids sooner! When my husband got called away for a work conference, I decided it was the perfect excuse to explore the city.
It had been nearly a decade since my last visit. I knew Victoria was beautiful, being a picturesque city nestled on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island, but what did it have to offer families?
I’d been to Craigdarroch Castle, wandered the Legislature Building, and enjoyed meals with a view of the harbor. You can do these things with little ones in tow, but my goal was to find out the real gems of Victoria with kids. Spoiler: I found them.
Our home base for the visit was The Parkside Hotel & Spa. The location was ideal as it’s only a 5-10 minutes walk from the water, but far enough away from the hustle that you don’t worry about too much noise. The Parkside offers suites with full kitchens, 1-2 bedrooms, and multiple bathrooms. There is a wonderful pool and hot tub, a movie theatre, and the highlight for my kids – a koi pond! They even got to feed the fish on one of our mornings!
The first place we headed in Victoria with the kids was Miniature World. They call it The Greatest Little Show on Earth, and I can see why. As you wander the many halls of exhibits, you’ll witness medieval knights jousting, double decker buses cruising, and giants climbing beanstalks. If your kid loves to push buttons, this will be their paradise – there are a lot of them!
With three kids under the age of six, we were in and out within about 30 minutes. My two year old was a little nervous about this place as it does get dark at times, and the loud noises of the fighter jet exhibit scared her. The boys were quite happy though, so I’d say 5-10 is a great age. Group rates are available for 5+ people, so bring the whole family!
The Victoria Bug Zoo was the highlight of our weekend. If you hear bad reviews about this place, ignore them! This place is amazing! We arrived for opening (which I strongly recommend you do, because it gets busier) and were promptly introduced to a guide. He took our group around from exhibit to exhibit, talking about each bug and some of their special features. And then, he took them out for holding!
We got to hold Stick Bugs, a Praying Mantis, and Beatles. They’ll even let you hold a tarantula if you’re over 18! We were here for a full 1.5 hours and could have stayed longer. The only reason we left when we did was because the two year old had had enough. The space is small and kids are not allowed to run around or touch the glass, so keeping the young ones entertained may be a struggle. They did provide a table with crayons and colouring sheets though!
The main reason we decided to head to Victoria with the kids was because of Egypt: The Time of the Pharaohs exhibit that is currently on display at the Royal BC Museum. Including over 300 artifacts, you’ll be amazed to see things such as the coffin of Nakht, a statue bust of Hatshepsut, and a ton of jewelery, clay jars, and statues. If you’ve got a history lover in the family, it’s worth seeing.
You’ll then want to wander through the Natural History Gallery, the First Peoples gallery, and the Modern History gallery. This museum is very kid friendly, with lots of tunnels, caves, and boats to walk through. There’s even a kids discovery area! We spent about two hours here, which is really something considering the ages of our children.
A few other places you may want to consider heading while in Victoria with the kids is Beacon Hill Park, the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy, Butchart Gardens, and Butterfly World. Admission fees do add up, so try and go with what will be best suited for the age of your kids.
Visiting the Legislature Building is free and worth the stop for a photo, but kids must be very quiet inside and are not allowed to touch anything. We got shushed a lot, and my kids were not being that loud! Just something to be aware of.
If my kids were older, it would have been fun to have booked a whale watching tour. It’s been on my bucketlist forever, but it’ll have to wait a bit longer! I still recommend Victoria with the kids as a great weekend getaway, especially if you’re already located on the West Coast of Canada.