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Victoria tourist attractions - things to do on Vancouver Island

After decades of welcoming visitors Victoria BC has developed a wide range of appealing tourism attractions.

Southern Vancouver Island offers so many sightseeing places and things to do for visitors to British Columbia. From the world renowned Butchart Gardens to family estate wineries, from memorable whale-watching to children's activities, from the superb Royal BC Museum to Craigdarroch Castle, from BC Parks to varying arts and culture, and on and on the list goes. So please do click on the following Victoria tourism website links for further information about these attractions.

Abkhazi Garden
The garden on a 1.4-acre site is internationally famous for its splendid collection of rhododendrons and its romantic past.

All Fun Recreation Park (for kids of all ages)
Take the kids for some fun on the mini golf course, driving range, 2 go-kart tracks, batting cages or an arcade.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has a permanent collection of 15,000 art objects. Art from Asia, Europe and North America with primary emphasis placed on Canada and Japan.

BC Ferries
Daily scheduled service from Vancouver to Victoria.

BC Parks
BC Parks is responsible for the designation, management and conservation of a system of ecological reserves, provincial parks and recreation areas located throughout the province. These contain many of the best representative elements and special features of British Columbia's natural heritage.

Beacon Hill Park and Petting Zoo
It is Victoria's favorite park. Most of the park's 200 acres are beautifully landscaped and part of it is left natural to encourage wildflowers to flourish. The petting zoo is always a hit with the children.

British Columbia Aviation Museum
Located next to Victoria International Airport, the museum houses many interesting aircraft, engines, pictures, models and artifacts, many of them from the wars that Canadians fought. An historical display shows the airport as it was during its time as a Commonwealth Air Training Centre.

Butterfly Gardens
At Butterfly Gardens hundreds of exotic butterflies fly free in an indoor tropical rainforest. The life cycle of a butterfly is shown and the garden features many colourful flowering plants, exotic birds and waterfalls.

Capital Regional District Parks
There are more than 10,000 hectares of spectacular and easily accessible natural areas in 30 regional parks and trails on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Visit the above website for more information.

Centre of the Universe
Public Observatory and Astronomy Centre. This is the largest telescope in Western Canada! A Saturday night visit in good weather gives visitors a chance to star gaze with local astronomers who set up their own telescopes for the general public’s enjoyment. The observatory dome opens up its huge curved doors, spins slowly and lets the massive 2 metre telescope poke its nose into the night sky. The Centre of the Universe, is open daily with wonderful, interactive displays on a wide range of topics related to astronomy.

CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum
The museum is located at Naden on Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in the city of Victoria. The museum's focus is on four distinct military groups that have made an impact on Canada's history and left a lasting heritage. In addition to exhibits and displays, the museum houses an expanding archive and library.

Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a beautiful historic Victorian-era mansion, built in the 1890s by wealthy BC coal baron Robert Dunsmuir. First a home for his family, later a hospital, conservatory of music and finally it was restored to its old glory and is now a museum.

Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse
Craigflower was one of Vancouver Island's first European farming communities, established in 1853 along Victoria's Gorge Waterway.

East Sooke Regional Park
East Sooke Regional Park offers 50 km of trails through the West Coast wilderness. The trails rate from easy to challenging and take you to rocky bays and beaches with spectacular views of the Strait of Juna de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains.

Elk/Beaver Lake
A very popular park and lake, shared by swimmers, windsurfers, sailors, water-skiers, fishers and rowers. Some trails are designated multi-use, for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders, while others are for hiking only. The hiking trails are rated easy. There are picnic areas, playgrounds, and a fishing float with access for people with disabilities.

Emily Carr House
The home of one of Canada's best known artists and writers. Emily Carr was born here in 1871. She painted and wrote about her environment with great love and pride. She travelled to deserted native villages to paint them so we would not forget what they used to be like.

Fisgard Lighthouse & Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site
The fort was built to defend Victoria and the naval base at Esquimalt harbour. This well preserved coastal artillery site was in use from 1878 to 1956. During the summer months, the fort offers re-enactments and other historic events that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Glendale Gardens and Woodland
Glendale Gardens and Woodland at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific is a local treasure. A non-profit organization whicht manages 103 acres for the purpose of cultivating public interest in sound gardening practices, demonstrating the diversity of plants that can be grown in this area, preserving natural plant and animal habitat, and providing a unique environment for preparing students for careers in horticulture.

Government House Gardens
The gardens and grounds of Government House cover some 36 acres. The 14 acres in front of the House contain formal gardens and are open to the public for free. The garden behind the House with Garry Oak Woodlands and The Cary Castle Mews, is only open for tours.

Great Pacific Adventures
...offering whale watching and eco-tours year round, as well as bicycle rentals for local sight-seeing, both operating from Victoria's Inner Harbour.

Harbour Ferries
From June to September, tour the Inner Harbour with one of those fun little 12 passenger ferries. They wind their way through the harbour and the Gorge Waterway.

Hatley Park Gardens
James Dunsmuir built his castle on 650 acres at Hatley Park Estates in the early 1900s. In the 1940s the castle became a dormitory and mess hall for Royal Roads Military College. Today it is used as the administrative centre of Royal Roads University. The castle and gardens are open daily for tours.

Helmcken House
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, a surgeon with the Hudson's Bay Company, later a statesman who helped negotiate the entry of British Columbia into the Dominion of Canada as a province. Helmcken House is the oldest house in British Columbia on its original site, right beside the Royal British Columbia Museum, that is open to the public.

Heritage Acres
The Saanich Historical Artifacts Society is dedicated to collecting, restoring, housing and demonstrating artifacts from Saanich's rural past. There is a large collection of household, agricultural and industrial artifacts. Oats are still grown with the old methods in the open farm fields to raise funds. There are trails, picnic areas and numerous old buildings to look at.

Legislative Buildings
Victoria's Parliament Buildings were designed by Francis Rattenbury and finished in 1898. They are located in the Inner Harbour near the Empress Hotel which was designed by Mr. Rattenbury. Together they form a beautiful entrance to Victoria's harbour. Tours through the building are available for free and last about 45-50 minutes.

Maritime Museum of British Columbia
Housed in the historic 1889 Provincial Law Courts building on Bastion Square it displays everything that relates to our seafaring past and present.

Mineral World
Mineral World is a store but also an Interpretive Centre that offers a range of hands-on activities that teach about Earth Science. In the Scratch Patch, you can dig for gemstones, shells, fossils or do some goldpanning.

Miniature World
Feel like Gulliver while walking among miniature villages.

Point Ellice House
Gold Rush Magnate and Commissioner Peter O'Reilly bought Point Ellice House in 1867. The restored house and garden bring you back to those long ago days. A Harbour Ferry can take you from the Inner Harbour to the dock at Point Ellice House for a tour and Afternoon Tea.

Provincial Parks
There are many parks in British Columbia and a few are located near Victoria and along the coast. For more information about parks on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the rest of British Columbia, visit the above website.

Royal British Columbia Provincial Museum
This world-class museum & its Imax Theatre are one of Victoria's most highly rated attractions. See the exceptional exhibits on the Native peoples of the West Coast, the Pacific rainforest flora and fauna as well as an intriguing and dynamic display called “Old Town.”

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Thousands of fish, invertebrates, and marine plant life are at home here in 87 tonnes of seawater contained in 17 massive aquarium habitats. The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre offers visitors a chance to see the amazing diversity of the Georgia Basin (also known as the Salish Sea), from the giant Pacific octopus to microscopic plankton. Here they'll find wolf-eels lurking in caverns, anemones, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and colourful rockfish. Two of the many highlights are a chance to visit research projects all over the world through real time live video and the journey to the ocean floor. Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM

Sidney Museum
The museum is devoted to the history of the early lives of Sidney and North Saanich pioneers, portrayed through photographs and artifacts.

Sidney Summer Markets
Every Thursday evening from June to September, Beacon Avenue in the town of Sidney closes from 5.30 – 8.30 pm to make room for the summer market. Shopkeepers have stalls out on the street, lots of people come to look, buy and listen to music. There is good food, drink and a definitive festive atmosphere in the air.

St. Ann's Academy
Built by the Sisters of St. Ann in 1871, with additions in 1886 and 1910, this former school and convent now houses government offices. Its charming chapel was Victoria's original Roman Catholic Cathedral. It features gilded and ornately hand-carved altars, delicate ceiling carvings, original oil paintings and historic sculptures. Visitors can stroll the extensive grounds where the restored novitiate garden is resplendent with perennials and formal herb beds.

The Butchart Gardens
From the exquisite Sunken Garden to the charming Rose Garden, this 50-acre show-place still maintains the gracious traditions of the past, in one of the loveliest corners in the world.

The Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery
Located at the University of Victoria, it has a large and varied collection ranging from ancient Chinese artifacts to works by well-known contemporary artists.

Victoria - the "City of Gardens"
This intimate, sophisticated seaside City is the vacation capital of Canada and the premiere tourist spot in the Pacific Northwest. Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and sparkles in one of Canada's mildest climates. This area is the sunniest spot in the province and the gentlest in the country in terms of climate, environment, and lifestyle.

Victoria Bug Zoo (for kids of all ages)
If you have a chance, crawl, fly or wriggle your way to the Bug Zoo! An amazing world of insects and spiders.

We hope that this list has helped you plan your visit to Victoria and Vancouver Island. Your bed and breakfast hosts will be glad to offer further tips during your stay here.
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Victoria Ocean Attraction Playground whale watching

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