10 Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in Victoria, B.C.

July 12, 2013 by

Action, Adventure & Adrenaline, North America, Places to Go, Things to Do, Travel Advice & Inspiration

Located just off the coast of Washington State, short ferry ride from either Vancouver or Seattle, you will find Vancouver Island. The main city on Vancouver Island, Victoria is also the capital city of the province of British Columbia.

Victoria was founded during the 1840s and settled by the British. So, it’s not surprising that the area feels like it’s a world away from Canada with the Victorian era buildings and overall very British feel.

What so many visitors to the area love about Victoria is that it offers many different opportunities for outdoor activities and entertainment. It doesn’t matter if someone is looking for an adrenaline rush in the surrounding mountains, or just a stroll in the afternoon, there are plenty of things to keep any type of traveler busy.

Here are ten outdoor activities to enjoy in Victoria:

Butchart Gardens

Buchart Gardens

Buchart Gardens

With over 1 million visitors each year, the Butchart Gardens are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. In fact, the site is listed as a National Historic Site of Canada.

When entering the garden, visitors should be prepared for a full experience for the senses. With over 1 million beds planted each year featuring over 700 different varieties of plants, the gardens are in full bloom from March through October each year.

Visitors can wander along the paths and take in the sites from some of the specialty garden areas like the Rose Garden, Italian Garden and Bog Garden. It’s not a surprise that a tour of Butchart Gardens is high on the list for many travelers to this area.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf

Just past Victoria Harbour is Fisherman’s Wharf. The wharf is home to an array of floating homes, known as Float Home Village. Visitors can wander up and down the docks and check out the floats while getting a great view of Victoria Harbour.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a destination spot for the Victoria water taxi, so visitors can hop on and hop off in order to get back to Victoria Harbour. The wharf is also a jumping off point for a number of whale watching tours as well.

During the summers, the wharf becomes a plaza, with tents covering picnic tables so visitors will have a place to sit and enjoy fish and chips or ice cream from the local kiosks.

Fort Rodd Hill

Fort Rodd Hill

Fort Rodd Hill

For those travelers who are into learning a little bit about history, Fort Rodd Hill is a great place to start. It was built in the mid-1800s by the British Royal Navy to protect the new territory from coastal attacks.

Located about a ten minute drive outside the Victoria Harbour area, Fort Rodd Hill is a great spot to bring the kids. The remains of the fort are still in place, as well as a few outbuildings that have been set up to recreate what they would have looked like at the time.

Just adjacent to the fort down the beach is the Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic site, which marks where the very first lighthouse in Canada stands.

Fisgaurd Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill

Fisgaurd Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill

Whale Watching

Whale Watching in Victoria

Whale Watching in Victoria

Whale watching is one of the most popular activities to do in Victoria because the area is a renowned spot for killer whales (orcas), minke whales, humpback whales and gray whales. The cold rocky shore of Vancouver Island is a resting spot and breeding ground for many whales during the summer months as they are in transit to other locations.

The tours leave from the Victoria Harbour or Fisherman’s Wharf area and provide three full hours of action packed nature sighting. Beyond just whales, visitors are also very likely to see bald eagles, sea lions and elephant seals along the way.

For those who love photography, a whale watch like this is going to provide the perfect backdrop for getting some awesome shots of sea life and the Vancouver Island coastline.

Chinatown

Chinatown

Chinatown

Not many visitors to Victoria realize that the area’s Chinatown is actually the oldest in Canada and trailing only behind San Francisco as the oldest in all of North America.

Visitors can take in the sights and smells of the many restaurants that are located inside the area, which is marked by the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest that was made in China and brought to Victoria in the early 1980s.

The city government has worked with the Chinese-Canadian leaders of the area to preserve many of the buildings within Chinatown, so they do really appear as they did when built over 100 years ago.

Oak Bay

To really recapture some of the British heritage found throughout the greater downtown Victoria area, a trip to the Oak Bay neighborhood is a must. It gives such a British feel, that many residents of the area jokingly refer to the area as “Behind the Tweed Curtain.”

The feel of the neighborhood is really more like that of a village; there are strict rules against fast food restaurants and other chain stores. Visitors will be able to stroll down many of the quaint streets, and pop into any one of many shops that offer a selection of afternoon teas complete with finger sandwiches.

Not surprisingly, Oak Bay is also home to quite a number of traditional British pubs, for those travelers who are looking for different kind of afternoon refreshment.

Zipline Tours

Ziplining in Victoria

Ziplining in Victoria

One of the more exciting and adrenaline pumping outdoor activities to enjoy in Victoria is going on a zipline tour. Perfect for those who are adventurous at heart, a zipline tour offers some of the best of Victoria.

The tour lasts just about two hours and each zipline adds a new dimension as they extend in length, pick up speed, or start from over two hundred feet in the air.

As visitors zip by at speeds up to 40 miles per hour they will be able to see the snowcapped peaks of the Olympic Mountains just through the canopies of the trees of the ancient temperate rainforest.

Golfing

Tee it up in Victoria

Tee it up in Victoria

There are more than a dozen golf courses in the great Victoria area, making it one of the best kept secrets for golfing in Canada. In fact, in 2004 the area was listed as one of the “Undiscovered Golf Destinations in the World” by the Golf Travel Writers Association.

There are courses to fit every level of play, from the challenging to a simple par three course, but what separates some of the courses in Victoria from other places are the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the mountains while on the grounds.

Golf is becoming such a popular tourist activity that there is now a Vancouver Island Golf Trail, consisting of ten courses that range up the Eastern coast of Vancouver Island.

Galloping Goose Trail

Galloping Goose bike trail Photo coourtesy of Robert Ashworth via Flickr.

Galloping Goose bike trail Photo coourtesy of Robert Ashworth via Flickr.

This trail is the remains of a former railway track that runs from Victoria 34 miles up to the town of Sooke, just inside the greater Victoria metro area. Just about half the trail is paved, and it is a popular route for joggers, walkers, and cyclists to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, without having to worry about motorists along the way.

Dotted every few miles along the trail are learning and nature centers. These provide information on some of the area’s wildlife and nature that is unique to the area. Many visitors to Victoria will pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it while wandering the trail.

Pedicab Tours

Take a Pedicab Tour through Victoria. Photo courtesy of beth h via Flickr.

Take a Pedicab Tour through Victoria. Photo courtesy of beth h via Flickr.

Not only is Victoria filled with all sorts of activities to partake in, it’s also just a genuinely beautiful place. That’s why so many visitors to the area end up taking a pedicab tour in order to really get a great feel of the back roads and area neighborhoods.

Starting from the downtown Victoria Harbour area, these tours wind through the streets of Victoria and along the rocky coastline, as well as some of the hidden gardens like Beacon Hill Park.

These tours offer a way to view Victoria at a relaxing pace, yet still covering plenty of the sights and sounds of the city. By starting and finishing in the same area, visitors will be able to get a good sense of the area.

-Liz Froment

, , , , ,

Comments are closed.