3 Days in Victoria, BC: Local’s Guide & Itinerary with Kids

Looking for the best things to do with only 3 days in Victoria, BC? We’ve got you covered. As someone who grew up in Victoria, Canada and who also spends a lot of time visiting family here each year, I am happy to let you in on the secret spots kids and adults will love. Plus all the not to miss activities for your Victoria, BC itinerary.

Victoria is a quaint, British influenced town on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the capital city of British Columbia. 

It doesn’t matter if you have one day in Victoria, a long weekend or an entire week, there are so many fun things to do for the whole family.

This 3 day Victoria itinerary with kids will help you make the most of your trip. Plus check out our tips at the end for where to stay, and the best ways to get to and from the island.

Ready? Let’s go!

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3 DAYS IN VICTORIA, BC

Victoria, BC Itinerary with Kids

If you are planning to tour around outside the city centre, the best way is to rent a car in Victoria at the airport, or downtown.

A great Victoria getaway can have everything from watching whales on the water, to strolling downtown, grabbing a snack at a coffee shop, and exploring the waterfront or beach. Then visiting world class museums, or grabbing a tour to the iconic Butchart Gardens.

You can even carve out time to have a craft beer (for the adults only lol!) if you like.

DAY ONE: Victoria Itinerary Downtown

  • Iconic Breakfast Spot downtown
  • Stroll The Inner Harbour 
  • Parliament Building free tour
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Royal BC Museum
  • Beacon Hill Park or Butchart Garden

Downtown Victoria is a great place to start to get a feel for the west coast of Canada. These are just some ideas of the most iconic, not to miss places to visit in Victoria.

Feel free to adjust based on ages of your kids, weather and mood.

We’ve highlighted some favorite experiences for you and your family.

If you are on a stricter budget, check out our list of free and cheap things to do in Victoria with family. Kid friendly activities for both downtown and around the greater Victoria area.

Breakfast Downtown

We recommend starting your day with breakfast downtown. Our top three places to have breakfast (that are also Victoria icons) are: 

  • Floyd’s Diner – check out the “ Mahoney” the cook’s choice. Sure to delight your belly and mind. I still miss their old location. 332 Menzies St, Victoria

  • Blue Fox Cafe – Victoria’s first all-day breakfast. Get there early as it does attract line ups. 919 Fort St, Victoria

  • Jam Cafe – a newer addition to my breakfast loves, but equally as delicious. Try the huevos rancheros. 542 Herald Street. 

Stroll the Inner Harbour & Visit the Parliament Buildings

After breakfast is the perfect time to walk off some of your delicious food. Strolling the Inner Harbour is an experience.

During the summer months you won’t want to miss the buskers, music and festivals along the waterfront. 

The Harbour is the epicentre of tourist activity:

  • Grab a water taxi for a mini Inner Harbor “cruise” to stops along the waterway.
  • Visit the Parliament Buildings – Enjoy a free guided tour of BC’s Parliament Buildings. They run each day (every 20 to 30 minutes in the summer months). Be prepared to laugh and learn the unique history of how the building came to be designed….hint, it was a competition.

Continue along to Fisherman’s Wharf to visit the resident seal and see colorful floating houseboats.  Explore the  unique shops and grab a bite at one of the floating restaurants (Barb’s Fish and Chips is our favorite). 

LOCAL TIP: If you have time, hop the water taxi to Dockside Green and take a stroll along the Galloping Goose Trail.

Stop in at our favorite coffee shop and bakery Cafe Fantastico & Fol Epi. They have a lovely sunny patio for warm days. Our daughter recommends the croissants.
young girl standing in front of Wooly Mammoth statue at Royal BC Museum.
Wooly Mammoth at Royal BC Museum

Visit the Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum is one of our  favorite things to do in Victoria with kids. It’s especially cool with their fun and interactive exhibits, interesting First Nations culture, and natural history. 

Check out the totem poles outside in Thunderbird Park, at the corner of Belleville and Douglas streets. 

Imax is always a hit with the kids, and great for those rainy Victoria days. 

Add the Royal BC Museum to your Vancouver Island Bucket List.

LOCAL TIP: Grab a picnic Lunch at Red Fish Blue Fish for fresh local seafood, served outdoors in the pier. The chowder, fish tacos and halibut or the grilled salmon are our go-to yummy picks.

Count Flowers & Stroll Gardens

One can’t visit Victoria without taking in the vibrant colors of gardens in full bloom

If you are visiting in spring be sure to visit the cherry blossom lined streets. View Street, lower Blanshard Street and Belleville Street are popular places to see them downtown.

Butchart Gardens and Beacon Hill Park are two of the most amazing collections of gardens combined with fun activities for kids. If you only have one day, choose either Beacon Hill Park or Butchart Gardens. If you have more time you can do both!

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens is world famous for its sprawling blossoms, meandering walkways amongst trees and stunning landscaped beds. A wonderful addition to your 3 days in Victoria.

Flowers bloom from about March to October, but they are open year round. It is a bit pricey at  $38/ adult in the summer, less for kids and cheaper in the off seasons.

Many people take a day tour to Butchart Gardens from Vancouver.

Butchart Gardens is located in Brentwood Bay and perfect for a leisurely family visit. Families will love:

  • Stroller friendly trails

  • Saturday fireworks in July & August

  • Gelato from the Gelateria in the Italian Garden

  • Rose Carousel – ride on wooden shaped animals

  • Family Discovery Walk Guide – draw pictures and answer questions as your kids climb over bridges, hop on stones, and view fountains.

  • Seasonal activities
    • Ice Skating and Christmas Lights in winter
    • Concerts Friday & Saturday nights in July & August
    • Greenhouse tours in Fall
Butchart Gradens, walkways filled with colorful flowers and trees
Butchart Gardens, Sunken Garden

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is the free option, and an easy 10 minute walk from the Royal BC Museum.

It’s a great choice, particularly if you have young kids (toddlers & preschoolers). Besides explosion of colorful  flowers, and garry oak groves you’ll find:

  • Stroller friendly trails

  • Petting Zoo ( by donation) – Open daily 9-5 seasonally

  • Roaming peacocks

  • Playgrounds & picnic spots

  • Weekend outdoor concerts
  • Free water parks & giant watering can
  • Lots of space to run around, climb trees, and even do a little golf putting

Continue walking to Dallas Road to find expansive ocean views showcasing the west coast,  wild Pacific Ocean and one of the tallest totem poles.

Youg girl smiling stiitng in the crook of a large tree branch in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC.
Beacon Hill Park: Huge Sequoia Tree to climb and take family photos
LOCAL TIPS: Climb the old Sequoia tree across from the Petting Zoo and take a fun family photo.

Then grab an ice cream cone from the Beacon Drive-In (126 Douglas Street) nearby. Serving smiles and ice cream since 1958. 

👉 More of the best parks & playgrounds in Victoria, BC to visit with kids

DAY 2: Victoria’s Old Town, Whale Watching & Beach

On day two of your Victoria BC, 3 day itinerary, you’ll be heading for a stroll around Victoria’s Old Town, taking a whale watching tour,  then grabbing some sun and sand at a favorite beach for a little relaxation.

Stroll Victoria Old Town &  Chinatown

Day two here we come!

Head down to Victoria Old Town, a short walk from the Parliament Buildings and the Inner Harbour.

Here you will discover the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Wander the “the narrowest street in the country” Fan Tan Alley and see the Gates of Harmonious Interest.

Young girl standing in front of shops at narrow Fan Tan Alley, Victoria BC itinerary.
Fan Tan Alley, is a fun, historic place to stop on your Victoria, BC itinerary
LOCAL TIP: Pick up a map of the historic area at the Visitors Centre. To see where all the oldest and coolest buildings are located. 

See Orcas, Humpback Whales, Seal Lions on a Whale Watching Tour

Vancouver Island is home to some of the best whale watching in Canada.

Spotting orcas, humpbacks & sea lions in their natural habitat happens along the coast of the Salish Sea and Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is prime feeding ground, so you are 95% guaranteed a successful sightseeing trip. 

Grab your whale watching tour from the Inner Harbour area. They depart a few times daily. 

While it is possible to see whales any time of the year, the peak Victoria whale watching season is from May to October. 

Check Availability of favourite Whale Watching Tour

Beach Time

No weekend in Victoria, BC is complete without a visit to the beach.

Our two favorite beaches for families are Willow’s Beach and Gyro Park & beach. Both are fantastic options for kids, close to downtown Victoria.

Gyro Park has the best playground in Victoria for kids. So if you have younger kids and are looking to run off some energy, it’s a great choice. 

Drive along the scenic Beach Drive to get to both beaches. A drive worthy in its own right. Many cute places to pull over and take in views looking over to the States, a lighthouse, and even small beaches to explore. 

They both make our list of the best parks in Victoria with kids.

If you only have a day or two in Victoria, then choose one beach. Willow’s is closer to downtown, so we will start here.

Kids playgrounds at Willow's Beach, with picnic tables and the ocean in the background.
Willow’s Beach Playground, Beach and Picnic Areas

Willow’s Beach, Victoria BC Canada

Kids (and their adults) need some down time, so a beach visit any time of year is recommended.

Willow’s is one we visit often due to the two playgrounds, its long sandy shore, plus the shaded grassy area. 

Not to mention the annual Oak Bay Tea Party which takes place in the park over a weekend in June.

The shallow protected waters are perfect for the littles to dip their toes or take a swim. It is the Pacific Ocean, so not overly warm. 

LOCAL TIP: Bring a blanket and have a picnic on the shady grassy area, or at one of the many picnic tables with oceanfront views.

For food there is a concession stand & Tea House right at the beach. Or walk up to Estevan Village only 10 minutes away and grab some tasty treats & coffee from the Sunday’s Child cafe.

Gyro Park

Gyro Park gets the vote for the most unique park in Victoria.

Kids will love exploring and climbing all over the giant sea creatures and pirate ship. The giant octopus is a fun place to take a family photo. 

The sandy beach is perfect for treasure hunting, with ample logs to rest against, or try to walk along. 

It’s also close to the University of Victoria, and Cadboro Bay Village, where you’ll find a pub, a small well stocked grocery store and a couple of restaurants. It’s also makes our list of top parks to visit in Victoria with kids

Young girl in sunglasses standing on a large concrete octopus play structure. Victoria BC with kids.
Gyro Park & Beach Area

DAY 3: Hiking, High Tea & Sightseeing

3 Day Itinerary Victoria, BC

Day three of our recommeded 3 day itinerary in Victoria, BC involves:

  • Hiking at Goldstream Provincial Park
  • High Tea at the Empress
  • Downtown Victoria Sightseeing
  • Sunset over Victoria from Mt. Tolmie

Ready for some more fantastic family activities in Victoria, BC?

To top off your long weekend adventure you will be heading out of town a little for the first stop. We are big outdoor and family hike fans, so today we recommend the iconic Goldstream Park and then returning to downtown for some more kid friendly sightseeing. 

Hike at Goldstream Park

Goldstream Provincial Park is only 16km north of Victoria, but it feels like a world away as you step into this old growth temperate rainforest. 

Here you will find a variety of trails, from easy wheelchair accessible one’s along the meandering river, to vigorous climbs to the top of Mount Finlayson.

This area is home to 600 year old Douglas Fir trees, cascading waterfalls, a train trestle and the Fall  spawning grounds of salmon.

The hike to Niagara Falls (no not THOSE Niagara Falls) can be reached by hiking a short 1.3 km round-trip trail.

young child running down a path in west coast forest of Goldstream Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, BC
West coast temperate rainforest of Goldstream Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, BC

Downtown Victoria Sightseeing

In the afternoon you can head back downtown for more sightseeing. Here are a few fun ideas to choose from depending on your energy levels and ages of your children. Ideas include:

  • High Tea at the Empress
  • Cruise the Inner Harbour on a Harbour Ferry or Taxi
  • Find the largest ant colony in Canada at the Bug Zoo
  • Be the biggest kid in town at Miniature World
  • Walk the Breakwater

Looking for more ideas? We have a complete list of things to do in Victoria. That are either free or very cheap, kids (and their adults) will love.

High Tea at the Empress

High Tea at the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel  is an experience.

Choose from 21 types of tea and an assortment of  flaky scones, and pastries from locally sourced ingredients. Set in the airy and elegant Lobby Lounge. 

Seatings are at 11:00am | 1:00pm | 3:00pm and reservations are recommended. 

To be honest I find High Tea overrated and expensive, and would rather spend my time (and money) doing other family activities in Victoria. 

However, it is a famous experience, and one many visitors love.

Their Prince & Princess Afternoon Tea is aimed at the 5 to 12 crowd and is  $45 per person.

Get all dressed up for a fun family High Tea adventure. Pinkies up!

Cruise around the Waterways on a Harbour Ferry 

A fun way to get around Victoria’s Inner Harbour is to take the small Harbour Ferry. 

Options include purchasing a Harbour Tour or a Gorge Cruise. Both start at $33 / adults, less for kids and Seniors. 

Or grab the water taxi and hop on and off various points (look for the Ferry Stop signs at major waterfront locations). 

Victoria Water Taxi & Floating House boats near FIsherman's Wharf. Fun tings to do with kids in VIctoria, BC.
Victoria Water Taxi & Floating House boats near FIsherman’s Wharf

Be the big kids in town at the Bug Zoo or Miniature World

Bug Museum, Bug Hotel, Bug Zoo. Whatever you call it, the Victoria Bug Zoo is a stop not to miss with bug loving kids.

Experience over 50 species of live tropical bugs from walking sticks to tarantulas. It also has the biggest ant colony in Canada.

Then visit “The Greatest Little Show On Earth!” at Miniature World. Imagine rooms filled with teeny tiny towns, people and the smallest working sawmill. 

Looking for more ideas? We have a complete list of free and cheap things to do in Victoria, BC you’ll want to check out. 

Walk the Breakwater

Walking the Breakwater at Ogden Point is a favourite for locals and visitors alike.

This 30 min easy round trip stroll ends in a small lighthouse.

Watch out for the Na’Tsa’ Maht – The Unity Wall, painted on the side of the breakwater. Which depicts the history of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations.

This is a prime spot to view cruise ships, seagulls, people fishing off the rocks and the sunset.

Sunset Views from Mt. Tolmie

Mt. Tolmie is a popular place to watch the sunset for both locals and visitors. It gets quite busy, so come early to grab a prime parking spot.

It’s known as the best place to view the city.

You’ll have 180° views of Victoria, plus the Olympic Mountains, San Juan Islands, and Mount Baker in Washington State on a clear day.

As it’s adjacent to Uvic, and close to Gyro Park, you can also stop here on your way back downtown if you visit Gryo Park.

Where to Stay: 3 Days in Victoria

If you are only planning a short trip to Victoria, then staying in or close to downtown is easiest. As you’ll be within walking distance of all the major attractions, sites and the ocean. Here are our top hotel picks:

  • Top Pick for FamiliesVictoria Regent Hotel & Suites is recommended for their spacious, harbourview suites, that sleep up to six and their fantastic convenient location downtown. The harbour views will be sure to keep the kids entertained. The size of their 2 bedroom suites are comfortable at 1200-1800 sq. feet, giving you the extra room you need.
  • Budget friendly pick – Hotel Zed – This funky hotel will have your kids hopping up and down with excitement, as there are many cool kid friendly touches. Such as the pool with  a 3-storey waterslide. Plus there’s a ping pong table, bikes for loan and more. It’s not right downtown, but close by within walking distance. Rent their Zedstream for some urban glamping. 

If you prefer a homier feel, then this may be more your style:

  • 2-bed Oak Bay House near Willow’s Beach – Escape the hustle & bustle of downtown Victoria, at this cute Oak Bay suite. Great location close to the beach, restaurants, coffee shops, and a short drive to downtown Victoria.

HOW TO GET TO VICTORIA?

As Victoria is located on Vancouver Island you will need to arrive by boat, ferry or fly in. Typically most visitors arrive from Vancouver, BC in Canada or Seattle /  Port Angeles, WA in the USA. 

BC Ferry sailing close to an island
Our favourite “family cruise.” Watch out for orcas while riding the BC Ferries.

How to get to Victoria, BC from Vancouver

  • By Ferry -Tswwassen Terminal to Swartz Bay (about 30 km north of Victoria). Then either drive, take a taxi or bus #70 downtown.
  • First class Coach Transfer – Transport is by comfortable motorcoach and the BC Ferry that has multiple departure times, seven days a week.
  • Love flying? Take a seaplane flight / tour which will have you soaring over  fantastic views of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver’s downtown and Stanley Park, the Salish Sea and the Gulf Islands. Landing right in the Inner Harbour. 
  • Day tour from Vancouver to Victoria – There are many options of day tours from Vancouver to Victoria. Most include the ferry ride, a trip to the Butchart Gardens, and touring the dowtown or local sites.
PRO TIP: Make a ferry reservation as it can get very busy over the summer, weekends, and especially holidays. Arrive at least an hour before departure. If you miss the ferry, the next one will be in about 2 hours. Total time is about 4 hours from Vancouver to downtown Victoria, including the 90 minute sailing time.

How to get from Seattle to Victoria, BC

  • Passenger only ferry – The Victoria Clipper is the fastest, and most direct route from dowtown Seattle to Victoria. This 2 hour and 45 minute ride leaves from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle before docking at the Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria, BC’s Inner Harbor.
  • Vehicle & passenger ferryM.V. Coho (Black Ball Ferry Line) – A 90-minute vehicle and passenger ferry between Port Angeles, WA and the Inner Harbour Victoria, BC. You can drive on, or walk on so is a better option if you want to travel by car.

FAQs

How do I spend 3 days in Victoria, BC?

There a many ways to spend 3 days in Victoria, BC. A must do is walking around downtown and visiting Chinatown, the Parliament Buildings and Inner Harbour, Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon Hill Park and the Royal BC Museum. Followed by outdoor activities such as whale watching, strolling Butchart Gardens, hiking in Goldstream or Mount Doug Park. WIth many delicious eateries and brew pubs you can finish off your days with a great meal.

How many days do you need in Victoria, BC?

While you can see the highlights of Victoria such as the Butchart Gardens and downtown in one day, you really need at least 2 – 3 days minimum. To get a feel for this west coast city, and move beyound the tourist attractions. You’ll want time to hike local trails at Mount Doug, or Goldstream. Visit beaches such as Willow’s, and grab coffee at Foi Epi across the harbor.

3 Days in Victoria, BC: Best Victoria Activities for Kids & Adults

So there you have our complete guide to the best family activities in Victoria. Whether you are taking a day trip, a weekend, or spending 3 days in Victoria with kids. I hope you enjoy the west coast and my gorgeous hometown.

What’s your favourite Victoria thing to do? Let me know in the comments belowe. I’d love to hear from you!

Looking for more family friendly tips and destinations on Vancouver Island? Try:


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