Looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Victoria, BC? Look no further than the best day trips from Victoria BC. Offering a diverse range of experiences for every kind of adventurer. Whether you’re seeking scenic vistas, outdoor adventures, or historic landmarks, Vancouver Island has it all.
With so many day trips from Victoria BC by car to choose from, it can be tough to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best day trips. Highlighting the most popular attractions and hidden gems that Vancouver Island has to offer. Starting at the southern tip of Vancouver Island and heading north.
Growing up in the beautiful city of Victoria I have been lucky enough to have explored the island from top to bottom. And taken many a friend, kid and family member on trips to all my favorite spots. Which I am so excited to share with you.
So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to cross some items off your Vancouver Island Bucket List!
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DAY TRIPS FROM VICTORIA, BC BY CAR
There are so many things to do in Victoria, BC, the capital of British Columbia .
From wandering Beacon Hill Park with its petting zoo, the Inner Harbour and visiting the Parliament Buildings. Learning at the Royal BC Museum. To eating fish and chips at Barb’s at Fisherman’s Wharf or at Red Fish Blue Fish.
Not to mention whale watching to see see orca whales, humpacks and other amazing coastal sea life.
Then there’s taking an iconic afternoon tea, and visiting Fan Tan Alley & the historic buildings in Victoria’s Chinatown. It’s the oldest in Canada.
When you’ve finished visiting the “Garden City,” there’s so much more to explore on Vancouver Island & and Vancouver on a day trip.
From the charming seaside town of Sooke, to the rugged landscapes of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and beautiful waterfalls & huge ancient trees. There’s a world of exploration waiting to be discovered.
Including the picturesque towns of Cowichan Bay and Chemainus, to the breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Marine Circle Route, there’s something for everyone.
And of course there’s famous Vancouver, BC.
So why wait? Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, these day trips from Victoria BC are not to be missed.
1. Butchart Gardens
If you’re looking for a quintessential Victoria day trip, look no further than the breathtaking Butchart Gardens. These stunning botanical gardens are a true gem of Vancouver Island, offering visitors an immersive experience that’s both educational and visually stunning.
You can take this express shuttle to Butchart Gardens from downtown Victoria, if you don’t have a car.
Begin your visit by exploring the Sunken Garden, a former limestone quarry that has been transformed into a tranquil oasis of flowers and foliage. From there, make your way to the Rose Garden, where over 250 varieties of roses bloom in stunning colors and fragrances.
Don’t miss the Japanese Garden, which offers a serene escape. For the kids, head to the Italian Garden for some gelato, and a spin or two (or 5 which happened last time for us) on the Carousel ride.
Be sure to visit the on-site Seed and Gift Store, where you can purchase a variety of seeds & souvenirs to take home.
And if you’re visiting during the summer months, don’t miss the Night Illuminations. Where the gardens are transformed into a magical wonderland of lights and music.
A visit to Butchart Gardens is a must-do for anyone on a Victoria day trip.
2. Private Day Tour to Waterfalls, Cathedral Grove Rainforest, and Coombs
Discover the breathtaking landscapes of Vancouver Island on this this all-day, private excursion from Victoria, showcasing Englishman River Falls, Little Qualicum Falls, and Cathedral Grove – a haven for some of the island’s tallest and most ancient trees.
Along the way, you’ll drop by a quaint country market (with Goats on the Roof), embark on rainforest hikes leading to mesmerizing waterfalls, and seize numerous photo opportunities. Gain insights into the island’s natural wonders and cultural heritage.
By journeying with a personal guide, you don’t have to worry about a thing.
This private tour accommodates up to eight individuals of your choice, ensuring an intimate and memorable experience. Plus your adventure can be customized to your preferences
3. Victoria to Vancouver by Seaplane
While I highly recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Vancouver, a day trip is definitely doable.
Kick off your adventure with an exhilarating seaplane flight from downtown Victoria to Vancouver, that provides a bird’s-eye view of the picturesque Gulf Islands
Once you’ve landed, make your way to Stanley Park. This urban park is 405 acres of forest, with walking paths, an aquarium, restaurants and much more. You could spend your whole day here.
A bike or walk along the seawall is a delightful way to soak in the park’s natural beauty and enjoy panoramic views of the city, mountains, and ocean.
⭐️ This fun half day guided tour of Stanley Park, Granville Island and through Gastown & Chinatown, takes all the stress out of planning.
Next, head over to the lively Granville Island by hopping on the water taxi. On the island, delight in the bustling Public Market, breweries, art galleries, and charming shops. The toy store is always a must with kids.
🏆 Take this tasty Granville Island Food Tour, a fun way to taste all the best local Vancouver products. Including Canadian cheeses, artisan chocolates, maple salmon, and more.
Finally, to cap off your day, venture to the enchanting Capilano Suspension Bridge, nestled amidst towering evergreens. Traverse the 450-foot-long bridge. While marveling at the lush forest and captivating Capilano River below.
With a day trip like this, you’re bound to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Sidney, BC, is a quaint town located just a quick 30 minute drive from downtown Victoria.
One of the most popular spots to visit is Sidney Spit, a small island located just off the coast. Take a ferry over to the island and spend the day exploring the beaches and trails. Or rent a kayak and paddle around the island’s pristine waters.
Back on the mainland, wander through the town’s many shops and galleries, where you’ll find everything from handmade jewelry to local artwork. Don’t miss the Sidney Pier, where you can watch the boats come in and out while enjoying a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants.
For a dose of local history, be sure to visit the Sidney Museum, where you can learn about the town’s roots as a fishing and farming community.
LOCAL TIP: Take the kids to our favourite Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. A small, yet fun aquarium and learning centre. We stop in every time we’re in Sidney.
Sidney, BC is a charming and picturesque destination that’s well worth a visit on a day trip from Victoria.
5. Saltspring Island
Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Victoria for a day? Consider a Saltspring Island day trip! This picturesque island is just a short ferry ride on BC Ferries from Swartz Bay, and offers visitors an arts, food and nature escape.
The Gulf Islands are magical, and not to be missed.
Start your day by visiting Ruckle Provincial Park. Where you can hike along the rocky coastline and through old-growth forests. Don’t miss the tide pools, where kids can get up close with a variety of sea creatures.
Next up, sample delicious cheese at the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company. Made right on the island. Kids will love meeting the goats that produce the milk used to make the cheese. Pop into their cafe in the summer for tasty pizzas, salads and their goat cheese cake.
There’s also wandering through the island’s many art galleries, studios, and fun shops where you can find everything from pottery to paintings, kids toys and west coast inspired gifts.
For a dose of history, visit the Salt Spring Island Historical Museum, where you can learn about the island’s First Nations history and early European settlers. Kids will love the interactive indoor & outdoor hands-on exhibits. Best of all, it’s free. Open Wednesday to Friday & Sunday (End of May to October).
LOCAL TIP: Don’t miss the famous Saltspring Island Saturday Market, where local artisans and farmers come together to sell their wares. We always try to time our day trips with the outdoor market which usually runs from April to October.
Saltspring Island is one of the best day trips you can take, offering a unique blend of art, nature, and culinary delights.
6. Pacific Marine Circle Route
A day trip along the Pacific Marine Circle Route showcases what the natural beauty of Vancouver Island is all about. Many of our other day trip recommendations can be seen along this route.
If you are looking for a relatively quick Vancouver Island road trip, this tops our recommendations.
This 255-kilometer drive takes you through stunning coastal landscapes, old-growth forests, and charming seaside towns. While it can be done in one day, it’s best to take at least a weekend, to really enjoy all the sites, vistas and activities each town has to offer.
Victoria to Sooke, Port Renfrew & Lake Cowichan
Starting in Victoria, you’ll head west along the coast & Highway 14 towards Sooke (a 45 minute drive) before turning north towards Port Renfrew.
- Sooke Potholes, and East Sooke Park are great places to spend some time in nature, hike or take a cool dip.
- In Port Renfrew, you can take a break and explore the beautiful beaches and trails of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, Botanical Beach & Avatar Grove.
Continuing inland, you’ll head to Lake Cowichan, on Pacific Marine Road. This used to be a dirt logging road, but has since been paved.
Pass through the Cowichan Valley. Known as a destination for swimming, fishing and floating in tubes down the Cowichan River on a hot summer’s day.
Then drive through the town of Duncan, known as the “City of Totems.” It’s a great place to stop and wander through the town’s historic streets, which are lined with charming shops and cafes.
As well as 40 magnificent carved totem poles. They each tell their own story. Duncan also has a fabulous Saturday Farmer’s Market.
Cowichan Bay back to Victoria
Next make a quick detour off Highway 1 to Cowichan Bay on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. Slow down and take in the beautiful vistas of this small maritime town.
Visit True Grain Bread, an old world style bakery, explore Indigenous art at the Arthur Vickers Gallery, and wander this lovely seaside town.
From Cowichan Bay, you’ve reached the final leg of your journey. We recommend heading over to the iconic Kinsol Trestle, one of the tallest free-standing timber trestles in the world. It’s a quick walk along an easy trail.
Finally, the drive will take you back to Victoria through the Malahat Drive, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and ocean. Stop at the Malahat Summit for amazing views of the Saanich Inlet and the Cowichan Valley.
One of our favorite Victoria parks, Goldstream is a good place to stop along the way. In fall you can even see the salmon run.
7. Malahat Skywalk
The Malahat Skywalk is fun for all ages.
Featuring a 250-meter-long elevated walkway that takes visitors through the treetops, Arbutus Trees, culminating in a spiral tower that offers 360-degree views of the area. See panoramic views of Mt. Baker, Finlayson Arm, the Saanich Peninsula, and more.
Plus it’s stroller & wheelchair accessible.
You can take their direct shuttle from downtown Victoria, if you don’t have a car.
Kids will love the adventure of walking through the canopy and spotting wildlife along the way. Then taking the fast route down on their Spiral Slide.
For the brave, step out onto their Adventure Net suspended above the centre of the tower.
It’s a great place to stop if you’re heading up island for further adventures.
8. Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle, along the Cowichan Valley Trail is an impressive wooden trestle bridge spanning the Koksilah River. It’s one of the largest free-standing wooden trestles in the world.
Originally built in 1920 as part of a rail line that connected Victoria to the interior of Vancouver Island. The Kinsol Trestle has since been converted into a hiking, biking and horseback riding trail that offers visitors a unique perspective on the surrounding landscape.
With a height of over 40 meters and a length of 187 meters, the Kinsol Trestle is a true engineering marvel that’s well worth a visit.
You can stop here on your way to Cowichan Bay (our next stop on Victoria day trips not to miss).
9. Cowichan Bay
Cowichan Bay is a charming seaside town located on Vancouver Island, and is the perfect destination for a family outing.
Take this epic whale watching tour for a chance to see Orcas, Humpback Whales, and other interesting sea life, leaving from Cowichan Bay.
Or start your day by exploring the Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre, where you can learn about the town’s rich history as a fishing and boat-building community. Kids will love the interactive exhibits and hands-on activities.
Next up, head to the Cowichan Bay Fishermen’s Wharf, where you can watch the local fisherman bring in their daily catch. Kids will love seeing the variety of fish and sea creatures up close.
Definitely don’t miss the Rock Cod Cafe for fish and chips.
For a fun outdoor adventure, take a kayak or paddle board around Cowichan Bay, where you can explore the local marine life and take in the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Finally, end your day with a visit to the Cowichan Bay Estuary Nature Centre, where you can learn about the local ecosystem and even spot some resident otters and seals.
All in all, Cowichan Bay is a great destination for families looking for a mix of education and adventure.
10. Cowichan Valley Wine Tasting Tour
If you’re a wine lover visiting Victoria, BC, you’re in luck! There are a variety of wine tasting tours from Victoria that offer visitors a chance to explore the local wine scene and sample some of the region’s best varietals.
One popular tour is this small group Cowichan Valley Wine & Food Tour, which takes visitors on a scenic drive through the picturesque Cowichan Valley. Along the way, you’ll visit a variety of wineries and taste some of the area’s best wines.
Another great option is the Saanich Peninsula Wine and Cider Tour, which takes visitors on a journey through the charming countryside of the Saanich Peninsula. You’ll visit a mix of wineries and cideries, and have the chance to taste some unique and delicious beverages.
A wine tasting tour from Victoria is the perfect day trip for anyone looking to explore the local wine scene and sample some of the region’s best wines.
11. Witty’s Lagoon
Witty’s Lagoon, is a beautiful coastal lagoon located just outside of Victoria, BC. It’s a popular destination for hikers, bird watchers and beach goers, especially in the summer.
One of the top things to do at Witty’s Lagoon is hiking, with several trails of varying length and difficulty to choose from. The Lagoon Trail is a popular option, as it passes by the Sitting Lady Falls, and the Whitney-Griffiths Point picnic area.
The Tower Point Trail is another must-see, with a scenic lookout that offers panoramic views of the ocean. It’s only 500m (one way) on a flat mixed gravel / dirt footpath, and is the most accessible section.
The Beach Trail is a popular option, and the one we usually take, as it ends at Witty’s Beach. Bring your beach blanket, & a picnic and take a stroll along the sandy beach. It’s a moderate 1.2 km forest trail.
LOCAL TIP: Stop at My Chosen Cafe for lunch after a morning beach day, if you want to forgo the beach picnic. This is our favorite restaurant in the area and a local gem.
Witty’s Lagoon is a worthwhile visit for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. With hiking trails of varying lengths and plenty of beach to enjoy, there’s something for everyone at this stunning coastal lagoon.
Consider heading to Sooke, BC, where you can explore some of the region’s fun coastal hikes, explore tidepools, and dip in a river. The following are a few ideas of where to stop and hike on your day trip to Sooke from Victoria.
Head to East Sooke Park, where you can hike the Coastal Trail through old-growth forests and along rocky coastlines. Keep an eye out for the iconic arbutus trees.
The full Coastal Trail is 10km and ranges from easy (at Aylward Farm) to more challenging, the further out you go. We usually just hike out 30-90 minutes and then return the same way.
LOCAL TIP: We recommend starting at the Aylard Farm Entrance. It’s the most family friendly for all ages. Plus there’s also a sandy beach right there if you don’t want to hike far.
For a fun and refreshing adventure, make your way to the Sooke Potholes, a series of crystal-clear pools and waterfalls that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Kids will love splashing around in the cool water and exploring the surrounding rocks.
If you’re looking to stretch your legs, the park offers short well-maintained forest hiking trails that winds through lush forests and affords picturesque views of the river.
Sooke Potholes Regional Park also makes for a good starting point for a bike trip on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. It’s a 55 km multi-use trail that runs from Victoria to Sooke. Bike south toward Roche Cove Regional Park.
The Spring Salmon Place (KWL-UCHUN) Campground is open May to September if you prefer to stay overnight at Sooke Potholes.
All in all, a day trip to Sooke, BC is the perfect way to escape the city and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. Don’t miss these must-see attractions, including Witty’s Lagoon, East Sooke Park, and the Sooke Potholes.
13. Port Renfrew
If you’re looking for a fun day trip from Victoria, BC, consider driving to Port Renfrew, a small coastal community located on the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island. A true Pacific Northwest experience, full of temperate rainforests, giant waves and equally as giant trees.
Here are some top things to do in Port Renfrew, including some family-friendly activities.
First on the list is Avatar Grove, a stunning old-growth forest that’s home to some of the largest and oldest trees on the island. Including the “gnarliest tree. ” Just a 20 minute drive north of Port Renfrew, this popular family friendly hiking trail is 1.2km of boardwalk.
Next up, head to Botanical Beach, a scenic coastal area known for its rich & diverse tide pools and unique rock formations.
Kids will love exploring the tide pools and spotting the various sea creatures that call them home. Just make sure you go at low-tide to make the most of the tide pools.
It is about a 20 minute scenic forest walk down to the rock & pebble beach along an interpretive trail. Just be prepared for the walk back up.
Hike part of the Juan de Fuca Trail. The trail follows Highway 14 and the Pacific Marine Circle Route from China Beach to Botanical Beach. A day hike can be as short or long as you like.
Whale Watching! Their season runs from May to October, so plenty of time to see orca, humpbacks and other marine life. Look to the sky for bald eagles.
Port Renfrew is a great destination for families looking to explore the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. So pack up the car and head out for a day of adventure in this charming coastal community.
14. Juan de Fuca Trail
Speaking of the Juan de Fuca Trail, this scenic hiking trail spans over 47 kilometers along the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island.
I spent a summer building trails here in my youth, back when it was first being created. Showing my age lol!
One of the top things to see on the Juan de Fuca Trail is the stunning natural scenery, including ancient forests, rocky coastlines, and secluded beaches (like Mystic Beach with its waterfall). Don’t miss the chance to spot some of the local wildlife, including bald eagles, black bears, and gray whales.
There are four main entrances to the trail, each with its own unique features and section lengths. These include China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek, and Botanical Beach. Depending on your fitness level and time constraints, you can choose a section of the trail that fits your needs.
Chemainus is famous for its stunning murals that decorate many of the buildings in the town. These intricate works of art depict the area’s rich history and cultural heritage, and are a must-see for anyone visiting the town.
In addition to the murals, Chemainus is home to a bustling Wednesday market where you can sample local produce and browse handmade crafts and artisanal goods. Popping into their charming boutique stores, is another favorite (antique stores, art galleries, gift shops, & our favorite Hansel & Gretl’s candy shop).
If you’re visiting with kids, take them for a play and wander at Waterwheel Park, or fishing or swimming at Fuller Lake Park.
LOCAL TIP: The Chemainus Theatre puts on some of the best local plays I’ve ever seen. It’s a fun date to take in their brunch and one of the 4 or 5 plays they put on each year.
16. Parksville & Qualicum Beach
Parksville and Qualicum Beach are two charming towns located just about a 2 hour drive from Victoria. They’re both a fun day trip from Victoria, especially with kids and are home to some of Vancouver Island’s best beaches.
In Parksville, you can spend your day exploring beaches at Rathtrevor Beach or Parksville Beach, with plenty of space to relax and soak up the sun. I spent many summers here as a kid, and teen, and take my own kids here regularly.
Parksville offers a long stretch of sandy beach, which is perfect for building sandcastles or playing beach games. With shallow, protected waters, perfect for toddlers and babies too.
Parksville Community Park is the playground, with space to kite fly, an outdoor gym and plenty of space to run around.
More things to do in & near Parksville, BC with (or without) kids.
There are also plenty of outdoor activities nearby, including hiking trails, mini golf, golf courses, and water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.
In Qualicum Beach, you can take the kids to the Qualicum Beach Museum, which has a collection of artifacts from the area’s history. The town also has plenty of quaint shops and cafes, perfect for a leisurely stroll.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a short drive to the nearby Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park, which offers guided caving tours of the park’s fascinating underground caves.
Or take an easy hike through old-growth and second-growth forests of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple to either Qualicum Falls or Englishman River Falls.
Coombs, our next recommendation below is just a short drive away.
17. Goats on the Roof, Coombs
Looking for a unique day trip destination from Victoria, BC? Try Coombs, where you can witness the famous “Goats on the Roof”. Yes, you read that right – there really are goats living on the roof of the Old Country Market.
But that’s not all there is to see here. The Old Country Market is also a great spot to shop for local produce, baked goods, and souvenirs.
And if you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of food vendors serving up delicious eats. Like our usual stop for an eclectic mix of Billy G’s donuts and of course ice cream for our daughter.
The town also hosts events throughout the year, such as the Coombs Bluegrass Festival and the Coombs Fair.
To get to Coombs from Victoria, it’s about a 2 hour drive along the scenic Highway 4. So pack up the car, bring your camera, and get ready to see some goats on the roof in Coombs, BC.
18. Cathedral Grove
Immerse yourself in the ancient splendor of Cathedral Grove, a protected old-growth forest in MacMillan Provincial Park.
Stand in awe beneath the towering Douglas firs, some of which are over 800 years old, and breathe in the crisp, clean air as you connect with nature.
Such a magical place. I try to stop here whenever I am in the area.
LOCAL TIP: Make a day of it and see Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Cathedral Grove & Coombs. They’re all relatively close and well worth a visit on a day trip from Victoria.
19. Bike the Galloping Goose Trail
The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is a 55 km multi-use trail that runs from Victoria to Sooke. You can bike ride part or all of it on a day trip from Victoria, Canada.
Originally a railway line, it has been transformed into a multi use path connecting with the Great Trail across Canada.
You’ll pass by farmland, lakes, marshland, rocky outcrops and more.
Popular Galloping Goose Day trips include
- Victoria to Thetis Lake Regional Park (11km one way). Spend the day at Thetis swimming, hiking or fishing.
- Park at the Galloping Goose parking lot on Rocky Point Road and follow the trail to Matheson Lake, then Roche Cove Regional Parks (5km one way) then onto Sooke Potholes (another 13km one way).
If you are starting from downtown Victoria, cross the Johnson Street bridge,onto the paved path that connects to Harbour Road and the trail.
LOCAL TIP: ☕️ Stop in at Dockside Green for some tasty croissants, pastries and coffee at Fol Epi & Cafe Fantastico. A local gem.
20. Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream is a lovely park, perfect for a family friendly day trip. It also makes our list of our favorite Victoria area parks for families.
There’s a series of easy trails along the water, picnic areas with firepits, camping and hiking. In the Fall people come from all over to see the Salmon Run & Bald Eagles they attract.
The Goldstream Trestle Trail is a flat, 3.5 km roundtrip easy trail that follows the old railway bed through the park. Past the Trestle.
For the more adventurous, a hike up Mount Finlayson offers a rewarding challenge with stunning panoramic views of Victoria & Valley. It’s a 6km rugged loop.
Another trail leads you to a 47.5 metres tall waterfall.
You’ll wander through forests full of 600 year old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees along the river. Then arbutus trees, and lodgepole pine in the drier areas.
Final Thoughts: Day Trips from Victoria, BC Not to Miss
And there you have it – 20 incredible day trips from Victoria, BC, that promise to make your time on Vancouver Island truly unforgettable.
Each destination offers its own unique charm, from the vibrant colors of Butchart Gardens to the quirky goats grazing on a rooftop in Coombs.
An exhilarating seaplane ride to Vancouver & a walk through iconic Stanley Park, tasty food at Granville Island.
Or exploring underground caves & a waterfall.
With such a diverse range of experiences to choose from, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a foodie.