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Victoria, BC is one of the most beautiful and well known cities in Canada. While there are no end of options to spend a lot of money, you do not have break your piggy bank to enjoy all Victoria has to offer. There is an abundance of free and cheap things to do in Victoria for kids (and adults).
Victoria was the playground and back drop of my childhood. These are my top list of places I return to again and again, with my kids, family and friends each year.
Looking for fun family friendly things to do in Victoria, BC that won’t break your budget? Read on for outdoor, and rainy day activities you can do with your family, all year round.
FUN & CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA
British Columbia is one of the best places to visit in the world, as well as in Canada, but I may just be biased as I am from Victoria. From mountains to oceans, and desert like climates to west coast island vibes. It’s an outdoor adventurers dream.
Many people take the ferry from Seattle or Vancouver. As there’s ample family friendly activities to keep you busy and entertained for a long weekend, a week or more.
That’s why we’ve highlighted some of the best cheap family things to do in Victoria and close by.
1. Explore The Royal BC Museum
Royal BC Museum is one of the best family acitivities in Victoria, BC, for those rainy Victoria days, and trust me they happen frequently especially in the Winter and Spring.
The human history section takes you through 10, 000 years of history of First Nation, Euro-American, European and Asian cultures in what is now known as British Columbia.
The Royal BC Museum is always some place I bring my kids to again and again. It really is one of the best cheap things to do in Victoria this weekend, or week, or anytime really.
Hours: Open 10am – 5pm daily.
Museum Cost: Free under 5, $11 Youth 6-18yrs, $18 adults. Indigenous People are free. Look for Community Days which are by donation.
⭐️ Add these to the perfect 3 Day itinerary to Victoria BC with kids.
2. View Gallery of Totem Polls at Thunderbird Park
Thunderbird Park is home to an outdoor gallery of totem poles and a traditional Kwakwaka‘wakw “big house”. It is located next door to the Royal BC Museum where you can often watch cool demos done by local artists.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the totem poles and their restoration efforts check out the Royal BC Museum website.
⭐️ Fun Day Trip Ideas from Victoria the whole family will love.
3. Stroll The Inner Harbour Causeway
Visit the epicentre of downtown Victoria, and wander the causeway in front of the Legislative buildings and the Empress Hotel. During the summer months especially, this area is full of street performers, artisans, First Nations artists, food vendors and people.
The Inner Harbour is an amazing spot to people watch and catch a performance from May to September. Don’t forget your camera!
LOCAL TIP: Learn Victoria’s interesting history (and scandals) with this inexpensive & fun historical walking tour of dowtown Victoria, that starts at Inner Harbour.
Cost: Free thing to do in Victoria, BC
4. Visit The Petting Zoo at Beacon Hill Park
The Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, locally known as the Petting Zoo, brings farm animals to us city folk. This has been an iconic spot to visit for generations of our family and for the Victoria population.
Wander around this urban mini farm featuring miniature horses, peacocks, alpacas, rabbits, chickens, and our favourite, the pot bellied pigs.
The highlight for kids and adults alike are the adorable baby goats to pet, brush and have climb on your back. Watch out for dangling bits of cloth and hair, these kids love to nibble.
Hours: 10am – 5pm seasonally.
Cost: By donation
LOCAL TIP: GO FOR THE GOAT STAMPEDE!!! Held daily at 10:10am and 5:10pm. Think running of the bulls for kids! The petting zoo is open seasonally so check out their website for opening times and hours, and latest updates.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf & Park
Wander the docks at Fisherman’s Wharf, an eclectic village of food kiosks, shops and colorful house boats located in downtown Victoria. One of the more colorful free things to do in Victoria.
Enjoy views of Vic West across the harbour, and the occasional seal looking for food. Ponder what it is like to live on a house boat (some houseboats are rented out as a fun place to stay ).
Grab some lunch and head across the parking lot to the Fisherman’s Wharf Park for a picnic. Here you will find picnic benches, a nautical themed play/climb area, and large grassy knolls.
Plenty of room for the kids to run their energy out.
We like to take our fish & chips from Barb’s to-go, and then head over to the park for a picnic.
Cost: Free to wander around.
👉 Check out our favourite parks & Playgrounds in Victoria, BC
6. Walk The Breakwater at Ogden Point
Taking a stroll along the Breakwater pathway is a popular local’s weekend activity and a fun family friendly thing to do in Victoria, BC Canada.
Jutting out from Dallas Road towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the breakwater ends at a small lighthouse. This cement structure is 1.6km roundtrip and takes about 30 minutes to walk.
Look 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.
This stroll is one of our favorite free things to do in Victoria, BC, and something we regularly do each time we visit.
LOCAL TIP: You can walk along the lower level on the left side & there’s a few staircases up to the top along the way. We don’t recommend taking this route on rainy or stormy days as the waves can wash over the rock path.
7. Bike, Stroller, Walk The Dallas Road Waterfront Pathway
The Dallas Road Waterfront Pathway runs 4km from Holland Point Park to Hollywood Crescent. You will pass the Mile Zero monument, Beacon Hill Park, Spiral Beach and Clover Point.
This dedicated off road path is the perfect jumping off point for many small beaches. Collect beach glass, rocks and and enjoy the sunshine. Keep an eye out for the signs & pathways that will take you right down to the beaches.
Any of these small beaches along the way top the list of fun free things to do in Victoria.
This path is also suitable for strollers, joggers, and walkers, both of the dog and human variety.
Location: Dallas Road
8. Fly A Kite At Clover Point
Clover Point is a popular spot to park, watch the ocean waves and walk along the Dallas Road waterfront pathway. Kids will love flying kites at this windy point.
You can also watch paragliders coast along the bluff’s edge and windsurfers and kiteboarders below. If you are brave you can even try that out yourself.
👉 Grab more ideas with this Vancouver Island Bucket List
9. Guided Walking Tours
Explore the mysteries of haunted Victoria, learn the secret stories of criminals or glimpse what Victoria was like during the Gold rush. Or learn more about the history of Victoria’s Chinatown.
A guided walking tour is an interesting way to experience Victoria:
- Historical Walking Tour – Explore dowtown Victoria, starting at Inner Harbour, to learn about the interesting history (and scandals) of Victoria.
- Ghostly Walking Tour – Explore some of Victoria’s most haunted sites at night on a guided ghost tour.
- Chinatown Walking Tour – Delve into the exciting past of Canada’s oldest Chinatown, in Victoria, British Columbia
Cost: $21 / per adult, less for kids
10. Wind Your Way Through Chinatown & Fan Tan Alley
Wind your way through Chinatown. Stop first at the Gates of Harmonious Interest and then enter Fan Tan Alley, “the narrowest street in the country.”
Here you will find locally owned shops offering clothing, jewellry, decor, natural body products, ice cream, and more. Perfect for an hour of window shopping.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Victoria Chinatown is the second oldest in North America, after San Fansisco, and the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Learn more about the history of Chinatown.
LOCAL TIP: Head to the Don Mee’s for Dim Sum, and the Wah Lai Yuen Bakey for delicious sweet buns. My favourite are the coconut filled ones.
More Cheap & Free Things to Do With Kids in Victoria, BC
11. Browse Local Goods At Public Markets
Local Farmers Markets are a good way to support local growers, artisans, artists, musicians and food vendors. They also make for an entertaining afternoon with the kids.
The Moss Street Market and the Victoria Public Market (located in the historic Hudson building downtown) are open year round. Others are more seasonal.
Some of my favourite are the outdoor markets which typically run May to October:
- James Bay Market ( Corner of Menzies Street & Superior Street) – Saturdays May to September from 9am – 3pm
- Moss Street Market (1350 Fairfield Rd) – Saturdays May to October 10am – 2pm and November to March 10am – 1pm
- Oaklands Sunset Market (2827 Belmont Ave) – Wednesdays June 30 – September 1 4:30-8:30pm
🚗 Grab more Victoria itinerary ideas with these day trips to make from Victoria, Canada
12. Play Video Games at Qazar’s Arcade
Introduce your children to the games of your childhood at Qazar’s Arcade. Quazar’s is an all ages 80’s inspired arcade, with a large selection of vintage and new pinball machines they rotate.
Derek & the kids always make a date to hang out at Quazar’s at least once every time we’re back.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 12pm to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 10am to 11pm & Sunday 10am-10pm
Cost: 1 token is $0.50. Most games cost 1 token, most pinball machines cost 2 tokens.
13. Board Games at Interactivity Board Game Cafe
Playing a board game at Victoria’s first board game cafe, the Interactivity Board Game Cafe would be an awesome family activity in Victoria. They have over 800 games to choose from and over 30+ flavours of milkshakes.
Or shop at their retail store, with Victoria’s largest selection of board games to buy.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 11pm and Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – Midnight
Cost: $6 / per person ($3 under 12) to stay and play. Choose the Family Friendly side with the kids, or the separate 19+licensed section for just the adults.
👉 You may also like our ultimate list of Kid Friendly Trip Snacks
14. Walk or Bike Along the Galloping Goose Trail
Head out on the Galloping Goose, a multi-use 55 km trail. Enjoy a bike ride or a walk through farmland, wilderness, and urban landscapes. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all!
The trail begins at the south end of Selkirk Trestle at the foot of Alston Street in Vic West. Download one of their maps onto your phone.
You can rent bikes at a few places downtown, including Victoria Bike Rentals.
LOCAL TIP: Our favourite snack stop for a delicious croissant and coffee along the way is at Fol Epi organic bakery and Caffe Fantastico, an organic fair trade coffee/deli shop. Both are located at 398 Harbour Rd in Dockside Green, just over the bridge from downtown Victoria.
FREE FAMILY THINGS TO DO IN VICTORIA (OR VERY CHEAP)
There’s much more to see and do outside of downtown Victoria, its a good idea to carve out some time for exploration further afield.
Not only can you find endless kid-friendly free things to do in Victoria and nearby, there are also alot of inexpensive family activities in Victoria that won’t break the bank.
15. Cheap Things To Do In Victoria, BC: Swim At The Commonwealth Pool
Kids will love spending a day in this mini waterpark like setting.
The Commonwealth Pool has something for all age groups. There is a shallow tot pool, a wave pool with shipwreck, a waterslide, diving boards, steam room, hot tub and sauna. Our youngest always ropes her older sister to take her to this pool, as she loves it.
Plus the water isn’t ice cold, and it can be a nice break.
Add this to your rainy day list of things to with kids in Victoria, BC.
⭐️ Check out all our family travel resources here
16. Cool Off At A Water / Splash Park in Victoria
Cool off at one of 9 Victoria Water Parks. Kids love water. Waterparks are a great way to spend a sunny day, when you don’t want to be emptying sand from your shoes for the next two weeks.
- Watering Can at Beacon Hill Park – off Douglas Street (Victoria)
- Rotary Water Park – Carnarvon Park, Henderson Road (Oak Bay)
- Beckwith Water Park – Beckwith Avenue & Quadra Street (Saanich)
- Fraser Street Adventure Park – 535 Fraser Street, (Esquimalt)
- Splash Park at City Centre Park – 1089 Langford Parkway (Langford)
- Glen Lake Beach Park – Shoreview Drive (Langford)
- Spray Park in Centennial Park – Carlow Road (Langford)
- Langford Lake – Leigh Road (Langford)
- Iroquois Park – Fifth Street & Ocean Avenue (Sidney)
17. Canoe, Swim, Hike at Elk / Beaver Lake
The ocean water temperature around Victoria is COLD, so if you want to go swimming, head to a local lake. Elk / Beaver Lake has something for everyone. You can swim, canoe, hike, fish, picnic, and even ride horses on the equestrian trails.
If your family is up for a 2 hour hike, try the easy 10km loop around Elk & Beaver Lake. It’s a fairly flat, well marked path with some exposed rocks and roots.
18. Climb Mount Douglas
Drive, or hike to the top of this urban forest park. You’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city, as well as views of Saanich Inlet and the Straights of Georgia and Haro.
Mount Doug has 21 km of well marked trails for all different fitness levels, beach access and washroom facilities.
This was one of my favourite places to hike with friends, when my daughter was a baby in her Ergo carrier. It also has dog friendly trails to take your favourite furry friend. We love these trails, especially on hot days as a top free thing to do in Victoria.
LOCAL TIP: Drive to the top of Mount Doug from the entrance off Cedar Hill Road, if you don’t have time to walk up, or need accessible access
19. View The City From Mount Tolmie
Mount Tolmie, located near Uvic offers a spectacular 360 degree view of the city. On a clear day you can also see Mount Baker, the Olympic Mountains, and the San Juan Islands in the distance.
The summit is accessible by car, or by hiking some of the 1.5km of trails through garry oak forest. This is one of the best free things to do in Victoria, BC.
LOCAL TIP: Visit Mount Tolmie at sunrise. The summit will be far quieter than at sunset, the most popular time of day.
20. Walk The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary
The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is a lesser known gem in Victoria. You can enjoy a walk through the marshland of Swan Lake or the rockier Garry oak meadow on Christmas Hill.
The Swan Lake loop is an easy 2.5km which makes it a great thing to do with kids in Victoria. The marshland is home to many bird species, wildlife and native flora and fauna, perfect for the budding naturalist and bird watcher.
The Christmas Hill trail is a bit more challenging, with the summit at 109 metres above sea level. Visit in Spring for the carpet of wildflowers that bloom across the meadow.
Be sure to stop in at the Nature House and browse their library of natural history books, and visit their bee hive.
LOCAL TIP: Pick up some duck food in the gift shop at the Nature House before you start your walk. The ducks and your kids will greatly appreciate it.
21. Take A Guided Hike Or Program
Nature lovers unite! The CRD Regional Parks Program offers guided walks hikes and programs for free. Most are drop-in, unless otherwise noted, and run 1.5 – 2 hours rain or shine. Their events page lists all upcoming programs.
LOCAL TIP: Book ahead, as the programs fill up quickly.
22. Free Activities Victoria – Francis/King Regional Park
Francis / King Regional Park offers eleven kilometres of gentle woodland trails from the accessible Elsie King trail, to the moderate level Centennial Trail.
The Elsie King Trail, is an accessible 800 metre interpretive trail on cedar boardwalk. This forest loop has rest areas with benches, a shelter and an accessible toilet and water fountain.
Experience 500 year old Douglas Fir trees in Heritage Grove, some of the tallest in the region.
Any of the regional parks are great free places to visit in Victoria with family.
23. Learn About Sea Creatures At Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is a new addition to our family favourites. This aquarium is located on the Sidney waterfront, on the traditional territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) people.
The aquarium is home to over 3,500 animals from the Salish Sea. Kid favourites are watching the floating jelly fish, the orca skeleton and the hands-on-experiences in the touch tidal pools. Beautiful Coast Salish art is found throughout.
Hours: Every day but Wednesday 10am to 5pm (must enter by 4:30pm)
Cost: Annual family membership costs $86.50. Daily passes vary.
LOCAL TIP: Passes are good for the day. Take a wander around Sidney, have a picnic by the water, then return to the aquarium for another look.
24. Cheap Things to do In Victoria: Explore Fort Rodd Hill Historic Site
Fort Rodd Hill is a fun destination for a half or full day excursion by the sea not far from downtown Victoria.
Explore secret bunkers, meander through garry oak meadows and take a 10 minute stroll to Canada’s oldest West Coast Lighthouse, the Fisgard Lighthouse.
If you are looking for a fun family activity in Victoria or nearby you can’t go wrong with this historic site. I haven’t been in years, but have fond memories of exploring this site as a child, many times.
Plus it definitely a cheap things to do in Victoria, especially with kids you need to run around to get their energy out. Everyone 17 and under has free admission.
Hours: May 1 – October 15 from 10am to 5pm every day. October 16 – April 30 from 10am to 4pm Buildings open Saturday & Sunday only
Cost: $9 per adult, but youth 17 and under are free.
25. Hatley Castle & Witty’s Lagoon
Superhero fans might recognize Hatley Castle as the setting for Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngesters, from the recent X-Men & Deadpool films.
On a more mundane note, Hatley Castle is now home of Royal Roads University and is a National Historic Site.
My daughter & I really enjoyed exploring the beautiful gardens, and trails through their 560 acres of old growth forest. The view facing Esquimalt Lagoon is spectacular.
Hours: Gardens 10am to dusk
Cost: Free to walk the Hatley Park gardens, trails and grounds, but you will need to pay for parking in their lots. Guided Tours (May to Sept.): Family Pass $68, Adults $22.50, Youth (6-17) $14.
If you are already out that way anyway, why not make a day of it with a trip to Witty’s Lagoon. Which is about a 15 minute drive away from the castle in Metchosin.
On of the best free family activities Victoria, and nearby.
This regional park has trails to the Sitting Lady Falls, a Lagoon and Salt Marsh plus a great kid-friendly beach to hang out on for the day. From the main park entrance, a 1.2 km moderate forest trail takes you to the sandy beach.
LOCAL TIP: Stop in at My Chosen Cafe for a tasty meal, after your busy day.
26. Listen to Live Music at Market Square
Market Square in downtown Victoria is a fun place to window shop and listen to live music.
Located in Lo-Jo (as Lower Johnson is known as), there are unique shops and heritage buidlings to admire.
27. Tour the Parliament Buildings
Victoria’s most visited attraction, the iconic blue-green domed Parliament Buildings offers free, interesting guided tours.
Learn all about the historic building, and the legislative assembly.
Hours: Winter Hours: Mon to Fri 8:30am – 4:30pm. Summer Hours open on weekends too.
28. Cool bugs at the Victoria Bug Zoo
Cool, interesting insects, and arachnids, and many legged creatures to keep the littles entertained. When they get tired of touring. It’s a gem for younger kids.
Hours: Mon to Fri 11am – 4pm, and Sat / Sun 10am – 4pm
Cost: Adults $18, Youth (5-17) $8 and 4 under free
29. Hop a Victoria Harbour Ferry
Hop a Victoria Harbour Ferry for a fun taxi ride across the Inner Harbour, and see epic views of the Parliament Buildings, the Empress and a waterway.
They also offer different tour options; the historic Gorge Waterway Cruise, and a Pickle Pub Crawl (4 ferry rides to different brew pubs).
Cost: Depends on tour / taxi
30. Wander Finnerty Gardens
Victoria is known for its gardens.
If you are planning on walking around the University of Victoria (UVIC), don’t miss Finnerty Gardens.
This secluded sanctuary, is full of blooms, rhododendrons, trees, and shrubs (over 4000).
Wanting to see the iconic west coast rhodos? They have over 200 species in a vibrant array of colors.
Hours: Daily 8am to 11pm
31. Hike at Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Park is on our list of the best parks in Victoria. For it’s extensive trail system, Niagara Falls (not those NIagara Falls), and the salmon run in fall.
Fall is the best time to see bald eagles in the park as they come to feed on the spawning salmon.
Walk the trails in this old growth temperate rainforest. Home to 600 year old Douglas fir trees.
There’s picnic areas, camping, day use areas, and spectacular scenery.
Open: Year Round
32. Discover Victoria’s history at Government House
Government House is where the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia resides. While the indoors isn’t often open, the pretty and expansive gardens are free to stroll.
Different lush areas you can explore include the herb garden, the English Country Garden, a sunken rose garden, and of course a Rhododendron garden.
They also have a museum & tea house that’s open seasonally.
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
33. Visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Appreciate some west coast, Canadian and global art at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Its 20,000 works of art is the largest public collection in BC.
Visit the Asian Garden which has the only authentic Japanese Shinto Shrine in North America.
Hours: Tues / Wed / Thurs / Fri 10am – 5pm. Thurs. 1pm to 9pm.
Cost: Admission by donation first Tuesday of every month & every Thursday from 5-9pm. Or regular costs apply
34. Climb the Giant Octopus at Gyro Park / Beach
Gyro Park is iconic for it’s larger than life sea animals to climb. It’s also another of our top picks for the best parks and playgrounds in Victoria.
Right next to the beach, it makes for a fun place to picnic, and play.
35. Play at the Esquimalt Adventure Park
Esquimalt Adventure Park is known for it’s plentiful play stuctures and waterpark features.
There’s even a fitness circuit, toilets and change rooms, and a picnic area. Great for a relaxed afternoon.
Park Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Splash Pad: Daily 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m May to Sept.
LOCAL TIP: If you’re in Esquimalt also check out Fry’s Read Wheat Bread Bakery.
Final Thoughts: Cheap Things To Do With Kids in Victoria
I always feel grateful for the beauty and abundance of Victoria. This city holds a special place in my heart, no matter where I roam.
There are so many amazing free and cheap things to do in Victoria, BC that both kids and adults love. This list is just the starting point. Once you start exploring, you might never want to stop. Cheap family things to do in Victoria definitely don;t have to be boring!