Victoria, BC is a land of sea, big trees and many parks and playgrounds.
The Capital Regional District (CRD) website lists 33 regional parks, not to mention provincial and municipal parks. There are over 40 playgrounds in the City of Victoria alone. With so many to choose from it was hard to whittle down the choices.
My top 5 favourite parks in Victoria, BC are well known local gems for good reason:
- Best Urban Park for a Day Trip: Beacon Hill Park
- Best Playground: Gyro Park
- Best Playground + Beach: Willow’s Beach
- Best Nature Walk: Goldstream
- Best Waterpark: Beckwith Park
I decided to go with the five parks I return to again and again. These are the parks I bring my family, friends and out of town visitors to time after time, year after year. These are the ones I grew up going to. Hello yearly schools trips to watch the salmon run at Goldstream Park. Or parks my daughter asks to go to every time we are back in Victoria.
By no means is this an exhaustive list. Whether you are new to the island, or looking to rediscover old favourites, there is something here for everyone.
1. Beacon Hill Park – Best Urban Park for a Day Trip
Location: 100 Cook Street, Downtown Victoria
Beacon Hill Park is a kid delight, and a fun day trip for the whole family. This 200 acre park has so many amenities and options for adventure, it’s hard to know where to start.
My daughter has loved the carousel and zipline at the Cook Street playground since she was a toddler. Not to mention the hidden dinosaur eggs in the sandbox area.
In Springtime, the wildflowers bloom in the Camas and Garry Oak Meadows. The manicured garden beds are a feast for your eyes of colours, shapes and patterns. All are wonderful spots for family photos. Get a headstart on those yearly photobooks / calendars for the grandparents, with a family photoshoot in Beacon Hill Park.
For summer water play, head to the free water parks at the giant Watering Can (off Douglas Street) and in the playground at the centre of the park. Don’t forget a towel! Numerous times I’ve gone to the park thinking I can stop my kid from playing in the water. Who was I kidding?
The miniature golfing green across from the petting zoo offers space for some putting practice. Make sure you bring your own clubs. Then climb up the large arbutus tree nearby before heading across the street to the Petting Zoo.
A visit to the Petting Zoo (aka The Beacon Hill Children’s Farm) is beloved by both children and adults. Entrance is by donation. Check out my post on 25 Free and Cheap Things To Do In Victoria, BC With Kids for more on the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm (and when the goat run happens).
No visit to Beacon Hill Park is complete without an ice cream cone from the Beacon Drive-in across Douglas street. A tradition in Victoria for over 50 years.
The Story Pole, erected in 1956, is one of the tallest totem poles in the world. The totem pole was carved by a team led by Mungo Martin, a Kwakiutl tribal chief, and a reknowned carver. You can find it near the corner of Dallas Road and Cook Street.
Facilities available at Beacon Hill Park
- 2 playgrounds (Cook Street & Centre of the Park)
- 2 Water park areas (Watering Can off Douglas St. & Centre Playground)
- Seven walking trails
- Four Ponds
- 3 Washrooms
- Landscaped gardens
- Garry oak meadows
- Golf putting green
- Petting Zoo
- Cameron Bandshell
- Baseball Diamond, Tennis Courts, Cricket Pitch, Lawn Bowling
- Story Pole
Note: The main public washroom is under construction to build a gender neutral, accessible washroom. This project is slated to be complete by fall 2020.
Dogs must be kept on-leash at all times and are not allowed in the Heronry at Good Acre Lake, or at playgrounds in Beacon Hill Park.
2. Cadboro Bay – Gyro Park – Best Playground
Location: 2645 Sinclair Road (Close to Uvic & Cadboro Bay Village)
If you only have time to visit one playground in Victoria, choose Gyro Park. Gyro Park is home to large magical sea creatures and an accessible boat.
Cross the cadborosauras from head to tail. Send your siblings to walk the plank of the pirate ship. Zip down the zipline before exploring the shipwreck or beach for treasures. Play is only limited by your imagination.
Wheelchair accessible ramps lead to the beach (seasonal) and the boat.
Gyro Park is one of our favourite parks in Victoria. My parents took us as kids. I’ve brought all my nieces and nephews here, and I now bring my daughter whenever we visit.
Tip: You can reserve one or more of the picnic tables in Gyro Park, for a maximum of 4 hours.
Facilities available at Gyro Park
- Nautical Themed Play Structures (with Accessible Ship)
- Swings & Zipline
- Washroom & water bottle filling station
- Picnic Tables – some wheelchair accessible
- Sandy Beach
- Seasonal wheel chair accessible beach ramp
- Tennis Courts
- Non-motorized boat launch
Dogs must be leashed within 10m of the playground. Dogs are not allowed in the park or on the beach from May 1 – Aug 31 after 9am.
3. Willow’s Beach – Best Playground & Beach
Location: Located off Beach Drive
Willow’s Beach is a long-time family favourite 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 Oak Bay Tea Party is part carnival, part parade, part airshow, part bathtub race and a fun family event for all ages. The next one is June 5-6, 2021, so mark your calendars.
Willow’s Beach is also a popular swimming spot on hot summer days, and safe for the wee ones due to its protected waters. Don your swimsuit in the changerooms / washrooms conveniently located by the playgrounds.
Views of the Oak Bay Marina, Discovery Island, and Mount Baker can be seen from the shoreline. I have also seen the occasional whale in the distance (true story).
Enjoy a snack from the concession stand / tea room run by the Kiwanis Club or a picnic in the shade on the grassy knoll to make a day of it.
Facilities available at Willow’s Beach
- 2 playgrounds – one for the littles, one for bigger kids
- Sandy Beach
- Washrooms & Changerooms
- Concession & Tea Room
- Grass Area
- Picnic Tables & Benches
- Trails Walkway
Dogs are allowed year-round on pathways and the grass areas, but must be leashed at all times. For the beach, dogs are not allowed May 1 to September 30, but are allowed leashed or unleashed from October 1 to April 30.
4. Goldstream Provincial Park – Best Nature Hike
Location:16 km northwest of Victoria, BC on the Trans Canada Hwy (Hwy #1)
Goldsteam Park is 20 minutes from downtown and well worth the drive. This old growth temperate rainforest is home to 600 year old Douglas fir trees, cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, a meandering river and yearly salmon spawning grounds.
This is one of my favourite parks to take a forest walk / nature hike in. The trails in the park range from easy, wheelchair accessible trails, to the more rugged. For the more adventurous, hike up Mount Finlayson or visit Niagara Falls which tumbles 47.5metres down a rock cliff to a pool below.
To see the thousands of Chum Salmon make their journey back to Goldstream every year visit in late October and November. The riverside trails offer the best views of the spawning salmon, and the bald eagles that come to feast on them.
Activities / Facilities available in Goldstream Park
- Accessibility – Some facilities and trails are accessible. Accessible Washroom in the main day use area
- Cycling – Only allowed on roads and the paved trail from the day use area to the Freeman King Visitor Centre. Helmets are mandatory in BC.
- Bicycle Pump Track and Skills Trails – For kids & adults, near the amphitheatre.
- Hiking – 16 km of trails, starting from the day use area and campground.
- Interpretive nature programs – The Freeman King Visitor Centre offers programs throughout the year, and is also home to a gift shop.
- Swimming – No designated swimming area or lifeguard in Goldstream Park. There are some suitable spots for swimming in the river near the campground.
- Wildlife Viewing – The viewing platform in the estuary also offers views of the feasting eagles in late fall/winter
- Camping – Vehicle accessible, and group camping is available in the Campground. Shower, washroom facilities & a Sani-Station/Dump are available.
- Campfires – Only in campfire rings in the day use area and campground.
- Picnic Areas – Facilities in the day use area include picnic tables, a picnic shelter, woodstove, and flush toilets.
Dogs must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings.
5. Beckwith Park – Frog Pond Waterpark – Best Waterpark
Location: Beckwith Avenue off Quadra Street
For those hot summer days, cool off at the Frog Pond Water Park, located in Beckwith Park. It’s claim to fame, Saanich’s only waterpark with a water spray feature! While not the biggest, or splashiest (see what i did there) waterpark, there is something endearing about this place that keeps us coming back.
Frog Pond Waterpark Hours
- June 1 to June 30 – Noon to 4 p.m.
- July 1 to August 31 – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- September 1 to September 30 – Noon to 4 p.m.
Beckwith Park has so many other great features we enjoy, which makes this a favourite park for a day trip with friends. There are two play structures, picnic tables, a washroom and trails around the pond.
Exploring the network of trails will lead you around the pond, and through the Garry Oak Meadows. At the eastern tip of the park you can continue along the bike route to meet up with the Lochside Trail out to Blenkinsop Lake.
Facilities available at Beckwith Park
- Accessible Playground
- Water Park
- Picnic Tables
Tip: You can reserve one or more of the five picnic tables by the playground or waterpark, for a maximum of 4 hours.
What parks / playgrounds make your top 5 list in Victoria, BC? Let us know in the comments below.
- For more Victoria activities see my post on 25 Free and Cheap Things To Do In Victoria, BC With Kids
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