Explore the top things to do in Victoria with kids

Victoria is an iconic destination for families to visit, as the British Columbia capital has much to offer people of all ages. You'll find plenty to do no matter what you're interested in, whether you're looking for outdoor adventure or fun within the city center. You can find shopping, the arts and restaurants with delicious menu items, so various tastes and interests are easily catered to. The local green spaces are especially impressive, offering vibrant sights you won't want to miss. Take a look at the top things to do in Victoria, and discover everything you need to create the ultimate itinerary for your family trip.

1. See insects at the Victoria Bug Zoo

For a different kind of animal attraction, you and your family can visit the Victoria Bug Zoo. This fascinating zoo is home to 50 different species of insects, including scorpions, tarantulas, walking sticks and praying mantis. You'll even find a massive ant colony here, one of the largest of its kind in all of Canada. While you can tour the various displays at your own pace, you'll find educators here as well who are happy to offer additional information about the crawling critters here. Cameras are welcome, too, so don't hesitate to take pictures of your favourite bugs.

2. See cultural treasures at the Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum is one of the most iconic museums in the city, dating back to the late 19th century. Here, you'll find a wide variety of historical artefacts that show the fascinating story of British Columbia in terms of human history and natural history. With that kind of variety, your family is sure to find something interesting. Be sure to check out their temporary exhibitions as well to see special topics not normally covered in their permanent collection. Keep in mind that there are a few artefacts here from cultures outside of Canada like ancient Egypt that you may also be interested in.

3. Discover beauty at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens

When you visit the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, you'll find quite a few factors that tend to separate it from most other butterfly sanctuaries you may have visited. They have an incredible number of butterflies here, almost guaranteeing that some will come to rest on you as you travel through the area. Butterflies are just the beginning, as this destination is also home to several birds, like parrots and flamingos. Additionally, you'll find a helpful staff here who are happy to answer any questions you might have about the gardens and the butterflies.

4. Visit a piece of history at Craigdarroch Castle

Castles may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of British Columbia or Canada in general, but Victoria is home to the iconic Craigdarroch Castle. It may not have the same history as a European castle, but it's just as magnificent. It's a bonanza castle or one that was built for a wealthy entrepreneur during the industrial age in the late 19th century. You can embark on a tour of the mansion that's self-guided and takes about an hour to complete. Staff are available to answer any questions you may have too. Just remember that you need to book your tour in advance.

5. See the models at Miniature World

Miniature World is a fascinating museum that's home to a wide variety of intricate models with incredible details. More than 85 individual dioramas and displays can be seen here, with each telling a special story of its own. While it's exciting to see them all, some tend to stand out. You'll find one with its own sawmill that's completely functional, albeit a tiny fraction of the size of a real-world sawmill. The other models can vary quite a bit, with some functioning as massive dollhouses and others taking a science fiction approach showcasing a futuristic space station.

6. Explore the wonders of Chinatown

The Chinatown neighbourhood in Victoria is packed full of exciting activities that you and your kids won't want to miss. You'll find a variety of shops that have far more than typical Chinatown souvenirs, along with several wonderful Chinese restaurants. Even the general ambiance of the neighbourhood is something special, with red Chinese lanterns hung around the streets. Fan Tan Alley here is quite popular even though it's one of the most narrow streets in all of North America. You may be able to spread out your arms and touch both surrounding buildings of the alley simultaneously.

7. Ride the Victoria Harbour Ferry

Victoria is situated by a busy harbour, so you can take a tour to see what makes it so popular. Nothing offers a tour quite like the Victoria Harbour Ferry, which can give you something close to a sea lion's eye view of the city. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the tour of the area covering the inner harbour and the Gorge Waterway. Just keep in mind that these tours don't run in winter, so you'll need to leave this off your itinerary if you're visiting during the year's coldest months.

8. Spot magnificent creatures during a whale watching tour

Whale watching tours are among the most popular family activities in Victoria thanks to the large population of whales off the coast. You can embark on a boat with an experienced crew that will get you up close to these magnificent creatures. While there's never a guarantee you'll see whales, the best tours do have a 95% success rate when it comes to sightings. If you fall into that 5%, they're happy to let you try again with another tour at no additional cost to see both humpback whales and orcas.

9. See totem poles at Thunderbird Park

When you visit Thunderbird Park, you'll find yourself at one of the more fascinating and serene Victoria attractions for kids. Established in 1941, this park is home to several authentic totem poles donated by the Royal BC Museum. Some of the most iconic totem poles here include Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw and Gitxsan. Quite a few totem poles in this park sport thunderbird designs, giving the park its name after the mythical creature prominent in numerous Indigenous North American cultures.

10. Take it easy in the Butchart Gardens

If you're looking to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city, there's nothing quite like Butchart Gardens. These gardens are packed full of vibrant greenery and colourful flowers surrounding walking paths that let you take in the sights with an easy stroll. You'll find 55 acres of gardens in total, housing about 900 bedding plant varieties. Several different kinds of gardens are set up, including a Sunken Garden, a Rose Garden, a Japanese Garden and a Mediterranean Garden. It's open all year long, though the plants you may see on display can change depending on the season.

11. Tour the iconic Parliament buildings

The Parliament buildings in Victoria are among the most magnificent in the entire city sporting intricate designs and a level of importance other buildings simply can't match. You'll find the opportunity for comprehensive tours of the capital city's capital buildings. Tours are free. These tours are available 7 days a week. Typically, they are only offered during the summer months, so plan your trip accordingly if you want your little ones to see the seat of government here and learn all about its fascinating inner workings.

12. Enjoy shopping in Market Square

Looking for things for kids to do in Victoria will likely take you through several lovely squares in town. You won't want to miss out on Market Square. This iconic destination is home to some of the best shopping experiences in town. While you'll find official brick-and-mortar stores set up throughout the area, you'll also find several vendors working from booths around the square. Many of the items on offer are handmade and can even be customized, thanks to the talented local artisans. Bead artisans are especially popular, but you'll find all sorts of craft projects. Plus, it's easy to find hot chocolate and coffee on the square.

13. Relax at Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is a popular Victoria attraction for families, whether they're travellers or locals. You'll find a relaxing escape from the busy city thanks to its numerous landscaped gardens and ponds, along with its shoreline trails and playgrounds. Many of the ponds even have fountain features, adding that extra aesthetic. You'll also find one of the largest totem poles in the world, in addition to sports fields and spaces for picnics. There's even an off-leash dog park section, so you don't have to leave any member of your family behind during your visit.

14. Pet animals at the Children's Farm

Located within Beacon Hill Park, you and your family won't want to miss out on Children's Farm. This fun attraction is home to numerous friendly farm animals that you and your kids can visit for up-close and personal interactions. You'll find goats, pigs, ducks, chickens and sheep, but that's just the beginning. This farm is also home to miniature donkeys and fluffy alpacas. The farm has a resident cat named Leo who roams the area taking care of any pests. If you're lucky, you may get a visit from Leo as well.

15. Visit the peaceful Irving Park

When you're looking for what to do in Victoria with kids, don't forget about Irving Park. This incredible park offers a relaxing getaway from the city's busy atmosphere while still keeping you located near the top attractions. The park itself is named after Captain John Irving, and it features a variety of walking paths, vibrant greenery and children's attractions. This park is a fun thing to do with toddlers in Victoria, thanks to its convenient toddler-sized swings. The play area also features a climbing apparatus if your little ones prefer a bit of adventure during playtime.

16. Trek through the Galloping Goose Trail

If you're looking for more active family activities in Victoria, you may want to try out the Galloping Goose Trail. This is one of the most prominent hiking and biking trails in all of Vancouver Island and is easily accessible from Victoria. The trail is 60 kilometres long in total, but you don't have to travel its entire length if you don't want to. In terms of difficulty, the trail is well-maintained and largely smooth to go through, so you won't have any problems taking your little ones along whether you're planning on hiking or biking. There are also some sections in which you can traverse the trail on horseback, so consider that if you're looking for more variety in your adventure.

17. Try delicious pastries at BeaverTails

BeaverTails' pastries are among the most popular treats in the city for anyone looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. Worry not — the name Beaver Tail comes from the appearance of the treat rather than its actual composition. These sweets feature a pastry that has been stretched out to look like a beaver tail, then is covered in various ingredients depending on what you like. Some of the most popular toppings are the brownie or maple flavours in which the Beaver Tail is covered with chocolate or maple syrup & sugar, respectively. You can also purchase iced lemonade, smoothies and hot chocolate.

18. Explore the wonders of Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf is a fascinating hidden area by the harbour where you'll find a wide variety of attractions your family can enjoy. Food kiosks are common here, along with fun shops with items you won't find anywhere else in the city. It's home to several float homes, especially on the eastern end. While these are private residences not to be disturbed, it is interesting to see such a different home. Additionally, you can venture out into the water from here, thanks to the plethora of available eco-tour adventures. Don't forget to try the seafood, as it has the best in town.

19. Take a carriage ride

While you'll find plenty of different options for touring Victoria, nothing offers the same kind of experience as a carriage ride. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to book this unforgettable experience with Victoria Carriage Tours that can have you and your family sitting in a comfortable carriage as a horse pulls you around town. You'll find quite a few different tour options available as well, depending on the kind of experience you're looking for. The shortest tour lasts just a half-hour, and the longest stretches a full 90 minutes. The carriages are open, so it's easy to see the sights as you enjoy the relaxing ride.

20. Play games at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe

Family activities in Victoria don't always have to take you on some grand adventure. You can find fun at the Interactivity Board Game Cafe. While playing a variety of entertaining board games, you can also enjoy delicious drinks and food. You'll find games available for all ages, including some for young kids and more complicated games for older teenagers and adults. All of this is complemented by items like freshly made paninis and milkshakes. The pizza is also quite popular. For anyone in your family who is of age, you'll find a comprehensive wobbly pop section with standard drinks, spirits and even boozy ice cream treats.

21. Discover underwater creatures at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

When you visit the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, you can see a variety of creatures, mostly from the waters around southwestern Canada. The exhibits are split into different sections, with one section covering ocean drifters like jellyfish and algae and another covering Salish Sea natives. Your kids will especially enjoy checking out the touch pools, where they can touch a sea star, sea urchin and several others after being taught the correct technique by the staff. This aquarium is located in Sydney, so it's about a half-hour drive from downtown Victoria.

22. Explore the Maritime Museum of BC

The Maritime Museum of BC is one of the more popular kids activities in Victoria, especially for kids who are fascinated by the sea. You'll find a wide variety of artefacts relevant to nautical history, including historic diving suits. More importantly, however, this museum is set up to tell stories about the wonders of ocean exploration and the many mysteries it still has that are unsolved. Foster your children's sense of wonder by exploring this museum to see the thrilling tales, historical artefacts and impressive models of absolutely stunning ships.