Although this was not our first trip with Aiden, it was a different kind of trip to be taking as a family. Without beaches or parks integrated into our schedule, we played ‘tourist’ as best we could… with 2 kids. There are some things I learned about taking 2 kids to Victoria that I would perhaps change for our next trip.
We definitely discovered on this trip that our particular child is more into activities that involve physical activity than observation. While it may have seemed that a bug zoo would be interesting to a toddler, I think Aiden may have had a better time walking at a lighthouse or running around in a park. We tried to choose activities that had ‘a lot to see’ rather than ‘a lot to do,’ and I think our next trip would balance the two.
When we arrived in Vancouver, our hotel provided a great pamphlet on Family Friendly activities in Victoria. Our trip included visits to:
If I were to re-plan the trip, I would probably skip Butchart Gardens (until Aiden is not afraid of the carousel) and the Bug Zoo – instead, I’d find a local park for one outing and perhaps consider another outdoor-based activity that involved more walking.
Here are some other family-friendly ideas for Victoria – some we’ve done, some we want to do on a future trip!
Are there other family-friendly activities you would suggest for Victoria?
Just down the street from the Butterfly Gardens in Victoria is the famous Butchart Gardens. Though not originally on my list of things to see with Aiden, its proximity to the Butterfly Gardens made us change our minds. Additionally, I was hoping to give Aiden something ‘fun’ to do (as opposed to another ‘observation-type’ activity with a visit to the Rose Carousel.
Despite my best intentions, Aiden was too afraid to go on the Rose Carousel (which was an extra fee). Going a whole weekend without a nap (while still normally napping), Aiden spent most of the trip in the provided strollers (nice perk!), though he did walk and explore the Japanese Gardens, up and down the twisting paths and stairs.
A visit to the gardens is not something to be taken lightly. It’s an expensive trip, quite outside of Victoria, though many of the tour buses make a stop there. There are many dining options – from cafeteria-style to cafe to sit-down eating – making it possible to extend your visit with kids who may not appreciate the gardens as much as you do!
The gardens does offer a Family Discovery Walk pamphlet geared to much older kids. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be to make a second pamphlet for younger kids that is more of a scavenger hunt with pictures of flowers or landmarks that they have to seek out; would be a fun way to get them involved.
See all our photos here.
On our way out of Victoria, we paid a visit to the Butterfly Gardens, an amazing 12,000 sq ft enclosure of tropical colour and life. Featuring over 3,000 butterflies, flamingos fish and other insects, the gardens boasts an amazing experience. As a larger facility, there was more to keep Aiden engaged with than at the Bug Zoo, though I admit the adults were more fascinated with finding (and photographing) the beautiful butterflies.
The most beautiful butterfly there is a gorgeous deep blue (the Blue Morpho), but it’s also the hardest to photograph – signs there explained that it almost never lands for long enough to snap up a photo!
See all our photos here.
In an effort to see the ‘kid friendly’ activities in Victoria, we paid a visit to the Victoria Bug Zoo, a small two-room collection of over 40 species of insects and spiders. There were terrariums set up with spiders and praying mantids and scorpions but the key attraction is Canada’s largest ant farm. With a ‘bug guide’ to demonstrate the inhabitants of the zoo, it’s a fun stop for any bug lover.
Our little Aiden didn’t really have the patience for the bug zoo, unfortunately. Just like with the aquarium, he is happy to look at a tank once briefly before moving on – in this case, you can see his attention wasn’t held for long.
The gift shop here had some fun items for kids and adults alike! Bug infused lollipop, anyone?
See our photos here.
The thing I was most looking forward to doing in Victoria was visiting the Royal BC Museum. I have a lot of fond memories of visiting the Museum when I was a child and recall fondly the trip that Ianiv & I took to the museum while pregnant with Aiden. This trip, we were able to fulfill a dream of sharing this museum with our children – a trip I’m sure we will repeat many times in the future.
We were extremely lucky that when we arrived, the Dinosaur exhibit was still on (they extended it), so we got to see the fossils as well as the model dinosaurs – Aiden loves dinosaurs, so it really made an impression on him. He has referred to the museum as the “dinosaur museum” ever since our trip.
In addition to the regularly changing exhibits, the permanent exhibits are fantastic. My favourites have always been the natural history gallery to the modern history gallery, exhibits which both inspire and involve you in exploring our history. Each exhibit offers areas where you can view lifelike dioramas, some of which you can go into (the pirate ship, the submarine science lab, the gold mine) for hands on exploration. I love that this museum is so hands on – it’s a really unique opportunity for kids of all ages to really explore our history.
Aiden was a little nervous about the mammoth, as it made a lifelike sound and he initially thought it was real (hence why he’s not in that photo!), but he thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the museum. We were there for more than 2 hours – a long time for a 3-year-old – without stopping to snack or take a break.
See all our photos of the museum here.