As the season turns and the billowing flower baskets are stored for the winter, the hustle and bustle of BC’s capital slows down. But, that doesn’t mean Victoria has closed up shop!
Those in the know take full advantage of this quaint city’s ‘off-season.’ Reduced rates and smaller crowds make fall and winter the perfect time to experience Victoria’s indoor activities. The following are eight of our favorite.
1. Miniature World
Opened in 1970, Victoria’s Miniature World features more than 85 miniature dioramas and displays. Scenes include the Great Canadian Railway, Canada’s first transcontinental railroad; the circus; and two of the world’s largest dollhouses. No detail is considered too small as each elaborate display has been carefully created to feature an accurate depiction.
2. Royal BC Museum
Stand face-to-face with a woolly mammoth. Stroll down the wooden walkways of old Victoria. Test a submarine captain’s periscope view. The Royal BC Museum’s wide array exhibitions transport you in time.
You’ll have a chance to enter a full-scale replica of Discovery, Captain George Vancouver’s H.M.S. ship; test your gold mining skills; and explore the magnificent coastal forest of British Columbia.
Walk through a towering collection of totem poles. Listen to the stories of Victoria’s First Nations. Learn about the First Nations vibrant cultures, including the importance of the potlatch system and how they carved black shale. This museum has it all.
3. The Maritime Museum of British Columbia
Thought small, The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is rich with history. Located in Nootka Court on Humbolt Street, the museum showcases the best of their collection. Of particular note are their scaled ship models, which allow you to get an accurate look at how old ships were constructed.
If you get a rain break around 1:00 PM on a Saturday, consider taking the museum’s Inner Harbour Maritime Tour. Roughly an hour long, this guided tour will take you around the Inner Harbour, introducing you to the rich history and vital role ships played in Victoria’s development.
4. Parliament Buildings
At the edge of Victoria’s majestic Inner Harbour rest the Parliament Buildings. During the summer, the expansive lawn is frequented by happy picnickers and 20-somethings kicking soccer balls. At night, more than 3,000 lights outline the buildings’ impressive structures. Primarily constructed from local materials, the foundation and stairs are made of granite sourced from Nelson Island. The buildings’ façade is made of andesite from Haddington Island. Additionally, a large portion of the interior’s wood is Douglas Fir – sourced from Vancouver Island.
The Parliament Buildings are open to the public year-round. During the week, free tours are available. However, you’re welcome to peruse limited areas of the buildings’ interior on your own.
5. Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Looking to ‘warm up’? The Victoria Butterfly Garden is just the place for you. This indoor jungle spans 12,000 square feet. (That’s roughly the size of three basketball courts!) And, it packs the kind of heat you’d expect to find in a jungle.
Home to 3,000+ butterflies (up to 70 different species), you can wander through the gardens with a riot of flying color. You’ll also see koi, birds, and tortoises. The gardens’ newest exhibit, the Insectarium, features insects and invertebrates in a vibrant jungle-like setting.
6. Munro’s Books
For more than 50 years Munro’s Books has been a destination for book lovers. Located in Victoria’s Old Town, it’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. This is due in large part to its grand pillar entrance and 24-foot coffered ceiling.
What I love best about this bookstore is the staff. Munro’s makes it a point of hiring highly knowledgeable staffers. If you have a question or are looking for a specific title, this is the place to go.
7. Tea at the Empress
Discover what being treated like royalty feels like at the Fairmont Empress. Since 1908, the prestigious hotel has continued this timeless practice of sophistication – serving high tea in its elegant lobby. You’ll have the chance to choose from 21 of the finest loose leaf teas, including the Empress’ own blend ‘The Empress Tea’ and the exceptionally rare blend, Tong Mu Phoenix Lapsang Souchong.
Treats include the house-made signature Empress scones, a collection of pastries, and the ever-decadent clotted cream. Additionally, dainty sandwiches and strawberry preserves are also included in the nibbles. A strict dress code of ‘sophisticated, smart casual’ is enforced. So, save the jeans and t-shirts for another day. This is an afternoon for dressing up.
8. Victoria Bug Zoo
Step into a world of the coolest creepy crawlers out there at the Victoria Bug Zoo. Featuring roughly 50 different species, this ‘mini zoo’ has bugs from all around the world. There are walking sticks and praying mantis. There are glow-in-the-dark scorpions, hairy tarantulas, and Canada’s largest ant colony! You’ll see exotic beetles and rare butterflies. You may even have the opportunity to hold a few bugs!
MORE VICTORIA ADVENTURES!
There’s more to Victoria than the Fairmont Empress and Parliament Buildings. While both of these iconic landmarks are certainly deserving of a visit, B.C.’s quaint capitol is loaded with Instagram-worthy destinations.
When you have just a day to soak up the majestic beauty of Victoria, B.C., don’t let a second go to waste. Hit the streets. Immerse yourself in the culture. And, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want it on this photo walk.
This 24-hour birthday fly away will give you, your friends and your family a taste of Victoria’s rich history, cutting-edge technology and rocking good time vibe.