Originally published March 13, 2018 | Updated March 8, 2019

Like clockwork each year, as soon as the flowers start to emerge and birds start singing their dawn chorus, Victoria, BC springs to life for another eventful season. Whether you are looking to frolic through spring blooms, stroll along the tranquil Inner Harbour or want a fun-filled family spring break, Victoria makes for a quick, easy and affordable getaway.

BOOK NOW: Seattle to Victoria Overnight Getaway for the perfect spring break escape!

A scenic, less than three-hour cruise from downtown Seattle across the Salish Sea on the Victoria Clipper ferry lands you in the heart of Victoria, BC. Along the way, kick back in your comfortable seats, dig into the lineup of locally-sourced treats and gaze out at the breathtaking views of Seattle behind you. By the time you arrive in Victoria, you’ll be ready to shake off your winter grogginess and soak in some springtime island vibes. Check out our picks for 50 things to do in Victoria and beyond this spring!

1. The Butchart Gardens

Celebrate the glory of all things green (and red, yellow, purple and pink) in the 55-acre grounds of The Butchart Gardens. Stunning any time of year, The Gardens are an absolute must in the spring. Feast your eyes on an explosion of swoon-worthy blooms as tulips, magnolias and daffodils spring to life.

Kiddo bonus points for letting your small fry put their drawing and scavenger hunting skills to the test as they scamper down stone-lined pathways on a family discovery walk. Not only is it an entertaining and educational way to experience the grounds, but it will also allow you to discover a side of The Gardens you never knew existed.

Rows of vibrant tulips fill every nook and cranny of The Butchart Gardens each spring. Photo: The Butchart Gardens
Rows of vibrant tulips fill every nook and cranny of The Butchart Gardens each spring. Photo: The Butchart Gardens

2. Tea at the Empress

Treat yourself like royalty for the day with Tea at the Fairmont Empress. Sip on exquisite loose leaf tea from china literally fit for a king and queen (it was originally created for the royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939).

Dine on a lineup of scrumptious goodies each more delicious than the last. If you want to make it special, order flutes of sparkling wine and toast to a day of fun and relaxation.

3. Fisherman’s Wharf

Pop around the corner of Victoria’s Inner Harbor to Fisherman’s Wharf and admire the colorful houseboats as they creak and bob with the tide. Keep an eye out for friendly local harbor seals, feast on fish and chips from Barb’s Place or give in to your sweet tooth with a scoop of gelato (or three!) from Jackson’s Ice Cream.

Wander through a colorful collection of floating houseboats along Fisherman's Wharf. Credit: Erik Lawrenz
Wander through a colorful collection of floating houseboats along Fisherman’s Wharf. Credit: Erik Lawrenz

4. Abkhazi Gardens

One of the best secret gardens in Victoria, bar none, there is no more romantic place to go for a stroll than the secluded Abkhazi Garden. The garden was created as a labor of love by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, who were separated in World War II, but were reunited and married after the war.

Wander through the one-acre grounds to check out colorful clusters of blooms hanging from 100-year-old rhododendrons and carpets of alpine flowers flowing around natural rocks.

5. Hatley Castle & Gardens

Looking like something straight out a fantasyland with its notched battlement, it’s no surprise that the magnificent Hatley Castle is a popular filming location for movies such as X-Men and Deadpool.

Stop by to explore the rooms of this historical building and stay to soak in the cherry blossoms and flowers surrounding the enchanting Japanese gardens. (Inside tip: Visit in May to catch the garden’s large fremontodendron, located near the Italian gardens, in full bloom and covered in gigantic yellow flowers).

The vast and exquisite Hatley Gardens are filled with hundreds of unique flowers and plants from all corners of the world.
The vast and exquisite Hatley Gardens are filled with hundreds of unique flowers and plants from all corners of the world.

6. Afternoon Tea at The Butchart Gardens

Need to refuel after spending a day gazing at the gorgeous blossoms, buds and leaves scattered around The Butchart Gardens? Indulge in afternoon tea at The Butchart Gardens and imagine what it would have been like to be one of Jennie Butchart’s personally-served guests. Nibble on goodies ranging from ginger scones to savory sandwiches and gaze out the window on what was Jennie’s private garden.

7. Chinatown

As the oldest in Canada, Victoria’s Chinatown has plenty to see. Explore the neighborhood by foot and discover a maze of secluded courtyards and back alleys, filled with everything from theaters to one-of-a-kind restaurants and a treasure trove of shops.

Spring is a great time to cast your eyes skyward occasionally to catch sight of the cotton candy-like cherry blossoms lining the street. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Cotton-candy like cherry blossoms create an additional pop of color against the intricately decorated Gate of Harmonious Interest.
Cotton-candy like cherry blossoms create an additional pop of color against the intricately decorated Gate of Harmonious Interest.

8. Beacon Hill Park & Children’s Farm

An oasis in the middle of the city, Beacon Hill Park bursts into life each spring with a sea of purple crocuses and pale pink cherry blossoms.

Stroll through the lush grounds filled with free-roaming peacocks and a full-on petting zoo, which is home to bouncing sheep, llamas and other fluffy critters to pet. Time your visit to catch the “Running of the Goats,” a furry stampede of baby goats that will have the kids squealing with excitement!

9. Victoria Butterfly Gardens

Tuck inside a tropical paradise at the Butterfly Gardens & Insectarium. Wander through the jungle-like grounds and marvel at exotic flowers, carnivorous plants, frogs, tortoises, flamingos, insects, large iguanas and, of course, thousands of colorful butterflies. If you have kiddos in tow, this might be the highlight of their entire trip!

Where else can you get up close and personal with butterflies? Discover new species and colors in the midst of this urban jungle. Credit: Cruise Victoria
Where else can you get up close and personal with butterflies? Discover new species and colors in the midst of this urban jungle. Credit: Cruise Victoria

10. Royal BC Museum

Should the occasional spring shower come your way, duck inside the Royal British Columbia Museum to discover the region’s history. Explore a variety of interactive exhibits that allow you to step back in time to experience what life was like in 1880s Victoria or get up close and personal with the intricately carved totem poles in the First Peoples’ Gallery.

Colossal carvings from Kwakwaka’wakw, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Gitxsan, Haida and Nuu-chah-nulth communities evoke the grandeur of 19th-century coastal villages. Photo: Royal British Columbia Museum
Colossal carvings from Kwakwaka’wakw, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Gitxsan, Haida and Nuu-chah-nulth communities evoke the grandeur of 19th-century coastal villages. Photo: Royal British Columbia Museum

11. Irish Times Pub

Celebrate the luck of the Irish with a frosty pint at the Irish Times Pub. Named one of the top Irish pubs outside of Ireland by the Irish Times newspaper, this is one of the best places in Victoria to tuck into for a Guinness and bratwurst. Slainte!

12. Shaw Center for the Salish Sea

A mere 30-minute drive outside of Victoria’s downtown core will land you in the cozy seaside town of Sidney, where you’ll find the Shaw Center for the Salish Sea.

Part aquarium, part cultural center, the Shaw Center houses 160 species of marine life, including a giant Pacific octopus, Pacific salmon, wolf eels, as well as unique, regional Coast Salish art. Be sure to stop by the touch pool, a favorite with little tykes, to allow them to get their hands on a number of ocean creatures.

Brightly colored anemones and a variety of fish at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Brightly colored anemones and a variety of fish at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

13. Willows Beach

Kick back on a perfect swath of white sand on the stunning Willows Beach and soak in vistas of Chatham and Discovery Island. Take a dip in the shallow waters off the shore, which are perfect for small children and get quite warm in the summertime.

14. Galloping Goose Regional Trail

Itching for adventure? Explore Victoria from behind the handlebars of a trusty bicycle and pedal along the famously scenic 40-mile long Galloping Goose Trail.

Hop on the trail near downtown Victoria in Burnside, and follow it southwest across the picturesque Selkirk trestle. Or wind your way north through Saanich toward Sidney for farm and beachfront views.

Roll across stunning wooden trestles on the Galloping Goose Trail. Credit: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours
Roll across stunning wooden trestles on the Galloping Goose Trail. Credit: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours

15. Fernwood

Catch a cab out to the artsy neighborhood of Fernwood for a gold mine of unique shopping, plus dining and cultural experiences. Check out Luna Collective and Pigeonhole Home Store for a selection of handmade gifts or catch a show at the Belfry Theater. Cap your tour of the charming community with excellent eats and sips at the Parsonage Café and Stage Wine bar.

16. Whale Watching

Embark on a whale of an adventure and hop on into an expedition catamaran on Five Star’s whale watching tour. Seize the chance to meet the region’s showstoppers, Transient and Southern Resident orcas as well as minke and humpback whales out on the Salish Sea. The talented naturalists onboard will also give you valuable insights into these magnificent creatures!

A pod of orcas splash and play as they cruise through the Salish Sea.
A pod of orcas splash and play as they cruise through the Salish Sea.

17. Golf

Dust off your sticks for the start of the season with a trip around the greens at Bear Mountain Golf Club & Academy, where jutting rocks and roaring rivers marry with panoramic mountain and ocean views. It is an unbeatable spot for a challenging round set to a jaw-dropping backdrop.

Cozy up at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort, which is tucked into the side of the mountain itself. The resort has a tranquil, laid-back vibe that feels like you have escaped to your friend’s mountain cabin for the weekend, but with ten times the wow factor.

18. Nourish Kitchen

A short two-minute walk from the Clipper Terminal, Nourish is one of Victoria’s hidden gems for healthy goodness, and one of our go-to spots for brunch or a quick pick-me-up upon arrival in the city.

Dig into the “Sleeping Beauty” oatmeal pancakes or the savory “Benny in the Moment” for a tasty twist on Victoria’s favorite brunch item, eggs Benedict. (Inside tip: Don’t skip the house-made Water Kefir, refreshing and packed with probiotics, it’s our go-to drink of choice!)

19. Cowichan Wine Country

Spring break doesn’t just have to be about fun for the kids, adults need a break too, right? Grab your girlfriends (or your S.O.) for a relaxing weekend spent sipping your way through Vancouver Island’s burgeoning wine scene on a tour of Cowichan Wine Country.

More than your average wine tour, this trip also includes balsamic tasting like you’ve never experienced, as well as a farm-to-table lunch and cider tasting at the rustic Merridale Cidery.

Delight in the pink blush of a fine rosé at one of Vancouver Island's sprawling vineyards. Photo: Island Time Tours
Delight in the pink blush of a fine rosé at one of Vancouver Island’s sprawling vineyards. Photo: Island Time Tours

20. Zip Line Adventure

Soar high above the trees and valleys of Victoria’s coastal temperate rainforest on an AdrenaLINE Zipline Adventure. Eight ziplines ranging from 150-1,000 feet long and up to 150 feet high are sure to provide an adrenaline rush. You’ll also get a new perspective on Vancouver Island with a squirrel’s-eye view of the forest canopy and surrounding mountains.

21. Government House and Garden

Green thumbs rejoice! With 11 unique gardens, terraces, an orchard and even a duck pond, the Government House grounds are an ideal locale to experience Victoria springing back to life with hundreds of blooms!

Wander beneath impressive nine-foot rhododendron trees covered in bright pink flowers or head to the Woodlands Viewpoint for an unobstructed view of the 8.5-acre lands.

Created in a traditional English style, the Government Houses gardens offer a splendid show of flowers in the spring and summer months. Credit: Scott McDonald
Created in a traditional English style, the Government Houses gardens offer a splendid show of flowers in the spring and summer months. Credit: Scott McDonald

22. Sea Cider

Walk into the airy Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse’s scenic 10-acre property on the Saanich Peninsula to sip delicious adult, apple beverages. While you’re at it, drink in views of apple blossoms and the breathtaking Haro Strait below.

23. Horticulture Centre of the Pacific

Named “Garden of the Year in North America” in March 2017 by the Canadian Garden Council, the Gardens at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) are truly a gardener’s garden. Meander through the 9-acres of demonstration gardens to soak in the distinct beauty of each area, from vibrant blossoms to lusciously-scented herbs.

Swing by the Bonsai Garden to check out the more than 60 bonsai trees on display. It is the only outdoor Bonsai garden in Western Canada and an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon.

An array of vibrant succulents and flowers add a shot of color the grounds at HCP. Credit: Gardens BC
An array of vibrant succulents and flowers add a shot of color the grounds at HCP. Credit: Gardens BC

24. Oak Bay Avenue Shopping

Stroll up and down this quaint strip of real estate for a British-style shopping experience. Pop into some of the adorable and locally-owned boutiques and galleries for an array of splurge-worthy goods produced by independent artisans.

Work up an appetite? Stop by Octtavio Italian bakery and delicatessen, the British Penny Farthing Pub or Vis a Vis for country-style French fare. Or quench your thirst with a spot of tea at the popular White Heather Tea Room.

25. Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse

Perched on the edge of the Esquimalt Lagoon, the striking red and white Fisgard Lighthouse was the first on Canada’s West Coast and offers the perfect backdrop for a selfie. (Inside tip: Scamper out to the red Adirondack chairs in front of the building to grab the perfect shot!) The view is absolutely breathtaking, on a clear day you can see all the way across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Washington state!

Discover original guns, intriguing underground magazines and camouflaged searchlight emplacements built more than 100 years ago at Fisgard Lighthouse.
Discover original guns, intriguing underground magazines and camouflaged searchlight emplacements built more than 100 years ago at Fisgard Lighthouse.

26. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Explore a thoughtfully curated collection of nearly 20,000 objects d’art from all over the world, without having to book a trip aboard, at the intimate Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

The space also features the best collection of works by the famous local artist, Emily Carr, who perfectly captured the region’s landscape and First Nations peoples.

27. BC Parliament Buildings

If anything epitomizes Victoria, it’s the Parliament Buildings. A stop at the iconic 19th century landmark allows you to take in a view of the grounds bursting with blooms, a perfect way to herald in the season. While you’re there, join one of the free, guided Parliament Tours. The expert staff will fill you in on everything you want to know about this centuries-old building!

Designed by Francis Rattenbury, the Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
Designed by Francis Rattenbury, the Parliament Buildings are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

28. Gonzales Observatory

A scenic retreat in the heart of the city, the Gonzales Regional Hill Park offers unparalleled views of Victoria, Salish Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Olympic Mountains, Sooke Hills and even the Victoria Clipper ferry as she cruises past. Stick around till sunset to watch as the sky transitions to pink and Victoria’s downtown lights twinkle below.

29. Goldstream Trestle Hike

Hike deep into Goldstream Provincial Park’s old-growth rainforest on the famous Railway Trestle hike. Along the way you’ll also pass the park’s thundering Niagara Falls, so named because they are almost the same height as their East Coast cousin. At end of the trail is an incredible view of the pristine rainforest and canyon below from atop what was once a functioning railway trestle.

With no rails or safety sidings, Goldstream's Railway Trestle is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Photo: Timothy Neesam
With no rails or safety sidings, Goldstream’s Railway Trestle is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Photo: Timothy Neesam

30. Pedaler Bicycle Tour

The most fun you’ll have on two wheels! Pedal through the city on a two-hour guided tour past iconic landmarks of Chinatown, Beacon Hill, Craigdarroch Castle and Cook Street Village. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

31. Clover Point

Jutting out from Dallas Road, the wind-swept Clover Point offers amazing 360-degree views of the region, including the Trail Islands and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Keep an eye out daredevil hang gliders and windsurfers as you watch the waves crash along the seawall.

A steady supply of mountain views and whipping winds make Clover Point a prime spot for windsurfing. Credit: Tourism Victoria
A steady supply of mountain views and whipping winds make Clover Point a prime spot for windsurfing. Credit: Tourism Victoria

32. Eat Through Fort Street

Venture up Victoria’s unofficial main street, Fort Street, for a progressive meal as you duck into some of the locals’ favorite shops. A food lover’s dream, this street serves up everything from fresh seafood at Fishhook, to innovative takes on Mexican fare at Tacofino, to tapas at Chorizo & Co., to amazing pastries at Crust Bakery.

The best part? The trek from Wharf Street to Joan Crescent clocks in at 2,000 steps (just over a mile), making it easy to justify eating your way up the street.

33. Tolmie Park

Known as “The Best Place to View the City,” the summit of Mount Tolmie boasts excellent panoramas of greater Victoria as well as Mount Douglas, Race Rocks, San Juan Islands and Mount Baker as a reward for minimal physical effort. Don’t forget to bring a blanket along for a picnic or quiet reflection.

The view from Mount Tolmie alone is enough motivation to hike to the summit of this mighty peak. Photo: Marc Van Der Chijs
The view from Mount Tolmie alone is enough motivation to hike to the summit of this mighty peak. Photo: Marc Van Der Chijs

34. Pacific Northwest Raptor Center

Take a “hawk walk” or an “owl prowl” and experience the winged wildlife of the Pacific Northwest up close at the Pacific Northwest Raptor Center in Duncan. Staffed by knowledgeable biologists, you’ll learn all about bird conservation and how humans and birds coexist on the island and across the Northwest.

35. BC Aviation Museum

One of the most popular family attractions in Sidney, the BC Aviation Museum has more than 20 unique aircraft on display! Be sure to stop by the “Early Bird” collection, which includes a full-sized replica of the DaVinci Ornithopter, a dragon-winged, human-powered flapping machine.

Visit the “Memorial Room” to find many artifacts from the wars in which Canadians fought as members of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force.

Get a peek inside the "Anson," which served as combat planes for the Air Force during World War II. Credit: Tjflex2
Get a peek inside the “Anson,” which served as combat planes for the Air Force during World War II. Credit: Tjflex2

36. Smiths Pub & Argyle Attic

A snug pub with a great British vibe, Smiths Pub offers up an intimate spot to close out a day with an impressive lineup of fresh brews. Still thirsty? Head next door to Argyle Attic to pair outstanding whiskey with a mouth-watering collection of small plates.

37. Discovery Coffee

At once welcoming and accessible, “Disco” coffee, or Discovery Coffee for the uninitiated, can be found within walking distance of almost anywhere you find yourself in downtown Victoria. Kick start your day with one of their craft coffee brews that pair perfectly with the café’s freshly-made doughnuts.

Discovery Coffee’s nitro cold brew and pour overs pair excellently with the cafe’s wide selection of treats. Credit: Scott Meis
Discovery Coffee’s nitro cold brew and pour overs pair excellently with the cafe’s wide selection of treats. Credit: Scott Meis

38. Tea at Pendray

A less than two-minute stroll up the street from Clipper’s Victoria terminal will land you at the Pendray Inn’s stunning, 1890 heritage property (Inside tip: look up to catch sight of original frescos painted on the ceilings in of some of the rooms).

Indulge in the phenomenal afternoon tea to have your cake and eat it too with an overflowing lineup of locally-produced treats. With salmon pinwheels, cucumber sandwiches, mousse, cupcakes, chocolate dipped strawberries and more, you won’t leave hungry.

39. Sooke Potholes

Deep, polished rock pools with crystal clear water make Sooke Potholes Provincial Park a wonderful spot for a picnic, a quiet stroll and maybe even a quick dip. Visit ahead of the busy summer season when locals flock to this area for a relaxing soak.

Quiet and peaceful. Sooke's Potholes are the ideal spot for a reflective soak. Credit: Kyle Pearce
Quiet and peaceful. Sooke’s Potholes are the ideal spot for a reflective soak. Credit: Kyle Pearce

40. OLO Restaurant

Translating to “hungry” in Chinook Jargon, this restaurant will leave you anything but, with plentiful fresh, farm-to-table dishes. With a flair toward Italian-style comfort food, we suggest you give OLO’s pasta dishes some serious consideration.

41. Cowichan Bay

A small, seaside village, Cowichan Bay should be at the top of your list when journeying beyond Victoria on an Up Island road trip. Stop in at the Maritime Centre, admire the nearby boats and floating homes in the marina and then grab a bite at True Grain Bread bakery.

Waterfront vistas are always within reach in the cozy town of Cowichan. Credit: Tourism Victoria
Waterfront vistas are always within reach in the cozy town of Cowichan. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

42. Kid Sister

On a warm day, there’s nothing better to cool down with than a frozen treat. Head down Victoria’s Fan Tan Alley and you’ll find Kid Sister, specializing in fruity popsicles and rich, small-batch ice cream.

43. Witty’s Lagoon

Not far from Victoria, this oceanfront park features forest trails with stairs and benches along the way. A huge hit with the kids!

Dig your toes into the soft sand surrounding Witty's Lagoon. Credit: DSLr Book
Dig your toes into the soft sand surrounding Witty’s Lagoon. Credit: DSLr Book

44. Horne Lake Caves

Explore Vancouver Island’s impressive underground cave system as you crawl through the passageways of the Horne Lake Caves. Carved by Mother Nature into the mountains near Qualicum Beach, these caverns brim with glittering crystal formations and cascading underground waterfalls.

45. The Old Country Market

Located in the cozy Up Island town of Coombs, the Old Country Market is a must-visit for international foods, imported gifts and in-store baked goods. Keep your eye out for the four-legged critters overhead, the market is famous for its rooftop-dwelling goats!

Coomb's adorable goats pay their dues by keeping the market roof well-groomed.
Coomb’s adorable goats pay their dues by keeping the market roof well-groomed.

46. Langford’s City Centre Park

Come rain or shine, Langford’s City Centre Park has something to keep the kiddos busy. It’s packed with amusements like 18-hole mini golf, an outdoor water park and an indoor play-zone.

47. Cathedral Grove

Want to spend a few hours beneath a rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem? Head to Port Alberni’s Cathedral Grove to see these massive trees, which tower an impressive 75 m (250 ft.) high and are about 800 years old.

Spring rays add a magical glow to the enchanting Cathedral Grove. Credit: Sang Trinh
Spring rays add a magical glow to the enchanting Cathedral Grove. Credit: Sang Trinh

48. Sidney Seaside Sculpture Walk

Beginning in Beacon Park and continuing along the waterfront toward the ferry terminal, this outdoor art gallery uses Mount Baker and the Salish Sea as its backdrop.

49. Mount Douglas

At 188 hectares, Mount Douglas Park contains the largest urban forest on the Saanich Peninsula. Discover forest wildlife on 21 kilometers of trails of varying difficulty. Enjoy a view of the water from the top, and watch for passing seals and orcas!

Amazing vistas are a sweet reward for making the trek to the top of Mount Douglas. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria
Amazing vistas are a sweet reward for making the trek to the top of Mount Douglas. Credit: Destination Greater Victoria

50. Chemainus

Located halfway between Duncan and Nanaimo, this small seaside town of about 3,000 people is best known for their 39 world-famous murals. The paintings display scenes and historical figures from the community’s past, inspiring a deeper appreciation of the region’s roots.

Tucked on an island bursting with blooming flowers, an endless number of outdoor activities and inspiring historical sites, Victoria is much more than the sum of its downtown core. Satisfy your inner adventurer with a well-deserved break to Victoria this spring!

Book Your Victoria Trip Now

Feature Photo: Scott Meis