Updated September 20, 2019

It’s official…fall has arrived! Whiffs of pumpkin spice greet the nose and piles of colorful leaves crunch underfoot. In the blink of an eye, our PNW summer has transitioned into a fall wonderland, with crisp, cool air that calls for cuddling up by a crackling fire. Luckily, Victoria is a city made for cozy.

From countless cafes and brunch nooks to indoor markets and museums, the city of gardens transforms from green to yellow to fiery red surrounded by stately architecture. Discover a timeless beauty that calls on you to breathe, relax and decompress with these 50 things to do in Victoria this fall!

1. The Parliament Buildings

Nothing says Victoria quite like the iconic blue-green domed Parliament Buildings. Hop on one of the free, guided tours and the expert staff will fill you in on everything you want to know about this centuries-old building.

Time your visit to catch one of the debates from the Public Galleries when the Legislative Assembly is sitting. Or duck into The Parliamentary Dining Room for breakfast or lunch and enjoy a white cloth dining experience that will make you feel like a real parliamentarian!

2. The Butchart Gardens

No matter the season, The Butchart Gardens are sure to put on a show. In the fall, a stunning parade of red, russet and golden maples greet the eyes. Don’t forget to stop by the Dining Room Restaurant for a perfectly steeped steaming cup of tea.

Come fall, Butcharts’ Japanese Garden is one of the most colorful places in Victoria to visit. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Come fall, Butcharts’ Japanese Garden is one of the most colorful places in Victoria to visit. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

3. Royal BC Museum

Discover the mystery, legacy and resilience of one of the world’s greatest civilizations – the Maya – at the Royal BC Museum’s awe-inspiring “Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises” exhibit. Check out panels of glyphs, learn more about the Maya’s intriguing calendar system and explore a lineup of incredible artifacts.

Try your hand at deciphering the many glyphs found inside the exhibit. Credit: The Royal BC Museum
Try your hand at deciphering the many glyphs found inside the exhibit. Credit: The Royal BC Museum

4. Tugwell Creek Farm & Meadery

Get a proper introduction to Vancouver Island’s bees with a visit to Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery, the first in British Columbia. Wander the ocean view property on a self-guided tour for a look at the more than 100 hives dotting the farm. Dip into the farm’s sweet, sweet honey and sample one of its delicious, liquid byproducts – their award-winning “bee-to-bottle” mead.

5. Tea at the Empress

Indulge in a selection of loose leaf teas fit for a queen paired with a slate of delicious, house-made eats with tea at the Empress. A rite of passage in the Pacific Northwest, the elegant Lobby Lounge has been the place to visit for an authentic British tea and pastry experience for more than a century.

Sip on a selection of exquisite tea at the Fairmont Empress. Credit: Kusum Basavaraju
Sip on a selection of exquisite tea at the Fairmont Empress. Credit: Kusum Basavaraju

6. The Galloping Goose Trail

Hop on a bike and follow the famously scenic 40-mile long Galloping Goose Trail. The former rail line runs from the urban streets of Victoria to the rural countryside of Sooke, offering up amazing scenery and a complete picture of the region.

The Galloping Goose crosses the Selkirk Trestle, connecting Victoria West to the neighborhood of Burnside. Credit: Pedaler Cycling Tours
The Galloping Goose crosses the Selkirk Trestle, connecting Victoria West to the neighborhood of Burnside. Credit: Pedaler Cycling Tours

7. The Causeway

A bustling walkway circling the Inner Harbour, the Causeway is our go-to spot for people watching. Stroll around the waterfront or grab a drink at one of the nearby cafes and watch the sun set on the water.

8. Victoria Harbour Ferry

Itching to get out on the water? Climb aboard a cheerful Harbour Ferry and tour Victoria’s lively Inner Harbour by boat! See the comings and goings in the harbor, soak in vistas of the Parliament Buildings and Fairmont Empress and pick up a few insider tips about the city from your knowledgeable captain!

Watch boats sail in and out of the Inner Harbour from aboard a cheerful Harbour Ferry! Credit: Scott Rose
Watch boats sail in and out of the Inner Harbour from aboard a cheerful Harbour Ferry! Credit: Scott Rose

9. Johnson Street

With more than a handful of unique boutiques within easy walking distance from each other, navigating Victoria’s growing selection of independent stores requires little more than your own two feet. Hit up Lower Johnson, affectionately known as LoJo to locals, for everything from handmade jewelry at Tonic to floral finds at Rook & Rose.

Check out a variety of carefully curated goods at the boutiques on Johnston Street. Credit: Tourism Victoria
Check out a variety of carefully curated goods at the boutiques on Johnston Street. Credit: Tourism Victoria

10. Fernwood Square

Catch a cab out to the artsy neighborhood of Fernwood to explore some of the region’s hidden gems for shopping. Cap your day with excellent eats and sips at Parsonage Café and Stage Wine bar.

11. Abkhazi Gardens and Teahouse

In need of a tea fix? Duck inside the cozy tea house at Abkahazi Garden. One of Victoria’s best-kept secrets, the spot serves up a selection of Silk Road’s fine loose-leaf tea paired with an array of treats created with regional or Abkahazi grown produce. Gaze out on the one-acre gardens and fall in love with autumn colors filling the property.

Sip on a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald
Sip on a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald

12. Miniature World

Get a bite-sized glimpse of Victoria’s past, present and future at Miniature World, one-of-a-kind Victorian experience. The perfect activity for the young and young at heart, this little museum brings everything from historical battles to childhood fantasy lands to life in miniature.

13. Cook Street Village

Tucked away in Victoria’s Fairfield neighborhood, this eclectic corridor is home to several organic food markets and coffee houses. Explore by foot and you’ll find antiques, reclaimed furniture workshops and accessories stores.

14. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Pop into the intimate Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to discover nearly 20,000 objects d’art from all over the world. Check out the impressive collection of works by famous local artist Emily Carr as well as exquisite carvings in the Asian art gallery. On a budget? Stop by on the first Tuesday of every month for pay-what-you-can admission.

Even the kiddos can get in on the action and create their own masterpieces at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Credit: Tourism Victoria
Even the kiddos can get in on the action and create their own masterpieces at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Credit: Tourism Victoria

15. The Royal Theatre, McPherson Playhouse, The Belfry Theatre or Langham Court Theatre

Looking to catch an exhilarating show? Duck inside one of these historic venues for a memorable performance, be it a symphony, dance or play.

16. Ghost Tour

Known as the most haunted city in BC, there are plenty of spots around Victoria to serve up a perfectly timed scare. Pay a visit to Bastion Square, formerly a courthouse ruled by “the hanging judge,” Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, which is one of Victoria’s most haunted spots

The oldest surviving formal landscape in BC, the Ross Bay Cemetery is home to several resident ghosts. Photo: Tourism Victoria
The oldest surviving formal landscape in BC, the Ross Bay Cemetery is home to several resident ghosts. Photo: Tourism Victoria

17. Robert Bateman Centre

See the works of legendary Canadian wildlife and landscape painter Robert Bateman through his extensive collection at the Centre. Stop by the Gallery Shop for a unique selection of books and handmade pottery, woodwork and textiles by other local artists.

18. Russell Books

Swing into the popular Russell’s Books, a bibliophile’s paradise brimming with not one, but three stories of new or used books. On the hunt for a unique title? There’s a good chance you’ll find it (and a cozy corner where you can curl up with your new read) on the entire floor devoted to rare and vintage books.

Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Scott Meis.
Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Scott Meis.

19. Hermann’s Jazz Club

If a night on the town is what you’re looking for, check out Hermann’s Jazz Club, Victoria’s oldest live jazz venue. Located between Blanshard Ave. and Douglas Street, this downtown gem is the go-to for island jazz cats looking to get down with the groove.

20. Victoria Food Tour

Treat yourself to the best of Victoria’s culinary scene on a trek around the city with the Victoria Food Tours. Sample everything from sweet, spicy barbecue to delicate macarons at six hidden hot spots. The best part? You’ll leave armed with insider recommendations for the rest of your visit.

Nosh on some of Victoria's tastiest bites. Credit: Nick Bentley
Nosh on some of Victoria’s tastiest bites. Credit: Nick Bentley

21. The Bay Centre

Spanning a full city block, The Bay Centre is downtown Victoria’s premier shopping destination. Fill your bags with gifts and goods from over 90 unique shops and boutiques.

22. Hatley Castle

Once the home of wealthy Dunsmuir family, the stunning Hatley Castle is now a popular filming location for movies such as X-Men and Deadpool. Want a peek inside? Explore the lavish interior and notched battlements on one of the daily tours from the Royal Roads University administrative center.

Just keep an eye out for the family ghosts. A white figure presumed to be Laura Dunsmuir has been seen gliding between the 40 rooms and banging pots together in the kitchen.

(Inside tip: While the castle’s spooky denizens will certainly put you in the fall spirit, be sure to stop by the Japanese Gardens. Created by Isaburo Kishida (the designer of The Butchart Gardens and the Gorge Park Japanese Gardens) these beautiful, winding gardens brim with colorful maples and more).

If walls could talk, the 40 rooms in the stunning Hatley Castle would have their fair share of stories to tell.
If walls could talk, the 40 rooms in the stunning Hatley Castle would have their fair share of stories to tell.

23. Emily Carr House

Discover the birthplace of Emily Carr and learn more about one of Victoria’s most celebrated artists. Situated outside Beacon Hill Park, the sunny yellow home features 19th-century architectural detailing and an eye-catching front yard packed with colorful flora.

24. Craigdarroch Castle

Perched on a high hill above Victoria, the massive stone Craigdarroch Castle boasts 39 rooms, more than four stories and is worth the 30-minute walk from Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Geek out over the castle’s impeccable stained-glass windows and elegant Victorian-era furnishings before making your way up to the tower for spectacular views of downtown Victoria and the Olympic Mountains. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

A National Historic Site, Craighdarroch Castle comes to life each Halloween. Photo: Tourism Victoria
A National Historic Site, Craigdarroch Castle comes to life each Halloween. Photo: Tourism Victoria

25. Tea at Pendray Inn

A quintessential Victoria tradition of tea and treats is a quick two-minute stroll up the street from Clipper’s Victoria terminal at the Pendray Inn’s gorgeous and historic 1890 property.

The Pendray Teahouse’s delicious goodies are almost too pretty to eat. Credit: Scott Meis
The Pendray Teahouse’s delicious goodies are almost too pretty to eat. Credit: Scott Meis

26. Sea Cider

Nothing screams fall like a sweet pint of cider. Stop by Sea Cider’s 10-acre property to sample the seasonal Witches Broom. Crisp and brimming with spices, you will be hard-pressed to find a better beverage that showcases the tastes of the season.

Explore Sea Cider’s stunning orchard during the fall harvest festival.
Explore Sea Cider’s stunning orchard during the fall harvest festival.

27. Three Hour Definitive Craft Brewery Tour

Want to pack in a lot of local flavor? Hop on brew bus for a three-stop tour of the region’s unique brews. Get a peek behind the scenes, pick up local brewery history as well as the art of craft beer from the best brewers in the business. One thing is for sure, you won’t leave thirsty! Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

28. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

One of Victoria’s original brewpubs, Spinnakers marries delicious handcrafted brews with a menu full of exceptional, locally grown treats. Sip on a crisp Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale or try out their aromatic Fan Tan Abbey, a flavor-packed red ale brewed with orange peel and Chinese five-spice powder.

Kick back with a tasting flight of frothy pints at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. Credit: Nick Bentley
Kick back with a tasting flight of frothy pints at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. Credit: Nick Bentley

29. Jam Café

A hip but homey little spot, Jam Café is one of the top spots in the city for an all-important weekend brunch. Though sometimes there is a bit of a line outside, the reward is well worth the wait. Did someone say pulled pork pancakes and Bailey’s infused French toast? Yum!

30. OLO Restaurant

Translating to “hungry” in Chinook Jargon, this restaurant will leave you anything but, with plentiful fresh, farm-to-table dishes. Nosh on artfully prepared dishes, such as the potato gnocchi or sample a little of everything with the multi-course tasting menu.

Dig into OLO’s pork duo with summer succotash and a corn butter Béarnaise sauce. Photo: Flickr user Frodnesor
Dig into OLO’s pork duo with summer succotash and a corn butter Béarnaise sauce. Photo: Flickr user Frodnesor

31. Habit

Featuring beans roasted by Bows & Arrows Coffee in Victoria, Habit is one of our favorite spots for a delicious, life-giving brew. Sip the Nicolas & Maruja Clque Espresso from Bolivia if it’s available. With notes of milk chocolate, rose, caramel and Frangelico, the beans make for a decadent cup.

Warm up with a cup of joe at Habit Coffee. Photo: Nick Bentley
Warm up with a cup of joe at Habit Coffee. Photo: Nick Bentley

32. Ross Bay Cemetery

Walk or bike down the scenic Dallas Road to the hauntingly beautiful Ross Bay Cemetery. Not only are the grounds the resting place for some of Victoria’s most famous citizens, (Emily Carr! Judge Begbie!), but they are also home to brilliantly colored, 100-year-old trees.

(Inside tip: Visit in the morning or early evening, as the autumn leaves and surrounding gravestones become 10 times more mysterious when paired with fog.)

33. Lore General Store

Taking up a small corner on Government St. across the street from a much less unassuming Gap storefront, Lore General Store is one of those shops you might miss if you’re not looking for it. What this shop lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quality local products, which range from lavender-infused honey, natural apothecary items to an impressive array of handmade and vintage ceramics.

Browse Victoria’s unique boutiques for an array of artisan goods. Credit: Lore General Store
Browse Victoria’s unique boutiques for an array of artisan goods. Credit: Lore General Store

34. Still Life

Victoria’s source for offbeat and emerging style, Still Life needs no introduction. Pop into the popular boutique for modern, quality threads from international brands such as Montreal’s Ursa Minor or Minimum all the way from Denmark.

35. Antique and Thrift Stores

When it comes to well-stocked thrift shops, Victoria has many gems for you to discover. Head to Duchess and Duke on Government Street for on-point fashion picks or pay a visit to LoJo’s Flavour Upstairs where you can find vintage treasures at great prices.

36. Citizen Clothing

For an unexpected twist on classic styles, look no further than Citizen on the bustling Johnson Street. Whether you’re after seasonal handpicked clothing or craft scents and fragrances, the shop is a go-to for a man in need of some fresh threads.

Browse through a carefully curated collection of threads at Citizen. Credit: Scott Meis
Browse through a carefully curated collection of threads at Citizen. Credit: Scott Meis

37. Oak Bay Village

A mere ten-minute drive east of Victoria, the small seaside town of Oak Bay offers a surprising variety of boutique shops, art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants, as well as miles of beach.

38. Victoria Public Market at the Hudson

The core of Victoria’s downtown community, the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson puts fresh seafood, handmade pies, farm-fresh groceries and a bounty of other goodies at your fingertips. Pick up delicious eats from Salt Island Cheese, Ravenstone Farm Artisan Meats and French Oven Bakery and head over to Beacon Hill Park to enjoy a picnic lunch in the crisp autumn air.

Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Credit: Nick Bentley
Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Credit: Nick Bentley

39. Goldstream Trestle

Venture deep into Goldstream Provincial Park’s lush rainforest on the popular Railway Trestle hike. At the end of the trail, you’ll find an incredible view of the pristine rainforest and canyon below from atop what was once a functioning railway trestle.

40. Niagara Falls

Located in Goldstream Provincial Park, this massive waterfall is especially impressive in the fall. Time your visit right and watch the salmon run, likely followed by an eagle looking for a feast. This is the Northwest at its best!

Cool waters rush underfoot as you make your way toward Goldstream’s epic Niagara Falls. Credit: Gpoo
Cool waters rush underfoot as you make your way toward Goldstream’s epic Niagara Falls. Credit: Gpoo

41. Roost Farm Centre

Housed on 10 acres of farmland on the Saanich Peninsula, Roost Farm Centre brings fresh produce right to your plate. Everything from chicken and lamb to even the flour is grown right on the farm. Feast on delicious pizzas baked to perfection in their wood-fired oven. Still hungry? Share a decadent made-from-scratch carrot cake or Roost’s signature Bumbleberry pie.

42. Breakwater at Ogden Point

Wander over to the city’s man-made marvel, the Breakwater at Ogden Point. Stroll out to the end of the brightly-painted walkway jutting out about 800 meters from the shore and snap a shot of the sun’s golden rays as they fill the horizon with rosy golden hues. There is no better spot for catching the perfect Victorian sunrise or sunset.

Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Dannielle Siewertsen
Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Dannielle Siewertsen

43. Galey Farms

Just north of Saanich, this family farm offers up all kinds of fun! Get lost roaming through the farm’s six-acre corn maze, hop on a hayride to pick out the perfect pumpkin or stop by the farm market for fresh produce. Looking for a scare? Check out the farm’s Festival of Fear, which features two haunted houses bursting with monsters taken from your worst nightmares.

Peruse the massive pumpkin patch for the perfect pick to bring home. Credit: Tourism Victoria
Peruse the massive pumpkin patch for the perfect pick to bring home. Credit: Tourism Victoria

44. Marine Circle Tour

To truly absorb Vancouver Island’s lush landscapes and incredible wildlife, rent a car from Budget downtown and command your own journey from the road. Travel along Victoria’s coastal highways for what may be the best waterfront views around. You’ll also pass by Avatar Grove, which is home to a spectacular stand of old-growth giant red cedars.

45. Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Part aquarium, part cultural center, the Shaw Centre brims with 160 species of marine life, as well as unique, regional Coast Salish art. Pay a visit to the touch pool, a favorite with little ones, to allow them to get their hands on a slow of ocean creatures.

Slippery anemones and bumpy sea stars at the touch pools at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Slippery anemones and bumpy sea stars at the touch pools at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

46. “Booktown”

With at least six bookstores scattered within a four-block radius, there’s no shortage of reading material for bookworms in Sidney, BC. A book lover’s dream, each shop houses a unique collection of titles and is independently owned by experts in their fields.

47. Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour

Unwind Up Island with a Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour. Whether it’s a romantic date escape or a girls’ weekend getaway, a visit to the valley’s world-renowned vineyards along roads with awe-inspiring viewpoints will leave you feeling refreshed.

Soak in stunning vineyard views from Blue grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard.
Soak in stunning vineyard views from Blue grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard.

48. Malahat Drive

Also known as “The Malahat,” this 15-mile stretch of the Trans Canada Highway 1 is home to some downright breathtaking views. Stop at one of the pullouts along the highway and soak in jaw-dropping vistas of the sparkling Saanich Inlet and lush Goldstream Park as you make your way Up Island.

49. Cowichan Bay

A small, seaside village, Cowichan Bay is the perfect pit stop on an Up Island getaway. Pop in the Maritime Centre, admire the nearby boats and floating homes in the marina and then grab a bite at True Grain Bread bakery.

50. Tigh Na Mara Seaside Spa Resort

A destination unto itself, there’s no better place to bliss out than Tigh Na Mara when embarking on an Up Island road trip. Located north of Nanaimo in beautiful Parksville, Tigh Na Mara’s rustic log cabins are set amid 22 forested acres and three kilometers of sandy beaches.

Restore and relax at Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa. Credit: Tigh Na MAra Spa.
Restore and relax at Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa. Credit: Tigh Na Mara Spa.

With most of the city’s attractions within walking distance, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of fall. A foggy morning in the Inner Harbour, muffled boat horns sounding in the distance. A stroll through any one of Victoria’s parks to catch a glimpse of the falling leaves, coffee in hand. Wherever your visit may take you, add a few of these stops to your itinerary and enjoy the perfect fall escape in tranquil, cozy Victoria.

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Feature Photo: Nick Bentley