Just north of the capital city of Victoria at the top of the Saanich Peninsula, you can find the quaint town of Sidney by the Sea. While this town might be one of the smaller areas on Vancouver Island, Sidney has so much to offer! Sidney is known for its stunning, walkable town centre, incredible dining and shopping, cultural attractions, natural beauty, and vibrant arts community. There is so much to see and do in and around Sidney, that we’ve made a handy list of our top ten favourite activities while visiting this charming little town!
Get On the Water
Whale Watching: Sidney Whale Watching – 2537 Beacon Ave, Sidney, BC
If you’re looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Sidney, this is it! Explore the waters of the Salish Sea on a whale watching tour and get a glimpse of some of the marine life that live off the coast! Catch a glimpse of Orcas, Humpback and Grey whales, sea lions, seals, otters, and myriad marine birds!
Kayaking: Blue Dog Kayaking – 9835 Seaport Pl, Sidney, BC V8L 4X3
One of the most popular ways to get out on the water for locals and visitors alike is to book kayak rentals! New to Kayaking? No problem! With day tours and lessons, the experienced staff will make sure to teach you everything you need to know to feel like a pro when it comes to ocean kayaking.
Go for a Walk
The Sidney waterfront is an ideal place to go for a walk! A part of the extensive Lochside Trail, the Waterfront Walkway is a well maintained, paved walkway that hugs the shore where you can find breathtaking views of Mount Baker and Sidney Island while you pass by the Sidney pier, lovely gardens and seaside parks. It’s the perfect place to go for a jog, brisk walk or just to soak up the sun!
If you prefer to have a purpose to your exercise, you can take the opportunity to enjoy the Sidney Seaside Sculpture Walk! Unveiled in 2012, this open-air gallery is a beloved feature of the town and has been popular with visitors and locals since! Beginning at Beacon Park, you can follow along with the interactive guide here and enjoy how each piece interacts with the natural beauty, charm, and whimsy of Sidney.
Visit Sidney Spit
Located at the north end of Sidney Island and a part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, Sidney Spit is a narrow strip of land that stretches into the sea creating one of the most stunning and unique beaches to visit! The tidal flats and salt marshes on the Spit also provide rich ecosystems for both shorebirds and migratory birds in the spring and fall. You can reach Sidney Spit via a walk-on ferry that leaves a small ferry terminal from the Sidney Marina multiple times per day in the summer.
Day Trip to Victoria
The capital city of British Columbia is Victoria – a stunning city perched on the edge of the ocean at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island and only a half-hour drive from Sidney! Surrounded by ocean and rolling hills, Victoria is the perfect balance of forward-thinking urban spaces, graceful heritage buildings and breathtaking natural beauty. In downtown Victoria, visitors can find some of the best shopping and dining in BC as well as visiting iconic heritage sites like the Fairmont Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings, Chinatown and more!
Tour the Butchart Gardens
Just a ten-minute drive from Sidney you’ll find the world-famous Butchart Gardens! This site is home to over fifty acres of lush gardens filled with over 900 different plant varieties arranged in five themed gardens. Walk through the aromatic Rose Garden, find a little bit of Zen in the Japanese Garden, be amazed at the tropical Mediterranean Garden, marvel at the precision of the Italian Garden and meander through the paths of the calm Sunken Garden. After your garden tour, stop in for a coffee at the cafe, grab a table in the restaurant for a healthy lunch or treat yourself to some delicious gelato!
Explore the Museums
Sidney Museum: Since it opened in the 1970s, the Sidney Museum has collected, preserved, and shown historical and archival material of the area. Today, it houses nearly 10,000 artefacts that are put on display for both permanent and revolving exhibits, ensuring these local treasures are always available to be viewed and studied by the public.
The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea: This important non-profit community organization allows visitors to learn more about both the importance and diversity of the Salish Sea through the interactive and informative exhibits. With 35 separate aquarium habitats, a fully intact Orca skeleton, Coast Salish art, plus public programming and self-guided tours, this incredible centre connects visitors to the bioregion of the Salish Sea in a unique, fun, and informative way!
Aviation Museum: If you’re an aviation enthusiast, this is the museum experience for you! Get up close-and-personal with historic aircrafts dating back to the early 1900s, unique experimental, commercial, and military aircrafts as well as helicopters, seaplanes, aero engines and more! Plus, with hands-on activities for families and kids and incredibly passionate and knowledgeable staff, a trip here is both educational and fun!
Visit the Art Galleries
Sidney has long been a haven for creative people on the West Coast. Home to several exceptional spaces, Sidney is a place where you can find beautiful art in many mediums and meet local artists. Whether you’re looking for handcrafted jewellery, pottery, paintings or theatre, this little town is filled with creativity! Have a look here for a complete list of all the artistic spaces in Sidney!
Taste Test at the Distillery
Right on the edge of the water you’ll find Victoria Distillers where, for more than a decade, some of the finest Canadian spirits have been carefully crafted using high quality ingredients. It’s a great place to pop in to try a flight of spirits, sip a cocktail and have a snack while you watch the waves roll by. You can also find some top-quality merchandise and their full selection of spirits to take home with you!
Browse through the Bookstores
If you love taking the time to browse through bookstores, Sidney is an ideal place for you! With five unique bookstores right in the town centre, you can spend hours looking through the collections! Whether you’re interested in rare collectables, children’s books or are looking for the latest releases, you’re sure to find all this and more in Sidney!
Dining in Sidney
Whether you’re looking for a casual cafe lunch, elegant dining, fresh fish and chips or a funky diner brunch, Sidney has it all and more! Have a look at our favourite restaurants in Sidney and if you’re looking for a great cup of coffee in town check out our recommendations here!
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in a charming coastal town, you’ll want to book a beautiful EMR Sidney property for your next holiday!