First Peoples Gallery - Royal BC Museum

Unusual Things to Do in Victoria BC: A Guide to Unique Activities and Hidden Gems

Victoria, British Columbia may be known for its charming gardens, whale watching, and serene waterfront views, but there’s also an abundance of unusual things to discover in the heart of the Pacific Northwest: Victoria BC!

From exploring hidden alleyways to visiting quirky museums, when you’re staying in Victoria, BC and looking for unique things to do, this is your travel guide to finding them all along the way!

1. Explore Enchanted Gardens in Victoria

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Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens, a National Heritage Site of Canada, is a must see world-renowned horticultural gem nestled on Vancouver Island’s southern tip. This unique botanical paradise boasts five distinct gardens:

  1. The Italian Garden exudes elegance
  2. The Mediterranean Garden enchants with exotic flora
  3. The Japanese Garden soothes with tranquil ponds
  4. The Sunken Garden dazzles with vibrant blooms
  5. The Rose Garden captivates with a symphony of fragrances

Each garden is a testament to both the artistry of landscape design to the incredible, mild climate of Vancouver Island. In addition to the stunning gardens, Butchart offers a whimsical carousel that kids of all ages love and in the winter, an outdoor skating rink with twinkling lights above adds a touch of magic to the season.

Visitors can also find a variety of food and beverage options from light snacks and ice cream at the Coffee Shop and Galeteria to sit down meals in the Dining Room and Blue Poppy Restaurant. At The Butchart Gardens, you can experience an immersive and enchanting experience that celebrates the beauty of nature throughout the seasons!

Victoria Butterfly Gardens 

Nestled on the Saanich Peninsula, Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a unique and enchanting destination, and offers an unparalleled experience for visitors to step into an exotic, verdant world filled with incredible plants and animals!

Teeming with thousands of vibrant butterflies, visitors can explore stunning and exotic butterflies as they flit through the jungle. Plus, you can see fluorescent flamingos and parrots, graceful koi, unique frogs and lizards, and gentle tortoises.

For sightseeing fans of creepy crawlies, the Insectarium offers guests a chance to get up close and personal with some incredible insects and arachnids! Perfect for nature enthusiasts of all ages, the Butterfly Gardens offers a unique educational experience and a chance to witness these delicate creatures up close. 

The Horticultural Center of the Pacific 

The Horticultural Center of the Pacific (HCP) is a vibrant oasis for nature enthusiasts and garden lovers alike! With over 40 acres of meticulously curated gardens showcasing a diverse range of plant species, guests can explore the graceful Bridal Garden, hearty Heather and Drought Tolerant Garden, and the fun Kids Garden, where aspiring horticulturalists can learn how to care for plants and help them thrive!

At the HCP you can also find informative workshops, classes, and guided tours available for all ages and skill levels! 

2. Tour Heritage Military Sites in Victoria

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Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse 

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, offers a captivating glimpse into Canada’s rich maritime history. Fort Rodd Hill, a coastal artillery fortress built in the late 19th century, stands as a testament to Canada’s military past.

Today, Fort Rodd HIll is a stunning park with lush and vibrant native flora and visitors can explore underground bunkers, artillery emplacements, and historical exhibits that vividly narrate the site’s role in defending the Canadian coastline.

Adjacent to the fort, the iconic Fisgard Lighthouse is Canada’s first west coast lighthouse, guiding ships since 1860. Its striking red and white exterior and picturesque setting on the Esquimalt Harbour make it a popular attraction. Visitors can climb the tower, learn about the life of a lighthouse keeper, and absorb the breathtaking coastal views. Together, these sites offer a captivating journey through Canada’s maritime heritage, blending history, natural beauty, and cultural significance.

Macaulay Point Park 

Macaulay Point Park, is a charming waterfront gem that encapsulates the region’s natural beauty and historical significance. This coastal park offers visitors a peaceful escape with stunning vistas of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountains.

The park’s dog-friendly rugged shoreline, winding trails, and lush greenery is a great place for a peaceful walk with fresh ocean breezes. But what really sets Macaulay Point Park apart is its rich history! It was once a strategic defence site during World War II, complete with bunkers and gun emplacements. Today, remnants of these wartime structures remain, allowing visitors to explore the park’s historical significance while enjoying its scenic surroundings.

Maritime Museum of British Columbia

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia, houses a diverse collection of artefacts, exhibits, and historical documents that highlight the deep connection between British Columbia and the sea. Visitors to the museum can immerse themselves in the maritime history of the region, from the indigenous peoples’ ancient seafaring traditions to the more recent eras of exploration, trade, and naval history.

Through engaging exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs, the Maritime Museum of BC provides an enlightening and entertaining experience and showcases a wide range of maritime artefacts, including model ships, navigational instruments, and personal stories of seafarers. 

British Columbia Aviation Museum 

Just north of Victoria near the little town of Sidney, you’ll find the British Columbia Aviation Museum–a fascinating testament to the history of aviation in Canada’s westernmost province. This dynamic museum offers an extensive aircraft collection that spans decades, from vintage biplanes to modern jets, illustrating the progression of aviation technology and its impact on British Columbia.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the stories of aviation pioneers, pilots, and engineers who played pivotal roles in shaping the region’s aviation history. With interactive displays, flight simulators, and informative exhibits that engage visitors of all ages, this museum is an educational and entertaining way to spend an afternoon! 

3. Get Quirky in Downtown Victoria 

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Miniature World

Greater Victoria is a just a short ferry ride away from Seattle (via BC Ferries) full of historic buildings and culinary delights. It’s also home to some fun and unusual stops!

Miniature World is a unique and captivating attraction that allows visitors the chance to take a peek at the diverse array of meticulously crafted dioramas and miniature scenes. From historic battles to bustling cityscapes, space scenes, and natural wonders, each exhibit offers a glimpse into different facets of our world, downsized to astonishing precision.

The attention to detail is nothing short of awe-inspiring, drawing visitors of all ages into a realm where curiosity and fascination thrive. It’s a place where the grandeur of the world is distilled into miniature marvels, making Miniature World a must-visit gem in Victoria, BC!

Tea at the Empress 

No food tour across Victoria is complete without a stop at the Tea at the Empress — an iconic and time-honoured tradition in Victoria! Hosted within the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel, this experience exudes elegance and charm. With stunning harbour views that provide the perfect backdrop, guests are welcomed into a setting of opulence, with ornate furnishings and exquisite food and drink.

Choose from a selection of premium loose-leaf teas, delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and preserves, and an array of delectable pastries. The impeccable service and attention to detail make afternoon tea at the Empress a luxurious treat, allowing visitors to step back in time and indulge in a quintessentially British tradition.

Pickle Boats 

Victoria’s Harbour Taxis, also affectionately known as ‘pickle boats’, are a delightful and unique aspect of the Inner Harbour! These charming, diminutive vessels, known for their unique design and easy manoeuvrability, are a great way to explore the scenic waterways of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

They provide an intimate and eco-friendly experience, allowing passengers to appreciate the city’s picturesque coastline, historic landmarks, and marine life up close! A ride on a pickle boat is not only a fun and educational adventure but also a memorable way to connect with the maritime heritage that is so integral to Victoria’s identity.

Ghost Walking Tours

Ghostly Walks in Victoria, offer a spine-tingling journey through the city’s rich history and haunted past. Led by knowledgeable tour guides, these eerie tours take participants on a captivating exploration of Victoria’s historic sites and buildings, sharing chilling tales of ghostly encounters and paranormal activity.

Whether it’s the ghostly apparitions at the funky Fan Tan Alley or the eerie mysteries of Bastion Square, these walks blend history and the supernatural, leaving visitors both entertained and intrigued. Victoria’s well-preserved architecture and Victorian-era ambiance create the perfect backdrop for these haunting narratives, making Ghostly Walks an unforgettable and atmospheric way to experience the city’s darker side.

Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC, is a cultural gem that offers visitors an immersive journey through British Columbia’s rich history, culture, and natural wonders. This world-class institution boasts a diverse range of exhibits, where guests can learn more about the Indigenous heritage in the First People’s Gallery and colonial history in the Old Town to captivating displays of the province’s unique flora and fauna, including the famous woolly mammoth, in the Natural History gallery.

The museum’s attention to detail and cutting-edge technology like the IMAX theatre, make each visit an engaging and educational experience. With a commitment to preserving and showcasing British Columbia’s heritage, the Royal BC Museum is a must-visit destination that leaves visitors with a profound appreciation for the province’s past and present.

Enjoy the Unusual Things to Do in Victoria

Victoria, BC is a unique and beautiful city that has plenty of offbeat experiences that are just waiting to be discovered!

Featured Image Credit: Julian Worker