Best Day Trips from Victoria BC

Victoria British Columbia, located on the southern end of Vancouver Island, is a charming and vibrant city that offers endless attractions and activities! But when it’s time to explore outside the city limits, there are some remarkable day trips from Victoria, BC that should not be missed!

1. Day Trip to the Beautiful Saanich Peninsula 

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The Saanich Peninsula, nestled on Vancouver Island’s southern tip in British Columbia, Canada, is a picturesque region renowned for its natural beauty and agricultural richness. Bordered by pristine coastline and lush farmland, it offers a serene escape with charming communities, wildlife, and a thriving local food scene.

On the peninsula itself, explore these 6 stunning places.

The Butchart Gardens

The Butchart Gardens is a National Heritage Site and Canadian treasure that enchants visitors with its stunning beauty and meticulous design. Just 25 minutes north of downtown Victoria, this a must add to any day trip list.

Started in the early 20th century by Jennie Butchart, the gardens have evolved into a world-famous attraction with five themed gardens, including the Sunken Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Mediterranean Garden, and Italian Garden, this horticultural masterpiece showcases a kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances throughout the year.

Butchart Gardens offers a tranquil escape, blending art and nature seamlessly making it a must-visit destination for garden enthusiasts and nature lovers alike!

Sidney by the Sea

Sidney by the Sea, is a charming coastal town located on the west coast of the Saanich Peninsula known for breathtaking oceanfront views and a tranquil ambiance. This stop is worth a full day trip with a vibrant arts scene, boutique shops, and delectable seafood restaurants; it offers a delightful blend of culture and relaxation. There are just so many things to do in Sidney!

Sidney is also recognized as the “Gateway to the Gulf Islands” due to its proximity to ferry terminals, making it a convenient starting point for island hopping adventures. With its picturesque waterfront, friendly community, and year-round mild climate, Sidney by the Sea beckons travelers seeking a serene coastal getaway.

British Columbia Aviation Museum 

The British Columbia Aviation Museum, situated in Sidney on Vancouver Island, is a captivating destination for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs alike. This museum celebrates Canada’s rich aviation heritage, showcasing a remarkable collection of aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia. Visitors can explore the evolution of flight, from vintage planes and helicopters to modern aerospace technology.

The museum’s interactive exhibits and knowledgeable staff offer insights into aviation’s pivotal role in British Columbia’s history, including its contribution to both military and civilian endeavors. With a diverse range of aircraft on display and a commitment to preserving aviation history, the museum offers an educational and inspiring experience for all ages.

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, is just a 25 minute road trip from Victoria. It is set amongst a picturesque orchard that has become a renowned destination for locals and visitors alike! Set against the backdrop of the stunning Saanich Peninsula, this family-owned cidery specializes in crafting artisanal, organic ciders using traditional methods.

Visitors can stroll through the scenic apple orchards, learn about cider production, and enjoy tastings of a diverse range of cider styles, from crisp and dry to sweet and sparkling as well as some incredible food in the bistro.

The farm’s commitment to sustainability and its dedication to creating high-quality, handcrafted ciders make Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse a delightful place to savor the flavors of the region while appreciating its natural beauty!

Victoria Butterfly Gardens 

The Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a self guided day tour in a captivating tropical oasis that offers a unique and immersive experience. The facility is home to thousands of butterflies from around the world, as well as various exotic plants and birds.

Visitors can wander through lush gardens, observe butterflies in various stages of their life cycle, and even witness butterfly releases. Guests can also check out the Insectarium and get an incredible hands-on experience with some cool and exotic insects! 

Beaches and Provincial Parks 

The Saanich Peninsula boasts an array of stunning beaches and provincial parks! Sidney Spit, part of Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, offers sandy shores, tidal flats, and excellent birdwatching. Island View Beach Provincial Park features a long sandy beach with views of Mount Baker.

Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park offers freshwater swimming and water sports amidst picturesque forests. John Dean Provincial Park is renowned for its hiking trails and panoramic vistas. These natural gems, combined with lush forests and diverse wildlife, make the Saanich Peninsula a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and beachgoers.

2. Day Trip to One of the Southern Gulf Island

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The Southern Gulf Islands, off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, form an enchanting archipelago of diverse landscapes and charming communities. These islands, including Salt Spring, Galiano, Pender, Saturna and Mayne Island are renowned for their stunning natural beauty, outdoor adventures, artisanal culture, and a relaxed island pace, making them an idyllic day trip from Victoria.

Our top recommendations for Southern Gulf Islands to explore are:

Salt Spring Island 

Salt Spring Island, the largest in the Southern Gulf Islands, is a vibrant blend of artisanal culture, lush landscapes, and a laid-back vibe. Known for its farmers’ markets, art galleries, and outdoor activities, it offers a serene retreat with a bohemian flair.

Pender Island

Pender Island, actually two islands—North Pender and South Pender—is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, offering kayaking, hiking, and beachcombing. The island’s laid-back charm and picturesque landscapes make it a hidden gem.

Mayne Island

Mayne Island, the historical heart of the Southern Gulf Islands, is rich in maritime history. Visitors can explore lighthouses, Japanese gardens, and scenic beaches while enjoying a serene island atmosphere.

Galiano Island

Galiano Island is a nature lover’s paradise, featuring rugged coastline, pristine forests, and hiking trails galore. Its tranquil ambiance and stunning vistas make it a haven for those seeking solace in the Pacific wilderness.

Saturna Island 

Saturna Island is a serene escape with rugged coastlines, pristine forests, and abundant marine life. It’s an ideal spot for whale watching, kayaking, and exploring the quiet beauty of the Southern Gulf Islands.

3. Day Trip to the Peaceful Cowichan Valley 

The Cowichan Valley, situated on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, is a scenic region known for its lush landscapes and vibrant culture. This area, encompassing towns like Duncan and Cobble Hill, offers diverse outdoor activities, from hiking to kayaking, and boasts a burgeoning wine and artisanal food scene thanks to its mild climate. With its natural beauty and welcoming communities, the Cowichan Valley is a hidden gem for residents and visitors alike.

These are the 4 best things to do while on a day trip to Cowichan Valley.

City of Duncan

Known as the “City of Totems,” Duncan is a charming city nestled in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. Known for its rich indigenous heritage and totem pole collection, Duncan offers a unique blend of cultural experiences.

The city is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and lush agricultural land making it a hub for outdoor recreation and incredible farm-to-table dining. With a quaint downtown featuring artisan shops, restaurants, cafes and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, Duncan is a delightful destination that captures the essence of Vancouver Island’s diverse culture and natural wonders.

  • Totem Tour Walk: The Totem Tour Walk is a captivating journey through the city’s rich indigenous heritage. Stroll through the streets adorned with intricate totem poles, each telling unique stories and preserving cultural traditions. This self-guided tour offers a glimpse into the artistry and history of the Cowichan Tribes, making it a must-visit experience for those seeking a deeper connection to the region’s indigenous culture.
  • Duncan Farmers Market: This vibrant community gathering, held in the heart of Duncan’s downtown every Saturday, is a great place to find local farmers, artisans, and vendors! With an incredible array of fresh produce, handcrafted goods, and delectable treats, visitors can savor the flavors of the Cowichan Valley, connect with local growers, and enjoy live music! You can really feel like a local at this lively market that celebrates the region’s agricultural richness and community spirit.
  • The BC Forest Discovery Centre: Want an immersive experience into the region’s forestry heritage? This is the place to go! Visitors can see vintage logging equipment, heritage buildings, and even take a ride on a working locomotive through this captivating 100 acre, outdoor museum! This fun and educational attraction offers insights into British Columbia’s forestry history, making it a fascinating journey through time and nature for all ages!

Wine Tasting in the Cowichan Valley

With a temperate climate and fertile soil, this area has been producing award-winning wines for years, becoming an official wine region in 2020. Renowned for its unique varietals and marine Mediterranean microclimate, the Cowichan Valley produces a diverse range of wines that cater to many different palates. From crisp white wines to robust reds, visitors can explore incredible wines, vineyards and wineries, each with its unique character and vintages.

Beyond the exceptional wines, the wineries often offer picturesque settings, inviting visitors to savor their favorite blends amidst stunning vineyard landscapes. Many establishments also have on-site restaurants that have wine tours that pair local wines with gourmet dishes, creating a gastronomic experience like no other.

Wine enthusiasts and novices alike can indulge in tastings, guided tours, and the warm hospitality of the winemakers, making wine tasting in the Cowichan Valley a truly immersive and memorable experience!

Check out the Murals in Chemainus 

No Victoria day trip list is complete without mentioning Chemainus. This charming town’s claim to fame is undoubtedly its impressive collection of murals, which adorn buildings throughout the community. These vibrant, larger-than-life artworks tell the story of Chemainus, showcasing its rich history, cultural heritage, and vibrant spirit.

With over 40 murals, Chemainus has transformed the town into an open-air museum, attracting art enthusiasts and tourists from far and wide. Each mural is a testament to the town’s resilience and creativity, as they were originally commissioned as part of an economic revitalization effort in the 1980s.

Strolling through the streets of Chemainus feels like walking through a living history book, with each mural offering a glimpse into the town’s past, from its logging roots to its present-day charm.

Stop by Cowichan Bay

Located just south of Duncan, this picturesque waterfront village is brimming with charm and character — perfect for a sightseeing tour. A historic maritime community and hidden gem, Cowichan Bay offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.

Strolling along its scenic boardwalk, you’ll find a vibrant mix of artisan shops, seafood restaurants, and galleries showcasing local talent. The bay itself is a haven for marine life and water activities, attracting kayakers, sailors, and wildlife enthusiasts. With its serene ambiance, stunning sunsets, and a strong sense of community, Cowichan Bay is a tranquil place to explore on a day trip from Victoria! 

4. Day Trip to Relax and Rejuvenate in Sooke

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Sooke, located on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast is a charming seaside community known for its stunning natural beauty. This scenic drive will take you up a rugged coastline through lush rainforests, and straight to the Pacific Ocean; it’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Visitors can explore parks, hike along scenic trails, and enjoy water activities like kayaking and whale watching. Sooke’s welcoming atmosphere and vibrant arts scene make it a popular destination for those seeking both relaxation and adventure in a picturesque setting.

You won’t want to miss these 4 things to do on a day trip to Sooke.

East Sooke Regional Park 

Situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island near Sooke, East Sooke Park is a coastal gem spanning over 3,500 acres of pristine wilderness. This expansive park offers visitors a diverse range of natural experiences, from rugged shorelines and hidden coves to dense forests and serene meadows.

Hiking enthusiasts can explore an extensive network of trails, including the renowned Coast Trail, which provides breathtaking views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountains. Birdwatchers, kayakers, and beachcombers also flock to East Sooke to enjoy its rich biodiversity and tranquil seaside ambiance. It’s a true haven for nature lovers seeking solace in the wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Sooke Potholes

Located within Sooke Potholes Regional Park, the potholes are a geological wonder and a popular natural attraction. These unique rock formations were formed by the erosive force of the Sooke River over thousands of years, creating a series of deep, smooth, and inviting rock pools and chutes.

Visitors flock to the area to cool off in the crystal-clear waters during the summer, making it a cherished swimming spot. The park also offers hiking trails that wind through lush forests, providing a peaceful escape into nature. The Sooke Potholes are a testament to the power of water and the allure of the great outdoors.

Whale Watching 

Whale watching from Sooke is a thrilling and unforgettable experience! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity allows guests to take a whale watching tour to explore the waters off Vancouver Island’s west coast, which are renowned for their rich marine life, including orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, and more.

The prime whale-watching season typically spans from April to October, with the chance to see these giants breaching, tail-slapping, and feeding in the nutrient-rich waters. It’s a captivating adventure that allows visitors to connect with the incredible biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying the stunning coastal landscapes that surround Sooke.

Sheringham Distillery 

This stunning craft distillery nestled on the rugged coastline of Sooke is renowned for its dedication to producing exceptional spirits with a strong sense of terroir. Using locally sourced ingredients, including grains, botanicals, and pure Pacific Ocean seawater, Sheringham creates a range of award-winning products, such as gin, vodka, and whisky.

Their flagship Seaside Gin is a standout, capturing the essence of the coastal region with botanicals like winged kelp and shore pine. Visitors to the distillery can take guided tours to learn about the distillation process and enjoy tastings while taking in breathtaking ocean views. Sheringham Distillery represents the harmonious blend of artisanal craftsmanship and the pristine beauty of Vancouver Island.

Which Day Trip from Victoria Will You Choose?

Victoria is a great location if you want to take day trips to explore more of south Vancouver Island! From the agricultural richness of the Saanich Peninsula to the enchanting Southern Gulf Islands, the charming Cowichan Valley, the artistic Chemainus, and the serene beauty of Sooke, there’s no shortage of incredible places to explore just beyond the city limits!

Featured Image Credit: kavram