2015 guide to victoria with toddlers and kids

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Victoria with Kids

 

Thinking about visiting Victoria, British Columbia with kids? Perfect for a family weekend getaway, this Vancouver Island gem of a city has plenty to keep little ones busy.  Here is our detailed guide to Victoria’s most family friendly hotels, attractions and restaurants. Incidentally, Vancouver Island was voted one of the top islands in the Continental USA and Canada for 2013 by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

getting to victoria, british columbia
family friendly hotels in victoria
family friendly attractions in victoria
family friendly restaurants in victoria

 

getting to victoria, bcgetting to victoria, bc

Victoria is served by ferry service from both Vancouver British Columbia , Port Angeles and Seattle Washington. Seaplane service is available from downtown Vancouver, Vancouver Airport and Whistler,  and Helijet service is available from downtown Vancouver.  Victoria also has an international airport located about 30 minutes outside of the city (YYJ).  For more information, see getting to Victoria from Tourism Victoria

The city itself is very walkable, with many tour options that kids would enjoy including double decker buses, harbor ferries, and horse drawn carriages.   To explore Vancouver Island in it’s entirely, a car rental makes the most sense (it is roughly 1/4 the size of England).  For more information see getting around from Tourism Victoria.

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family friendly hotels in victoria, bc

note:  If you are in need of childcare or baby equipment, we offer a directory on our website for both (see babysitter directory or baby equipment rental directory).

magnolia victoria with kidsthe magnolia boutique hotel (website)

Located just a block away from Victoria harbor, and main city attractions, this freshly renovated hotel (2013) provides a luxurious experience for traveling families. Extras include free wifi, complimentary breakfast in their restaurant, Aveda toiletries, in-room Torrefazione coffee, bottled water and plush robes for both parents and kids alike.

nightly rate class: $$
hotel class: 4.5 star
rooms: connecting room available for families
reviews: 94% of families recommend on tripadvisor
note: Some of the higher floor rooms have excellent views
get a deal: Book early and save up to 30% on your stay. See their specials page for more.

 

the victoria regent boutique hotel (website)

victoria regent hotel with kidsThis is one of the best (and in my opinion most underrated) suite hotels for families in Victoria.  The location is fantastic and the stunning harbor view with it’s constant activity, keeps kids mesmerized.  The very spacious suites are well appointed with full kitchens and large decks.  Nice touches include Deserving Thyme toiletries, plush robes, free wifi, complimentary bottled water, continental breakfast and newspaper as well as complimentary underground parking.

rate class: $$
hotel class: 3 star (in my humble opinion it should be at least a 3.5 star)
rooms: spacious deluxe rooms or 1 and 2 bedroom suites (with up to 4 queen beds )
reviews: 93% of families recommend on tripadvisor
note: Harbor view rooms are well worth the money (and are quieter than rooms on the street side).
get a deal: Book outside of 30 days and save 25% on your stay.  Extended stay rates are also available.  See specials page for more.

 

oswego hotel victoria with babies, toddlers, kidsthe oswego boutique hotel (website)

Also very well located in Victoria is this all suite boutique hotel.  Accommodations range from roomy studio suites to 2 bedroom penthouse suites, all with luxury finishes, full gourmet kitchens, free wifi, soaker tubs, use of the fitness room and laundry facilities.  The hotel also offers rates for extended stays.  Nice touches include nightly turndown service, welcome fruit, and complimentary in room coffee and water.


rate class: $$
rooms: studio, 1 and 2 bedroom suites with kitchens
reviews: 93% of families recommend on tripadvisor
note: Although the studio suite is spacious, many reviewers recommend upgrading to the 1 bedroom.

And finally, although I am not really a large hotel person, I do appreciate that a pool is critical for many families.  Here would be my large hotel pick:

delta victoria ocean pointe resort and spa (website)

delta victoria ocean pointe hotel with kidsFreshly off a renovation, this hotel has gorgeous modern harbor view rooms, and great amenities including a complimentary health club, indoor swimming pool,  and tennis courts. They make a special effort to welcome families traveling with small children with a kid’s check in desk, evening fireside story time with milk and cookies, a bag of goodies upon check-in, cribs and high chairs, and a children’s menu in the restaurant.

nightly rate class: $$
hotel class: 4 star
rooms: 1 king or 2 queen bed rooms
reviews: 93% of families recommend on tripadvisor
note: The hotel is over a small bridge from some of the main Victoria sites.  Although it is not a long walk, you can also make use of the hotel shuttle or the harbor water taxi.
get a deal: Family specials include free or discounted meals for children.  See specials page on website for more information.

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family friendly activities and attractions for in victoria, b.c.

While Victoria does not currently have a discount attraction pass like some cities, be sure to check out the Tourism Victoria ‘deals & promotions’ page for coupons. You may also want to check out  their calendar of events for things going on around the city.  Finally, I stumbled across a nice little website for locals called victoria mom which has listings for playgrounds, pools, water parks as well us upcoming events for kids in the city.

royal bc museum – (website)
675 belleville street  (map)
(250)356-7226

royal bc museum victoria with kidsBig hits with children include the Modern History Gallery where children experience the sights and sounds of an early 1900’s town, including watching Charlie Chaplin films at the theatre and waiting for the train to come into the station.  Also very popular are the coastal forest, sea shore, and Fraser river delta exhibitions as well as the collection of first nations artifacts.  If you have the time, be sure to stay for an IMAX film.

reviews: 98% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: see pricing 
hours: daily 10am-5pm

 

victoria bug zoo – (website)
631 courtney street  (map)
(250) 384 2847

This cute little zoo is an excellent opportunity to view and experience multi-legged creatures from around the world in a safe, fun and friendly atmosphere. Get up close and personal with live giant walkingsticks, alien-eyed praying mantids, hairy tarantulas and glow-in-the-dark scorpions. Knowledgeable “bug guides” reveal the exotic secrets of this hidden kingdom and provide a safe animal handling experience for the more adventurous (clearly not for those with entomophobia – fear of insects).

reviews: 88% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: 2 year and under free,  3-10 years $7,  11-18 years $8,  adult $10,  senior $9
hours: daily 11am-5pm

 

beacon hill park children’s farm – (website)
circle drive (map)
(250) 381-2532

beacon hill children's farmA short walk from the Victoria harbor, is the wonderful Beacon Hill Park.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy the gorgeous gardens.  In the middle of the park is a children’s farm and petting zoo.  Arrive by 10:10 to see the famous ‘running of the goats’.

reviews: 93% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adults $3.50, children $2.50
hours: daily 10am-4pm

 

prince and princess tea at the empress hotel (website)
721 government street (map)
(250-389-2727)  emp.diningres@fairmont.com

princess tea at the victoria empressAfternoon tea at the historic Empress Hotel in Victoria has been a tradition since the early 1900’s.  The recently restored tea room not only caters to adults, but also offers a very special prince and princess tea for little ones.  The menu includes a mini tea service (or juice), along with delights such as fresh strawberries, egg, ham and turkey mini sandwiches, raisin scone with Empress cream, mini chocolate cupcake and more. As this is a very popular event, reservation are recommended especially on weekends.  Yes, it is a splurge, and one certainly could find a lovely cup of tea elsewhere in Victoria.  All I can say, however, is that I went with my grandmother when I was about 5 and I still remember it as a very special experience.

reviews: 82% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: adult tea service $59.95 from may- sept,  $49.95 all other times, children 1/2 price
hours: from 12:00 p.m. daily with the last seating at 3:45 p.m

 

victoria hippo tours amphibious busvictoria hippo tours (website)
tours depart from 468 belleville st. (map)
Toll Free: 1-855-884-4776
Tel: (250) 590-5290

If you are going to do a tour with kids in Victoria, this one will be sure to keep them entertained.  This amphibious boat runs several tours a day during the summer season.

reviews: 93% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: infants are free, 1-2 years – $5,  3-12 – $28, students 13-17 and seniors – $38, adults $43  (family rate of $125 also available – see website)
tour times: may 1st – sept 30th daily (including holidays), every hour on the hour between 11am-5pm (also 10am and 6pm during july and august)

 

miniature world (website)
649 humbolt street (map)
(250) 385-9731

While I find this place a little tired, and ever so slightly creepy, kids simply love it !  Even the less enamored have to appreciate that a ton of work has gone into the many historical scenes depicted in the displays.  There is a lot to look at and even better, lots of buttons for little ones to push.  It is also conveniently located one street over from the Bug Zoo so you can make an afternoon of it.

reviews: 85% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: children $8, youth $10, adults $15, seniors $11 ($1 off if you buy online)
hours: mid may – labour day 9am-9pm,  labor day – mid may 9am-5pm

 

munro’s book store (website)
1108 government street (map)
250-382-2464

Munro’s Books occupies a landmark location in the heart of Victoria’s Old Town.  Opened in 1963 by Jim Munro and his first wife, famed Canadian author Alice, the store has a nice children’s book section in the back.  In a time when local owner run books stores are a rarity, this place is a real treat.

reviews: 100% recommend on tripadvisor
hours: mon – wed + sat  9am – 6pm, thur and fri, 9am-9pm, sun & holidays 9:30am -6pm

 

attractions outside of victoria (close to airport and bc ferry terminal)

 

victoria butterfly gardens – (website)
1461 benvenuto ave., brentwood bay (map)
(250) 652-3822

Not only is this quite enjoyable for children, it is also right down the road from the famed Buchart Gardens and next to Church and State Winery (if you actually think you can pull that off with kids).  It is about 30 minutes outside of Victoria, towards the ferries and airport. Here you will find a 12,000 sq ft enclosure showcasing 3000 butterflies amongst the flora, along with tropical ducks, flamingos, other rare tropical birds and Koi swimming in the stream and pond.  My kids particularly enjoyed looking at various specimens under the microscopes.

reviews: 85% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: under 5 years  free,  5-12 years $5,  student $10,  adult $16,  senior $10
hours: open daily : may 1 -sept 1 9:30am-5pm, dec 1-31st 10am-7pm, all other 10am-5pm

 

shaw ocean discovery – (website)
9811 seaport place, sidney  (map)
(250) 665-7511

This lovely aquarium and educational facility is about 30 minutes outside of Victoria in Sidney (near the Swartz Bay ferry terminal).  It is really well done with it’s only shortcoming being it’s small size.  From the mouthes of babes I quote “Where’s the rest of it mom?”. Still, it has some really nice exhibits and a fantastic touch pool with very helpful volunteers.  My children particularly enjoyed the cool mock elevator entrance experience.

reviews:  78% recommend on tripadvisor
rates: 2 year and under free,  3-6 years $5,  7-17  years $8,  adults $15
hours: daily 10am-4pm (july and august 10am-5pm)

 

mineral world – (website)
9808 seaport place, sidney  (map)
(250) 655-4367

mineral world scratch patch victoria, bcDirectly across from the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is this little geologists delight.  Their interactive Scratch Patch allows kids to play inside caves while sorting and learning about a variety of polished rocks and minerals.  My children spent almost two hours sorting and matching, leaving with a $6 bag of pretty stones.  It seemed like a good value overall.

reviews:  while this is not yet rated on tripadvisor, my kids gave it a 9/10
rates: entrance free, optional hand picked bag of colorful stones runs $6-$20
hours: daily 10am-5pm

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family friendly restaurants in victoria, bc

 

disclaimer:  I am biased towards local and unique restaurants (preferably licensed), over large chains, which I figure you can easily find on your own.

 

downtown victoria kid friendly restaurants

rebar– modern vegetarian –  $$ – 87% recommend
50 bastion square (map)
250-361-9223

red fish, blue fish – take out fish – $$ – 89% recommend
1006 wharf street (map)
250-298-6877

the mint – northwest asian – $$$ – 88% recommend
1414 douglas street (map)
250-386-6468

pizzeria prima strada  – italian pizza – $$ – 80% recommend

2960 bridge street (map)
250-590-4380

230 cook street (map)
250-590-8595

milestones – american – $$$ – 77% recommend
812 wharf street (map)
250-381-2244

pagliacci’s – italian, pasta – $$$ – 80% recommend
1011 broad street (map)
250-386-1662

sen zushi – japanese sushi  –  $$$ –  90% recommend
940 fort street (map)
250-385-4320

hernande’z –  tacos – $ – 84% recommend
735 yates street (map)
250-884-5313

shine cafe  –  breakfast, burgers – $$ –  86% recommend
1320 blanshard street (map)
250-595-2134

bin 4 burger lounge – burgers, northwest – $$ –  84% recommend
911 yates street (map)
250-590-4154

side dish – mediterranean –  $  – 92% recommend
1008 langley street (map)
250-477-9995

cenote – sandwiches, tapas – $ – 95% recommend
768 yates street (map)
778-433-4848

cafe bliss – vegetarian, raw food – $$ – 88% recommend
556 pandora ave (map)
250-590-5733

paradiso di stelle –  coffee, gelato, dessert  – $ – 87% recommend
10 bastion square (map)
250-920-7266

the soda shop – ice cream –  $  – 79% recommend
801 government street (map)
250-382-4249

ooh la la cupcakes – cupcakes, sweet treats – $ – 85% recommend
619 broughton street (map)
250-590-8019

bon macaron –  french bakery – $ –  84% recommend
1012 broad street (map)
778-265-0850

roger’s chocolates – chocolates and treats – $ –  80% recommend
913 government street (map)
250-881-8771

 

oak bay kid friendly restaurants (minutes from downtown victoria)

the village cafe – breakfast, brunch –  $$ – 84% recommend
2518 estevan ave (map)
250-592-8311

crumsby’s cupcake cafe – bakery, sandwiches – $ – 81% recommend
2509 estevan ave (map)
250-595-2221

marina restaurant  – international plus sushi bar – $$$ –  78% recommend
1327 beach drive (map)
250-598-8555

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