What to Do With Kids in Victoria

Family-friendly island attractions everyone will love

Photo by Landon Sveinson Photography/Tourism Vancouver Island

Victoria is more than a getaway for grown-ups—it’s a dream escape for kids. From star parties and cupcake teas to slimy bugs and drive-in ice cream, here's how to keep the kids happy in this pretty captial city. 

The Royal BC Museum’s Mammoths! Giants of the Ice Age (to Dec. 31) may spotlight behemoths, but it’s the tiniest giant that’s getting all the attention: a 40,000 year-old baby woolly mammoth. The exhibition is the Canadian debut for Baby Lyuba—the world’s most complete preserved mammoth. Touch mastodon teeth, explore the landscapes where the big beasts roamed, then catch Mammoths: Titans of the Ice Age at IMAX Victoria (located inside the museum.)

At Victoria Bug Zoo, get up close and personal with about 50 live species of tropical critters. Check out some of the world’s most "unappreciated" bugs like thorny devils, whirligig beetles and Canada’s largest captive ant colony. Get hands-on with a tarantula (like 19-year-old Norah) and slurp edible bug lollipops. Even big kids will agree glow-in-the-dark scorpions are pretty cool.

Crumsby’s Café was built with tykes in mind—one of its two locations is in an historic schoolhouse and both spots feature play areas that are stocked with toys. The café offers homemade baking, toddler tea parties and options for those with food sensitivities. Parents will appreciate the killer cappuccino.

At Fisherman’s Wharf, visit the colourful float home village or feed the resident seals. Stop in at the nearby Victoria Clipper ferry terminal where the new Songhees Seafood & Steam food truck serves up First Nations treats with a twist (think bison burgers and gluten-free bannock).

You’ll find the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm at the heart of beautiful Beacon Hill Park. The petting zoo is home to miniature donkeys, alpacas and cheeky peacocks and the farm’s twice-daily goat stampede is essential viewing. Tell yourself you’re going for the kids (pun intended), but don’t be surprised if it’s you who can’t get enough.

Beacon Drive-In is just a short stroll from the children’s farm. The old-school diner has been dishing up ice cream, sundaes, burgers and shakes for more than 50 years. A must-try is the soft-serve, which has been voted the best in the city for two decades—try the chocolate dip or classic vanilla.

At Cadboro-Gyro Park, climb inside an octopus or along the spine of a Cadborosaurus. The marine-themed playground is a local institution with access to a family-friendly beach. Time it right and you can catch the Cadboro Bay Festival (August 7) when sculptors carve elaborate scenes from sand.

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory is the place to be on Saturday nights. Its magical Summer Star Parties feature telescope tours and "constellation walks" that put kids at the centre of the lens. The parties are free but registration is required (select dates through August 20).