Victoria is the capital city of beautiful British Columbia and a nature lover's paradise. It's famous for its stunning natural beauty and its temperate climate which have you wanting to be outside from sunrise to sunset. With plenty of outdoor activities available, from hiking and mountain biking to gardening and golf, spending a whole day outside isn't very hard to do at all. On top of that Victoria, BC has a thriving arts and culture scene as well as an incredible urban landscape with old world architecture and historic buildings to be discovered.
Being home to one of the most agreeable climates in Canada and more than 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, this is definitely where you want to go for a nature getaway. Whether you're visiting the city for the first time or are lucky enough to live here, you should take the time to explore the different parks in Victoria. Many of them offer trekking, kayaking or other activities you won't want to miss out on.
To enjoy your trek to the fullest, leave extra bags and backpacks with bounce Victoria luggage storage. Don't let your belongings slow you down when you can easily find a place to store your bags near the park.
Beacon Hill Park
Spending time outside doesn't always mean that you have to be active, and Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria is the ideal place to relax and have a picnic. This park consists of perfectly manicured gardens with colorful flowerbeds, meadows of Garry oak and smoothly paved paths making it easily accessible and a beautiful spot for a stroll.
Being around since 1882 this greenspace is well known in Victoria and one of its most treasured public parks. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful it also boasts plenty of sports and leisure activities like a golf putting green, baseball diamond, lawn bowling area, picnic shelter, cricket pitch and even an on site petting zoo called the Beacon Hill Children's Farm. The whole family can have fun here and kids adore the water park found in the center of the greenspace.
Once you're finished at the park you can walk across Douglas Street and grab some ice cream from Beacon Drive-in, completing the perfect afternoon in Victoria. Overall the park spans over 75 hectares and is a place that's appreciated by the entire community. Fun fact: this park is home to one of the tallest totem poles in the world, called the Story Pole which was erected back in 1956.
With two separate playgrounds, a lovely sandy beach by the shore and several shaded greenspaces where you can cool off in the shade, there's no reason to wonder why this is a favorite park for many families and locals in Victoria. Young families enjoy the toddler section which is equipped with a bridge, double slides and a steering wheel little ones can play with. Older kids won't feel left out with the children's playground equipped with bigger toys and a climbing jungle gym.
While you're here take a minute to look across the water to enjoy breathtaking scenery and even spot the Oak Bay Marina, Mount Baker and Discovery Island. Some people claim to have marveled at majestic whales in the distance. If the weather gets too hot you can use the on site bathrooms to change into your bathing suit and take a dip in the water, since this is one of the most popular swimming spots in the city. The Kiwanis Club runs a nearby concession stand and tea room for refreshments, too. If you're around in June keep an eye out for the Oak Bay Tea Party. Fun carnival events happen including a parade, airshow, bathtub race and more.
Esquimalt Gorge Park
Founded back in 1905, this lovely greenspace has earned a spot as one of Victoria's best parks. It has a great riverside location with a paved walking path that'll bring you right by the water with plenty of benches where you can stop to rest or just admire the view. You'll often see local joggers using the paths, and the picnic tables make it one of the most popular parks for families and couples to spend a day. Make use of water fountains, a playground, and washrooms as well.
By far one of the top attractions in Esquimalt Gorge Park is the stunning Japanese Garden where you can stroll amongst beautiful flowers. Check out the educational centre before you leave, you might learn something new. The park is also dog friendly so feel free to bring your four legged family members with you.
Goldstream Provincial Park
If you're looking for somewhere to get lost in nature and be active, head straight to Goldstream Provincial Park. This is where you can go to get a real taste of British Columbian beauty, and there are plenty of hiking trails that'll bring you past some really incredible sights. The fun thing is that the walking trails have different difficulties ranging from being flat and wheelchair accessible to being challenging with steep inclines.
The park was built in an old temperate rainforest where some of the Douglas fir trees are aged up to 600 years old. As you make your way through what is one of Victoria's top provincial parks you'll come across impressive waterfalls, a calm meandering river and some colorful wildflowers. You can even do some wildlife and bird watching depending on what time you visit. During October and November, you could spot chum salmon and bald eagles.
You'll find Cadboro-Gyro Park close to Cadboro Bay Village and the University of Victoria, and it's no doubt one of the favorite parks of many kids within the city. It's a local treasure thanks to its beach themed playground complete with huge sea creatures, octopuses, salmon fish and a boat which the young ones can climb and play on. Let their imagination run wild as they take a ride on the zipline and search for shipwrecked treasures along the beach area.
Slides, swing sets, changing rooms, washrooms and a grassy area along with the sandy beach make it the perfect place to meet up with friends or have a family outing. While the kiddos play the grown-ups can relax on the Cadboro Bay waterfront looking to spot sailboats.
You can even see the Juan de Fuca strait and the Olympic Mountains from here, and if you want to get into the water yourself there's a non-motorized boat launch and it's also a great place for paddle boarding, swimming or kayaking in the bay.
Fisherman's Wharf Park
Fisherman's Wharf Park has quite a lot to offer, like herb gardens and an exciting children's play area. It's a good place to bring the kids to get their energy out with swings, a climbable merry-go-round, basketball court and plenty to do in the nearby Fisherman's Wharf town. There's even a spacious field where you can go flying kites and benches where you can sit and take it easy.
You can spend all day exploring Victoria's Inner Harbor where there are plenty of places to eat and some spots to go sightseeing, too. Once you're done playing and admiring the ocean views of the park you can browse through the many shops in the area, go see the floating houseboats or taste some local seafood at the neighborhood restaurants and food kiosks. If you're lucky you might spot harbor seals popping up looking for fish.
Elk Lake and Beaver Lake Regional Park
Elk Lake and Beaver Lake are beautiful on their own, but you can see them both if you take on the 10km trek that loops around them. The hike is pretty flat and not too challenging so you should be able to tackle it even if you aren't an experienced hiker. Bring your fishing rod because along the hike you'll find a fishing pier giving you the opportunity to try your hand at the hobby.
During the warm summer months, you'll find plenty of places to do watersports, including 4 beaches where you can swim. There are also spots to try kayaking and canoeing. When you get hungry, pause at Elk Lake where there's a concession area and a restaurant that you can stop at for a meal. Here's a fun fact for you; if you happen to see a team of talented rowers you might actually be looking at the Canadian Olympic Rowing Team since this is where they often go to train.
East Sooke Regional Park
Don't miss your chance to stop by East Sooke Park, a truly beautiful park near Victoria, BC. Although it's technically located outside of the city it's well worth the small journey to reach it. Here, you'll have the chance to explore a nice path system bordered by changing landscapes that span 40km. As you walk you'll be taken through marshes, forests and sprawling fields, and there's even 10km dedicated to a coastal trail.
You should reserve the entire day if you're going to be coming here and maybe pack a lunch to eat at one of the picnic areas. You'll definitely want to bring a camera to catch some shots of the amazing natural beauty of the rocky scrambles by the water or the views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the distance. The park even has some tide pools where you can go scuba diving if you want to.
Cook Street Playground
This is a nice place for grown-ups and children alike to spend the day and your kids will be excited as soon as they spot the park from the parking lot. It's one of the best municipal parks in Victoria and has 2 playgrounds with plenty of places to have fun like a carousel with climbable ropes, ladders, textured rocks, steps, a dinosaur themed sandbox and more.
While the little ones have a blast in the playground the parents can take a stroll around the paths that circle the large green space. You can even play sports here in the 2 fields or meet up with small and large groups of friends on the benches and picnic tables, or just take to the shade of one of the massive trees in the park. Bring your rackets because there are tennis courts on site, too.
For a place to enjoy lush greenery and wonderful landscaping, you can't do much better than the stunning Butchart Gardens. This not-so-small park is a place that can be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike and is one of Victoria's most impressive and scenic walking areas.
This picturesque garden has actually been around for over a century and spans 55 acres with gorgeous flowers and more than 900 varieties of plants plus 26 greenhouses you can spend all afternoon in. Butchart Gardens is a designated Natural Historic Site of Canada and receives more than a million guests per year. The gardens are not free to enter but tickets aren't very expensive and it's definitely worth the price.
Enjoying nature in Victoria, BC
Victoria is such a great place to visit and is perfectly geared toward people who have a passion for outdoor adventures. You won't believe how many greenspaces there are in the city and we were only able to highlight some of them.
Many of the parks mentioned above have playgrounds and areas for kids, but if you're looking to find a little sun and surf than what was introduced here, we've got just the thing for you in this guide on beaches near Victoria. Take advantage of the city's great location by the coast.
Now that you know the best places to be outside in Victoria you're ready for the nature getaway of a lifetime. For a place to rest after a busy day, our guide on hostels in Victoria will point you in the right direction.