Escape to Nature on a Visit to Victoria BC
We love living in Victoria. It’s one of Canada’s most beautiful, vibrant and sophisticated cities. We love the art here. The culture. The energy. The music, the restaurants and the stunning architecture.
That said, one of the other things we love most about Victoria is our ability to get away from all of that whenever the mood strikes. Because even though everything any urbanite could possibly need is just moments away, so too are some of the most breathtaking, unspoiled wilderness experiences to be found anywhere in North America.
Join us as we take a closer look at some of the incredible escapades nature-lovers can expect to find when visiting us in beautiful British Columbia.
Gowlland Tod has long been a favoured spot among BC’s peace-seekers. A lush destination that draws hikers, birdwatchers, photographers and picnickers in search of solace, the park has a little something for everyone. More than 25 kilometres of hiking trails of various skill levels wind their way through the grounds, and wildlife is abundant. The park is a portion of the larger Gowlland Range, which itself is one of the most well-preserved natural areas in the city.
Just north of Gowlland Tod, The Butchart Gardens represent a nature adventure of a slightly different type. The gardens were built by mining mogul Jennie Butchart at the dawn of the 20th century in order to beautify the former site of a limestone quarry. Today, the result is a stunning sunken arboretum, landscaped to perfection and featuring countless varieties of beautiful and colorful botanical species over several themed areas. This is a true must-see.
Visitors to Victoria Butterfly Gardens experience a truly awe-inspiring sight: thousands of butterflies of up to 70 colorful tropical species, all fluttering peacefully in an indoor habitat that’s been perfectly tailored to help them thrive. Kids of all ages simply cannot help but be overcome by the magnificent natural beauty of these lovely creatures. The gardens are also home to countless additional jungle species (including tree frogs, iguanas, tortoises, macaws and even flamingoes). A visit to the Gardens is a glimpse into another world you won’t want to miss.
Located on the north end of the Victoria metro area (and hugging the eastern bank of the Haro Strait), Mount Douglas is one of the area’s largest and most picturesque parks. A web of gently sloping trails winds its way up the hill’s elevation, offering hikers a mid-level challenge. Despite the relative ease of the ascent, intrepid trail-trekkers are rewarded with some genuinely world-class views. Soak up Victoria’s skyline to the south, admire lush vegetation in every direction and gaze north across the water all the way to San Juan Island on clear days. Mount Douglas always offers an experience to be treasured.
As the famous maxim goes: “Every journey begins with a single step.” In Victoria, many such adventures have begun at Mile Zero. Serving as the starting point for the 8,000-kilometre Trans-Canada Highway which spans the entire country, the Mile Zero marker sits near the city’s beautiful waterfront jewel, Beacon Hill Park. Mile Zero was also intended to be the end point for the famous cross-country run of folk hero and cancer-awareness activist Terry Fox prior to his succumbing to the illness. A memorial statue to Fox stands at the park.
You won’t find any ballerinas at Victoria’s hidden oasis. No reindeer, either. What you will discover At the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Sanctuary is a charmingly tucked-away pocket of serene natural beauty surrounded by a cozy residential neighborhood. Within the park, the dual ecosystems of Swan Lake’s marshland and Christmas Hill’s forest play host to an astonishing variety of wildlife and plant species, all coexisting in symbiotic harmony. This is a true environmental treasure.
This popular spot features not just one, but two lakes: Upper and Lower Thetis. You’ll also find a beautiful sandy beach, a separate dog beach, a scenic trail that circles the lakes, and more-challenging trails up Seymour and Scafe Hills. Whether you’re paddling across the water, enjoying a family picnic, or hopping in for a refreshing swim, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this natural gem.