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Where to Take Your Kids in Victoria - Bugs, Parks, and Beaches

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From spotting cool critters to splashing in the sea and roaming in parks, kids can have a ball in Victoria. Family-friendly attractions and an enormous natural playground of beaches and open spaces keep youngsters active and entertained. If your little ones tire of walking, how about jumping aboard a harbor ferry?

Ferries and fish

 

Victoria's harbor ferries are a fun way to travel around the Inner Harbour and beyond. From March through October, you can hop on and off at 10 stops or take tours along the Gorge Waterway. After your kids have been out on the water, they can meet marine animals up close at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney, a half-hour drive north.

 

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

 

Sidney's aquarium offers a fascinating view of Salish Sea marine life. Tanks display more than 3,500 creatures, including an elusive octopus, ethereal-looking jellyfish, and scuttling crabs. A touch pool lets youngsters feel anemones, sea stars, and sea cucumbers.

 

9811 Seaport Place, Sidney V8L 4X3Tel: +1 250 665 7511

 

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre website

Beacon Hill Park

 

Young adventurers can scramble over rocks and race down grassy slopes in Victoria's sprawling downtown park. They can also fling themselves around 2 playgrounds on swings, play structures, and a zip line, before cooling off beneath a giant watering can in summer. The park's petting farm is a noisy menagerie of peacocks, rabbits, and ducks. The Beacon Drive-In, a family-friendly eatery, is right across the road.

 

Beacon Hill Children's Farm

 

Move over, Pamplona. Who needs bulls when you have a daily goat stampede in Victoria? Once the goats are out, kids can groom and pet them, or check out alpacas, pigs, and miniature donkeys. The farm is closed in winter.

 

Circle Drive, Victoria V8V 4Z8. Tel: +1 250 381 2532

 

Beacon Hill Children's Farm website

 

Beacon Drive-In

 

Burgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese are all on the menu here, but the restaurant is most famous for its gigantic soft-serve ice cream cones.

 

126 Douglas Street, Victoria V8V 2N9. Tel: +1 250 385 7521

 

Beacon Drive-In website

 

Bugs and butterflies

 

Children curious about mini beasts might encounter sticky banana slugs on forest trails or tiny hermit crabs in tide pools. The Victoria Bug Zoo brings more than 40 insect species together under one roof, including exotic bugs found only in the tropics. North of the city in Brentwood Bay, the Victoria Butterfly Gardens is a steamy greenhouse filled with around 75 types of butterflies.

 

Victoria Bug Zoo

 

Tour guides give you the lowdown on the zoo's resident praying mantises, ant colony, and hairy tarantulas. Brave visitors can handle a few of the critters, too.

 

631 Courtney Street, Victoria V8W 1B8. Tel: +1 250 384 2847

 

Victoria Bug Zoo website

 

Victoria Butterfly Gardens

 

More than 3,000 butterflies flutter around you in this tropical environment, which is also home to slider turtles, flamingos, parrots, and a giant iguana.

 

1461 Benvenuto Avenue, Victoria V8M 1R3. Tel: +1 877 722 0272

 

Victoria Butterfly Gardens website

 

Victoria beaches

 

Family-friendly beaches are dotted along Victoria's coastline and rarely become crowded. Willows Beach in Oak Bay is a protected sweep of sand with shallow water and views of Mount Baker. At Cadboro-Gyro Park, kids can give stand-up paddleboarding or skimboarding a try, if you can persuade them to leave the massive playground.

 

Willows Beach

 

This neighborhood beach attracts sunbathers, kayakers, and junior sandcastle architects. Facilities include changing rooms, a children's playground, and a tea room.

 

Dalhousie Street and Beach Drive, Victoria. Willows Beach website

 

Cadboro-Gyro Park

 

Children can clamber over a giant sea serpent, zoom along a zip line, and slide down an octopus's legs. The sheltered beach draws swimmers and water sports enthusiasts.

 

Sinclair Road, Victoria. Cadboro-Gyro Park website