When the weather starts to turn a little dreary, locals and tourists alike tend to want to stay indoors. If you are visiting or live in and around Victoria, this family-friendly list of ideas is for you. Below you’ll find the best indoor activities in Victoria.
Afternoon Tea at the Empress
For over a century, the Fairmont Empress has been serving up England’s most famed ritual of afternoon tea to their guests. Choose from a variety of fine loose leaf teas (there are over 20!) and indulge in house-made delicacies such as scones, pastries, and delicate sandwiches. There’s even a children’s afternoon tea menu. All of the menu items are created fresh daily using ingredients from local suppliers. While sipping and tasting, the lounge is filled with live classical piano music. Tea at the Empress is truly a quintessential Victoria experience. Please note: this activity has a dress code.
Located next to the Victoria International Airport, and housed in three large hangers, the British Columbia Aviation Museum showcases many interesting aircraft, engines, pictures, models and artifacts. The collection relates to the history of aviation in Canada, with an emphasis on British Columbia’s aviation history. In the Memorial Room, you’ll find artefacts from the wars in which Canadians fought as members of the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, or Royal Canadian Air Force. Open every day except Christmas and New Years.
Board Game Cafe
If you love playing games, the Board Game Cafe is the place to be. For just $5.00 per person, you can stay and play for as long as you like (only $2.50 if under 12 years of age) and play as many games as you like! There are over 800 games to choose from, which is why they have game experts on hand to help you choose the perfect game for your group. While you are there enjoy some yummy food, treats and drinks (including their famous milkshakes and cookies). The cafe has two separate sides to choose from, a family-friendly side and an adult-only side, which is all the same fun just with booze. The Board Game Cafe is located at 732 Yates Street.
Get up-close-and-personal with Malaysian Jungle Nymphs, Tarantulas, Scorpions, Dead-Leaf Mantis, and Walking Sticks (to name a few). If you are interested in learning about large tropical bugs and/or you have a fascination to hold them, then the Victoria Bug Zoo would be a good place to explore. Throughout your time there, staff offer ‘demonstration times’ for a closer look at a particular species. During the demonstration, you have the opportunity of a “safe bug handling experience” (ie: let the bug crawl or sit on your hand). It’s a great way to spend a few hours of your time.
Roam through this large facility while thousands of tropical butterflies fly freely. It’s a unique opportunity to view the workings of a tropical jungle up close. While at Butterfly Gardens, you’ll also encounter frogs, tortoises, iguanas, flamingos, tropical ducks, free-flying tropical birds and more. In the pond and stream, equipped with a beautiful waterfall, you’ll also see a variety of tropical fish. In the lush gardens admire the tropical flowers, carnivorous plants, and fruits of the world. Insider tip: It’s warm in there, so leave your jackets in the car. Also, your camera tends to fog up, due to the humidity, so getting that ‘magic shot’ is hard to do.
Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal, was at one time the richest and most important man in Western Canada. He built his Victorian mansion between 1887 and 1890. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1889 before the castle was even completed, leaving his wife and children his entire estate. His fortune is prominently displayed and reflected in the four-floor mansion, that is now a National Historic Site. Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored and gives visitors a glimpse of how the wealthy lived in the late 1800s. For an extremely interesting history book about this family, as well as Vancouver Island, I highly recommend The Dunsmuir Saga.
Visiting the Maritime Museum is a chance for the whole family to experience British Columbia’s marine heritage. The museum holds a vast collection of over 35,000 artifacts, spanning from 1775 to the present, that have unique significance to the history of BC. They also host evening talks and craft workshops that look at maritime history in unique and creative ways. As well, educational programs on topics such as immigration, pirates and privateers, women at sea, and the fur trade are also available.
Voted as one of the best places to visit in Victoria, Miniature World allows one to reconnect with their inner child. There are over 85 miniature dioramas to view, including two of the world’s largest dollhouses (circa 1880) with over 50 beautifully furnished rooms. They also hold one of the world’s largest model railways. Each of the displays is intricately constructed with exquisite detail. It’s the perfect way to while away an entire afternoon.
Royal BC Museum and Imax Theatre
Founded in 1886, and joined forces with the Archives in 2003, the museum has become British Columbia’s combined provincial museum and archives. They have a vast collection of artefacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history. It’s a showcase of 550 million years of natural history and 9000 years of human history in BC. They also always have a large section of the museum dedicated to other major exhibits. Up until December 31, 2019, you can experience Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises. 2020 will feature an Orca exhibit. The Royal BC Museum is a must-see when in Victoria.
Home to the largest IMAX screen in British Columbia, IMAX Victoria in the Royal BC Museum now also has one of only thirty-five IMAX 4K Laser Projections Systems in the World. It’s an experience designed to transport the viewer to amazing worlds, where senses and emotions are engaged by the sharpest, brightest, clearest and most vivid images. Plus, it’s all accompanied by a new level of immersive audio. They offer traditional IMAX films as well as Hollywood Feature films in 2D or 3D. It makes a ‘night out at the movies’ a little more magical.
Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Explore and learn about the Salish Sea Bioregion at the Shaw Centre. While there, view over 160 species of marine life, a marine mammal artefact exhibit, and a unique Coast Salish art collection. This aquarium and learning centre offers an interactive, informative and hands-on experience to people of all ages. The Centre is located in the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa and is open daily from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm.
As you can see there are several great ways to spend a dreary day while in Victoria. We hope you find this list of the best indoor activities in Victoria useful! Would you add any more locations? Let us know in the comments below.
If you are looking for outdoor activities, read this article: Top Outdoor Attractions in Victoria
For ideas in Nanaimo, check out this article: Best Indoor Activities in Nanaimo
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