Saanich Peninsula – A Refreshing Break & Day Trip from Victoria
Need a break from the city? How about a day trip outside of Victoria to the Saanich Peninsula? You’ll be amazed to learn just how many great attractions lie within an easy day trip of downtown Victoria. Out here, you’ll find fascinating museums, beautiful beaches, quaint villages, rolling hills, lush farmland, and plenty more to delight the senses. So get in the car, hop on the bus, or get on a bike, and come see all that the peninsula has to offer. A Day trip to Saanich from Victoria is guaranteed to be fun!
Morning: The Butchart Gardens
World famous, this is a must do on the Peninsula. Over 55 acres of gardens, the Gardens date back over 100 years and are a National Historic Site. Hint, we recommend you arrive there in time for the 9 a.m. opening as it can get very busy as the day progresses.
The Gardens are open every day of the year except Christmas Day and can be reached by following Keating Cross Road off the Patricia Bay (Pat Bay, Hwy 17). They are served by BC Transit #75 bus from downtown Victoria (Hint: ask the driver for a $5 DayPass which lets you travel throughout the System for one day, from Sidney to Sooke!)
During July and August there is evening entertainment and Saturday fireworks. Please check The Butchart Gardens’ website for schedules.
Morning Stop #2: Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Just a 5-minute drive away, (also on the #75 bus route) step inside Butterfly Gardens, where you’ll find a tropical paradise. This 12,000 square foot building was constructed specifically to house tropical plants and animals. Inside, you’ll encounter exotic butterflies, tropical ducks, stunning flamingos, rare birds, chameleons, geckos, poison dart frogs, tree frogs, sulcata, red-footed tortoises, giant koi, and many paradise-dwelling creatures.
For hours and admission, please visit Victoria Butterfly Gardens’ website.
Butterfly Gardens is located at 1461 Benvenuto Avenue in Brentwood Bay. To get there by car, follow Blanshard Street out of town as it turns into the Pat Bay Highway. After about 15 kilometres, turn left on Keating Cross Road. Once you cross West Saanich Road, you’ll see Butterfly Gardens on your left. Free parking is available on-site.
Biking the Peninsula
A trip to the peninsula is also a great opportunity for a bike ride. Follow the Galloping Goose trail out of town! You can exit the trail onto Interurban Road (after the Uptown junction). Heading north (away from the highway) will lead you to West Saanich Road, which in turn will lead you to Butterfly Gardens at the corner of West Saanich Road and Benvenuto Avenue. All in all, this ride should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
Bicycle rentals are available from several bike rentals operators in downtown Victoria, including pedal and e-bike options.
Mid-Day: Beer, Spirits and Cider Lover’s Paradise
Having visited the Gardens you might be thirsty by now. Why not visit some of the greatest brewery, distillery and cideries in the area? At 761 Enterprise Crescent, you’ll find Victoria Caledonian Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery. For something a little different, mix things up with a visit to the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse at 2487 Mount St. Michael Road. It is just off of the Pat Bay Highway.
Afternoon: Pacifica Paddle Sports OR The Gardens at HCP
With two great locations on the Saanich Peninsula (just outside Victoria, BC) they maintain the largest fleet of rental kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards on the West Coast. They also offer sales, repairs, lessons, tours, corporate programs & summer camps. Pacifica Brentwood Bay is located on 789 Saunders Lane, Brentwood Bay. Pacifica Swartz Bay is located on 2300 Canoe Cove Road, North Saanich.
The Pacifica Brentwood Bay is open every day (weather permitting) and Pacifica Swartz Bay is open by appointment only in the off season (Sept – April). Pacifica Brentwood Bay features access to beautiful Tod Inlet and Finlayson Arm. It makes it an ideal waterway for those looking to paddle in sheltered waters.
For more information, please visit Pacifica Paddle Sports’ website.
If paddling is not your thing and you a Garden lover, we have one more for your bucket list: The Gardens at HCP!
The Gardens at Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP), home to the Pacific Horticulture College, presents a year-round garden experience that all can enjoy.
Best visited by vehicle, it is located just 12 kilometres north of Downtown Victoria, On Quayle Road off West Saanich Road. Here you will find a public garden lovingly cared for by volunteers, staff and students. From the hands-on Children’s Garden to the largest outdoor Bonsai Garden in Canada, and the only outdoor bonsai Garden in Western Canada, you will find something to inspire at every visit.
The Gardens at HCP started to grow in 1979 and are proud to be a “gardeners garden”, connecting people with plants.
Back to Downtown Victoria
If you’re heading back to downtown Victoria after your day trip to the Saanich Peninsula, you can return by vehicle via the Pat Bay Highway. Take bus number 70 or 72 (Downtown), or cycle back along Lochside Trail.
A trip to the peninsula also works well if you’re planning on heading to Vancouver via the BC Ferries. The ferry terminal is only a few minutes away from the town of Sidney.
Book lovers should leave some time to stroll through the streets of Sidney. This quaint little town is home to one of the largest collections of used bookstores in all of Canada.