So I take back what I said about this being a trip and not a vacation. The kids were absolutely amazing, and we all had a very relaxing time on the Island. I’ll share some of the things we did, so if you are planning a trip with children you can reference this. First of all we stayed in Sidney, so these are all either in North Saanich, Sidney or Victoria.
1. Panorama Recreation Centre and Playground (North Saanich)
We used to frequent the Panorama Recreation when we were little. It has been updated now, but it is a nice quiet pool to take kids (and it has a waterslide). We could have gone to the Commonwealth Pool in Victoria but it is more a hustling bustling place. The bonus of the Panorama Centre is the awesome playground outside. It has nice footing, lots of slides, a climbing wall and just general fun playground equipment.
2. Beacon Avenue (Sidney)
The main street of Sidney is called Beacon Avenue and it is home to a fabulous toy store. We picked up a few new toys – I’ve always wanted some of the wooden Montessori play items, and they had an amazing deal on a Kinderfeet Balance Board that was the floor model – I snatched that up in a heartbeat.
There is also a fun aquarium under the Pier hotel. It is not huge, but a perfect length that keeps the kids interested without spending hours looking at displays. Cedric was positively mesmerized with the jelly fish tanks. There was also a huge eel that rarely comes out, but it put on a show for us.
Another activity on Beacon is to walk the ocean front path, it is scenic, paved and a has a general good feel to it. One fun store to check out is this little hole in the wall called El Dorado Treasures that sells Alpaca clothes and imports from Peru – we got Cedric the cutest little jacket.
3. Beacon Hill Children’s Farm (Victoria)
This is always a fun place to visit! My sister and I even visited as adults. They have a few little corrals of animals (donkeys, chickens, a pig, alpacas etc) and a petting area full of little goats. The nice thing is the place does not feel like a zoo, it feels like you are visiting a farm. Among all the paths are peacocks. Peacocks everywhere and all the children who were visiting were quite enthralled with these majestic looking birds. Across from the Children’s Farm there are paths to walk, ponds to visit and plenty of ducks to see.
4. Mattick’s Farm (Cordova Bay between Sidney and Victoria)
This is a cute little shopping complex. The stores aren’t geared towards children, but it is a relaxing setting to stroll through and the bakery is amazing. My kids singlehandedly ate 2 giant sausage rolls. Neil went to the ice cream area and had a double cone. These cones were scooped very generously, it seemed like the cone was the size of Neil’s whole face – Amelia doesn’t even like ice cream, but she liked this stuff.
5. Butchart’s Garden (Brentwood Bay)
No trip to the Island is complete without visiting Butchart’s Garden. Even if you aren’t a plant person it is worth seeing. The children were quite taken with all the colourful flowers and many pathways to run along. There is also a large field to let the little ones run and one cannot forget to ride the magical carousel. The gardens kept the kids entertained for almost two hours. Two hours with little kids can seem like an eternity, but this flew by.
6. Island View Beach
With all my years on the Island I never visited Island View beach. It is a sandy-ish beach (very small fine rocks) covered in aged driftwood. Many people have built little driftwood shelters that Amelia enjoyed climbing on. She did get brave and went in one of the forts but decided climbing was better. It goes on and on so you can really have a nice walk. There is a paved path if you prefer to not walk right near the ocean.
We didn’t have time to visit the Butterfly Gardens but I remember it being really neat when I was a kid. I will take the kids the next time we visit. We were also told to check out the British Columbia Aviation Museum in North Saanich, but again had no time this round.
On the way back home the morning weather was beautiful so we took the kids out to the Ferry deck and let them go around the boat. That made time go so much faster than staying in the children’s play area. So if you have good weather, go outside….also splurge in the cafeteria for breakfast. Kids with bellies full of Belgian waffles, eggs benedict, hash browns and bacon sleep well on the road.
As a side note: we almost missed the ferry!! We literally made it with 45 seconds to spare before we lost our reservation (if you are later than 30 min before your sailing they cancel your booking – no exceptions). I would have been so annoyed with myself if we had missed the 7am ferry and had to wait until 9am for the next sailing.
The drive back home had beautiful driving weather. Just the right amount of sunshine and clouds. Amelia was a potty trained champion and never had an accident the entire trip. I recommend travelling with a mini potty that you can whip out even in the absolute middle of nowhere. Cedric napped quite a bit in the truck, and was also an excellent passenger.
Everything is back to business as usual already. Amelia happily went off to daycare, and Cedric spent the day at home with us. Tomorrow I’ll take Cedric out shopping for an activity.
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