September in Victoria BC

Traditions run deep in Victoria: July begins with a bang, August with a splash, and September in Victoria BC always begins with all the fun of the fair.

The Saanich Fall Fair has shown local agricultural exhibits, music and crafts –  since 1868 at Saanich Fairgrounds in the centre of the peninsula on the Labour Day weekend. A final summer bash.

That same weekend has a delightful sight in the Inner Harbour: the Victoria Classic Boat Festival, now in its 40th year. The boats may not be the biggest or most spectacular but they are classy and beautiful. See a sail-past and a steam boat parade, watch a rowing regatta in the Gorge Waterway and dory races (small shallow-hulled fishing boats).

For me, the best part of September here is the combination of fine touristy weather (an “Indian summer” is not uncommon), the gradual softening of colours as early fall sets in, and the easing off of the busy crowds. It’s a good time to discover Vancouver Island. One might say that September compares to July and August in the words of Robert Frost “I took the one less traveled by, and that has been all the difference”. So come and take the quieter road: September in Victoria BC.

 

 

August in Victoria BC

August in Victoria BC begins with a splash. On the first Sunday of the month a large crowd happily descends on Victoria’s Inner Harbour for Symphony Splash,  one of the biggest annual orchestral events on the continent. It always ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with carillon bells and cannon fire with fireworks concluding a memorable evening.

Festivals and special events run throughout the month. Take in the spectacular annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, from 18th to 20th August in 2017. Watch 2,500 paddlers in 90 colourful dragon boats dramatically race. The festival includes many opportunities to learn about native culture.

The Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival runs from 23rd August to 3rd September 2017 at numerous locations featuring 350 artists in 58 shows. Buy a festival button or attend one of the free events. There’s drama and comedy, music and theatre.

Free Summertime Movies are screened on Friday and Saturday evenings in Beacon Hill Park at the Cameron Bandstand. The 2017 programme includes the original version of Dirty Dancing.

Summer markets continue with local artisans and growers proudly displaying their ware: Bastion Square, James Bay, The Hudson, Saanich Fairgrounds, North Saanich and the Sidney street market.

Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria (20th August in 2017).  Cyclists bring speed, verve and colour on three routes, from 45km to 140km for beginners to experienced riders.

Arts and Music in the Gardens on 26th and 27th August – over 50 artists set up in the nine acres of themed gardens at The Gardens at HCP on the Saanich Peninsula.

… and don’t forget the impressive illuminations and concerts every evening at the Butchart Gardens and their Saturday night fireworks.

July in Victoria BC

July in Victoria BC always starts with a bang: Canada Day. Join in with the local celebrations even if only to ooh and aah at the fireworks displays. In 2017, Canada Day celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday.

Visiting Victoria BC in July has something for everyone, from regular summer activities to festivals and events.

For example, the Royal BC Museum presents a major exhibition each summer in addition to its highly impressive regular exhibits. In 2017 “Terry Fox: Into the Heart of Canada” celebrates the inspiring story of this heroic young man. Also: visit the Terry Fox monument at Mile 0 of the 8,000km Trans-Canada Highway, at Beacon Hill Park. While there enjoy a stroll through our favourite park with its floral displays, pond and bridge, heronry, petting zoo, cricket pitch and more.

When I visit a new city I like to check if there are any special festivals taking place. One of these in July in Victoria BC is the Victoria International Buskers Festival. In 2017, this runs from 14th to 23rd July. If you miss the Festival you’ll catch a variety of performers on the Inner Harbour causeway every summer day. Look for the one man band (how many instruments does he play?).

The Butchart Gardens are a must for any itinerary, with many hours of delights. These end invariably with a concert on the lawn each evening in July. A wide variety of high quality music is enjoyed in a glorious setting. Afterwards, stay to wander through the illuminated gardens where lights replace flowers for colourful displays. On Saturdays in July there’s the additional bonus of a 15 minute firework display accompanied by music.

Summer markets abound where local artisans and farmers proudly present their wares in a buzz of activity. My favourite is the Thursday evening street market in Sidney, just north of Victoria.

Explore the area – the lakes, beaches, hills, wineries and farms and the Vancouver Island coastline that surrounds us for kayaking, sailing, whale-watching.

Do ask your B&B hosts for information about the events and activities that might interest you. Alternatively, visit the Tourism Victoria InfoCentre in the Inner Harbour for details about all that’s happening in July in Victoria BC and southern Vancouver Island.

Explore Victoria by bike or on water

Explore Victoria by bike or on water – Southern Vancouver Island cries out to be discovered on a visit so its well worth planning to explore Victoria by bike or on water. There’s no need to bring equipment with you just rent it locally from Sports Rent.

Outdoor recreation is a vital part of our west coast lifestyle; hardly surprising since there’s so much beauty around waiting to be discovered:-
A gentle stroll through a park or along a beach,
Take an more arduous hike on the west coast, East Sooke Park being the closest,
Thrill on the mountain bike trails at Hartland,
Hire golf clubs and give them a good workout on the many Victoria golf courses,
Cycle leisurely along the Galloping Goose trail (flat old railway line),
Take to the waters of our varied coastline on a canoe or stand-up paddle board (SUP).

Sports Rent have been renting sports goods for over 25 years for cycling and hiking and more. They are in an easy-to-find location just north of downtown Victoria, enabling you to enjoy any of these outdoor pursuits and more. Roof racks are available if needed.

Victoria BC tourism map

What to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay and how to get there? All vital questions which this Victoria BC tourism map will help to answer.

The map shows Victoria and Saanich Peninsula attractions, recreational activities, restaurants, wineries and other tourism related businesses, and, of course, accommodations. (Victoria is on the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, the area where you’ll be enjoying your vacation in this beautiful area.)

The map is part of an informative website about Victoria BC tourism. Click on these links to prepare for your visit:

  • Attractions so often guests remark as they leave “We wish we were staying longer. Theres so much to do here”. This page has information and links to downtown attractions, Victoria area attractions, gardens, wineries, and recreation on land and on water.
  • The Butchart Gardens – since this is the place you really should visit we’ve dedicated a web page to these magnificent gardens. Allow sufficient time to explore the varied gardens and enjoy its activities.
  • There are videos about aspects of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
  • Local tourism businesses are listed answering some of those What to see, Where to eat and What to do questions.
  • and lastly, that Victoria BC tourism map. Zoom in and out, click on the icons for more information.

 

Our Greater Victoria bed and breakfasts are located conveniently for your explorations of Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula. We look forward to welcoming you to a memorable stay.

Hiking trails on the Saanich Peninsula

Hiking trails on the Saanich Peninsula can be arduous or can be a relaxed stroll, but all offer lovely views in the natural settings of southern Vancouver Island.

We’d like to suggest some favourite walks, all a short drive from our bed and breakfasts. The Saanich Peninsula is only 30 km / 20 miles north (Sidney) to south (Victoria) so you can include several activities in a day without spending much time driving. The three parks below all provide everything from easy walks to rugged or lengthy hiking trails.

Elk Lake and Beaver Lake Regional Park

It’s likely that you’ll have driven by this largest lake here, in the centre of the Saanich Peninsula flanking Hwy 17 which connects BC Ferries and Victoria International Airport to Victoria.

The whole lake (two in one since they are connected) has a flat 10km / 6 mile path around its waters edge. Apart from a short section by the highway it is an excellent wide cedar path. I enjoy the variety encountered from the open sunny east side to the cedar woodland of the eastern bank. Walking the full circuit will take 2.5 hours or so, assuming you are relaxing and enjoying the scenery (look out for old rail tracks in the SW corner). Alternatively, just walk a short distance and return to your car.

Its principal access for parking is at the southern end reached from delightful little Beaver Lake Road. Nearby is the Victoria City Rowing Club where the Canadian national team train. Hamsterly Beach, at the northern end, is popular with families for swimming.

Mount Douglas Park

Mount Douglas Park is just south of Cordova Bay on the east side of the peninsula. Here you take a short walk or a steep haul up the hill from the bottom parking lot: your choice. Either way, you are rewarded with a splendid 360 degree view of the Saanich Peninsula Victoria to the south and the Gulf Islands to the east.  I confess to always driving to the small parking area at the top and then taking the short walk up to the summit. Mt Doug, as the locals call it, is a good choice for the beginning of your visit to Victoria since you’ll see everything in its context.

Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

For variety Gowlland Tod can not be bettered, with 25 km of hiking trails, from a stroll to the quiet waters of Tod Inlet to stiff rugged climbs up to vantage points over Finlayson Arm.

Tod-Inlet-walk

Above is our favourite family walk, from Wallace Road to the jetty of the old cement factory adjoining the Butchart Gardens (you can peek through fence to see the Ross Fountain). It’s an easy walk and delightful throughout, from old growth forest to flats near the inlet where boats moor and seabirds nest in boxes on jetty posts.

For a greater range of hikes the best parking spot is the McKenzie Bight access off Willis Point Road for the walk down Cascade Trail to the waters at McKenzie Bight or to climb up Timberman Trail. Views are memorable.

West coast sailing adventures

West Coast sailing adventures can be the most memorable part of a visit to Vancouver Island. Darren Tomlin is one of our Victoria B&B innkeepers who offers something very special to his guests and to anyone else visiting Vancouver Island on sailing trips on his elegant 37′ sail boat Desiderata. You’ll enjoy pure relaxation plus the joys of sailing and the challenges of fishing.

From the moorings at Sidney you’ll sail to the island of Sidney Spit and explore protected coves, drop the anchor to relax and watch local wildlife. You might see killer whales but certainly can expect to view seals, porpoises, herons, eagles and other marine life. Darren has fishing rods and crab traps on board so that his sailing guests can land a catch or two.

After informing you about safety procedure Darren will introduce his crew (you!) to sailing including how to hoist the sails and spinnaker and work the deck. You’ll learn a little about tides and currents and about navigation with charts and GPS.

Appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages are provided. Book your West Coast sailing adventures with Darren for $99 per person. Fun and relaxation are guaranteed on this memorable trip.

Lakes and Beaches of Victoria

Relaxing at the lakes and beaches of Victoria should be included in the itinerary of any visit to southern Vancouver Island. Slow down the pace of life for a while.

We can not promise you white beaches and palms but you will enjoy the natural beauty of Vancouver Island’s coastline.

Victorias beaches

Victoria is situated on the Saanich Peninsula, 20 miles (30km) north to south, almost surrounded by water:
Haro Strait to the east with distant views of Mount Baker
Juan de Fuca Strait to the south looking across to the Olympic Peninsula
Saanich Inlet to the west, a deep fjord separating the peninsula from the Malahat region of Vancouver Island.

 

You are merely separated from these distant views by passing boats. Victoria beaches are a mixture of sand and pebbles, along with occasional driftwood adding to their character. Here are a few suggested places where you can stroll or relax with a picnic.

Willows Beach in Oak Bay has the reputation for the best sandy beach.
Another sandy option, though more tidal, is Patricia Bay west of Victoria International Airport where sunsets can be magical.

A favourite sandy beach is Wittys Lagoon in Metchosin which changes character greatly according to the tides. But our favourite is a little known gem (don’t tell everybody) at the end of Norris Road in North Saanich (GPS:48.673499, -123.481127).

Three other suggestions with pebbles and sand are:
– The coastline adjoining Dallas Road in SE Victoria, from Beacon Hill Park to Clover Point,
Cordova Bay,
– Island View Beach,
– beaches in East Sooke Regional Park.

Victorias Lakes

Two inland lakes on the Saanich Peninsula offer differing recreational attractions.

Most obviously, there is Elk Lake / Beaver Lake (two in one) right in the centre of the peninsula. Locals enjoy the northern Hamsterly Beach and the open area at the southern end. A 10km walk around the entire lake will take you about 2.5 hours: the western side with its wide trail through the forest at the lakeside is lovely. Look out for old rails of the old Victoria-Sidney railway of 100 years ago.

Then there’s another of Victoria’s secrets: Durrance Lake, off Willis Point Road. South of the Butchart Gardens it sits surrounded by woodland. You can walk around it in about 40 minutes or take a dip in its fresh water. You may want guidance from your bed and breakfast hosts to locate some of these lakes and beaches of Victoria.

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