While the days are growing shorter and the mornings crisp, Victoria is far from closed. In fact, fall may very well be the best time of year in this BC gem. Colorful leaves, mild weather, and stunning autumn blooms make this seaside city one of the best places to relax and decompress.
Discover 70 unique and exciting things to do in Victoria, BC this fall, ranging from the best places to grab a bite to can’t-miss iconic landmarks.
Top Iconic Things to Do in Victoria BC this Fall
The city’s initial footprint was little more than a trading post and fort. Founded by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1843, it began as a rough town, attracting those looking to get rich quick. But as the city grew, so too did its iconic landmarks, breathtaking gardens, and exquisitely welcoming culture.
1. Visit The Butchart Gardens
Warm days and crisp nights help transform The Butchart Gardens’ lush green florals into a riot of red, russet, and gold. While there’s never a wrong time to visit this four-season oasis, fall is arguably one of the best. During the slow and peaceful mornings, mist hangs heavy on the flowerbeds, sunlight dancing through the moist blanket like fairies waking up. At the peak of autumn, it’s the Japanese Garden that steals the show. While it spans just one acre, it is home to 74 Japanese maples and 200 meters of flowing streams. The canopy of reds and oranges feels otherworldly as you wind your way over stepping stones and past gentle waterfalls.
2. Explore Victoria’s Historic Chinatown
Canada’s oldest Chinatown, and the second oldest in North America, it was established more than 150 years ago. When Chinese immigrants brought their rich culture and traditions to the southern tip of Vancouver Island, they began establishing themselves near Fisgard Street.
At the time, the new home was little more than a crude collection of wooden shacks. But as the city grew, so too did Chinatown. Today, it is a designated National Historic Site, ensuring landmarks like the Gates of Harmonious Interest are cared for and preserved.
3. Wander Down Fan Tan Alley
No trip to Victoria’s Chinatown would be complete without a stroll down Fan Tan Alley. Spanning just three feet in some sections, this pedestrian pathway is the narrowest street in Victoria, BC. Boasting a colorful past (including opium dens and gambling joints), it has become a hub for restaurants, art galleries, and novelty shops.
Running from Fisgard Street to Pandora Avenue (formerly Cormorant Street), you’ll find its lesser-known sister — Dragon Alley — located just across the street. While not as narrow, Dragon Alley is every bit as charming.
4. Sip Tea at the Empress
Discover the elegance of being treated like royalty during tea at the Fairmont Empress. Since 1908, the prestigious hotel has honored the timeless tradition of raising a cup — serving tea in its elegant lobby. While the Lobby Lounge was given a facelift in 2017, its afternoon tea remains a constant. The menu features 21 loose-leaf tea blends sourced from throughout the world, along with delightful nibbles.
5. Royal BC Museum
Immerse yourself in Vancouver Island’s storied past at the Royal BC Museum. This interactive museum features life-like exhibits, including a full-sized woolly mammoth (affectionately known as Woolly). Enter a full-scale replica of Discovery, Captain George Vancouver’s H.M.S. ship. Inside the cramped captain and senior staff’s quarters, you’ll get a first-hand perspective of how ‘spacious’ life at sea could be. Travel beneath the sea in a Victorian-era submarine. And, learn about how the city’s industry grew and evolved over time.
6. Tour the BC Parliament Buildings
Tucked beside the Inner Harbor, Victoria’s Parliament Buildings are one of the downtown core’s most iconic landmarks. The neo-baroque design was constructed from 1893 to 1898. They sit on a 12.5-acre site and sport 33 copper domes of varying sizes.
During the fall and winter, the Parliament Buildings are open to the public Monday through Friday (with the exception of holidays). Visitors are welcome to take their own self-guided tour or join one of the regularly scheduled public tours.
7. Watch the Pickle Boat “Water Ballet”
Getting around a city with so much water can be a challenge. In 1990, the Victoria Harbour Ferries (affectionately known as Pickle Boats) offered residents and visitors a dry and fun solution. These passenger-only boats offer dock-to-dock transportation throughout Victoria’s watery interior.
April through October, Pickle Boat skippers show off their skills during regularly scheduled “Water Ballets.” Check the latest schedule on the Harbour Ferry website to see when the next free performance takes place.
8. Admire the Totems at Thunderbird Park
For thousands of years, First Nations peoples have called Victoria’s Inner Harbour their home. Among the many rich traditions of these amazing peoples are intricately carved totem poles. In most instances, totem polls represented a family or clan by featuring the faces of ancestral peoples or animals. The carvings described the lineage and position of the clan members.
In 1941, Thunderbird Park was established in downtown Victoria to display and preserve many of these beautiful artifacts. The park is open to the public and showcases a rotating collection of totems.
Best Things to do with Kids in Victoria
There’s a wide variety of fun things to do with kids in Victoria, BC this fall, making this an ideal family getaway destination.
9. Miniature World
How do you make the littles in your life feel like a giant? Take them somewhere they are giant! Victoria’s Minature World features more than 85 different dioramas and displays. Ranging from real-world events and historical moments to fantastical recreations, there’s a plethora of fun and exciting things the whole family will love. Plus, many of the exhibits feature push-button actions that allow visitors to turn on lights, activate trainsets, and more!
10. Victoria Bug Zoo
Continue the larger-than-life adventure at the Victoria Bug Zoo. This micro-zoo allows kids to learn about bugs in a hands-on environment (with zoo-keeper supervision, of course). Among the specimens on display are giant walking sticks, praying mantis, tarantulas, and glow-in-the-dark scorpions.
11. Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Do your littles love bugs, and one bug zoo isn’t enough? Take them to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens where there are roughly 70 different species of butterflies flying throughout the fully enclosed atrium! The Victoria Butterfly Gardens & Insectarium is located roughly 30 minutes north of Victoria (and conveniently positioned on the way to The Butchart Gardens). In addition to the beautiful collection of butterflies, its lush landscape is also home to carnivorous plants, giant koi fish, free-flying birds, large iguanas, frogs, and tortoises.
12. Kinsol Trestle
One of the largest rail trestles in the world, the Kinsol Trestle stands at an impressive 44 meters high, spans 187 meters, and sports a 7-degree curve. The trestle is located along the Cowichan Valley Trail — a 62.8-mile point-to-point tail near Cowichan Valley.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to trek that far to experience this engineering feat. The Kinsol Trestle can easily be accessed from the Kinsol Trestle Parking Lot, located just a 1.2-kilometer walk along a flat and well-maintained path.
13. Beacon Hill Children’s Farm
Do your kids love animals of all kinds? Then the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm is a must-visit. Located within Beacon Hill Park, a 740,000-square-meter park in the heart of downtown Victoria, it is home to pigs, donkeys, chickens, goats, and peacocks. A highlight is the “Running of the Goats,” a goat stampede that takes place twice daily. (Please note, the farm closes in October for the winter.)
14. Children’s Prince & Princess Teas
Tea isn’t just for adults. In fact, the Empress has a tea specifically designed for children! Suited for visitors ages five to twelve (and their adult companions), the Empress Prince & Princess Teas include fragrant cups and decadent bites.
15. Visit the National Toy Museum of Canada
Do your kids have trouble believing you were ever a kid? Take them back in time at the National Toy Museum of Canada. Loaded with toys from the 1960s to the 1990s, you can explore the games, dolls, action figures, and more from your youth.
16. Take a Carriage Ride
Few things make a child perk up more than carriage rides. This old-school mode of transport is a fun and exciting way to get your kiddos to put down their phones and soak in the town. Carriages are typically available for hire on the west side of the BC Parliament Buildings. Tours typically last 30 minutes and take you through some of Victoria’s oldest neighborhoods and quaint streets.
Top Thrilling Activities in Victoria BC
For some, it takes more than just good food and iconic landmarks to make for an amazing getaway. Sure, Victoria is well-known for its slower-paced city life, but the BC capital also offers a wide array of fun and thrilling activities. If you want your fall getaway to have a splash of excitement, these are sure to deliver.
17. Zip Line Adventure
Have you ever flown? AdrenaLINE Zipline Adventure Tours take you zipping through the trees 150 above the ground. The roughly two-hour tours feature eight ziplines that range in length from 150 feet to 1,000 feet. Plus, the adventure includes traversing a 100-foot suspension bridge.
18. Ghostly Walks
Victoria, BC, is one of the most haunted cities in all of British Columbia. In fact, two of its iconic buildings were rated among the 10 most haunted places in ALL of Canada by Reader’s Digest Canada — Craigdarroch Castle and the maritime Museum of British Columbia. Get to know some of the spirits that linger during a guided ghost tour with Ghostly Walks. Each tour will take you to some of the city’s spookiest places, where remnants of the city’s dark (and sometimes seedy) history can be found.
17. Malahat SkyWalk
The jaw-dropping beauty of the Malahat SkyWalk is hard to beat. It begins with a 600-meter TreeWalk on an elevated boardwalk. Be sure to play the scavenger hunt along the way. It features a wide array of wildlife — including a sasquatch!
Then climb the 32-meter spiral ramp lookout tower. In addition to the 360-degree views, the top of this impressive structure boasts an adventure net — a sturdy net strung 84-meters above the ground (275 feet). Looking for a thrilling way to get down? Snag a ride on the 20-meter (66-feet) spiral slide!
19. Golfing at Bear Mountain Golf Club
One of the most highly-awarded golf courses in Canada, Bear Mountain Golf Club has two gold courses from which to choose — the rugged (and more challenging) Mountain Course or the serene Valley Course. Both offer stunning panoramic and mountain views. And after you’ve hit a hole in one, make sure to celebrate in the Masters Lounge, where a selection of handcrafted cocktails and light snacks are served.
20. The Raptors
Have you ever held an owl on your arm or come face-to-face with a hawk? Cowichan Valley’s The Raptors center offers interactive experiences with a wide range of birds of prey.
21. Bicycle Tour of Castles, Hoods & Legends
Want to explore Victoria and burn a few calories? The Pedaler’s guided bicycle tours take you throughout the city’s downtown on two wheels. Bikes range from hybrid bikes and electric bikes to city cruisers and electric tandem bikes — allowing you to work as much (or as little) as you’d like.
22. Whale Watching & Wildlife Spotting
The Strait of Juan de Fuca is home to some of the most diverse and awe-inspiring wildlife in the world. While whale activity isn’t as prevalent during the fall, there’s still a plethora of curious creatures to see including sea lions, seals, bald eagles and more! Catch a Prince of Whales tour directly from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to begin exploring immediately.
23. Storm Watching in Tofino
‘Storms’ are not the norm when you think of an ideal getaway. But the massive waves and bursts of sunshine on the north-western side of Vancouver Island are a bucket list sight. Thanks to their exposed coast and the mix of warm ocean air with cooler upper air masses creates intense bouts of wind, rain, and gigantic swells. It also commonly leads to brilliant spurts of sunshine, perfect for beach combing.
24. Visit Tofino’s Carving Shed
No trip to Tofino would be complete without a visit to the Carving Shed at the Wickaninnish Inn. Originally built by Henry Nolla, an iconic Tofino carver, today the tradition is carried on through master carver, “Feather” George Yearsley.
25. Cruise around in a Hot Tub Boat
The air may be chilly, but the water’s warm aboard your own private hot tub boat. The Hot Tub Boat Victoria provides rentable boats equipped with a hot tub. Heated by an onboard stove while underway, these boats allow you to cruise the Upper Harbour and George Waterway in a toasty bath.
26, Hermann’s Jazz Club
Make it a night on the town at Victoria’s oldest live jazz venue — Hermann’s Jazz Club. This downtown gem is located between Blanshard Avenue and Douglas Street, offering easy access to several restaurants perfect for grabbing a pre-show bite to eat.
27. Oak Bay Beach Hotel & Spa
When you plan a visit to Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Spa, you might never want to leave. The luxury boutique resort is tucked beside Vancouver Island’s rugged shoreline, just 15 minutes from downtown Victoria. Among its many features are seaside mineral pools and spa services with expansive views.
Victoria, BC Castles, Gardens, Lighthouses & Historic Destinations
Victoria has grown and evolved into a modern city. But as it has done so over time, preserving the elegant architecture and lush landscape along the way.
28. Craigdarroch Castle
Believed to be one of the most haunted buildings in all of Canada, Craigdarroch Castle is also one of the most beautiful. Construction of the 39-room estate was completed in 1890. Over the years, it has been carefully restored and maintained, allowing visitors to get a taste of what life was like for Victoria’s elite.
29. The Teahouse at the Abkhazi Gardens
The “garden that love built” was created in 1946 by Georgian Prince and Princess Abkhazi. The lush, one-acre oasis is studded with natural beauty, including Garry oaks, Japanese maples, and rhododendrons.
30. Government House
Constructed in 1860, the Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Tours of the home’s interior are currently suspended, but the 36-acre grounds are open to the publish from dawn to dusk. They feature finely-manicured flower beds and lush grasslands.
31. Emily Carr House
Emily Carr is among the leading artists from the Canadian modernism era thanks to her paintings of the West Coasts’ First Nations peoples and coastal environment. Born and raised in Victoria, you can learn more about Carr and her work at her childhood home, a sunny yellow house that has been preserved and now showcases many of Carr’s works.
32. Ogden Point Breakwater
Undoubtedly one of the most popular walks near downtown Victoria, the Ogden Point Breakwater begins near Dallas Road and juts out 800 meters through the sea. As the name would suggest, it protects Victoria’s harbor from rough waters. It’s also one of the best places in Victoria to watch the sunset.
33. Christ Church Cathedral
You might well think Christ Church Cathedral was built by a 14th century Parisian architect. In fact, the impressive stone structure was constructed in 1929! It houses a massive free-standing organ and elegant stained glass windows.
The church’s exterior grounds also include a unique seven-circuit labyrinth. Located on the south lawn, it’s said walking the labyrinth can help spark creativity and focus the mind.
34. Gonzales Observatory
One of the smallest parks in Greater Victoria, Gonzales Hill Regional Park spans just 4.5 acres. But what it lacks in walking trails, it more than makes up for in views. From this small lookout, you can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Olympic Mountains, Sooke Hills, and the Salish Sea.
35. Mount Washington
Mount Washington may be a jaunt outside the city (it’s roughly a three-hour drive), but it’s home to some of the best hiking and mountain biking in the region. As the weather turns colder, this is also Victoria’s premier skiing destination.
36. Hatley Castle
You may recognize Hatley Castle from one of its many Hollywood appearances. (It’s been showcased in popular movies such as X-Men and Deadpool.) But before this estate graced the big screen, it served as the cadet dormitory for the Royal Roads Military College. Daily guided tours are available, allowing you to see the lavish interior.
37. Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse
The first lighthouse on Canada’s West Coast, Fisgard Lighthouse, was built in 1860. Automated in 1929, it remains operational today.
The lighthouse is flanked by Fort Rodd Hill, a coastal artillery fort built by the British in the 1980s. It was designed to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. Today, you can tour the secret bunkers and military command posts at your own leisure.
38. Royal Theatre & McPherson Playhouse
Designed in 1912, the Royal Theater and McPherson Playhouse has been called a ‘heritage jewel,’ thanks to the preserved elegance of its Rococo/Renaissance Revival style décor.
39. St. Ann’s Academy
Despite being not as well-known as some of the city’s iconic structures, St. Ann’s Academy is one of Victoria’s oldest buildings. Constructed in 1858, the historic treasure boasts ornate gold-leaf detailing, original oil paintings, and stained glass windows.
40. Dallas Road Waterfront Trail
Spanning roughly 7.1 kilometers (about 4.5 miles) the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail is one of the longest continuous paths that spans the Victoria shoreline. It’s a great place to walk or ride while soaking in the views.
41. Point Ellice House
In a city as big as Victoria, large swaths of natural landscape are a rarity — which is what makes the Point Ellice House on the George Waterway so unique. The house is also home to an expansive collection of late-Victorian and early Edwardian objects.
42. Mount Finlayson
Want a hike with some elevation gain? Mount Finlayson offers a steep incline with reward-worthy views.
43. Elk & Beaver Regional Park
While you likely won’t want to swim during the fall at Elk and Beaver Lake Regional Park, there’s still plenty to do. Hiking abounds. So too does canoeing and kayaking.
44. Lone Tree Hill
One of the best viewpoints on Vancouver Island, Lone Tree Hill offers expansive vistas of downtown Victoria, the Olympic Mountains, Malahat, the Highlands, and the surrounding hillsides. It’s also a great destination for birdwatching with feathered friends such as bald eagles, ravens, and turkey vultures.
45. Westsong Walkway
Running along the west side of the Inner Harbour, the West Song Walkway is a great location for watching seaplanes take off, ferries come into port, and the Victoria Clipper arrive at the Inner Harbour.
46. Mile “0”
Want to travel the entire length of Canada? The Trans-Canada Highway stretches 8,000 kilometers (4,860 miles) from one end to the other. across the entire length of Canada. The fourth-longest highway in the world, it features several unique attractions along the way — including Mile ‘0’ located in Victoria!
47. Willows Beach
Need a beach day? Willows Beach is one of the only white sandy beaches on Vancouver Island.
48. Ross Bay Cemetery
While Ross Bay Cemetery is supposedly haunted, the spirits seem to be calm during the day. Which makes visiting this beautiful setting ideal for a daytime stroll.
49. Mill Hill Regional Park
For a hike that’s typically not very crowded, but offers a beautiful setting, Mill Hill RegiPark is a winner. Plus, with just a 200-meter elevation gain it won’t tire you out too much.
50. Inner Harbour Causeway
The Inner Harbour Causeway wraps around the southernmost tip of the Victoria Inner Harbour — one of the most beautiful marinas in the world. It’s the perfect place to watch boats, take a leisurely stroll, and watch seaplanes dock. It’s also one of the best places in Victoria to watch the sunset.
51. Watch the Salmon Run at Niagara Falls
While not as large as the Niagara Falls in the United States, the large waterfall in Goldstream
Provincial Park is an impressive sight in its own right. Time your visit right (typically during late September or early October) and you’ll likely see the salmon run. With the salmon, you’re also likely to see an impressive display of eagles looking for a feast!
52. Galey Farms
A working family farm, Galey Farms is located just north of Saanich. During the fall, try your luck at the six-acre corn maze. (It’s rumored a few visitors get lost every year.) Love to be scared? Check out the farm’s Festival of Fear which includes two haunted houses!
53. Trial Islands Lighthouse
Located on Victoria’s northern shoreline, the Trial Islands Lighthouse is situated on the Trail Islands Ecological Reserve. While visiting the reserve isn’t permitted you can see the lighthouse from Clover Point or Beacon Hill Park’s waterfront. The unique lighthouse has an ‘apple-core’ design that’s not commonly seen.
54. Take a Hike in the City at Beacon Hill Park
The 200-acre Beacon Hill Park isn’t what one would expect to find in a major city. But this expansive public park is tucked beside the downtown core. It features dozens of trails, stunning views, and fabulous picnic spots.
Top Places to Eat and Drink in Victoria, BC
In our esteemed opinion, no vacation is complete without some amazing food. And, Victoria delivers.
55. Take a DIY Pub Crawl
Get to know Victoria’s best watering holes where locals and visitors gather, celebrate, and rejoice on a DIY Pub Crawl. This fun adventure can be enjoyed as quickly or as slowly as you’d like — making it the perfect activity to enjoy as time allows.
56. Victoria Food Tour
Treat your tastebuds to some of the city’s best food during a guided food tour. Named among Canada’s Top 10 Experiences on TripAdvisor for six years in a row, A Taste of Victoria is a two-hour tour that includes some of Victoria’s best-known and hidden gems.
57. Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour
Cowichan Valley is the sweetest slice of wine country heaven you’ve probably never heard of. Located roughly one hour from downtown Victoria, the combination of rich soil and varying temperatures produces award-winning wines. Discover some of the top can’t-miss wineries in the valley.
58. Indulge in Eggs Benedict
Unofficially dubbed the ‘Brunch Capital of BC,’ Victoria’s food mascot may very well be the Bennies (what Victorians affectionately call Eggs Benedict). These satisfying, heart breakfasts are dished up in a variety of sweet and savory selections. Combos range from classic ham and lemon hollandaise to untraditional combos like fried chicken with jalapeno jelly.
59. Oat Milk Lattes
Oat milk has become increasingly more popular, and with good reason. The creamy consistency and nutty flavor make it a welcome addition to lattes. Among the best coffee shops in Victoria serving up oat milk, you’ll find: Milano, Shatterbox, and Habit Coffee.
60. Noodle Bowls, Bao Buns & Sashimi
To fully immerse yourself in Victoria’s Chinatown, make sure to grab a bite and one (or more) of its best restaurants. Hit up Pho Vy for a flavor-loaded bowl of pho that will warm you from the inside out. For fluffy bao buns, head to Bāo. In the mood for sushi? NUBO Kitchen + Bar is a consistent favorite.
61. Victoria Public Market at the Hudson
Artisan foods? Craft coffee? Locally made wares? The Victoria Public Market at the Hudson offers all this and more at its year-round, indoor public market.
62. Victoria Food Trucks
Want a bite that’s on the informal side? It doesn’t get much better than a food truck. Victoria’s collection of rolling goodness includes untraditional tacos at Taco Justice and super-charged breakfast sandwiches at Morning People. Want a crave-worthy burger? Deadbeetz amps up their patties with everything from bourbon bacon jam and fried eggs to house pickled beets.
63. Seafood. Seafood. Seafood.
The sea-to-table movement in Victoria delivers with fish-forward menus. The walk-up window at Red Fish Blue Fish dishes up some of the best fish and chips in the city. Blue Crab has earned a reputation for its fresh seafood and stunning waterfront views. And for the sustainably sourced, organic fare, Fishhook is giving seafood a local and international spin that’s downright scrumptious.
64. Tour a Working Cider Distillery
What’s life like at a working cider distillery? Find out on a self-guided tour of Merridale Cidery & Distillery. Come hungry and thirsty. The distillery also has a scrumptious restaurant where you can get cider flights and fresh-made pub-style food.
Best Places to Shop in Victoria, BC
Do you love to come home with a beautiful souvenir (or two)? Victoria is home to some of the best shopping in all of British Columbia. And, did we mention the exchange rate? It can make those pricetags feel surprisingly small.
65. Still Life
Known for setting city-wide fashion trends, Still Life carries a boutique collection of fashion-forward clothes.
66. Discover ‘Your’ Scent at Zingaro Floral Perfumery
Do you know ‘your’ scent? Step into Zingaro Floral Perfumery where Palma Cafolla will take you on a guided tour of parfums — helping you find the scent that speaks to you.
67. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
Want to do a little novelty shopping (and eating) by the sea? Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf isn’t just home to one of the most eclectic neighborhoods (houseboats!) — it also boasts a selection of walk-up eateries, an outdoor fish market, and a sweets shop!
68. Violette Boutique
Offering a collection of handcrafted fashion jewelry, accessories, and little luxuries — Violette Boutique is the perfect place to spoil yourself.
69. Citizen Clothing
Want to add something unexpected to your wardrobe? Citizen Clothing is the ultimate destination for fresh threads that look as good as they feel.
70. Johnson Street
Known in the fashion world as LoJo (short for lower Johnson Street), this hip and happening street is the premier destination for high-end shops. It’s also the ultimate place to capture a selfie, as the shop owners take great pride in their unique storefronts.
How to Get from Victoria, BC to Seattle, WA
The Seattle to Victoria ferry is certainly an option, with passenger-only ferry trips provided by the Victoria Clipper. Alternatively, you could catch the Black Ball Ferry Line’s M.V. COHO from Port Angeles.
But hands down, the fastest way to reach the BC capital is a Seattle to Victoria seaplane flight. These 45-minute flights offer breathtaking views and deliver you directly to Victoria’s Inner Harbour.