Indoor Victoria Attractions for Rainy Days
Posted by Niels Madsen on
Late autumn in Victoria can look dreary and boring when you first glance out your window, even when it's not raining. Our mild climate means above-freezing temperatures and next to no snow, but that isn't always comforting when a day at the park is ruined by cold, grey drizzle.
Being a dad myself, I know what it's like to have antsy, grumpy kids cooped up inside with too much energy and nowhere to put it. Thankfully, Victoria has its own cure for rainy-day blues: As a city based on tourism, there are always plenty of activities available year round that can keep a family occupied no matter what the weather.
These are just some of our favourite family rainy day activities in Victoria. Let us know what yours are down in the comments!
- Tuesdays & Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays: 10AM - 5PM
- Thursdays: 10AM - 9PM
- Sundays: Noon - 5PM
- Children: Free
- Youth (6-7 years): $2.50
- Students/Seniors: $11
- Adults: $13
- Family (2 adults + youth): $28
- Complimentary admission for Indigenous peoples.
- Discount admission for military families.
- The first Tuesday of every month is also admission by donation.
Location: 1040 Moss Street
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria offers explorations for all of their exhibitions every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM, with facilitators who take a relaxed and informal approach to learning and interpretation. Conversation, participation and interaction are encouraged. Check out the gallery's upcoming events, or take part in Family Sunday, an afternoon of hands-on art making with special guests like storytellers, artists, performers and musicians.
You can also try the Activating Emily app and activity book for self-guided tours. This new resource invites you to experience renowned BC artist Emily Carr’s artwork and stories in unique ways. You can respond to Carr’s art with your whole body, learn about Indigenous plants she was surrounded by as she created, play with colour, learn about Carr's family history while exploring your own, and much more.
- Daily: 11AM - 3PM
- Closed Christmas and New Year's Day
- Children: Free
- Youth (7-12 years): $4
- Teens (13-18 years)/Seniors: $8
- Adults: $10
Location: 1910 Norseman Rd.
The BC Aviation Museum Society collects, restores, and displays aircraft and artefacts related to the history of aviation in Canada, with an emphasis on British Columbia. The museum takes part in restoring historical aircraft to static or airworthy status, constructing engine displays, aircraft modeling, artefact maintenance, archive maintenance (including aviation books, pictures and videos), and creating memorials to aviation and the people who made it happen. Their Memorial Room is full of war artefacts from the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force, and has a historical display of RCAF Station Patricia Bay, complete with models of the aircraft that were stationed there.
If you have kids or are an adult who's young at heart, drop by for some aviation-related fun during Kids Fest 2018 on December 29, from 11:00am to 3:00pm. There will be crafts, games, flight-related activities, hands-on experiences, and prizes to be won!
- November: Daily, 9AM - 3:30PM
- December: Daily, 9AM - 9PM
- Christmas Day: 1PM - 9PM
- January & February: Daily, 9AM - 3:30PM
- Children: Free
- Youth (5-12 years): $2 (November & January); $3 (December)
- Teens (13-17 years): $11 (November); $13.70 (December); $9.40 (Jan 7-14)
- Adults (18+): $21.95 (November); $27.40 (December); $18.75 (Jan 7-14)
- Complimentary admission for Canadian military personnel with valid ID.
- 50% for foreign military personnel with valid ID.
Location: 800 Benvenuto Ave.
With Vancouver Island's temperate climate, The Butchart Gardens have something to offer year-round. Take in the beauty of their shrubs, trees and flowers, from delicate snowdrops to lush hellebore. Drop by the Coffee Shop, Dining Room, or Annabelle's Café for some special seasonal treats, including eggnog cappucinos, peppermint hot chocolate, chicken pot pie, cranberry trifle, and ginger spice loaf. During the wintry months the Garden also opens the former family residence of Benvenuto to guests, with curated displays of memorabilia that chronicle The Garden's history, including original furnishings, letters, and photographs from the early 1900s.
If you visit between January 15 and March 17, you can experience spring early with the Gardens' Spring Prelude. Stroll along the pathways of their indoor garden while experiencing the subtle fragrance of cherry, witch hazel, and other flowering shrubs, and count the koi gracefully swimming beneath the footbridge.
Next-day readmission is available if you want to make it a double trip. Have your hand stamped at the Information Centre before leaving the Gardens, and present your original admission ticket when you return the next day. The Gardens staff will collect your original ticket and issue a readmission ticket for $1 (youth), $2.50 (teens), or $3.50 (adults).
- October to December 15: Daily, 10AM - 3PM (explore until 4PM)
- December 16-30: Daily, 10AM - 4PM (explore until 5PM)
- January & February: Daily, 10AM - 3PM (explore until 4PM)
- Closed Christmas Day
- Children: Free
- Youth (5-12 years): $6
- Teens (13-17 years): $12
- Students/Seniors: $12
- Adults: $16.50
- All children under the age of 14 must have adult supervision.
Location: 1461 Benvenuto Ave.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience the beauty and curiosity of a tropical jungle up close. As you wander through, you’ll encounter poison dart frogs, tortoises, large iguanas, flamingos, tropical ducks, free-flying tropical birds and more. A large variety of tropical fish swim in a serene pond and stream circulated by a stunning waterfall. Thousands of tropical butterflies (up to 70 species) fly through large facilities the size of almost 3 basketball courts, with a toasty rain forest environment that's a great escape from the winter cold. Stroll through and marvel at lush gardens including tropical flowers, carnivorous plants, and fruits of the world.
- Monday to Friday: 10AM - 3:30PM
- Closed for civic holidays.
- Admission by donation. Suggested amounts:
- Students/Seniors: $1
- Adults: $2
- Family: $5
Location: Naden St., CFB Esquimalt
The Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum exhibits focus on four distinct military groups that have made an impact on Canada's history. In addition to exhibits and displays, the museum houses an expanding archive and library that includes thousands of photographs and documents, histories of Canadian naval vessels, navigation charts, biographies of important leaders in the Royal Canadian Navy, ship plans, and copies of the Navy List. Admission donations are used by the museum to conduct research projects, improve its archives and holdings and care of its collection, and add new and informative exhibits and displays.
The museum also has a lot to offer younger visitors: Children are welcome and encouraged, and the museum's Oriole Gallery was designed specifically with children in mind. Kids between 4-8 years can take part in a variety of imaginative activities:
- Dress-up play 'uniforms'
- Introductions to naval terms
- Diver gear (flippers, masks) and life jackets
- Games and magnet boards
- Signal flags and activities
- Nautical-themed children's books
The museum is located within the Canadian Forces Base at Naden in Esquimalt, so you'll have to stop and present photo identification to security at the main gate to enter. To confirm if the museum is open, call 250-363-5655 or 250-363-4312.
- Daily: 10AM - 4:30PM
- Closed December 25, December 26, and January 1
- Children: Free
- Youth (6-12 years): $5
- Students (13+ with student ID): $9.25
- Adults: $14.25
- Seniors: $13.25
- Family (2 adults/seniors + 2 youth/students): $36
Location: 1050 Joan Crescent
Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during the reign of Queen Victoria and now a National Historic Site, Craigdarroch Castle has been meticulously restored, giving visitors a glimpse of privileged life in the 1890s. The immense fortune of the Dunsmuir family is reflected in four floors of stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and Victorian-era furnishings. With 39 rooms and over 20,000 square feet of space to explore, Craigdarroch Castle is the perfect staycation experience for everyone, just a short drive or leisurely walk from Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Greater Victoria Public Library cardholders can visit for free by borrowing a Craigdarroch Castle ePass from the library. The pass provides free general admission to Craigdarroch Castle for two adults and two youth (ages 6-18), and children under five are free. Passes are valid for seven days and can be redeemed for a single visit.
Keep in mind that Craigdarroch Castle is a historic house museum with no ramps or elevators, and is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.
- Fridays & Saturdays: 11AM - 1AM
- Sunday to Thursday: 11AM - Midnight
- Children (under 12 years): $2.50
- General (12+ years): $5
Location: 723 Yates St.
Play as many games as you want for as long as you want at Victoria's local Board Game Cafe! With their collection of over 800 games, you can choose your own adventure from all the latest game titles available, as well as all of the classics and a large selection of high quality children's games. The cafe's game experts are happy to help you find the best game for your group and teach you how to play it.
The cafe's regular family-friendly side is open to all, with treats from bowls of candy to delicious paninis to their famous house-made milkshakes. They also make their own ice cream, with over 30 flavours that include the usual, plus matcha, London Fog, chai, cookie dough, hedgehog, salted caramel, white chocolate, and espresso (with actual espresso shots!).
Location: Branch Locations
The Greater Victoria Public Library serves all 10 member municipalities of the Greater Victoria Area through 11 library branches, their website, and tons of events out in the community. Along with their massive catalogue of physical books for all ages, they offer a variety of other media for checkout:
- Video - The GVPL has thousands of films on DVD and Blu-ray for all ages, tastes and interests. You can place titles on hold and have them delivered to the branch of your choice. Fastviews include copies of high-demand titles with quick turnaround times. You can also get free access to streaming services such as Hoopla, InstantFlix, and TumbleBookCloud.
- Audiobooks - Audiobooks on CD include popular fiction and non-fiction titles for adults, teens, and children. E-audiobooks are a great option for mobile devices. You can stream or download titles right to your phone, and listen while you’re on the go, doing chores, or at the gym.
- Music - Rock, pop, classical, jazz and more. Stream music on Hoopla and Naxos, or browse the catalogue to discover new music to add to your playlist. Musicians and singers can find sheet music to play in the collection, or you can place an interlibrary loan to bring in music from another library.
- Video Games - GVPL has video games for players of all ages, including games for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. Search for games by console and by keyword in the library catalogue, or visit any branch to see what's in. Anyone between the ages of 10 and 18 with a GVPL library card can play Minecraft in the Teen Zone of any branch.
- eBooks - Check out a tablet or e-reader, and experience the fun of having thousands of books, movies, and music at your fingertips. Borrow a Nexus 7 tablet and explore the library's extensive digital collections of eBooks, downloadable and streaming audiobooks, movies, television shows, music, and magazines. Or try a Kobo Touch, pre-loaded with a selection of current and popular books.
- Tuesday to Sunday: 10AM - 5PM
- Closed Mondays.
- Closed December 24-26, December 31, and January 1-11.
- Children: Free
- Youth (12-17 years): $5
- Students/Seniors: $8
- Adults: $10
Location: 634 Humboldt St.
The Maritime Museum may have moved to a smaller location, but they still boast a variety of interactive activities suitable for all ages. Ask for an activity booklet at the visitor centre to go on a scavenger hunt and word search, then hand it in at the end of your visit to claim a treasure. The Museum Tots program is held every weekend, and is geared towards helping children aged 2-5 explore the museum through play, crafts, dance, and games.
Drop anchor with the interactive Anchors Away display, featuring anchors from different historical periods. Take a look at the knot display and try your hand at the different knots, with an iPad guiding you through each step. Learn more about BC's maritime heritage in the SS Princess Victoria media room, now playing Around Cape Horn and The Sinking of the SS Princess Sophia.
Drop-in interpretive presentations are also available, with activities based around a variety of maritime-related topics. Workshops can be group booked for friendly gatherings or events such as birthday parties. Visit their events calendar for details.
- Monday to Saturday: 9:30AM - 5:30PM
- Sundays & Holidays: 11AM - 5PM
Location: 9808 Seaport Pl., Sidney
Mineral World and the Scratch Patch is a unique and family-friendly attraction located in Sidney. Drop by, grab a collector's bag, and collect your own gemstones from their bins and caves. Take as much time as you need to find those perfect treasures! There are also discovery stations where you can explore and learn about the composition of our planet.
- Daily: 9AM - 5PM
- Closed Christmas Day.
- Children: Free
- Youth (5-12 years): $8
- Teens (13-17 years): $10
- Adults: $16
- Small groups of 5-9 paying guests each receive $1 off regular admission.
Location: 649 Humboldt St.
View two of the World's Largest Doll Houses circa 1880 with over 50 rooms beautifully furnished in exquisite detail. Experience the Great Canadian Railway, Canada's National Wonder of the 1880s and one of the World's Largest Model Railways. Visit the Wonderful World of the Circus and return to those nostalgic days when the circus came to town. Feel the magic, the wonderment of the Grand City Parade, the Big Top, the Wild Beasts and the death-defying High Wire Acts.
Enter a time warp to Space 2201 AD and travel in an Avian 1 spaceship to distant cosmic shores. Return to wander through the Enchanted Valley of Castles and experience the many great Castles of Europe then travel on to witness the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Further adventures, tiny treasure, and little pleasures await all who continue into Frontier Land, Fantasy Land, the Fields of Glory, the World of Dickens and Olde London Towne of 1670.
At Miniature World it's as if you suddenly became a Gulliver-like giant among the tiniest of villages — or has the world itself shrunk? You be the judge! Special effects in lighting, sound and animation are added to create these miniature extravaganzas that continue to thrill and delight the young and young at heart.
- Monday to Friday: 8:30AM - 4:30PM (tours end at 5PM)
- Not available on statutory holidays.
Free guided tours of BC's Parliament are available throughout the year. Discover the history of the province, the architectural splendor of the Parliament Buildings, and learn about British Columbia's parliamentary process. You can join a free public tour from the waiting area in the main entrance, or explore the building on your own self-guided tour. Note that there is no public parking available on the property, but street parking and pay parking lots are located nearby.
Scheduled guided tours last approximately 30-45 minutes and involve a security screening, so it's recommended that you arrive 15 minutes early. Self-guided tour booklets can be found at the Parliamentary Tour desk or downloaded from the Legislative Assembly's website. Young children in strollers are welcome (take the ramp to the west of main entrance to avoid the stairs), but groups are expected to talk quietly while inside the Parliament Buildings, and food and drinks aren't allowed inside of the Legislative Assembly.
There's a Parliamentary Dining Room where visitors can enjoy a meal, and the Parliamentary Gift Shop with gifts custom-made for the Legislative Assembly, nearly all designed and made in British Columbia or Canada.
Facilities & Locations
- City of Victoria Recreation
- Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre
- Royal Athletic Park
- Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre
- Oak Bay Recreation
- Oak Bay Recreation Centre
- Henderson Recreation Centre
- Monterey Recreation Centre
- Carnavon Centre
- Windsor Pavilion
- Esquimalt Recreation
- Archie Browning Sports Centre
- Esquimalt Recreation Centre
- Saanich Recreation
- Cedar Hill Recreation Centre
- G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre
- Gordon Head Recreation Centre
- Saanich Commonwealth Place
- Panorama Recreation
- Panorama Recreation Centre
- Greenglade Community Centre
- Central Saanich Cultural Centre
- West Shore Parks & Recreation
- Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre
- The Q Centre
- Centennial Centre
- SEAPARC Recreation Centre (Sooke)
- YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island
Play tennis or squash, get creative in one of many art programs, try drop-in sports and skating, learn to swim, play in a wave pool, and more!
- Daily: 10AM - 5PM
- Closed December 25 and January 1.
- Children (3-5 years): Free
- Youth (6-18 years): $16.95
- Student (19+ with ID)/Seniors: $18.95
- Adults: $26.95
Location: 675 Belleville Street
The Royal BC Museum collects artifacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history, hosts the largest IMAX screen in British Columbia, and features a gift shop offering distinctly BC items — including books, art, jewelry, music, clothing and toys. If you're hungry, you can visit the back courtyard year-round to enjoy a selection of food trucks and carts, including DeadBeetz, Wild West BBQ Salmon, Rolling Reef, Puerto Vallarta Amigos, The Love Perogy, and Yummy Truck. Comfortable outdoor seating is available for dining in the sunshine, with a tent for drizzly days.
Current exhibits include Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs, Our Living Languages: First Peoples' Voices in BC, Natural History Gallery, First Peoples Gallery, Modern History Gallery, the Cultural Precinct, and the Native Plant Garden.
Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea (Shaw Ocean Centre)
- Daily: 10AM - 4:30PM (last entry at 4PM)
- Late opening at noon on Remembrance Day.
- Closed December 24-26, and January 1.
- Maintenance Closure: January 7-11, January 16, January 23.
- Children: Free
- Youth (4-12 years): $8
- Teens (13-18)/Students: $12
- Canadian First Nations/Military: $12
- Seniors: $14
- Adults: $17.50
Location: 9811 Seaport Pl., Sidney
Connecting the public with the Salish Sea bioregion and its ecosystems, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is a unique non-profit organization that offers a fun, interactive and informative experience of science and culture for all ages. It's the only aquarium in Greater Victoria, and the only aquarium in Canada dedicated exclusively to the Salish Sea. With live aquarium habitats, marine mammal artifact displays, a permanent Coast Salish art collection, public and school learning programs, and the locally-focused Salish Sea Store, it's an amazing opportunity for learning and exploration of the ecosystem we live in.
Here are just some of the great activities you can check out:
- 28 aquarium habitats, holding over 3500 animals from more than 160 different marine species, including: a giant pacific octopus, wolf eels, pacific salmon, and a fun hands-on "Touch Pool".
- A rare, fully intact killer whale skeleton, and marine mammal artifact display.
- Printable scavenger hunts to take part in during your visit.
- Speciality courses and events for kids in all age groups (book early!).
- Hands-on activities on Saturdays and Sundays at no additional charge, including games, arts and crafts, storytime, activities, and more.
- Sea-Shirt Sundays on the first Sunday of every month. Create a one of a kind fish-printed shirt (or bag, pillow case, etc.) to take home. (Bring your own t-shirt or purchase one from the Centre.)
- Public programming and self-guided tours for visitors, including curriculum-based school programs and summer camps.
- Guided tours offering a rare look at the Centre's animals, water systems, and methods. The tour is approximately one hour, with a maximum of 10 people and minimum 48 hours advanced notice required. Runs at 2:30pm on Tuesdays only, at a cost of $15 plus regular admission (per person).
- Third Monday of every month (except December): 7:15PM
- November 19, December 10, January 21, February 18, March 18, April 15
- Children: Free
- Students: $3
- Adults: $5
Location: 1831 Fern Street
Storytelling is an important oral art form, and the storytellers at Fern Street don't read from books or notes. The Victoria Storytellers Guild exists to promote and further develop storytelling as an art form by providing services to storytellers and the general public in the Greater Victoria area, and promoting storytelling as a common root of differing cultures. Both members and the general public are welcome to their Stories at Fern sessions, with often over 40 people in attendance.
Doors open at 7:15pm and storytelling begins at 7:30. If you'd like to tell a story, contact the host and be sure to include the date of the Stories at Fern session you wish to tell at.
- Monday to Friday: 11AM - 4PM
- Saturday & Sunday: 11AM - 5PM
- Closed Christmas Day.
- Children: Free
- Youth (5-17 years): $8
- Adults (18+): $12
- Seniors & Students: $8
Location: 631 Courtney St.
The Victoria Bug Zoo opened its doors in 1997, and has been showing visitors of downtown Victoria their awe-inspiring bugs ever since. This mini zoo offers an excellent opportunity to view and experience live tropical bugs from around the world, with over 40 fascinating species including giant walking sticks, beautiful praying mantis, glow-in-the-dark scorpions, hairy tarantulas, and Canada’s largest ant colony.
Knowledgeable tour guides will introduce you to the wonderful world of bugs, give a wealth of information about the animals on display, and provide a safe bug handling experience for the more adventurous. You can choose the level of interaction you have with their friendly animals. Don't forget your camera to document this unique experience! The displays are ever changing, so go be amazed by the extensive collection of invertebrates from around the world any time of the year.