Get Out of Town: There’s Lots to Love on the Saanich Peninsula

Need a break from the city? How about a 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.

Morning: Butterfly Gardens

Victoria butterfly Garden

Victoria’s ecosystem is part of a temperate rainforest, but step inside Butterfly Gardens, and you’re immediately transported into 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.

Butterfly Gardens is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the summer. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.

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 kilometers, turn left on Keating Cross Road. Once you cross West Saanich Road, you’ll see Butterfly Gardens on your left. Parking is available on-site.

On the bus, the number 72 (Swartz Bay) will take you out to the Pat Bay Highway. At Sayward Road, get off and transfer to the 75 (Saanichton). After about 10 minutes, you’ll cross West Saanich Road and see Butterfly Gardens to your left.

A trip to the peninsula is also a great opportunity for a bike ride. If you follow the Galloping Goose trail out of town (see the Hidden Gems Itinerary), you can exit the trail onto Interurban road (after the Uptown junction). Heading north (away from the highway), this 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 one hour to one hour and a half.

Bicycle rental is available from a number of locations, including Cycle Treks in the inner harbour, who also offer a number of guided and self-guided tours, which include tours of the Saanich Peninsula.

Insider's Tip: If you’re already visiting Butchart Gardens this summer, take CVS Tours to see what else the Saanich Peninsula has to offer. You might even want to split your visit to Butchart Gardens up with an early morning visit, and then head out on the shuttle to see the rest of the peninsula before returning to the gardens for dinner or afternoon tea.

Mid-Day: Beer, Spirits and Cider Lover's Paradise

A visit to Butterfly Gardens is a perfect excuse to enjoy some wine tasting at one of Canada’s finest brewery, distillery and ciderhouse.

And while you’re out on the peninsula, why not visit some of the greatest brewery, distillery and wineries in the area? At 761 Enterprise Crescent, you’ll find Victoria Caledonian Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery. Or at 9891 Seaport Place, you can visit Victoria Distillers. Then, way out at the end of the peninsula at 11195 Chalet Road, you’ll find Muse, another local purveyor of fine artisan wine. And for something a little different, mix things up with a visit to the Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse at 2487 Mount St. Michael Road, just off of the Pat Bay Highway.

Insider's Tip: If you happen to be in the area on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, be sure to stop at Victoria Distillers for tour and tastings. They welcome the public to their waterfront distillery to take in all aspects of spirit production through various tour packages. 

Afternoon: Pacifica Paddle Sports

Pacifica Paddle Sports

With two great locations on the Saanich Peninsula (just outside Victoria, BC) they maintain the largest fleet of rental kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards on the West Coast. They also offer sales, repairs, lessons, tours, corporate programs & summer camps. Pacifica Brentwood Bay  is located on 789 Saunders Ln, Brentwood Bay. Pacifica Swartz Bay is located on 2300 Canoe Cove Rd, 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 (sep - april)

Insider's Tip: Book lovers should be sure to 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. 

Pacifica Brentwood Bay features access to beautiful Tod Inlet and Finlayson Arm, making it an ideal waterway for those looking to paddle in sheltered waters and view seals, eagles, herons, and an abundance of inter-tidal marine life. The facility offers an easy launch ramp, letting you enter and exit your boat easily and without getting your feet wet!

Nestled in the heart of Canoe Cove Marina, Pacifica Swartz Bay location features a world class paddling environment set against the most beautiful coastal and Gulf Islands views. They are only 10 minutes from Sidney, BC and a short walk from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal on Southern Vancouver Island. The perfect location for a multi-day paddling trip from the Victoria area or a day trip from Vancouver.

If you’re heading back to downtown Victoria after your trip to the 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, as the ferry terminal is only a few minutes away from the town of Sidney.

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