Maybe you want to play tourist in your own town or show your visiting relatives the sights. Maybe you want to learn something new or keep the kids occupied on a rainy day. There are lots of reasons to check out the following attractions on the Island.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is engaging, challenging and inspiring. Along with the regular exhibitions and the gift shop, don’t miss the 32nd annual TD Art Gallery Paint-In (Saturday, July 20) for Victoria’s favourite outdoor studio along Moss Street from the gallery to the ocean. A diverse range of over 170 painters, printmakers, sculptors, potters and other artists from the region will demonstrate their art and artistic process from 11am-4pm. Gallery open 10am-5pm. Food and family-friendly Beer Garden 11am-6pm. or 250-384-4171.

IMAX Theatre in the Royal BC Museum offers an incredible immersive cinematic experience with a projected area of more than six stories high and 85' wide along with crystal-clear images and wrap-around digital chair-shaking surround sound. Victoria IMAX transports you in a way no other film experience can and lets you feel like you’re really there. This summer, catch Vocanoes: the Fires of Creation, Great Bear Rainforest, and Superpower Dogs, among other movies. Visit

Mattick’s Farm Mini Golf offers one spacious 18-hole miniature golf (putting) course located in a beautiful treed setting next to Cordova Bay Golf Course at Mattick’s Farm, 5325 Cordova Bay Road. The course is both tranquil and beautiful as it winds through the forest floor. Be wary of the resident dragon and mind the pixies who frequent the Hobbit House and hide behind the toadstools. Visit

Miniature World, located within the Empress Hotel, has been called The Greatest Little Show On Earth, with over 85 miniature scenes. See the world’s smallest operational sawmill, marvel at two of the world’s largest doll houses, experience one of the world’s largest model railroads, visit the wonderful world of the circus, take a spaceship to the stars, travel through the Enchanted Valley of Castles and more. 649 Humboldt Street. For more details, visit, or phone 250-385-9731.

It’s the summer of Maya: the Great Jaguar Rises at the Royal BC Museum. This exhibition features Maya civilization past and present. On the heels of last year’s record-breaking Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs, this major new feature spotlights the mystery, legacy and resilience of another of the world’s great civilizations: the Maya of Central America. Discover a powerful culture that rose in the tropical rainforests of Guatemala thousands of years ago, and learn how science and belief shaped the Maya identity from ancient times to present day. Also, Visit the museum’s three permanent galleries that showcase the human and natural history of B.C. Open 10am-5pm (Sunday to Thursday) and from 10am-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer. or 250-356-7226.

The Centre of the Universe is hosting Saturday Summer Star Parties on July 6, 13, 20, and 27, August 3, 10, 17, and 24, and 31, at 7:30pm at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, 5071 West Saanich Road. During the summer stargazing nights, both the Centre and the Observatory will be open, with planetarium shows, lectures in the auditorium and displays. Entry gates close at 10pm and attendance is limited and admission is by ticket only. Tickets are free and will be available during the week preceding each Saturday evening from the EventBrite site at

Saanich Historical Artifacts Society at 7321 Lochside Drive. Kids (and parents) can climb on the farming equipment, see the mini railroad, a sawmill, planer mill and other artifacts at this 12-hectare site with a small lake, forest trails and pond. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on-site. Summer hours are 9am-4pm. Trains run on various days in July and August. For dates and to book a train ride, visit From Victoria, head north on the Pat Bay Highway, turn right at Island View Road, then first left onto Lochside Drive. or 250-652-5522.

Butchart Gardens. 55 acres of breathtaking floral displays, offering spectacular views as you stroll along meandering paths and expansive lawns. Explore the gardens by taking part in the self-guided Family Discovery Walk. A free worksheet guides you through the gardens and provides interesting historical details and points out features. Children can draw pictures along the way to answer questions—it’s a great way for kids to take a closer look at nature. The Saturday evening fireworks during July and August are popular with visitors of all ages (times vary slightly as the summer progresses and it gets dark earlier, from 10:15pm in early summer to 8:45pm on Aug 31). There is musical entertainment most evenings as well as the night illuminations. The Rose Carousel in the Children’s Pavilion includes 30 animals carved from basswood. Carousel rides are $2 over the cost of admission. or 250-652-5256.

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney is a state-of-the-art aquarium and marine education centre focused on the amazing ecosystem of the Salish Sea. Visit the touch pools to shake hands with a sea urchin, see the huge aquaria teeming with marine life, learn about essential life forms such as algae, plankton and amazing jellies. There are a variety of workshops and classes to choose from, guided tours, scavenger hunts, Tot Tuesdays, and Sea Shirt Sundays, along with other kids’ activities. The Centre, located on the waterfront off Beacon Avenue at 9811 Seaport Place, is open daily from 10am-5pm (until Sept 2). or 250-665-7511.

Westshore/Metchosin to Sooke<.b>
Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site. Explore gun batteries and underground magazines built a century ago to defend Victoria and the Esquimalt Naval Base. Step inside the first lighthouse built on the West Coast and check out exhibits about ships wrecked and lives saved. Picnic on the grass or at the beach and watch the ships and wildlife while you eat. 10am-5pm daily. For information, visit or 250-478-5849.

Westshore Motocross Park offers dirt bike riding, rentals and lessons for age 4 years and up. From 50cc auto with training wheels to 125/250cc full size bikes, dirt bike riding is easy and fun. The dirt track that is maintained for Beginners, leisure dirt bike riders, and MX racers Open Tuesday through Friday 11am-8pm or dusk, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday and Monday by calling ahead. 2207 Millstream Road in Langford. Visit or phone 250-590-8088.

City Centre Park in Langford is an exciting family playland with mini-golf, a play zone and a splash park for the kids. The play zone has three stories of mining-themed play equipment, where children can climb, slide, swing and crawl. Parents can relax with a coffee or snack in the parents’ section while children burn off energy under staff supervision. or 250-391-1738.

Duncan & Area
The BC Forest Discovery Centre just north of Duncan. Check out the indoor and outdoor exhibits and a bird sanctuary. Ride on the narrow gauge steam train, and tour an old logging camp. Bring a picnic lunch, watch a demonstration, or come for a special event (Canada Day, B.C. Day, Labour Day celerations). Summer season until Sept 2, open 7 days a week from 10am-4:30pm. Steam locomotive on weekends. or 250-715-1113.

Nanaimo & Area
Celebrate the region at Nanaimo District Museum with stories that intersect local and national history. Highlights include Nanaimo in 1867, the E&N Railway, WWI home front experience in Nanaimo, the Battle of Vimy Ridge centennial plus a look at past community centennial celebrations. The museum showcases Nanaimo’s early history as a coal mining town and port, explores the impact of forestry on the region, depicts daily life in a traditional First Nations longhouse, celebrates the town’s athletes and musicians, and includes more exhibits. Children’s programs are offered during the summer. Located in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, 100 Museum Way. 10am-5pm daily until Sept 2. or 250-753-1821.

The Coombs Old Country Market is along Highway 4A, on the way to Port Alberni from Parksville or Nanaimo, less than 5 minutes away from Butterfly World. Wander the market, unique shops, galleries and studios for gifts, groceries and great food. Enjoy a selection of home-cooked treats and meals, as well as international foods. There’s lots to see. Be sure to look up when you’re outside the market—the goats on the sod roof live there throughout the summer.

Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park offers a variety of caving tours, from gentle explorations to adrenalin-pumping adventures down a 7-storey waterfall. Cave tours vary in length, and you can choose from guided or self-guided—make sure you bring warm clothing that can be layered as it’s chillier in the caves than you might expect. You can also enjoy rock climbing, canoe or kayak rentals, hiking, and more. 3905 Horne Lake Caves Road. Allow 45 minutes from Parksville, north on Highway 19 or 19A., 250-248-7829.

Port Alberni
The McLean Mill National Historic Site operates the only remaining commercial steam-operated sawmill in Canada. From a viewing platform, watch raw logs being trimmed and cut into lumber for sale. Costumed docents will be on hand to guide you around the site. Ride the rails (limited schedule) on the Alberni Pacific Railway from the Historical Alberni Train Station in downtown Port Alberni through the Alberni Valley and over three wooden trestles before arriving at McLean Mill Historic Park. Total excursion time, 4 hours. There you’ll find children’s activities, a restaurant and a gift shop. For hours and the train schedule, visit

Courtenay Museum. Hands-on discovery as you search for prehistoric fossils on the Puntledge River with experienced guides. Fossil tours by appointment. Summer hours until Labour Day: 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday; noon-4pm Sunday. Stop by and check out the Courtenay and District Museum and Paleontology Centre with its massive Elasmosaur exhibit. or 250-334-0686.

Campbell River
Campbell River Museum. The museum’s award-winning puppet theatre program returns once again to explore the history of Campbell River with help from various beloved characters including Fred Nunns, Roderick Haig-Brown, and even the infamous Ripple Rock. Shows start Tuesday July 2 and will be performed every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30am and 1:30pm until August 29. $2/person; children 2 and under are free. Also see the First Nations history and art, pioneer history, and learn about floathouse living and the salmon industry. Bring your lunch to enjoy in the picnic area. Open daily during the summer from 10am-5pm. or 250-287-3103.

Pacific Rim
The Kwisitis Visitor Centre near Tofino acts as a museum, exhibition and information center for Pacific Rim National Park. The outside deck is the perfect year-round spot to view whales, storms and surfers alike. Inside the centre, you’ll find new exhibits about the land, sea, sky and people of the area. See the First Nations canoes, tools, various works of art, and interactive displays. There is also a small gift shop and a restaurant facing the beach. Open daily from 9:30am-7pm until Sept 2. Trails lead to South Beach and Florencia Bay. •