Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. As the capitol of British Columbia, Victoria represents the relaxed lifestyle of the west coast and offers visitors an escape from the hurried world. Strongly tied to the land and sea, the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest proudly offers everything a friendly, exciting and welcoming destination should, from ambient historic sites to breathtaking parks and beaches.
Visit a historic location you may recognize from the movies
Explore Hatley Park National Historic site, home to the Hatley Castle – originally owned by BC’s Lieutenant Governor, James Dunsmuir. Currently in use as the Royal Roads University, the castle has been a popular filming location in the past for shows such as The X Men Trilogy, Smallville, and Arrow. While Hatley Castle is the centerpiece of the estate, there’s much more to the park: including gorgeous Japanese, Italian, and Rose formal gardens that follow Edwardian design; 15km of walking and hiking trails through old growth forest; a protected migratory bird sanctuary; an historic First Nations’ site; and a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains across the Juan de Fuca Strait. You’ll find everything that makes the West Coast unforgettable only 20 minutes from downtown Victoria.
Victoria Film Festival
The Victoria Film Festival is the nucleus of the cinematic arts on Vancouver Island, screening more than 100 films over 10 days and hosting a variety of events. It’s a vibrant program celebrating the greatest storytelling medium of all time! The Victoria Film Festival brings the world to Victoria’s door as it showcases a diverse selection of Canadian and international films. This is a great event to invite other Au Pairs located on Vancouver Island or the Vancouver Mainland to attend – they will not want to miss the celebrations! Get a group together and check out the activities the Festival offers, view a few films and share your adventures in Canada!
Explore Victoria’s beautiful selection of Gardens and Parks
With six gardens in varying styles, you can experience every level of beauty and ambiance at the Butchart Gardens! With 4 seasons and a Christmas special, these gardens will be a staple of your time in Canada. They offer different activities for each season as well as events/concerts throughout the summer months. They also have a carousel for kids (making it a perfect day trip for your host kids) and the option of boat tours, giving you the inside scoop on the history of the area and a closer look at the wildlife! Speaking of wildlife, another must see of the area are the Victoria Butterfly Gardens – experience the beauty and curiosity of a tropical jungle up close as you observe frogs, tortoises, large iguanas, flamingos, tropical ducks, free flying birds, a large variety of fish, and thousands of butterflies (over 70 species)! Last but not least, be sure to check out Beacon Hill Park! This 200 acre park is one of downtown Victoria’s crown jewels with multiple lakes/ponds and bridges, a mini putt golf course and the Hill Children’s Farm that includes a hands-on experience in the goat pen – pet, groom and play with baby goats! If you’re looking for a beautiful yet quiet place for a walk, a summer’s picnic, or you would like get in a bit of bird watching, Beacon Hill Park is the perfect haven for you.
Experience the Inner Harbour and tour the Parliament Buildings
This scenic patch of waterfront is the location of Victoria’s many tourist attractions, recreational activities, restaurants and shopping. For a special treat, have afternoon tea at the grand Empress Hotel or board a ferry for a harbor tour! But if that’s too much for you, this is also the perfect place for relaxed wandering: check out the many buskers along the sea walk; take a tour of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (the parliament buildings); or pop in at Roberta’s Hats and see which era adorns your head the best! Finish off your day in a horse drawn carriage and take in the gorgeous view as the sun sets on the water.
Head to the beach!
Vancouver Island has unbeatable beaches and you’ll love exploring them in Victoria! If you’re looking to spend the day at the shore with your host kids, head to Willow Beach. Just 15 minutes from downtown, this is one of Victoria’s most popular swimming locations. Its shallow, protected water is suitable for young children, while views of Discovery Island and Mount Baker make basking, swimming or paddling there just that much more beautiful. If you’re looking for more activity than a simple beach offers, you’ll love the French Beach Provincial Park! This park offers beautiful hiking trails through lush forests, and a sand and pebble beach where visitors can relax and enjoy a picnic or take a cool dip in the ocean. It’s also an ideal location for whale watching! You may spot roaming pods of resident killer whales offshore, as well as otters, seals and sea lions. French Beach is also a good spot to observe Bald eagles, ospreys and a variety of seabirds, making it a must see if you’re living as an Au Pair in this area!
If you’re looking for a relaxed and beautiful city to spend a year discovering Canada from, Victoria is the place for you! It’s ideal for Au Pairs as it is ripe with history, has a high student population due to the many colleges and universities in the area, and is easily accessible to the Mainland as well as the rest of the gorgeous island, providing you with endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. “The Garden City” is the perfect place to call “home” away from home.