The farm and food shopping basket of the South Island extends north from Victoria to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. Transit it end-to-end in a quick half-hour on the multi-lane Highway 17 (aka the Pat Bay Highway). Or hit the backroads to see rolling farmland, vineyards, home studios, and exquisite valley views. Mt. Newton Cross Road rates as one of the nation’s most scenic drives.
The District of North Saanich is home to the Victoria International Airport and ferry terminals in Swartz Bay (BC Ferries to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands) and Sidney (Washington State Ferry to Anacortes, WA).
Brentwood Bay is perched at the edge of the kayak-friendly Saanich Inlet not far from The Butchart Gardens, a floral wonderland in a reclaimed limestone quarry that has welcomed visitors since 1904.
Not far from the airport and ferry terminal off the Pay Bay Highway, Sidney has evolved over the last few decades from a sleepy residential haven into a charming, pedestrian- and bike-friendly destination for shopping, dining, and leisurely strolls by the sea.
Visit the kid-friendly Aquarium of the Salish Sea at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. Catch a show at the Mary Winspear Centre, Embark on a whale-watching expedition. Or get active when exploring town’s two artificial reefs on a diving adventure or by renting a kayak and paddling across to Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
Visit Destination Greater Victoria to learn more about this and other communities in and around Victoria, BC.
Widely rated as one of the world’s premier public gardens, it’s open year-round as native and exotic plants bloom indoors and out. The gardens are especially popular during the summer season marked by nightly fireworks displays and concert performances.
Shop at boutiques along the pretty, roundabout-serviced main street, and dine at pubs, cafes, and a waterside bistro. The Instagram moments pile up fast during BC ferries crossings to Mill Bay in the Cowichan Region. Brentwood Bay’s resort and spa is a favourite getaway for foodies, who also enjoy touring area farmgates and wineries.
In Sidney, Beacon Street is lined with a tempting array of independent retail stores, galleries, cafes, and a remarkable number of specialty bookstores. On Thursday nights in the summer, traffic is detoured onto secondary streets as merchants, food vendors, and entertainers gather for the hugely popular open-air Sidney Street Market.
At the water’s edge of Sidney are pubs, hotels, a fishing pier, and a long seaside promenade lined with public art sculptures, picnic tables, and benches where one can pause to drink in the stunning views of Mount Baker as it rises above the clouds.