Chamber Guest Post by Nevin Thompson
Are you looking for stuff to do with your children this summer? Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula offer plenty of activities for children and families. Some are free, others will take up the better part of a day, and all activities are sure to entertain!
1. Stroll the Sidney Seaside Walkway
The best things in life are free, including the wonderful Sidney Seaside Walkway that stretches north from Lochside Drive and Tulista Park (itself a great place for kids to burn off steam and grab an ice cream) along the ocean to the foot of Beacon Avenue and beyond.
Park your car at Tulista Park, and travel the seaside walkway towards downtown Sidney. Along the way, check out the fishing pier, a popular fishing spot, and check out Glass Beach at the foot of Beacon Avenue and below historic Sidney Pier. Children will have fun skipping stones and collecting colourful bits of glass, rubbed smooth over the years by the waves.
2. Check out Mother Nature’s creative side at Mineral World
The fantastic Sidney Seaside Walkway actually continues past Sidney Pier. Along the way you’ll find Mineral World, probably one of the most interesting kids’ activities on Vancouver Island. At this geology themed shop you can discover one-of-a-kind semi-precious jewellery or make your own with natural gemstone beads and sterling silver findings. Kids of all ages will play in the Scratch Patch while collecting their own rock and shell treasures.
3. Explore the Salish Sea at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre is also located along the seaside walkway, quite close to Mineral World, and features a stunning collection of local fish, as well as touch pools and a “wet lab” that lets children find out more about the ocean environment around them. It’s probably one of the best aquariums on the coast, and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
4. Browse the Children’s Bookshop
Sidney is Canada’s only Booktown and is home to one of the only bookstores devoted to children on Vancouver Island – the Children’s Bookshop on Beacon Avenue. Tricia, a former children’s librarian and an international speaker on children’s literature, is the bookstore’s resident expert on children’s reading, and she is always happy to make interesting suggestions about great books for kids.
5. Catch a movie at the Sidney Star Cinema
The Sidney Star Cinema is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon (if it rains at all in Sidney in the summer!) with kids. This beautiful independent theatre has preserved the movie-going experience from days past, with beautiful seats, a friendly staff, and, most importantly, cheap popcorn and drinks – and cheap tickets. The movies are generally the cream of the crop and family friendly.
6. Explore Butterfly Gardens
Located on the way to world-famous Butchart Gardens, Victoria Butterfly Gardens is an amazing place, and is home to 75 species of butterflies. Butterfly Gardens is great for kids as it provides an in-depth look at the biology of the butterfly lifecycle – the tour begins with a look at the “emerging” room, where butterfly pupae transform into mature adults, and moves on to an indoor garden of beautiful tropical plants that support these wonderful creatures.
7. Take a trip to Sidney Spit
Accessible only by water , Sidney Spit is one of the region’s best places to lose yourself for the day. Take a 25 minute scenic ride on board the Alpine Sidney Spit Ferry. Salt marshes, tidal flats and beautiful beaches make Sidney Spit a great place for kids.
8. Visit a secluded beach
The Saanich Peninsula is surrounded by beaches, some famous, some hidden. A favorite “local” beach can be found about fifteen minutes’ walk up 3rd Street from Sidney’s town center, off of Goddard Road (map), hidden from view by a thick forest of towering Douglas Firs. This nameless beach is frequented by locals, and features a white oyster-shell shingle, with plenty of tidepools perfect for exploring and examining sea creatures.
9. Watch the planes land at the airport
Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula is home one of the best, most-loved airports in Canada. It’s an interesting, busy place with plenty of spots for planespotting. A good place to watch planes is at Patricia Bay Park – there are picnic tables, a beach, and a walking trail, plus plenty of planes regularly making an approach to land at the airport. The airport authority is also currently completing an 8 KM paved walking/biking path that circulates the airport property.
10. Go berry picking
The Saanich Peninsula boasts many farms, and there are many places to pick berries here in the summer, from strawberries to blueberries. Depending on how warm the spring has been, berry picking begins in mid-June and lasts until August. It’s a great way to spend a sunny summer day in July or August!
This is just a small sample of all the things you can do with kids on the Saanich Peninsula in the summertime. If you have any other ideas, let us know!
Nevin Thompson frequently writes about the Saanich Peninsula on the Cedarwood Inn’s Sidney Hotel Blog.
If you are interested in contributing to the Chamber Blog as a guest writer we’d love to hear from you. The Chamber actively encourages promoting of local businesses, sharing important information freely, shopping/spending time locally, investing in our communities, and various ways of charitable giving. Read our “chamber guest writer” instructions here or learn more about the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and what we’re up to at our home page.