35 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Victoria with Kids

Victoria, BC, is a family-friendly destination we return to over and over again. Not just because I have a Victoria-based friend with impressive culinary skills (Hey, it’s a nice perk!). But also because Victoria offers so many affordable and free options.

35 free and cheap things to do in Victoria BC with kids:

    1. Enjoy outdoor festivals and celebrations in one of Canada’s sunniest cities.
    2. Watch for bald eagles and salmon at Goldstream Park.
    3. Ride trail-a-bikes or pull your toddler in a bike carrier along the 55 kilometre (34 mi) long Galloping Goose Trail.
    4. Go on a self-guided spooky Victoria tour with your preteen or teen – discover the haunts of spectres, poltergeists and ghostly pianos.
    5. Paddle around (with hands or oars) with kids onto Elk / Beaver Lake.
    6. Meet the farmer! Visit a Vancouver Island farmer’s market, go on a farm tour or go on a u-pick farm on Vancouver Island.

  1. Go to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria on the first Tuesday of the month, when admission is by donation.
  2. Ride the double-decker bus to Sidney, BC.
  3. Visit Victoria’s parliament building on a free public tour.
  4. Buy some fish scraps from The Fish Store and feed the seals at Fisherman’s Wharf.
  5. Picnic and play in the Watering Garden at Beacon Hill Park, then count blooms along pathways.
  6. Relax in the lazy river in the Gordon Head Pool or the Esquimalt Recreation Pool.
  7. Catch a summer concert performance from Victoria Symphony Canada.
  8. Watch the running of the goats at Beacon Hill Farm.
  9. Visit the gun batteries and watch historical re-enactments at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites of Canada.
  10. Along Victoria’s Inner Harbour, watch buskers perform and seaplanes land.
  11. Pack snacks and enjoy a family hike in Victoria.
  12. Count the hanging flower baskets in downtown Victoria, then learn to make a proper Victorian Hanging Basket.
  13. Walk through Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest alley in Canada.
  14. Go to a star party at the Centre of the Universe.
  15. Climb through an giant octopus eye and slide down a fish tale in the trippy Cadboro-Gyro Park.

    Cadboro park with kids

    The crazy-cool playground at Cadboro-Gyro Park

  16. Treasure a storytime at children’s bookstore Tall Tales Books.
  17. Look for a golden-crowned sparrow or barred owl at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary.
  18. Bring a copy of Peter Rabbit to the University of Victoria campus, where you’ll see rabbits here, there and everywhere.
  19. Try one of Saanich’s free family events.
  20. Catch a Stars and Strollers first-run movie (with baby!) at SilverCity Victoria.
  21. Pick out a cute, vintage comic book at Legends Comics or pack of Pokemon cards at Curious Comics.
  22. Go for a kids’ tea at Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe, walk among the old-fashioned tudor buildings in Oak Bay, then dip your toes in the ocean at one of the Oak Bay beaches.
  23. Challenge your child to identify the animals on the totem poles in the Thunderbird Park, east of the Royal BC Museum.
  24. Bring binoculars to spot Caddie (Cadborosarus) in the waters off Vancouver Island.
  25. Sit inside the second-story, luxe lounge area at the Fairmont Empress hotel and people-watch new hotel arrivals (don’t forget to make up silly stories about each one).
  26. Reflect in the gothic-style Christ Church Cathedral or the stained-glass gorgeous St Andrew’s Cathedral.
  27. Walk along Ogden Point breakwater. Stare up at the giant cruise ships or look down and watch divers surface.
  28. Make a splash at the Beckwith “frog pond” splash feature in Saanich.
  29. Drive or hike up Mount Douglas, where you can look out over the city and out to Washington State’s Olympic Mountain Range.

Can you suggest a free or cheap family-friendly Victoria attraction, restaurant or activity?

35 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Vancouver BC with Kids

Vancouver’s expensive, I’ve heard families complain. I beg to disagree. With the right attitude and approach, you’ll find tons of affordable, family-friendly fun in and around Vancouver.

Here are 35 free and cheap family-friendly things to do with kids in Vancouver, BC:

  1. Shoot your sister (or someone else’s) with a water cannon at the Variety Kids Water Park, Vancouver’s largest outdoor spray facility, according to the Vancouver Park Board.
  2. Ride a Miniature Train in Stanley Park.
  3. Sail aboard the SeaBus to Lonsdale Quay Market and jump in the ball pit.
  4. Eat a Japadog and walk along Robson Street for people-watching and shopping.
  5. No fear! Cross a (free) 50-metre-high suspension bridge at Lynn Canyon, then learn about the Lower Mainland’s wildlife and plants at the Ecology Centre.
  6. Ride the multicolored, tugboat-style Aquabus around False Creek. It’s like a mini-cruise, without the buffet, swimming pools or expense.
  7. Pop your toddler into a trailer and ride the Seaside Bicycle Route.
  8. Go for a pony ride at Maplewood Farm.
  9. Time travel to in Burnaby Village Museum on half-price Tuesday.
  10. Chat with a parrot (and over 100 more birds) at Bloedel Floral Conservatory, located in Queen Elizabeth Park — the highest point in the city, with killer views
  11. Nibble on locally grown goodies at a Vancouver Farmers Market (multiple locations).
  12. Take a dip in the heated, sunny saltwater at Kitsilano Pool.
  13. Enjoy one of the awesome festivals on The Drive (don’t forget to order your scoop of gelato from one of the Italian gelaterias).
  14. Visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum and meet a pirate or seven. Not a bad price, but a real family deal with the coupons you’ll find on the museum’s site.
  15. Go on a North Shore family hike for incredible views and kid-friendly trails.
  16. Pick up Pokemon cards and egg tarts in Chinatown. Better yet, head there during the Chinatown Night Market.
  17. Chill out on rainy or very hot days in the children’s area of the Vancouver Library, then walk among the library’s architecture, a harmonious blend of Roman and contemporary structures.
  18. Jump on the bouncy castle and crawl through an inflatable obstacle course at the West End Community Centre’s enormous Kidz Zone.
  19. Meander through the Nitobe Memorial Garden, one of the top five Japanese gardens outside of Japan.
  20. Shop for saris and sweets at the few-blocks-long Punjabi Market.
  21. Introduce your preschool Picasso meet modern art at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Tuesdays between 5-9 p.m., when admission is by donation.
  22. Play in the toddler pool at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.
  23. Make your own lapel pin with a typewriter, paper, markers and the helpful staff at Regional Assembly of Text.
  24. Share a basket of fish and chips and enjoy Steveston Village’s seaside charm.
  25. Go on a bat or bird walk with the Stanley Park Nature House.
  26. Watch Harbour Air seaplanes take off and land in Coal Harbour while the kids play at the Coal Harbour Community Centre playground.
  27. Watch an outdoor Movie in the Park or another free outdoor movie.
  28. Ride the futuristic SkyTrain to an Asian-style mall in Richmond.
  29. Walk among peaceful bridges and ponds at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden during the last half-hour of the day, when admission is by donation.
  30. Play in the sand, barbecue hot dogs, splash in the heated pool and make new family friends at Second Beach.
  31. Fly a kid’s kite in Richmond’s reliably windy Garry Point Park.
  32. Take your photos in front of the cool, iconic sails at Canada Place.
  33. Check out the Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory with starry-eyed children on Saturday evenings, when admission is by donation.
  34. Take your little engineer to Burnaby Central Railway for a ride on a mini-train. Kids actually sit on top of your train car  — not in a train car.
  35. Shoot down a water slide at Granville Island Water Park. If the kids work up an appetite, you’re lucky to be on Granville Island, where the Public Market‘s cheap treats are just around the corner.

Looking for more inexpensive, fun family-friendly things to do in Vancouver? Check out Kids Vancouver’s post on summer activities or read my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver(and order from my link, please?).

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35 Free and Cheap Things to Do With Kids in Seattle

Visiting Seattle on a budget? No problem.

Check out these 35 free and cheap family-friendly activities in Seattle:

1. Ride a bike on the Burke-Gilman Trail.

2. Run through the 9,000-gallon International Fountain.

3. Watch fish and boats navigate through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

4. Cower under giant traffic cones and play hide-and-seek among the art at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

5. Ride the West Seattle Water Taxi to West Seattle.

6. Sample fruit and meet the Doughnut Robot at the Pike Place Market.

7. Pick the Fremont Troll’s nose and take a picture with Lenin in the Fremont neighborhood.

8. Check out the cheese-making process at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

9. Visit a kid-friendly museum art on a free day.

10. Ride the Seattle Monorail between Seattle Center and downtown Seattle.

11. Buy a cheap cup of Ivar’s Clam Chowder and stroll along the waterfront piers.

12. Listen to buskers at a neighborhood farmer’s market.

13. Eat fish and chips, then people-watch along the seawall at West Seattle’s Alki Beach Park.

14. Ride the Seattle-Bainbridge route of Washington State Ferries for awesome views.

15. Sit in the $7 Center Field Bleachers at a Mariners game.

16. Go beachcombing for crabs and shells at the 534-acre Discovery Park.

17. Enjoy a storytime, pick out a comic book and consider the intestinally (!) colored Red Room at Seattle Public Library’s Central Library.

18. Fly that cool kite at Gas Works Park.

19. Chew a pack of gum and add your Hubba Bubba to the nasty-but-cool gum wall.

20. Wave at passing Amtrak trains and ride down a salmon slide at Carkeek Park.

21. Play on the giant tree and go camping at REI Flagship Store.

22. Check out vintage boats at the Center for Wooden Boats.

23. Pick up one piece of free fruit for kids (ages 12 and under) at a neighborhood PCC.

24. Take your toddlers to one of the Environmental Learning Centers.

25. Take your teen to a retro flick in at Fremont Outdoor Movies.

26. Go for a kid-friendly urban hike.

27. Skip along to ska and boogie to Brazilian jazz at the free Out to Lunch Concerts.

28. Travel ’round the world via a Festal! Event in the Center House.

29. Splash in a community wading pool and meet the locals.

30. Get a scoop of premium ice cream at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.

31. Rent a rowboat from the University of Washington’s Waterfront Actvities Center.

32. Check out a $2 movie at Seattle’s Crest Cinema Centre.

33. Grey day got you down? Visit the cacti in the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

34. Watch (and perhaps catch) a salmon at Pike Place Fish.

35. Buy Japanese strawberry-cream milk candy at Uwajimaya.

Find more great things to do with kids in Seattle in my book, Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver (and if you decide to order it, please use my link! Thanks!).

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