Known locally as “Sidney by the Sea”, Sidney BC is a picturesque town located on the Saanich Peninsula. An ideal tourist destination, Sidney is located just north of Victoria and is the home to the BC Ferries Swartz Bay Terminal. From diving head first into the city’s history via one of several museums and cultural centres to hiking, biking, or kayaking the area’s natural habitat, you will never be at a loss for something to do in this city.
Considered a part of the Victoria metropolitan area, Sidney is easily reached by plane, train, ferry, car, or boat. Considered one of the main travel hubs of Vancouver Island, Sidney is a gateway to the southern Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and has an idyllic position on the Salish Sea. In large part due to its location, the city offers up some of the most breathtaking views of the ocean and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.
Whale Watching and Sea Life
Sidney’s proximity to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve makes it one of the most popular destinations for wildlife enthusiasts. The park is a well-maintained eco-tourist destination that offers whale watching, bird watching, kayaking, and scuba diving.
The city’s sheltered waters, myriad islands, and changing landscape make it a haven for wild and sea life alike. Embark on a guided eco-tour, snorkel the cooler waters, scuba dive, or simply bask in the natural landscape and wildlife that the area is famous for.
Visit Butchart Gardens
Just to the west of Sidney lies the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Take a leisurely stroll through the stunning rose, Japanese, and Italian gardens, walk the limestone-walled path around the Sunken Garden, and stick around for the Saturday night fireworks during the summer months. A Vancouver Island staple, Butchart Gardens will impress visit after visit. Be sure to bring your camera with you!
Check Out the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Another popular attraction is the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. This popular aquarium and marine education centre highlights the marine life and ecosystem of the waters of the Gulf Islands and Salish Sea.
Kids and adults alike will be able to check out Wolf Eels, King crabs, and the giant Pacific Octopus. One of the best exhibits at the Centre allows you to get a life-like look at the under-the-sea side of life on Earth today.
Museums in Sidney
Sidney’s local history museum, the Sidney Museum of Archives, features displays highlighting the history of the surrounding Peninsula through the use of photographs, everyday objects, and artifacts. This archival museum does a wonderful job of bringing awareness to the early settlers of Sidney and North Saanich and is a great way to spend an afternoon with the whole family!
In addition to the Sidney Museum of Archives, there is the British Columbia Aviation Museum that is also worth visiting. Dedicated to the preservation of historical aircraft and aviation artifacts of Canada, the Aviation Museum houses 20 vintage airplanes, fighter planes, and a full-size replica of the Gibson Twin Plan, which bested the Wright brothers’ Kitty Hawk accomplishment.
Canada’s First and Only Booktown
A little known fact: Sidney is known as Canada’s first and only ‘Booktown’. Taking a cue from Hay-On-Wye, the first ever Booktown located in England, Sidney has created an environment perfect for literature-loving people. There are numerous bookstores throughout the town, most of which have their own character and focus. From bestsellers to local artists and a terrific selection of hard-to-find collectibles and special editions, you will be in book heaven here.
Sidney, BC is the perfect destination spot if you are looking to be near a thriving city while also having access to the outdoors, arts, and culture. Be sure and stop in and see us next time you are visiting Vancouver Island!