“Have you ever seen the grass so green, or a bluer sky?”
A day in Sidney is a bit like jumping into the chalk drawing in the original Mary Poppins movie: idyllic, magical and brimming with things to do. Bring your family to town for a fun-filled outing that’s practically perfect in every way.
Happiness is blooming all around here
From the cheerful atmosphere to the gorgeous scenery, Sidney is a welcoming place for families. Whether you visit with toddlers or teenagers, there’s lots to do without ever leaving the five kilometre area that makes up the downtown core. It’s possible to park and spend the entire day exploring on foot, but we’ve also included activities a little further afield. Let’s go explore!
If a leisurely stroll or kid-friendly shopping are what you have in mind, check out the delightful Buddies Toys, Tanner’s Books, The Childrens Bookshop, Island Blue Print for art supplies, Kimberley Dawn’s Baby Boutique and Kiddin’ Around Children’s Store. In the summer months, you can picnic beside an Italian fountain in the ornate Rose Garden at the Sidney Library, or enjoy live music every Sunday afternoon at the Sidney Summer Sounds Concert Series held in the outdoor bandshell at Beacon Park.
The Thursday Night Street Market is always popular with families. Every Thursday evening from June through August you’ll find Beacon Avenue transformed into an outdoor market filled with music, food and locally made treasures. If your family likes to bowl, Miracle Lanes has five-pin bowling, including Glow-Bowling on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. Up for a movie? Catch the latest blockbuster at Sidney Star Cinema Theatre, or see a live performance at the Mary Winspear Centre. You can also time your visit to coincide with one of our many community events, like parades, car shows, and a Lego-themed Family Day weekend celebration. See our Events Calendar for a complete listing of activities you won’t want to miss!
Located just a short walk from downtown along the waterfront walkway, Tulista Park is a perfect play spot for all ages, with an enclosed playground, covered picnic area with an outdoor barbeque, boat launch, a community arts centre and public washrooms. There’s also a brand new skateboard park and sand volleyball court (open seasonally). Across the street on the corner of Fifth and Ocean Avenue, Iroquois Park has a water spray park, duck pond, concession building with change rooms, pickleball and basketball courts and even a putting green.
Tucked into the neighbourhood areas of town are Melissa Playground and Resthaven Park, along with Brethour Park, where there’s lots of room to toss a frisbee, play soccer, or go fly a kite. If you fancy some indoor fun, the Pacific Ninja Gym is a family-centred indoor obstacle gym complete with a special area for kids. Suitable for ages 7 and up. For a complete list of Sidney parks click here.
No family trip to Sidney is complete without a visit to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea aquarium. Immerse yourself in the local underwater world where incredibly diverse sea life flourishes, some of which you can explore hands on in the touch tank. Step outside and watch sea birds, shore critters and marine animals go about their daily business while you play and hunt for colourful beach glass on Glass Beach, located just of the Sidney Pier. Occasionally, you can watch local fishermen feed the resident seals at the Fish Market on Beacon Wharf.
Continue your stroll or drive north along Third Street until you reach Amherst Beach, a sandy crescent perfect for swimming, sandcastles and endless play. Just a little further along is Roberts Bay, a bird sanctuary with several public access points along its shore. When the tide is out, you can stroll all the way around the bay.
If you fancy history, the Sidney Museum offers a stroll through the Town’s colourful origins and rich First Nations heritage, plus a variety of popular exhibits throughout the year, like the annual LEGO display over Family Day. The Aviation Museum near the airport offers a chance to get up close to some fascinating early birds, wartime artefacts, and even a chance to climb inside the “Viscount” Trans Canada Airliner retired from service in the 1970s.
And then, some cakes and tea
Sweet or savory, nearly all of Sidney’s dining establishments welcome even the smallest visitors. The sweet-toothed among you should head to the Sidney Bakery first thing in the morning to enjoy the best selection of delectable donuts, fresh out of the oven (hint: they go fast!). Lolly Gobble Sweet Shop is pure sugary fancy, and Roger’s Chocolates is stocked with Victoria Creams and other gourmet goodies.
For meals, kids will love pub-style options at Boondocks, Pier Bistro, Fish on Fifth, Beacon Landing and Fish O Chips. The Five and Dime Diner serves up yummy all-day breakfasts and burgers with fun flair. At The Roost, you can eat your lunch in an actual school bus, while at the Fickle Fig Farm Market, you can picnic in the company of goats and sample a beer flight from Howl Brewery while you enjoy Italian cafe fare. Of course, that’s only a sampling of the culinary delights Sidney has to offer. For a complete listing, click here.
Take a hike or ride your bike
If your family is a little more adventurous, Horth Hill and John Dean park offer hiking trails that wind uphill through the forest, leading you to panoramic views of the Peninsula and beyond. Reay Creek offers an easy stroll along a quiet creek bed, while Lillian Hoffer Park culminates at a small beach strewn with shells and beach glass.
You can also take a short ferry ride with Alpine Ferry Service from Beacon Wharf to an expansive stretch of gorgeous sandy beach at Sidney Spit, located on the north end of Sidney Island. Spend a day hiking the island, playing on the beach and swimming in the shallow waters. You can also camp overnight; or pitch your tent at McDonald Campground, a 20 hectare forested campground right in town.
Cyclists will love the 9.3 kilometre Airport Bike Path, which circumnavigates the Victoria Airport. Enjoy ocean and pastoral views, cafes and restaurants along the way, an RCAF memorial at Hospital Hill, and even a small airplane-themed playground. North Saanich Freeride Park is a great place for kids of all ages to race bike dirt tracks and ride the jumps.
If your family loves to swim, ice skate or play squash, you’ll find them all at Panorama Recreation Centre. You can also rent kayaks at Blue Dog Kayaking or Pacifica Paddle Sports. Sidney Whale Watching offers SUP rentals, whale watching adventures, and custom tours to favourite spots in the Gulf Islands.
If you don’t mind a short drive to Brentwood Bay, you can spend an afternoon surrounded by lush, tropical plants, turtles, flamingos, and hundreds of fluttering creatures at Butterfly Gardens. And if you really want to experience some proper Mary Poppins magic, visit the indoor Rose Carousel at Butchart Gardens.
Oh, it’s a jolly holiday in Sidney. No wonder that it’s Sidney that we love!