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Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Orlando, Florida
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Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

We have been planning this trip for a while now and we've concluded the following itinerary. We are a family of 4 with 2 kids aged 10 & 8 traveling to BC from Orlando, Fla on July 2 through July 10.

We will be arriving in Vancouver, BC on July 2 at 11am. After clearing customs and Immigration, we will be catching the Pacific Coach Line to Victoria where we will arrive at 5:30pm.

As we were planning to visit th Gardens (Butchart) for its concerts and to enjoy the scenery there, we figured that we won't have time that very same Saturday (July 2) to head to Butchart. To be rescheduled.

At any rate, here is a first shot at an itinerary for our family of 4:

Saturday, July 2 : (night 1 in Victoria)

Arrive at 11am in Vancouver. Head to Victoria and arrive there at 5:30pm. Check in hotel in Harbour area.

Sunday, July 3 (night 2 in Victoria)

Victoria Activities all day (downtown and Inner Harbour)

• Visit Miniature World

• Visit Undersea Gardens

• Visit Royal BC Museum

• Visit Craigdarroch Castle

• Feed the seals at Fisherman's Wharf

• Tour around the BC Legislature (Parliament & Government buildings)

• Check out old town/china town area

Bug Zoo

Beacon Hill Park

The Empress

Monday, July 4 (night 3 in Victoria)

Rent a car and then head out to the Pacific Marine Circle Route (www.pacific marinecircle route.com):

• Sooke Pot holes (Swimming Holes) and other attractions –distance from Victoria : 23 miles.

• Port Renfrew’s Botanical beach (71 miles) and marine wonders with Juan de fuca marine trail and suspension bridge , close by is the Avatar grove (75 miles); red creek fir (82 miles), San Juan Spruce (87 miles)…check out the town. Also check out Chemainus for murals, Botanical Beach and Port Renfrew as well as Juan de fuca trail

Tuesday, July 5 (night 4 in Victoria)

AM: Rent bicycles to ride around Galloping trail, Oak bay, Dallas Road

PM Head to Butchart Gardens

Wednesday, July 6 (night 1 in Vancouver)

Vancouver Activities

Thursday, July 7 (night 2 in Vancouver)

Vancouver activities

Friday, July 8 (1 night in Whistler)

Head to Whistler –Spend the day and the night there

Saturday, July 9 (spend day in Whistler and head back to Vancouver for night 3)

Sunday, July 10

Fly back home at YVR (Vancouver)

Question 1: Is this itinerary doable? if not, I am wide open to suggestions.

Question 2: Can we do the following activities during oun timeframe in Vancouver, BC:

Granville Island and False Creek

Stanley Park

Gastown -

Grouse Mountain

Lynn Canyon Susp Bridge

Van Dusen Gardens

Queen Elizabeth Park

Vancouver downtown area

For the above question 2, can someone breakdown the activities outlined above for Vancouver to reflect our time in Vancouver, as we set aside 1 night in Whistler?,

Open to all feedback and better suggestions in terms of itinerary to make the best and the most out of our stay in BC.

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1. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

You won't get all those Vic activities done in 1 day (July 3). Depends on your interests but I would suggest the Royal Museum, walking around downtown, Craigdarroch Castle, and maybe the Parliament Buildings (an early morning walk in Beacon Hill before other things are open might be a nice thing too.) You also won't get all those Vanc activities done in 2 days. Generally I have found that 2-3 activities is all you can fit in, in any one day, without ending up feeling that "if today is Tuesday, this must be Belgium."

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2. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

If we were to stay an extra day, would that make a difference?

Port Moody, Canada
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3. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

You really don't have 2 full days in Vancouver as it will take you about 4 hours on PCL to get from Victoria to Vancouver. I'd actually cut one night from Victoria and add to Vancouver unless you can add a full day.

You could still probably make Butchart's on your first night in Victoria and I think they have fireworks on summer saturdays...otherwise I'd use the morning of July 5 to do Butchart's then carry on to Vancouver that afternoon.. you can also rent bikes to ride the Vancouver seawall and see Stanley park. At that time of year it's going to be light well after 8 pm so you'll have lots of time.

Gastown is worth 1/2 hour unless you're going for the restaurants..

more later...

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4. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Speaking as a local I'd say it's more important to stop and sniff the roses. Life moves pretty quick. Slow down and get the "feel" so you can understand why we live there. By trying to do it all you are not being present and in the moment. Allow time for surprises to unfold. This is a vacation not a time-trial. Go easy. It will be okay ;)

Sechelt, BC
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5. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Traveller47’s suggestion of Butchart Gardens in the evening of Day 1 is a good one and I do believe there are fireworks on Saturday nights as well. A Victoria contributor may be along soon to confirm or you can research the web site on your own.

I think you are trying to see too much. Starting with Day 2 - if I planned all this for one day when my kids were the age of yours I would have some very unhappy kids following me around.

So if some attractions need to be cut in the interest of time I suggest:

In the morning: Take in the bug zoo or miniature world. I do not know what your kids like but my guys loved the bug zoo. After we discovered it they never wanted to go back to miniature world or any other attraction again when we visited Victoria.

Feed the seals - kids love this - plus you can have lunch at the same time too.

You do not mention what you would like to do at the Empress but if you only want to walk thru the lobby areas and the grounds you can do this on the way to the museum.

The museum - a must do and number one choice for our family. A very impressive museum and we check it out every trip. There is an Imax theatre within the museum complex and my kids used to love to end the museum tour with a 45 minute film. The museum and film will take about 3-maybe 4 hours depending on how long you linger at the exhibits. Skip the film - probably get thru it in 2.5 - 3 hours.

'Course this may be too slow for other families but that would be it us in one day. We would be very tired and ready for supper and bed and the next day's itinerary.

I would skip Undersea gardens entirely - I think it is a rip-off and if you are spending time in Stanley Park you can check out the Vancouver Aquarium instead. My kids would hate Craigdarroch Castle too. Not quite their cup of tea.

I will contribute more later too. Must go now.

Orlando, Florida
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6. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Thanks for all your feedback.

Below is another option that we have, if we were to arrive in Canada on Friday, July 1, instead of Saturday, July 2.

Also, please re-arrange as you see fit. If there is room for 1 night/2 days in Tofino, please include as well....if you see that we are spending too many days in Vancouver and if our Vancouver activities listed above can be done in 2 full days.

So, here is the other option below broken down by days:

Friday, July 1 (night 1 in Victoria)

Arrive in Vancouver at 12:30pm. Head to Victoria via PCL and arrive there at 7:30pm.

Check in. Walk around inner harbor and head for dinner.

Saturday, July 2 (night 2 in Victoria)

Get rental car from Enterprise before 1pm closing time.

• Visit Miniature World along with The Empress

Craigdarroch Castle (Victoria's legendary landmark, is only a 20-30 minute walk from Victoria's Inner Harbour with interesting antique shops and services along the way) for pictures and walk around downtown area

Fisherman's Wharf (inner harbour)-Old Town

• Tour around the BC Legislature (Parliament & Government buildings)

Bug Zoo

Beacon Hill Park

• Around 4:30pm head to Butchart Gardens for rest of the evening, including fireworks.

Sunday, July 3 (night 3 in Victoria)

Leave early around 9am to check out Hatley Park and then head out to the Pacific Marine Circle Route:

• Check out Hatley Castle at Hatley Park National Historic Site

2005 Sooke Rd. Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2

(250) 3911-2666 or 1-866-241-0674


• Sooke Pot holes (Swimming Holes) and other attractions –distance from Victoria : 23 miles.

• Port Renfrew’s Botanical beach (71 miles) and marine wonders with Juan de fuca marine trail and suspension bridge , close by is the Avatar grove (75 miles); red creek fir (82 miles), San Juan Spruce (87 miles)…check out the town. Distance from Victoria : 69 miles

• Chemainus for murals (38 murals)

• Botanical Beach

• Juan de Fuca trail

Monday, July 4 (night 1 in Vancouver)

• Return car rental

• Rent bicycle and explore around Galloping trail, Oak bay, Dallas Road

• Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

• Catch PCL Bus at either 3:45pm or 5:45pm to head to Vancouver

Tuesday, July 5 (night 2 in Vancouver)

Wednesday, July 6 (night 3 in Vancouver)

Thursday, July 7 (night 4 in Vancouver)

Friday, July 8 (1 night in Whistler)

Saturday, July 9 (day in histler and back to Vancouver for the night)

Sunday, July 10

Fly back home

We appreciate all your feedback and suggestions.

If we could do Victoria-Tofino-Vancouver and Whistler, that'd be great.

If not, ok for Victoria-Vancouver and Whistler based on the breakdown of activities by day.

Many thanks and keep your suggestions coming.

Victoria, BC Canada
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7. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Yes Butchart's has fireworks on Saturday nights in July and August. It is the first night for fireworks on Jul 2nd so it will be busy. You would need to get to the gardens as soon as you could. It is light out until about 9 pm at that time so you'd have plenty of time to wander the gardens before the fireworks show but it will make for a very long day if it's the day you arrive.

As for the rest of your Victoria portion, you really are trying to do way too much in the little time you have. I'd skip minature world altogether. It's just not that interesting of an attraction. Kids prefer Bug Zoo. I'd pick one castle and Hatley was used as the mutant school in the X-men movies and has a nice garden to wander through as well. Beacon Hill park is nice, but it's a park. Ditto Sooke Potholes. Unless you are going to spend the day swimming, there's no point going there. You will have enough park like and beach like things with Butchart's and Botanical Beach and riding around the Goose.

If you try to cram all that in, you will not enjoy any of it. You can't run through an attraction and see it at the same time!

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Good research and good planning!

The weekend you'll be in BC is bookmarked by the national day celebrations of Canada on the first and USA on the fourth, so is extremely busy ... lots and lots of things going on, and lots of people and traffic, so allow lots of time for crowds and traffic.

the big jazz festival winds up that weekend, there will probably be fireworks at night in the inner harbour, outdoor concerts in the little amphitheater in beacon hill park, and tons more.

so, make sure you make all your reservations early.

you will not have time to bicycle to fort rodd hill on july 4.

i'm not familiar with a suspension bridge on the Juan de fuca marine trail .. please enlighten me :-)

some of the big trees you mention on the circle route are a long hike from the road ... you probably will have to skip some or all of them, but don't miss Botanical Beach.

have a great trip.

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9. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

From your latest post on the Vancouver forum, it looks like you've put together an enjoyable itinerary for your trip. My sons are grown, but your plan covers many of their favourite memories from growing up on Vancouver Island and numerous day trips to Vancouver.

As already suggested, you may want to make reservations ahead of time for dinner on July 1st since it's going to busy around the Inner Habour for Canada Day celebrations (including fireworks after dark).

Glad to see you decided not to drive the entire Pacific Marine Circle Route (it's a lot of driving for kids). Botanical Beach is fabulous and the best exploring is when the tide is less than 1 m. You are lucky because on July 3rd low tide is 0.3m at around 9:00 a.m. I'd suggest heading straight to Botanical Beach first thing in the morning, and then catch the other sights on your drive back to Victoria.


If you plan on hiking any portions of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, keep in mind that this is wilderness hiking so prepare accordingly:


While you are out exploring on bikes, if you see Island Farms ice cream, you'll want to stop for some - it's delicious! It's a pleasant bike ride on the Lochside Trail to Matticks Farm for mini golf and a scoop or two.

Have a wonderful vacation!


Edited: 07 May 2011, 01:04
victoria, bc
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10. Re: Itinerary Feedback, please. 1st-timers in British Columbia!!

Wow, that itinerary sure covers every base... Ambitious, heck yes, doable...

Nah....kinda reminds me of a quote from Clark Griswold in National Lampoons Vacation.

"Hey, hey, easy kids. Everybody in the car. Boat leaves in two minutes... or perhaps you don't want to see the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth, which is only four short hours away?"

You're on a vacation, slow down.. I'd stick to arriving on the 2nd, our July 1st is kinda like your 4th, fireworks yes, rockets red glare non. You are arriving from 2 or 3 time zones away, throw in customs and a 1/1/2 spectacular ferry ride, you may be shagged by the time you hit Victoria. Wander around the Inner Harbour that night, grab a bite... the causeway, right in front of the Empress is a great spot to just sit, slow down, watch the sun set over the Sooke Hills. This is the ideal perch to people watch, and the buskers are world class for entertainment.

I'd skip the Potholes, I would go to Botanical Beach, Avatar Grove, a must... the trees are out of this world, a marvel at any age to see. Make a whole day out of it. Pick up the perfect memento rock at Devonian Beach, grab a bite at Smoking Tuna in Sooke, devour a slab of the best lemon meringue pie at Mom's Cafe.

Discover the Past tours in Victoria are also a fun family adventure, the Ghost walks would be oh so cool for a 10 year old! Have lunch at China Town, wander thru Fisgard Alley.

I would pass on Undersea Gardens and Mini World, Bug Zoo is still a favorite of ours, hands on.. great staff. The Museum is top of our list on indoor things to see.

I's skip renting bikes, walk.. walk... and walk... Dallas Road,from the Breakwater to Clover Point, on a sunny day, truely nothing can be finer... grab a frisbee, Beacon Hill Park is right there... wander back thru Cook Street Village.


Edited: 07 May 2011, 07:33