Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
As the summer sun beats back the grey drizzle of spring, Victorians head to the beach. BC’s capital is surrounded by shoreline, with some of its best beaches tucked away in lovely neighbourhoods or a short walk from downtown.
Here are some of Victoria‘s best places to play by the sea, catch some sun and dig your toes into the sand:
A short drive from the University of Victoria, Arbutus Cove has a view to the San Juan Islands, and sandy shores complemented by large trees that offer shady spots on hot days. Wooden stairs descend to the beach leading to a tucked-away sandy stretch. Early-risers will love to watch the sun come up, an experience best paired with a cup of joe from Township Coffee, minutes away.
Have you ever heard of the Cadborosaurus? You can find Caddy, a mythical sea serpent, hanging out in the playground at family-friendly Cadboro-Gyro Park. There are also slides and swings, a big-eyed octopus, and the sandy crescent of Cadboro Bay. This sheltered bay has gentle waves perfect for smaller children, and the park’s expansive lawns are a scenic spot for a picnic. Cadboro-Gyro Park is a short block away from Cadboro Bay Village, offering plenty of variety for snacks and drinks.
Willows Beach has a large playground, change room and washroom facilities, and a concession that includes sunny day favourites like hot dogs and poutine. The beach is a long strip of soft white sand, with views of nearby Oak Bay Marina. As summer reaches its peak, the shallow water warms up to ideal splashing temperature. Come June, the park adjacent to Willows Beach becomes a full-fledged carnival, complete with rides and midway games during the annual Oak Bay Tea Party.
If you’re heading to Willows with the family in tow and need a snack, nearby Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe is as kid-friendly as it gets with a play area, mini-cupcakes and a strong cup of coffee for Mom or Dad.
Hidden from the street down a long flight of stairs, Gonzales is a sandy beach on a small bay with views of the Olympic Peninsula. Its sheltered waters make it a popular place for stand-up paddleboarders and kayakers. The beach attracts a varied crowd, with families making sandcastles and playing in the surf near the entrance and farther down the beach a younger set listening to music and tossing around frisbees or footballs.
Dallas Road is a scenic drive along the western coastline of Victoria that cruises past several beaches. The most popular is located at the bottom of Cook Street, stretching between Clover Point (a great place to fly a kite or watch paragliders and kitesurfers on a windy day) and Beacon Hill Park. There are a few different sets of stairs to access the beach along Dallas Road and a more accessible ramp at the south end. This rocky beach surrounded by bluffs that bloom with wildflowers throughout the year has sweeping views of the Olympic Peninsula. For a full day at Dallas, stop in Cook Street Village on your way to the beach and stock up on drinks and snacks. For dog lovers, Dallas Road is an off leash beach year round.
Head south along Dallas Road to Ross Bay, a quieter pebble beach across from Ross Bay Cemetery. The cemetery is a peaceful spot for a shady stroll on a hot day and also the resting place for many famous Canadians, including artist Emily Carr and Barkerville Historic Town‘s namesake, Billy Barker.
There are several other smaller beaches scattered along Dallas Road. Stroll the paved walkway along the coastline and you’ll come across stairs leading down to the water. Explore and you may find a new favourite beach.
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