When Sunshine was about the age that Lily is, my mother and I took her to the Butterfly Conservatory in Ontario. She was fascinated by the butterflies sitting still and oblivious to those winging past her. So when I saw a coupon for the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, I grabbed it and planned our visit.
The Victoria Butterfly Gardens are located near Sidney, BC, about half an hour from downtown Victoria (close to Butchart Gardens). It’s a pleasant drive down the highway to the small, greenhouse-like building tucked into the community. We’ve always found plenty of parking there. And though the building looks small, it’s easy to wander for an hour or more because there are so many plants, animals and butterflies to see in the gardens.
We took the girls and their grandparents for Sunshine’s birthday. Lily was engrossed by the koi and flamingos; she would have sat watching them for the whole visit (or rather, not “sat”—I had to hold her back from climbing over the railing to see them). Sunshine enjoyed seeing the butterflies and following the path around the hothouse.
I found it interesting to learn that the butterflies are imported from “eco-friendly” farms in Mexico. I guess with their short lifespan, it’s hard for such a small place to raise enough butterflies for the tourists to watch. It was neat to see the butterflies in various stages of their development, though without the guided tour I wouldn’t have noticed most of the eggs dotting the plants.
This morning, we went with my aunt to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. My aunt has an annual pass for escaping to the tropics when Victoria has too many dreary grey days. It was neat to see what had changed in the month since our last visit.
What had been a patch of dirt before was now full of spiky, colourful plants. An orchid was in full bloom. A patch of white flowers now had red centers. There seemed to be fewer butterflies, however, and my aunt said their population seems to fluctuate (these pictures are from our first visit; on this visit, I mostly saw blue morpho butterflies, and none of these two).
We bought our own annual pass for the Victoria Butterfly Gardens this visit. Perhaps next time we go, we’ll see more butterflies again. Or maybe the turtle will have arrived in his new home. Either way, it’s a fun way to spend an hour with Sunshine and Lily. And on rainy winter days, it’s a good indoor outing for us in Victoria.
Fees: admission for a family of four is just under $50. An annual pass pays itself off on your third visit, so consider that if you’re a local. The annual pass also gets you discounts on admissions to the Royal BC Museum and Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea.
Kid-friendly: yes! There was lots to see for kids of all ages. My girls have always been fascinated by the butterflies, flowers, and animals here. Having the annual pass gives us the freedom to drop in for half an hour to an hour and leave when the kids get bored.
Baby-friendly: yes! It’s a great place for an indoor walk with baby. Paths are narrow, though, so I’d recommend putting baby in a carrier rather than using a stroller.
Planning a visit to British Columbia? Check out my list of 100 things to do and see in BC!
If your kids LOVE butterfly gardens, then they’ll also love raising their own butterflies!