Once every year, Victoria holds a four day event called “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” where people can purchase VIP cards that allow them to receive discounts and/or free admissions to local businesses within the Greater Victoria Area. I was lucky enough to have the four days off from other responsibilities and decided I would partake in as many things as I could. Without a car, it is impossible to do everything on the list but I did manage to complete a good chunk of it while taking as many photos as I could.
The very first stop on my list was the Maritime Museum. A lot has changed for the Maritime Museum over the last few years. Their original building was condemned and they had to move to a smaller location near the Empress Hotel on Humbolt Street. Their new space is a lot smaller than their previous place and I believe a lot of their items are still in storage. There was a lot of fun stuff to see but not as much as I had remembered from my trips in earlier years so I was a little disappointed.
For the “Tourist in Your Own Hometown” event they had offered card holders free admission on Thursday (normally it is $10/adult). For me, the free visit was worth it because I was able to see the new changes from the old building. Despite some of their items being in storage, they still had many beautiful and unique artifacts on display. If you love boats and all things nautical, I think you will enjoy the Maritime Museum. There is even a station where you can learn to tie different knots (of course there were many enthusiastic children in this area that prevented me from going near it).
Here are a few shots from the Museum:
Victoria Bug Zoo
Next on my list was the Victoria Bug Zoo. Joined to the Maritime Museum by a picturesque semi-covered outdoor corridor, the bug zoo houses over 40 different creepy crawly species that you can view and some you can touch or hold.
Due to the VIP free admission, there were a few people here which made it difficult to get up and personal with some of the insects that the guides were showing. Having been here before, I decided to just wander on my own and by pass the touching of the spiders and other critters. Even in the small two room exhibit, there are amazing things to see (my pictures don’t do it justice). If you are in Victoria, I highly recommend going here especially if you have children who would love to touch a tarantula (which feels like a soft bunny…I swear!). You can also purchase candied or barbecued crickets in the gift shop. I always buy a box because my niece loves them.
Robert Bateman Centre
After spending some time with the bugs, I decided it was time to head out to fulfill my day with more attractions. I moved along the harbor to visit the Robert Bateman Centre. Robert Bateman, for those of you who are not aware, is an amazing wildlife painter.
I had never been to his gallery so I decided to take advantage of the 50% off admission and take a look. Even though the gallery is heavily aimed towards Robert Bateman’s work, there are other artists featured at the gallery. There is also a small seating area that looks over the harbor with a bookcase full of wonderful wildlife and art books for visitors to enjoy.
Right across the road from the Robert Bateman Centre is the famous Legislative building. There are areas of the building that are open to the public but be warned, you have to go through security which is very similar to airport security. That being said, the security guards are very nice and friendly. After taking off and on bags, cameras and jackets, I entered into the beautiful building and started to explore. There are amazing stain glass windows lining rooms and staircases.
I actually got stuck in this building longer than I had wanted to because the exit was blocked by a No Entry sign that had been accidentally placed where it shouldn’t have been. I spent about five minutes trying to find my way out before I had to ask a cleaner. It was a funny experience and I doubt it happens often. Needless to say, I was thankful to get out.
After fleeing from the Legislative building, I headed up Government Street to purchase my 50% off Beaver Tail pastry. This warm treat was definitively worth it. I had bought a simple cinnamon sugared beaver tail but you can order very fancy looking ones! I had also bought an ice cream at Dog-Gone-It & Soda Shoppe which was also tasty and 50% off.
Historical Walking Tour
After having a little break, I walked up to Market Square to take advantage of a free historical walking tour by Discover the Past. The Adams family (not that one) also do ghostly walks that I had attended during Halloween and was not disappointed. They talk about local history, heritage buildings, murders, and spooky ghost sightings! I’ve always loved these walks. It is always good to go to the bathroom before the tour starts, wear something warm and get a nice drink to carry along with you.
That concludes my first day of Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown. It was a busy day and I was happy to go home and have a nice warm bath and a full dinner! It is easy to take for granted all the fun little things around you! Even if your city/town does not host these sort of events, take a look at what is around you and create your own adventures