The Nootka Trail now ranks as my favourite coastal trail in BC. It stretches for…
The seaside town of Sidney BC, located just five minutes down the road from the Schwartz Bay Terminal on Vancouver Island, offers a surprising number of things to do. Judging by the stream of ferry traffic on the highway, most people give Sidney a pass and head straight for Victoria. But the town is worth a stop, especially in the summer.
My mother lived in Sidney BC for many years so I was a frequent visitor. Over the 10 year period I lived in Vancouver, I loved to drive over and spend the day with her checking out all the local nurseries in spring. On many occasions I brought my bike and did some terrific biking on the Lochside Trail and the back roads on the Saanich Peninsula. And wine tasting – though not of the calibre of the Okanagan, was and still is a fun thing to do.
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Here are 8 of the best things to do in and around Sidney BC
Walk the pretty main street in Sidney
The pretty main street in Sidney is ideal for walking. Park your car and walk from one end all the way down to the ocean and back again. Stop in one of the many bookstores (my Discover Canada book is for sale in Tanners) where you could easily lose yourself for an entire day.
Did you know that there are more bookstores per capita in Sidney than anywhere else in Canada? There are galleries to browse, chocolate stores to try as well as loads of locally owned retail shops to check out including the fantastic Muffet and Louisa, a great kitchen and bath kind of store.
Eat in some of the Sidney BC Restaurants
When you’re hungry, you’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants in town. Two I really like include Sabhai Thai and Haro’s Restaurant and Bar, located in the hotel by the water. And Beacon Landing Restaurant and Lounge offers good value.
Visit the local Fish Market on the pier
Don’t miss a stop at the Fish Market to see what the local catch is for the day. A restaurant on the pier – the Sidney Pier Bistro – is the perfect place to enjoy the views across the Georgia Strait. The seagulls will keep you entertained as well.
Rent a kayak and explore the nearby islands right from the wharf in Sidney.
Kayak for a day or a week. One of my favourite kayaking trips of all time included a few nights out on Rum Island overlooking Washington’s San Juan Islands. Just watch out for boat traffic, especially the Anacortes Ferry. In Sidney you can also sign up for a kayaking tour with A Paddle in the Park Kayaking.
Many people take the seasonal ferry over to Sidney Spit ($19 round trip) but you can easily kayak over and then spend many happy hours exploring. Sidney Spit is in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada.
Walk for kilometres along the shoreline in Sidney.
Not only is it a pretty walk, but the bird life can be excellent. And don’t forget to check out Beacon Park for its sculptural pieces.
Visit the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
The Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre located in the Sidney Pier building, just up from the water. It’s an aquarium and marine education centre with a focus on the Salish Sea – an area between Vancouver and Washington State. It’s open daily at 10 AM – and there is a charge for admission.
Go whale watching out of Sidney
Go out with Sidney whale watching where the odds are high that you’ll see orca, grey, humpback, minke and occasionally fin whales. Dolphins and porpoises are also regularly sighted as are seals and sea lions.
Hop on the Lochside Trail and go for for a bike ride.
Sidney is located on the Lochside Trail, a 29 km bike path that travels from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to Victoria where it connects with the Galloping Goose Trail.
Rent bikes in Sidney and head off through farm country. There are some places where you must share the road with cars.
Visit the Butchart Gardens
Visit the Butchart Gardens at any time of the year to get inspired. Gardens are impeccably kept and change with the seasons. Enjoy high tea or a meal but it’s best to reserve ahead. They gardens are just an 18 minute drive from Sidney.
Where to stay in Sidney BC
If you’re looking to book a stay in Sidney I’d recommend these spots.
Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa Great location, excellent food at the onsite restaurant; have personally stayed here three times and love it.
Corbett Guest Suites – offers free bike and kayak rentals along with a very convenient location.
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