Swartz Bay


A Fall Visit to Butchart Gardens

We recently visited the Butchart Gardens in October during the fall colours on beautiful Vancouver Island.  We were not sure what to expect in regards to how many flowers there would be throughout the gardens in the fall season considering everyones personal gardens had long died and retreated for the upcoming colder seasons.  Much to our delight as we pulled into the Butchart Gardens there was tons of flowers and plants alike welcoming visitors to the gardens with their bright and cheery colours.

butchart gardens

We visited on a Saturday morning in October and although it was still busy with tourists and locals alike it was not too crowded to enjoy each of the displays.  I could image visiting on a week day during the fall would be very peaceful.

The Butchart Gardens were started just over one hundred years ago by the Butchart Family.  Mr Butchart developed a quarry and built a cement plant on Vancouver Island to satisfy the Portland cement demand from San Francisco to Victoria.  As the limestone deposits dwindled his wife made plans to turn the exhausted pit back to a natural beauty by creating a garden – the Sunken Garden to be exact.  The garden now covers 55 acres and takes 50 full time gardeners, 12 part time gardeners and 550 staff during peak season to keep the place impeccable.

Receiving over one million visitors each year to the gardens it is easy to see why with the winding cobblestone paths through 55 acres of gardens that date back to 1904.  We had the opportunity to spend several hours exploring through the gardens and had a wonderful time.  If you are coming from the Swartz Bay ferry like we were Butchart Gardens is the perfect place to stop on your way into Victoria.

Consisting of several themed gardens including the Sunken Garden, Japanese, Rose and Italian along with lawns, lakes, fountains and so much more.  The colours and flowers vary depending on the season but the fall colours were so bright and great to see.  Plan to spend at least a few hours exploring all the gardens to get both your moneys worth and make sure you do not miss anything!

Riding with BC Ferries Vancouver to Victoria

We took the ferry from Vancouver (Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) with BC Ferries and it was quite the pleasant experience.  From boarding on time, easy parking of our RV to the several surprises that awaited us when we boarded the ferry including several food options, an arcade for all ages and plenty of seating all with great views!  Our ferry ride to Victoria was probably the best ferry ride we have ever gone on! This one and a half hour ride offers breathtaking sights only seen from the water, a good chance of spotting marine wildlife and much more.

Here is our experience riding with BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria!

Riding with BC Ferries is one of the several ways to get from mainland British Columbia to Vancouver Island.  As you cruise through the Strait of Georgia the breathtaking scenery offered from both indoor areas as well as outdoors on the top deck either way it will be an experience you will not soon forget.  With a change of seeing marine wildlife including whales, seals and much more make sure to keep your eyes on the look out and cameras at the ready.

Your cruise begins at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which is located thirty minutes south of Vancouver and lands at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal in Sidney, located thirty minutes north of Victoria.  Reservations are not required but recommended especially if you are brining a vehicle or RV aboard the ferry to guarantee yourself a spot especially on weekends and busy tourist season.  If you are travelling without a vehicle you can either park your car at the terminals or there are buses that service the terminals.

There is plenty of things to do aboard the ferry on your one hour thirty minute ride including an arcade area for kids and adults alike, plenty of seating to read, relax or just watch the scenery pass by.  There is the Passages Gift Shop where you can by west coast jewellery, books, magazines, snacks, clothing and souvenirs.  If you are hungry then make sure to stop by one of the several food options including the Pacific Buffet that has a wide variety of options from sandwiches to a hot meal or the coffee shop.

About 45 minutes into the crossing the ferry begins to wind through the gulf islands.  This is one of the most picturesque parts of the crossing and we highly recommend going onto the top deck for the best view!

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