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Butchart Gardens: An Unforgettable Visit on Vancouver Island

Butchart Gardens: An Unforgettable Visit on Vancouver Island

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Are you planning a trip to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada? Find out everything you need to know about this top Victoria BC attraction!
This post about Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

The Butchart Gardens is a world-famous botanical garden 40-minutes by car from downtown Victoria. With over a million visitors annually, it’s the most popular thing to do in Victoria, BC.

My husband and I got a chance to visit this National Historic Site of Canada on Vancouver Island during our weekend babymoon to Victoria. And it was fabulous!

With 4 different gardens and a variety of attractions and events throughout the year, there’s something to interest everyone at Butchart Gardens.

Want to know more? Below, I cover everything you’ll need to know.

Everything about Visiting the Butchart Gardens that You Need to Know

Our Babymoon Visit to Butchart Gardens

We spent a fabulous babymoon in Victoria, so we made sure to add the world-famous Butchart Gardens to the itinerary. Wanting to finish strong, we saved it for our last day!

Because we stayed at the stunning Fairmont Empress Hotel, we decided to take Butchart Gardens Express Shuttle that’s located right outside!

This shuttle is basically a tour, and our guide was very entertaining. During the 40-minute drive to the garden, they gave us a lot of history and info about The Butchart Gardens and the Butchart family.

When we arrived, we felt like we had a solid understanding of the place, which made exploring even more fun! If you visit Butchart Gardens, I highly recommend the shuttle.

The Butchart Gardens History

The history of The Butchart Gardens is quite interesting and full of girl power!

In 1904, Robert and Jennie Butchart moved to Vancouver Island from Ontario and purchased a limestone quarry for their cement plant.

Once they had used up all the limestone deposits on the property, Jennie Butchart decided to turn the former quarry into The Sunken Garden.

By 1929, Jennie started expanding her vision! She added a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court, and a large Rose Garden in the middle.

The Butcharts enjoyed the gardens privately and invited people from all over the world to see the gardens for themselves.

And in 1939, their grandson opened the beautiful gardens to the public. He attracted visitors by adding concerts, summer night illuminations, and Christmas festivities.

But it still wasn’t complete. In 1977, their great-grandson launched a choreographed firework show. And in 2009, their great-granddaughter added the Children’s Pavilion and Rose Carousel.

The Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site of Canada, now gets more than 1 million visitors each year.

Want to see even more of the top gardens in Victoria, Canada? Check out this post!

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy and affordable AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

What to See at the Gardens

The Sunken Garden

When we entered the Gardens, we were transported to another time! Even the courtyard was laid out very nicely. We grabbed a map and they had a general route that we could follow.

After hearing the history of The Butchart Gardens, my husband and I decided to tour the gardens in order of history.

We walked toward the Sunken Garden first. This was the original garden that Jennie Butchart added to the limestone quarry.

Sunken Garden at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
The Sunken Garden was my favorite stop in Butchart Gardens.

It was absolutely stunning! There was everything from water features to beautiful flowers to views from various vantage points.

It took workers 9 years to complete The Sunken Garden. It covers 5 acres and includes 151 flower beds. Make sure to take a moment to stand on the rock mound to really take in the sights of the Sunken Garden.

Then, walk around Ross Fountain and the Bog Garden.

We weren’t sure how much time we could spend there, so we went a bit quicker than we should have and headed up to the Carousel.

The Rose Carousel at the Children’s Pavilion

So, this wasn’t really in historical order, but it was so adorable that we had to check it out next. The Rose Carousel is a menagerie carousel, which means that there are different animals, not just horses!

We learned on our tour that each animal on the carousel was from one of the family’s travels. I really loved this concept because it made it more personal.

Plus, we’re huge advocates of family travel!

The Rose Carousel reminded me of the carousel at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, especially because it’s enclosed in glass. When we come back with our kids, we’ll be sure to take a ride!

Adults and children alike can ride the carousel for a small fee.

The Rose Garden

There are 2,500 rose plants, which is the reason The Rose Garden smells simply heavenly!  It reminded me a lot of my Grandma, who used to grow stunning roses in her garden.

I was surprised that the roses were still in full bloom, since it was a bit late in the season and rose bushes elsewhere were fading fast.

We liked how this garden highlighted the open space so we could see a lot of it as we were walking around.

Photo of the Rose Garden at the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.
The Rose Garden at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

The Rose Garden is best viewed from summer to early fall, especially if you want to see them in full bloom. It would make the perfect spot for engagement photos!

We tried to take a few casual maternity photos but got distracted by the impressive collection of roses. I swear I can still smell them!

The Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden was simply serene. It had everything we’d expect from a Japanese Garden: Japanese Maples and a vast flowing stream. But I really enjoyed the grand Torii gate at the entrance!

Photo of the Japanese Garden at the Butchart Gardens, the top attraction in Victoria, BC
One of the many photo op spots at the Japanese Garden at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

During our tour, the guide told us that the family had been given a hundred Cherry Blossom trees from the emperor of Japan when they visited more than a hundred years ago.

A Japanese gardener also came back with them and created the Japanese Garden.

It was through this garden that people could take a boat tour of the cove. We didn’t have time to do it this trip, but it’s a must-do for our next trip!

The Italian Garden

Our final stop was at the Italian Garden. It was very small and was in a courtyard with a gelato shop.

My husband felt compelled to taste the gelato to see how authentic it was. He thoroughly enjoyed it!

Gelateria Benvenuto at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
My husband had to sample the gelato to see if it was “authentic” at Gelateria Benvenuto. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Just up the hill from here, they had several benches for people to eat and soak in the Gardens. It was a lovely way to end our visit to Butchart Gardens!

What to Know About the Butchart Gardens

The grounds are divided into 4 gardens (5 if you include the Mediterranean Garden next to the parking lot). There are bronze statues, ponds, waterfalls, and water features along the way.

You’ll find the paths paved and easily accessible. And as a pregnant person, I appreciated all the places to sit, and the washrooms found throughout the gardens!

Plus, if you get hungry, there are a few different eateries, including a dining room restaurant and a coffee shop.

Photo of a waterfall at Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada #butchartgardens #victoria #victoriabc #britishcolumbia #canada
Gorgeous waterfall at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Butchart Gardens?

The gardens are open year-round with a wide range of seasonal blooms, events, and attractions in each season.

The most popular season to visit The Butchart Gardens is summer, for obvious reasons! I recommend arriving right when they open in the morning.

It can get quite warm in Victoria in the summer, so it’s a good time to beat the heat.

While I haven’t experienced it yet, I think the holidays would be an especially magical time to visit. You can see below for a full seasonal itinerary.

Butchart Gardens Tickets

Tickets to The Butchart Gardens are available at their ticketing booth or online here. Or you can purchase tickets with transportation from Victoria hotels here.

In the summer, your ticket includes access to performances on the Concert Lawn and their renowned Firework Saturdays.

Summer (June 15-September 30) is the peak season with the highest rates. And kids under 5 are always free.

The rates vary depending on the season. See current rates here.

How to Get to The Butchart Gardens

By Car:

By Boat:

A really cool way to get to The Butchart Gardens is by boat. That’s what my Aunt and Uncle do when they take their sailboat up from Seattle.

The dock at The Butchart Gardens is intended for dinghy docking. All dinghies must depart the dock by closing time.

Take a Butchart Gardens Tour

On the Butchart Gardens website, you’ll find handy itineraries for guests who want to explore Butchart Gardens at their own pace:

If you prefer a guided tour, here are my top suggestions:

Boat Tours

One of the things my husband and I totally regretted not doing was a boat tour from Butchart Cove.

From May 19-September 15, guests can explore the history and wildlife of Tod Inlet on a 45-minute boat tour.

From the boat, you can see charming boats, massive homes, seals, eagles, herons and more.

You can’t purchase tickets ahead of time and they’re on a first come first serve basis.

Season Events at the Gardens

Traditional Tea Service at The Dining Room

Leave time to enjoy high tea at The Dining Room, which was part of the original Butchart family home. From your seat, you may be able to see Jennie Butchart’s private garden, the Italian Garden, and Tod Inlet.

The restaurant’s award-winning afternoon tea menu features local ingredients. You have to try their signature house scones. There are also traditional savory sandwiches, Chantilly cream, and more!

Enjoy afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens on a weekend getaway to Victoria, BC #butchartgardenstea #victoriatea #afternoontea #victoriabc
It’s easy to spend a whole day at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

Butchart Gardens Fireworks

Sine 1977, The Butchart Gardens firework show has delighted guests of all ages. It’s held every Saturday from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.

And it’s included in the price of your admission ticket.

This is a popular event and gets crowded. It’s best to arrive early.

Also, their parking lots fill up quickly. If you can’t get there early, plan to take the bus or a car service to avoid being turned away.

The fireworks are scheduled rain or shine. They recommend wearing warm, waterproof clothing and bringing a blanket for the ground.

I recommend a waterproof blanket like this or this.

You can also purchase a blanket at The Gardens and borrow one of their umbrellas.

If you prefer private seating, you can upgrade to get expedited entry to The Gardens. This includes reserved parking and reserved seating in their private viewing area.

Butchart Garden at Christmas

The holidays can be a magical time at the Butchart Gardens with many holiday offerings! Here are some of the fun things your family can enjoy during Christmas at The Butchart Gardens:

Christmas Display

See The Gardens lit up with colorful light displays. There are even scenes from The Twelve Days of Christmas! Make it a game to see if you can spot each of the scenes as you sing along.

Ice Skating

Skating on a 5,000-square-foot outdoor rink under strings of twinkling lights may be the most magical Christmas activity in Victoria, BC! It’s available every day of the holiday season and they offer affordable skate rentals.

Christmas Caroling

If you enjoy singing Christmas songs, head to the Piazza and sing along to classic carols with a festival brass band and traditional carolers!

Holiday Food

Not only can you enjoy seasonal afternoon tea, but there’s also a special Christmas Day dinner at The Butchart Gardens!

Make Your Own Snowflake

If you are visiting with kids ages 12 and under, they can bring a homemade snowflake and they’ll get a free cup of hot chocolate. Plus, their creation will adorn the windows at the Coffee Shop all through the Christmas season.

Hotels Near Butchart Gardens

Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa

Set on a pristine inlet in the heart of wine country, Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa is close to the charming city of Victoria. Plus, it’s only 5 minutes to the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Check the latest rates and availability.

Villa Eyrie Resort

The Villa Eyrie Resort is a remote hideaway tucked high above the wild coast of the Pacific Ocean and the Finlayson Arm inlet.

Located only 30 minutes north of downtown Victoria, you’ll discover the Villa Eyrie Resort. It’s a relaxing mountainside retreat unlike any other destination found in Canada, or possibly the world. Check the latest rates and availability.

Westin Bear Mountain Victoria Golf Resort & Spa

Stay at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, Victoria, and experience resort living in their world-class destination.

Golf on one of their award-winning golf courses, explore their nature trails by bike or on foot, or pamper yourself at the renowned Sante Spa. Check the latest rates and availability.

Tourism Victoria provided passes for CVS Tours and Butchart Gardens provided one complimentary admission for review purposes.

Looking for more attractions in Victoria, BC? Check out the best Christmas activities in Victoria, things to do in Victoria with kids, how to spend a weekend in Victoria with kids, where to stay in Victoria with kids, Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC, Afternoon Tea at Abkhazi Garden, and Exploring Craigdarroch Castle!

Get the best Victoria BC tips in my complete guide to The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia #thebutchartgardens #victoriabc #explorebc #tourismvictoria
Find out why The Butchart Gardens is a top attraction in Victoria, BC and is the best activity in Victoria, BC #butchartgardens #victoriaattractions #victoriatour #canada #britishcolumbia
The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC

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    Parnashree Devi

    Friday 15th of September 2017

    It feels as if I have been transported to a secret flower garden. Such colourful flowers and its themes. I loved the Japanese theme garden there. Though I haven't been to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, I would love to visit it whenever I visit there.

    Anna Schlaht

    Wednesday 13th of September 2017

    Gosh, the Butchart Gardens look beautiful. Flowers and foliage as far as the eyes can see! What a great place to stop on your babymoon. :) I love that they included different gardens, all wrapped into one big one! The Japanese garden and Italian gardens sound divine. Smart of your hubby to stop for some gelato; it's always a good day to taste-test for authenticity. ;) Thanks for sharing.


    Tuesday 12th of September 2017

    Ah the Butchart Gardens are soooo pretty, especially in the sunshine. Very good to know about the Japanese gardens, I'd like to see it. I'd be with Darren on this one and try the gelato, who could resist!


    Tuesday 12th of September 2017

    He thoroughly enjoyed that gelato!


    Monday 11th of September 2017

    Butchart looks like a great place to relax and get in touch with nature. I love the amazing flower garden, it offers many photo opportunities. stunning.


    Tuesday 12th of September 2017

    Yes, it's a photographer's paradise!


    Monday 11th of September 2017

    These gardens are really beautiful. Such a perfect place for you to go to for your babymoon. Haha I wish that was something I did when I was pregnant. How fun that they have an Italian garden with some good tasting gelato. I would have also had to taste some - it would have been the perfect sweet ending to the day. Need to add these gardens to my ever growing list of places to visit.


    Tuesday 12th of September 2017

    Victoria, BC should definitely be on your travel bucket list! It's like a taste of Europe mixed with Canada!

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