This post was originally published August 30, 2016 and updated May 19, 2018.

The Butchart Gardens is a world famous garden located near Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. It’s about a 40 minute drive from downtown Victoria and it’s the most popular thing to do in Victoria, BC.

We saved the world-famous The Butchart Gardens for the last day of our Babymoon in Victoria so we’d end strong. We hopped on the CVS Tour bus located directly in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Our guide was humorous and gave us a lot of background information about The Butchart Gardens and the Butchart family during the 40 minute drive. When we arrived, we felt like we had a solid understanding of the place, which made exploring even more fun!

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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 to found a cement plant. Once they had used up all the limestone deposits on the property, Jennie decided to beautify the space by creating The Sunken Garden.

By 1929, the Jennie expanded her vision to include a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court, and a large Rose Garden. They 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 gardens the public to enjoy by adding concerts, summer lighting events 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 Menagerie Carousel.

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

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The Sunken Garden in Victoria, BC

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.

Sunken Garden at The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
The Sunken Garden was my favorite stop in Butchart Gardens.
As soon as we turned the corner, I was blown away! The Sunken Garden really pops out and I felt like I had entered the Secret Garden because it is so hidden.
It was absolutely stunning! It had everything from water features to beautiful flowers to views from various vantage points.
It took workers 9 years to complete The Sunken Garden. It expands 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 Children’s Pavilion Menagerie Carousel

So, this wasn’t really in historical order, but it was so adorable that we had to check it out next. We learned on the CVS 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!

It reminded me of the carousel at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, especially because it’s enclosed in glass, which is perfect for Northwest weather. When we come back with our kids, we’ll be sure to take a ride!

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The Rose Garden at The Butchart Gardens

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 many other rose bushes I’d seen 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 in Victoria, BC

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
We had learned on our CVS Tour 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 where 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.
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
We ended at the Italian Garden, which 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! Just up the hill, they had several benches for people to eat and soak in the Gardens.

We will definitely make The Butchart Gardens a stop on our next trip to Victoria, especially if we have toddler and baby with us.

I’d really like to experience the boat ride and I’m sure my toddler would love a ride on the beautiful carousel. I’d say it’s definitely worth the trek out there!

What YOU Need to Know About The Butchart Gardens

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.

Best Time to Visit The Butchart Gardens

The most popular season to visit The Butchart Gardens is summer. Personally, I’d 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.

Plus, it will give you time to enjoy lunch (and gelato) before heading out.

While I haven’t experienced it (yet,) I think the Holidays would be an especially magical time to tour The Butchart Gardens. See below for the full seasonal itinerary.

Butchart Gardens Tickets

Tickets to The Butchart Gardens are available at their ticketing booth. Or, you can Purchase The Butchart Gardens tickets online.

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

Summer (June 15-September 30) is peak season with 2018 rates being:

Adult (18+): $33.10 CAD
Youth (13-17): $16.55 CAD
Child (5-12): $3.00 CAD
KIDS UNDER AGE 5 ARE FREE.

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

How to Get to The Butchart Gardens

BY CAR

From Victoria International Airport
From BC Ferries Terminal
From Port Angeles Coho Ferry Terminal
From the Seattle Clipper Ferry Terminal
From Downtown Victoria, BC

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.

BUTCHART GARDENS TOUR

The Butchart Gardens recently updated their website with handy itineraries for guests who want to explore Butchart Gardens at their own pace:

But, if you’d like an organized 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 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 cannot purchase tickets ahead of time and they are on a first come first serve basis.

Adult:  $19.75 CAD + tax
Youth: $15.25 CAD + tax
Child: $12.00 CAD + tax

BUTCHART GARDENS TEA

Leave time to enjoy afternoon tea at at 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.

Their award-winning afternoon tea menu features local ingredients used in their English trifle, signature house scones, traditional savory sandwiches and tasty treats.

Enjoy afternoon tea at Butchart Gardens on a weekend getaway to Victoria, BC #butchartgardenstea #victoriatea #afternoontea #victoriabc
It’s easy to spend an 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. The firework show occurs every Saturday through July and August and it’s included in the price of your admission ticket.

These dates can be crowded, so it’s best to arrive early as their parking lots fill up quickly. If you can’t get there early, plan to take the bus, taxi or limo to avoid being turned away. BC Transit runs a bus to The Gardens from downtown Victoria if you can’t arrive early.

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.

However, if you’d like private seating, you can upgrade to get expedited entry to The Gardens, reserved parking and reserved seating in their private viewing area.

BUTCHART GARDENS AT CHRISTMAS

Christmastime can be a magical time because The Butchart Gardens has many holiday offerings. Here are some of the fun things your family can enjoy during Christmas at The Butchart Gardens:

Christmas Light Display

See The Gardens lit up with colorful light displays. There’s 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

So, 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 Christmas season and skate rentals are only $3 CAD + tax.

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 Snowfalke

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, and only 5 minutes to the world famous Butchart Gardens.

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 will discover the Villa Eyrie Resort, a relaxing mountainside retreat unlike any other destination found in Canada and quite possibly in the world.

Westin Bear Mountain Victoria Golf Resort & Spa

Stay at the newly renovated 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.

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

Other Victoria, BC Attractions:

Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC
Afternoon Tea at Abkhazi Garden
Exploring Craigdarroch Castle
Downtown Victoria, BC Romantic Weekend Getaway from Seattle
Babymooning at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

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

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

27 Comments

  1. These gardens look like the perfect place for a day out. I would love to bring my son here and let him admire all of the beautiful flowers. I cannot believe how neat and well kept they are!

  2. Looks like an amazing garden to explore. I love visiting gardens like this when I’m travelling. Though bonus points to here for having ice cream!

  3. Sunken Garden really looks like a hidden treasure of flowers and greenery. Perfect for family day outs. After a long walk in this garden I would definitely go for Italian Gelato for an Ice-cream like Darren.

  4. Wow, the garden looks so stunning! The name Sunken Garden sounds a bit unusual but the flowers and landscape is so gorgeous. The gelato after walking through so prettiness is a cherry on top according to me.

    • marciecheung Reply

      The gelato looked amazing! The Sunken Garden is just breathtaking!

  5. The sunken garden looks beautiful! We rarely go in gardens when we travel, but this one is beautiful and is like part of a journey going through! Love how there is gelato in the Italian garden, so typical but so enjoyable when it gets too hot eh?

  6. The story that intrigued me most was about the Japanese garden. The Butchart family must have been pretty influential to be able to get cherry blossom trees from the emperor of Japan!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! They were passionate about gardens and I think they connected through that.

  7. Lovely sights from a lovely garden. It is interesting to see how they have managed to create so much variety within one venue. The rose garden would be my pick if I have to stay here forever.

    • marciecheung Reply

      The gardens are HUGE and we could have easily spent an entire day there!

  8. The garden looks so pretty and colourful with so much greenery. I would have gone for a morning walk here every day if I had a house near to it. 🙂 Looks like a great spot for a family outing.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s such a wonderful spot to just absorb nature!

  9. The gardens are gorgeous! Sadly, I didn’t have time to visit during my trip to Victoria, but after seeing your beautiful photos I know I have to return! It looks like a place of beauty and relaxation – perfect way to spend the afternoon!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes! I hope you’re able to return! They have a lot of fireworks shows in the summer!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hope you go back! The Butchart Gardens are definitely worth a visit! And they do firework shows in the summer!

  10. That garden looks beautiful! And how cute is your belly. I love the reason behind the carousel animals, what a fun story. And that gelato looks amazing!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Awww! Thanks! It was really special to have this wonderful babymoon!

  11. What a lovely place to spend a baby moon! Was this before your first or second child? The Japanese gardens look gorgeous, I always love being in a large garden surrounded by colour and fragrance! We’d love to visit Canada and this would definitely be on our list!

    • marciecheung Reply

      This was before my second child. I was on bed rest for most of my first pregnancy and missed out on a lot of experiences. That’s why I was so determined to do a babymoon this time around!

  12. 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.

    • marciecheung Reply

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. Anna Schlaht Reply

    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.

  16. 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.

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