Tours

“On being informed of the invitation, Mrs. Dashwood, persuaded that such an excursion would be productive of much amusement to both her daughters…”
                                                                                               —Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 43

Important things to know about tours:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

Butchart Gardens #1

Following a scenic 40-minute drive to Brentwood Bay, BC, participants will visit one of Victoria's most famous and popular attractions. For more than a century, Butchart Gardens’ 55 acres of meticulously manicured grounds have delighted visitors from all around the world. During the drive, you will get an orientation on what to see and do, and upon arrival, you can set out on your own self-guided itinerary at your own pace. As you make your way around the gardens, you'll walk along stone paths and streams lined with colorful arrays of flowers and trees, through gardens of many different styles. Floral displays change to suit the season, so it is just as spectacular in fall as it is in summer. You may choose to visit the large Seed and Gift Store or enjoy a snack in the Coffee Shop. Please note that Costumes/Cosplay of any type, including historic or period dress, masks, or attire that may create a distraction, are not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.

As an optional add-on, we have secured a private seating for Butchart’s famed Afternoon Tea, served in the former Butchart family residence. White-tablecloth elegance, local ingredients prepared in-house, and traditional tea service with savories and sandwiches, English trifle, scones, and desserts combine to deliver an experience that is relaxing while remaining true to Jennie Butchart’s standards of hospitality. Partaking of the tea option will take approximately 90 minutes of your time at the Gardens.

Accessibility: Some pathways are narrow, and as the gardens were built around an old limestone quarry with gardens stretching down to the shoreline, there are pathways with a steeper grade. The Gardens are wheelchair and scooter accessible. Loaner wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis. Motorized scooters may be individually rented by prior arrangement and delivered to the Gardens. For the tea option, patrons cannot fully customize teas, but gluten-free, dairy-sensitive, vegan, and vegetarian set plates are available by prior arrangement.

Butchart Gardens

Cowichan Valley Wineries

Victoria and Vancouver Island are the second largest wine region in British Columbia, and the Cowichan Valley, known in the local First Nations language as “the warm land,” is the oldest grape growing region on the Island. This leisurely, full-day tour along the wine route in the Cowichan Valley includes visits to three wineries, with an in-depth, behind-the-scenes tour at one winery and tastings at all three sites. Enjoy a comfortable coach, beautiful scenery along the way, a knowledgeable guide, and welcoming winery staff pouring generous samples. A charcuterie platter is included as a light lunch. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase wine to carry with you or have it shipped to your home.

Accessibility: All wineries are accessible to those with mobility difficulties; however, buses do not have wheelchair lifts.

Photo © Matt Shannon

Thursday, SEPTEMBER 29

Butchart Gardens #2

Following a scenic 40-minute drive to Brentwood Bay, BC, participants will visit one of Victoria's most famous and popular attractions. For more than a century, Butchart Gardens’ 55 acres of meticulously manicured grounds have delighted visitors from all around the world. During the drive, you will get an orientation on what to see and do, and upon arrival, you can set out on your own self-guided itinerary at your own pace. As you make your way around the gardens, you'll walk along stone paths and streams lined with colorful arrays of flowers and trees, through gardens of many different styles. Floral displays change to suit the season, so it is just as spectacular in fall as it is in summer. You may choose to visit the large Seed and Gift Store or enjoy a snack in the Coffee Shop. Please note that Costumes/Cosplay of any type, including historic or period dress, masks, or attire that may create a distraction, are not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.

As an optional add-on, we have secured a private seating for Butchart’s famed Afternoon Tea, served in the former Butchart family residence. White-tablecloth elegance, local ingredients prepared in-house, and traditional tea service with savories and sandwiches, English trifle, scones, and desserts combine to deliver an experience that is relaxing while remaining true to Jennie Butchart’s standards of hospitality. Partaking of the tea option will take approximately 90 minutes of your time at the Gardens.

Accessibility: Some pathways are narrow, and as the gardens were built around an old limestone quarry with gardens stretching down to the shoreline, there are pathways with a steeper grade. The Gardens are wheelchair and scooter accessible. Loaner wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis. Motorized scooters may be individually rented by prior arrangement and delivered to the Gardens. For the tea option, patrons cannot fully customize teas, but gluten-free, dairy-sensitive, vegan, and vegetarian set plates are available by prior arrangement.

Butchart Gardens

Victoria’s Story Walking Tour #1

Photo © Matt Shannon
Victoria's Story is a leisurely 90-minute walk through Downtown Victoria, beginning at the Empress. The friendly professional tour guides, justly famous for the depth of their knowledge and passion about history, breathe life into their stories to inspire and inform. You will see iconic architecture, hear fascinating details about local events that link to world themes, and learn about colorful people from the past. You’ll learn about the city’s First Nations origins, its fur trade and gold rush periods, and how it has evolved over time.

Accessibility: Participants should be prepared to walk in a city environment and stand as necessary, during the 90-minute outdoor tour.

Chocolate and Churches Walking Tour #1

Victoria is a mecca for talented chocolatiers and has some gorgeous places of worship. Indulge in some sinful chocolate while learning about some of Victoria’s most historic churches in the city on a two-hour walking tour. You will visit one of the oldest chocolate shops in Canada, one of the most popular bakeries in the city, a macaron shop, and other top chocolate destinations. Dishes may vary, but can include handmade chocolates, dipped ice cream with chocolate, macarons, a savory chocolate taco, truffles, and drinking chocolate. Along the way, you will see and learn the history of three architecturally diverse churches, including the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral.

Accessibility: Total tour time is two hours; approximate walking time is 35 minutes on city streets. The tour is wheelchair-accessible. Vegetarian option is available upon advance request. Nut, dairy, and other allergies/sensitivities cannot be accommodated on this tour. Some items may have been prepared on equipment used for nuts and other potential allergens.

Photo © Off the Eaten Track

Downtown Food and City Walking Tour #1

Photo © Off the Eaten Track
Enjoy a delicious walking tour of downtown Victoria and visit some of the hidden culinary gems in the city. All of the stops are small businesses that locals know and love. Historic sights along the way include the Inner Harbour, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Royal Theatre, bustling Fort Street, and more. Tastings vary seasonally but may include a British Columbia wine tasting, sweet & savory pastries, a Vietnamese sandwich, charcuterie, tacos, a Middle Eastern salad, and French macarons – a varied selection adding up to a satisfying meal. This is a great opportunity to see the city, enjoy fabulous food, and support local small restaurants!

Accessibility: Total tour time is 2 hours; participants will walk to restaurants on city streets. The tour is wheelchair-accessible. Vegetarian option available upon advance request, but due to the variety of locations and cuisines, nut, dairy, and other allergies/sensitivities cannot be accommodated on this tour. Some items may have been prepared on equipment used for nuts and other potential allergens.

Victoria Ghostly Walk

Starting at the Empress Hotel, enjoy a spine-tingling evening stroll through the city. You’ll take in picturesque views and wander the streets, alleyways, and squares while listening to tales of eccentric characters, heroic deeds, intrigue, love, hangings, murder, and GHOSTS!

Accessibility: This one-hour outdoor tour involves walking on city streets at night.

Photo © Doug Clement

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

Victoria’s Story Walking Tour Highlighting First Nations

The renowned founder of Discover the Past tours created this tour especially for the AGM, in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Victoria and the surrounding areas lie on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish and Lekwungen-speaking peoples. This tour will highlight the rich First Nations history of the area and visit the totem poles in Thunderbird Park and Beacon Hill park, as well as providing a general orientation to the city and its history.

Accessibility: This 90-minute outdoor tour involves walking on city streets and park paths.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2

Craigdarroch Castle Private Guided Tour

A special post-AGM gathering is an AGM tradition, enabling participants to extend the fun and socialize. The 2022 event includes a private, guided tour of Craigdarroch Castle, followed by a champagne reception back at the Fairmont Empress. When it was completed in 1890, the Scottish baronial-style mansion was the largest private home in Canada, and it contains one of North America’s finest collections of stained glass, as well as high Victorian furniture and decor. You will visit sumptuous rooms where the Dunsmuir family lived and entertained and the spaces inhabited by staff. As with Sense and Sensibility, the family’s inheritance story shows that intentions are not always honored. Please see the Special Sessions page for complete information about the tour and reception.

Accessibility: The tour visits four floors of the mansion, which can be reached only by stairs.

Photo © Stephen Pavlov

MONDAY, OCTOBER 3

Butchart Gardens #3

Following a scenic 40-minute drive to Brentwood Bay, BC, participants will visit one of Victoria's most famous and popular attractions. For more than a century, Butchart Gardens’ 55 acres of meticulously manicured grounds have delighted visitors from all around the world. During the drive, you will get an orientation on what to see and do, and upon arrival, you can set out on your own self-guided itinerary at your own pace. As you make your way around the gardens, you'll walk along stone paths and streams lined with colorful arrays of flowers and trees, through gardens of many different styles. Floral displays change to suit the season, so it is just as spectacular in fall as it is in summer. You may choose to visit the large Seed and Gift Store or enjoy a snack in the Coffee Shop. Please note that Costumes/Cosplay of any type, including historic or period dress, masks, or attire that may create a distraction, are not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.

As an optional add-on, we have secured a private seating for Butchart’s famed Afternoon Tea, served in the former Butchart family residence. White-tablecloth elegance, local ingredients prepared in-house, and traditional tea service with savories and sandwiches, English trifle, scones, and desserts combine to deliver an experience that is relaxing while remaining true to Jennie Butchart’s standards of hospitality. Partaking of the tea option will take approximately 90 minutes of your time at the Gardens.

Accessibility: Some pathways are narrow, and as the gardens were built around an old limestone quarry with gardens stretching down to the shoreline, there are pathways with a steeper grade. The gardens are wheelchair and scooter accessible. Loaner wheelchairs are available on a first come, first served basis. Motorized scooters may be individually rented by prior arrangement and delivered to the Gardens. For the tea option, patrons cannot fully customize teas, but gluten-free, dairy-sensitive, vegan, and vegetarian set plates are available by prior arrangement.

Tea at Butchart Gardens

Victoria’s Story Walking Tour #2

Victoria's Story is a leisurely 90-minute walk through Downtown Victoria, beginning at the Empress. The friendly professional tour guides, justly famous for the depth of their knowledge and passion about history, breathe life into their stories to inspire and inform.

You will see iconic architecture, hear fascinating details about local events that link to world themes, and learn about colorful people from the past. You’ll learn about the city’s First Nations origins, its fur trade and gold rush periods, and how it has evolved over time.

Accessibility: This 90-minute outdoor tour involves walking on city streets and park paths.

Chocolate and Churches Walking Tour #2

Victoria is a mecca for talented chocolatiers and has some gorgeous places of worship. Indulge in some sinful chocolate while learning about some of Victoria’s most historic churches in the city on a two-hour walking tour. You will visit one of the oldest chocolate shops in Canada, one of the most popular bakeries in the city, a macaron shop, and other top chocolate destinations. Dishes may vary, but can include handmade chocolates, dipped ice cream with chocolate, macarons, a savory chocolate taco, truffles, and drinking chocolate. Along the way, you will see and learn the history of three architecturally diverse churches, including the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral.

Accessibility: Total tour time is two hours; approximate walking time is 35 minutes on city streets. Tour is wheelchair-accessible. Vegetarian options are available upon advance request; nut and dairy allergies cannot be accommodated on this tour. Some items may have been prepared on equipment used for nuts and other potential allergens.

Victoria Breweries

Victoria's beer scene is buzzing right now. Exploring it with a local “Beer Geek” is the best way to gain knowledge, relax, and enjoy generous samples of the best local beers. Participants on this tour will visit three of the best Victoria-area breweries. At each, you will be served a flight of four, four-ounce samples of different beer styles, and at one location, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes brewery tour. Transportation by minibus is included. As the breweries are in the city or a short distance away, there is time at each site to relax and chat with your guide, servers, and tour companions.

Accessibility: The minibuses do not have wheelchair lifts, and some areas of the breweries may have access limitations.

Photo © Hoyne Brewing

Downtown Food and City Walking Tour #2

Enjoy a delicious walking tour of downtown Victoria and visit some of the hidden culinary gems in the city. All of the stops are small businesses that locals know and love. Historic sights along the way include the Inner Harbour, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the Royal Theatre, bustling Fort Street, and more. Tastings vary seasonally but may include a British Columbia wine tasting, sweet & savory pastries, a Vietnamese sandwich, charcuterie, tacos, a Middle Eastern salad, and French macarons – a varied selection adding up to a satisfying meal. This is a great opportunity to see the city, enjoy fabulous food, and support local small restaurants!

Accessibility: Total tour time is 2 hours; participants will walk to restaurants on city streets. This tour is wheelchair-accessible. Vegetarian option available upon advance request, but due to the variety of locations and cuisines, nut, dairy, and other allergies/sensitivities cannot be accommodated on this tour. Some items may have been prepared on equipment used for nuts and other potential allergens.