The seaside town of Sidney, located just five minutes down the road from the BC Ferries 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.
Here are 8 of the best things to do in and around 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 book is for sale in Tanners). where you could easily lose yourself for an entire day. Of note is the fact 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. When you’re hungry, you’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants. Two I like in particular are Sabhai Thai and Haro’s Restaurant and Bar, located in the hotel by the water.
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. 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. 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. It’s an aquarium and marine education centre with a focus on the Salish Sea – an area between Vancouver and Washington State. It’s located down near the water. Adult admission is $15.
You can also go whale watching out of Sidney. You have the chance to see Orca, Grey, Humpback, Minke and occasionally Fin whales. Dolphins and porpoises are also regularly sighted as are seals and sea lions.
Sidney is located on the Lochside Trail, a 29 kilometre 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. (You can download my free guide to biking Victoria and the Gulf Islands.)
And if you need a place to stay in Sidney I’d recommend the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa. You can’t beat the location or the onsite restaurant.
Anything else you’d recommend doing in Sidney?
Other posts related to this area you might enjoy:
- 25 Must Do Activities on Vancouver Island
- Botanical Beach on Vancouver Island’s Wild West Coast
- A Bike, A Vancouver Island Ferry Ride and a Credit Card