Victoria and Butchart Gardens

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#1
Washington State
1,045 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
We will be in Victoria on June 1st between 5:30-11:59 pm. Need some opinions, do you think it would be work it to do the ships Butchart Gardens tour? Says it departs at 6:15 pm and it is 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Or if not any other suggestions for Victoria?

Thank you in advance!!
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#2
YVR & PDX
3,511 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
June 1st means the gardens officially close at 6pm - so realistically the only way you'll see them at all is with a ships tour. 3h30m is not enough IMO to do justice to the gardens - by the time you get there and back, that leaves approx 2 hours on-site. That's enough to rush around the whole place but not to hang around anywhere. On the plus side, you will have daylight until a little after 9pm on June 1st, so at least you'll be able to actually see the flowers under natural light.

If Butchart is a 'bucket list' place for you I'd consider the ships tour - returning after the cruise from Seattle or even Vancouver is an even less efficient trip. To really do them justice, if this the last port stop before returning to Seattle, you could consider a hotel overnight and a longer visit next day followed by taking a ferry back to Seattle or Vancouver (or even flying home from YYJ).

Other things to see - since you're in official Canadian Summer (after May two-four, before Labour Day) there will be more shops with extended opening hours, especially on a cruise day, but most tourist attractions still button up about 5pm (Victoria is not exactly a party town).

Parliament won't be open for tours (last starts at 5pm), but once it gets dark will look pretty durn good all lit up, as does the Empress and various other downtown buildings around the harbour. The Empress usually starts extending their 'afternoon' tea hours into the evening by the end of May - far from cheap at $75+pp but very popular. Royal BC Museum unfortunately only has extended evening hours Fri/Sat, but the Imax cinema will be open in case that's of interest.

Evening whale-watching cruise would be my pick - you have more than enough time to book an independent tour rather than an overpriced underlength ship version. Sunset on a small boat is pretty cool, and there's a very high chance of seeing Orcas out of Victoria.
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#3
925 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
We are cruising the 1st of April, do you know if any of the flowers in Butchard will be blooming?

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#4
4,195 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
April is the month of Tulips in the area. Sadly..... the region has had a lot of cold weather. I heard on the news from the garden center that the growing season is two weeks behind.

I notice daffodils are popping now in some gardens.
#5
24,740 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Butchart Gardens is amazing - especially if you have never gone, I would recommend it.


You are from Washington State which makes it easier for you to get to Victoria. For many of us, it is quite difficult to get there.


For me, I would rather see something for a shorter period of time than never to have seen it. I love the gardens so much, I go whenever I am in Victoria. Would it be great to have a whole day there, yes, but it is great at night. There is a lot of daylight in June and the gardens are beautiful at this time.
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#6
capecod ma
401 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
We are in Port from 1 to 11 on June 4th. What is best way to do garden on our own? Thinking shuttle to Empress then a bus to gardens? I think they close at 6? Thanks Cathy
#7
YVR & PDX
3,511 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by kacurl
We are in Port from 1 to 11 on June 4th. What is best way to do garden on our own? Thinking shuttle to Empress then a bus to gardens? I think they close at 6? Thanks Cathy
You can waste your time and money on a shuttle, or just take a cab (same price for the whole vehicle as 1 person on a shuttle). Or walk - it's not much over 20mins direct, double that for the scenic walk around the water via Fisherman's Wharf to the Empress to board a CVS garden bus.


They let the last people in at closing time but stay open an hour later. June 4th that means you'll have daylight until later than the gardens kick you out. With a long stay like yours it would even be possible to take public transit both ways (budget 60-75mins travel) for $5pp as there's a bus stop very close to the dock on Dallas road (no 30/31, connects with 75 to Butchart). Find another couple to split a cab with and you can do that both ways for about the same cost as CVS tours, but with even more flexibility on timing (cabs are metered, approx $60 each way, so with four of you it usually breaks even or saves a wee bit compared to CVS tickets - if you get 5 people you'll definitely save a bit of cash).
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#8
Washington State
1,045 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
I wanted to give my experience regarding Victoria and Butchart Gardens. We were on the Celebrity Solstice which docked around 4:30 pm on Thursday, June 1st, but we were not let off until 5:30. I had asked the question regarding Butchart Garden and had not planned on going, but changed our minds once on the ship and I am glad we did!! The bus picked us up at the end of the pier at 6pm and we were the first bus off. It takes about 30 minutes to get there and we arrived around 6:45 pm. The nice thing that we figured out when we got there was the gardens closed to the general public at 7:00 pm and the only ones in the garden were the cruise ship passengers which was maybe 10 buses?? We had about 1 hour and 45 minutes to cruise through the gardens and taken amazing pictures. This was our first time and were able to see all of the different gardens and did not feel crowded.

My suggestion is if you are thinking about doing this tour, note that true you don't have a full day to stroll through the different gardens, but I felt like we had time to see everything and have something to look forward to going and seeing again in the future.

Thanks for everyone who gave me information
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#9
YVR & PDX
3,511 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Thanks for returning to give your feedback.

You raised a good point that with these 'after regular hours' tours Joe Q. Public will be gone - so as long as you're mobile you can get around the gardens faster with fewer people clogging the paths.
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#10
24,740 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by love2cruiseseattle
My suggestion is if you are thinking about doing this tour, note that true you don't have a full day to stroll through the different gardens, but I felt like we had time to see everything and have something to look forward to going and seeing again in the future.

Thanks for everyone who gave me information
So glad you went! Thanks for reporting back. I have always enjoyed my evenings there.
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#11
Alberta
3,931 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
For those pax considering Butchart Gardens in the year in which one of you turns 80, BG has an promotion called the 19XX (year of pax birth) Gift. This unadvertised promotion gives the 80 year old free parking in the VIP parking lot, free entry for two, and free afternoon tea (for two) at BG. Make sure to make your reservations for tea well in advance of your arrival!

We took a taxi, from the port, to the car rental agency, and drove to BG. As one drives in, one typically pays at the gate, before parking the car. After mentioning that we were here for the 1936 Gift (we were there last year), we had to show the 80 year old's ID to prove that she was 80. We were then given the free entry passes and map, and a piece of coloured paper was stuck under our windshield wiper. This indicated to the parking attendant that we were able to park in the VIP parking.

We then walked to the Visitor Centre where we got our tea voucher. By this time, we had been asked twice if we had reservations for tea because they were fully booked. Fortunately, I had made them as soon as I found out about this promotion, two months prior to our visit.

We had such a lovely visit there; we looked around the gardens for about an hour until our tea reservations. Tea was incredible! We couldn't eat all of it and had to take the rest of it in a take out box. After tea, we continued around the gardens, until closing time. In total, we spent about six hours but we really took our time as we both enjoy BG and hadn't been there for a long time.

I learned about this unadvertised promotion here on CC so wanted to ensure that others were aware of it. I hope that others are able to take advantage of this promotion, like we did. If you're somewhat skeptical of the promotion, please email Butchart Gardens (as I did last year because I was skeptical); they will confirm the 1937 Gift (for this year).