10 Ways to Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown (For $15)

10 Ways to Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown (For $15)

Isn’t it funny how once you live in a place for a while, you sometimes forget to stop and smell the roses?

Well, this is your chance to right that wrong.

This upcoming weekend (Feb. 27 and 28), $15 will get you access to a ton of Victoria’s major tourist attractions.

The Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown program offers locals free or heavily discounted access to 50 attractions, tours, museums, coffee shops and more (valued at more than $500).

The first step is to snag your Be a Tourist VIP card for $15 at Thrifty Foods, The Bay Centre, Sooke Region Museum, Tourism Victoria Info Centre or Uptown.

Then you just flash your card at participating locations and voila — free or discounted admission!

You can view all of the offers on the Attractions Victoria website, but here are our Top 10 picks.

1) Free admission to Butchart Gardens on Feb. 27 and 28. Admission to the gardens at this time of year would normally set you back $23.80, so you can recoup the cost of the VIP card in one shot. Plus, have you seen all the flowers popping up around town? Think of how many photo ops there’ll be at Butchart to make your friends and family in the rest of Canada very, very jealous.

2) If you drop by Birds of a Feather B&B Resort between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Feb. 25 to 28, you can benefit from free use of their canoes and beginner kayaks on Esquimalt Lagoon. Plus, you can scope the place as a recommendation for out-of-town guests. Two birds, one stone.

3) Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites offer a fascinating insight into our region’s history. Tour through secret bunkers and military command posts in the original 19th century buildings at Fort Rodd Hill, an artillery fortress between 1895 and 1956. Plus, Fisgard Lightouse is the oldest on the Canadian west coast. Enjoy free entry on Feb. 27 and 28.

4) Staying on the historic note, check out a free historical tour on Gold Miners, Gamblers & Ghosts led by local historian John Adams, who runs an expansive array of historic walks all year round. The tour starts at the archway entrance to Market Square (560 Johnson Street) on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 2 p.m. Tours will take 45 minutes and reveal some fascinating stories about Market Square.

5) Get free admission to Miniature World and the Victoria Bug Zoo on Feb. 27 and 28. These two places have always kind of confounded me, but I’m told that they’re great if you a) have kids or b) are into that kind of thing. It would normally cost $15 to experience the extreme trippiness of Miniature World (“The Greatest Little Show on Earth”) and $10 to get up close and personal with arachnids at the Bug Zoo, so get on down there and find out what they’re all about for free.

6) The Robert Bateman Centre showcases the definitive Robert Bateman collection spanning seven decades as one of Canada’s premier artists. It opened just under three years ago in the Steamship Terminal on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. This weekend is your chance to save yourself the $12.50 admission and check out Bateman’s nature-inspired art first-hand. Afterward, hit the patio at the Steamship Grill & Bar right downstairs. They have happy hour between 2 and 5 p.m. every day, which means you can grab a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail for $5. Plus, they have tasty-sounding $30 and 40 three-course menus on offer for Dine Around this weekend. How handy.

7) Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse is offering three “generous” cider samples at its gorgeous location on the Saanich Peninsula. Sea Cider is family-owned and has a light and airy tasting room where you can imbibe on the organic cider and nibbles such as a local meat-and-cheese plate.

8) While you’re out on the peninsula, you should check out the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, which are also offering free admission this weekend. The gardens boast a 12,000 square foot jungle-like ecosystem home to rescued tropical animals like flamingos, tortoises and giant koi, as well as thousands of tropical free-flying butterflies. If it were me, I’d do the cider sampling and then the butterfly gardens.

9) Hey Happy Coffee at 560 Johnson Street is offering free espresso from Feb. 25th to Feb. 28th. Why wouldn’t you?

10) The Royal BC Museum is offering 50 per cent off its usual $16 entrance fee or 25 per cent off membership, which is normally $62.95. Those are some good savings, especially if buying a membership is on your to-do list any way. Bonus: right now, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit is on.

The Be A Tourist VIP card now also gets you discounts all year round, with monthly deals such as 25 per cent off Adrena LINE’s ziplining tours in April and deep discounts to whale watching in the shoulder season.

So, go forth and save money.

Photo: Mehal Shah via Flickr

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