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7 Walkable Neighbourhoods in Victoria

Posted by Ron Neal on Monday, April 10th, 2023 at 1:34pm.

Victoria Most Walkable Neighbourhoods

The city of Victoria is an exceptionally walkable city, with plenty to offer both locals and visitors alike in terms of attractions, amenities, and everyday conveniences. There are waterfront areas, historic districts, open natural spaces, and commercial hubs—and the convenience of walking almost anywhere within 15–20 minutes is a tremendous benefit. The ability to do so from some of the best neighbourhoods in Victoria is a significant bonus, too! Here's everything you need to know about this historic city's most walkable neighbourhoods.

Fernwood

About two kilometres east of downtown Victoria sits the neighbourhood of Fernwood. The area was once the site of a natural spring that served as Victoria's primary water source in the 1800s. Today known for its vibrant music and arts scene, this community offers creative energy in a close-knit residential area within walking distance of the city center.

Fernwood residents enjoy proximity to shopping, dining, and entertainment options, many of which are easily accessible by walking. The neighbourhood also has four Victoria schools, including Central Middle, George Jay Elementary, Victoria High, and Victor School, catering to children with special needs. Travelling on two feet is especially enjoyable in Fernwood, as the area is known for the large, lush trees that line its boulevards.

There are several types of homes in Fernwood, including condominiums and single-family homes in various architectural styles. When residents venture out, they often head to the Belfry Theatre. Set in a restored 19th-century church, this performing arts complex puts on modern plays, emphasizing the work of primarily Canadian playwrights. The theatre also hosts and promotes various other cultural and educational events throughout the Greater Victoria area.

The Fernwood Community Centre offers recreational programs and resources for residents within the neighbourhood. This includes youth after-school drop-in programs, childcare, a community orchard and garden, senior programming, parenting workshops, fitness and meditation classes, game nights, and more.

Fernwood Amenities

  • Fernwood Neighbourhood Orchard
  • Fernwood Squares
  • Taco hotspot Mesa Familiar
  • Cutting-edge DesignHouse "eco-salon"

Fairfield

The southernmost community in Victoria, Fairfield, is located 1.8 kilometres southwest of downtown. The neighbourhood has several miles of coastline, yet it's also very close to the city's urban core. A pleasant mixture of historic homes, commercial districts, parks, and tree-lined streets define this community, which includes low-rise condos, townhouses, and single-family homes.

There are many local hotspots and amenities to enjoy in the area, and several are a short walk from homes in Fairfield. Considered the crème de la crème of Victoria parks, Beacon Hill Park spans nearly 740,000 square metres. Visitors enjoy several recreational activities here, including baseball, cricket, golf, hiking, tennis, and pickleball. Beacon Hill Park also has a children's farm, spray parks, a rose garden, and a pavilion for concerts.

Near the town centre, the Moss Street Farmers Market is another beloved spot in Fairfield. On Saturdays from May through October, the market takes over the Sir James Douglas School campus, Porter Park, and surrounding streets. Between November and April, the market moves indoors to the Sir James Douglas School gym and Garry Oak Room.

Fairfield Amenities

  • Cook Street Village
  • Fairfield Community Centre
  • Fairfield Food Forest community garden
  • Victoria Lawn Bowling Club

Downtown

Reasons to Live in Downtown Victoria

Downtown Victoria is more than just a central business district. It's a lively, bustling community on the waterfront that features many of Victoria's most expensive luxury condos and shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation near the Inner Harbour and historic sites. Living downtown means convenient access to public transportation, parks, and other hotspots that highlight Victoria's unique charm, so prices on homes in downtown Victoria trend higher.

Like many downtown cores, there's never a dull moment in the city center. Most activity centers around Market Square on Johnson Street, a shopping center with over 40 stores covering the gamut of clothing, electronics, general merchandise, and more. Many of these businesses occupy well-preserved historic buildings, adding to the city's charm.

When you're ready to explore beyond Market Square, consider doing so on two wheels. The Pedaler, downtown on Belleville Street, rents bicycles and offers guided tours to see downtown and other neighbourhoods. The shop is open from 9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Miniature World is one truly unique thing to check out downtown, regardless of how you get around. Most accurately described as the best "little" show on Earth, this museum features over 85 tiny dioramas, each inspired by either history or fiction.

Downtown Amenities

  • Nearly 400 restaurants, cafes, bars, and food trucks
  • Dedicated pedestrian and bike lanes
  • Victoria Public Market
  • Bay Centre Shopping Centre
  • Chinatown
  • IMAX Victoria

Hillside-Quadra

Located 1.9 kilometres north of downtown Victoria, Hillside-Quadra is an area with a name reflecting its history. The historic Hillside Farm occupied most of the area at one time, and Spanish explorer Juan Francisco de La Bodega y Quadra was an early settler.

Until the late 1800s, this area was primarily agricultural, with few residents. Today, Hillside-Quadra has more than 43 acres of open green space close to Victoria's urban core. Homes in Hillside-Quadra include apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes.

One of Hillside-Quadra's most popular walkable hotspots is Quadra Village, considered the heart of the neighbourhood. The village is home to several independent boutiques and a wide variety of international eateries, including Caribbean, Dutch, Filipino, Greek, and Indian. It also hosts Quadra Village Day, a free annual community party with music, dance performances, carnival games, workshops, and a pancake breakfast.

Victoria's third-largest park, Topaz Park, is also in Hillside-Quadra. Perennially popular, highlights include a 6,000-square-metre bike park, 3,000-square-metre skate park, off-leash dog park, undeveloped natural green spaces, and several sports fields.

Hillside-Quadra Amenities

  • Quadra Village Community Centre
  • Crystal Pool & Fitness Centre
  • National Little League Baseball club
  • Summit Park
  • Quadra Village Community Gardens

Oaklands

Oaklands, as you might expect based on its name, is a Victoria neighbourhood well-known for its mature oak trees. Approximately 3.5 kilometres northeast of downtown, Oaklands began as a rural area with several farms. Throughout the early 1900s, the farmland was subdivided into residential lots; today, the homes in Oaklands include both an urban and suburban feel, with some of Victoria's best condo neighbourhoods in addition to townhouses and single-family houses within walking distance of various shops and eateries.

One of Oaklands' most popular spots includes the dog-friendly Hillside Shopping Centre. With over 100 shops, including big-box stores like Marshalls and Wal-Mart, this mall offers clothing, electronics, home goods, specialty dining, and a large food court.

Outdoors, Oaklands residents favour spending time at Oaklands Park. This neighbourhood park includes tennis courts, playgrounds, athletic fields, and basketball courts. On Wednesday evenings in July and August, the Oaklands Community Association hosts the popular Sunset Market. Local vendors and businesses come together, offering a variety of produce, baked goodies, jewelry, art, flowers, and other locally-made artisan goods.

Oaklands Amenities

  • Thrifty Foods Grocery Store
  • Several natural green spaces and playgrounds
  • Oaklands Community Centre
  • Aberdeen Hospital
  • Hillside Veterinary Hospital

James Bay

Reasons to Live in James Bay, Victoria

James Bay is Victoria's oldest neighbourhood, located on Vancouver Island. In addition to picturesque views of downtown and the Inner Harbour, this community offers a slice of "old Victoria," with well-preserved heritage buildings, open green spaces, and sleepy marinas.

Residential development of James Bay dates back to the mid-1800s, when James Douglas, the governor of the Colony of British Columbia and the neighbourhood's namesake, commissioned government offices for the Colony of Vancouver Island. Today, homes in James Bay are complemented by districts sprinkled with small businesses.

When you're in James Bay, check out Fisherman's Wharf. The bustling waterfront is a hub for eco-tour adventures, local eats, and wildlife watching, and it's a short and scenic 10-minute stroll from downtown.

Considered the hub of James Bay, James Bay Village sits at Menzie Street and Simcoe Street. This area includes a grocery store, pharmacy, hair salon, coffee shops, banks, and other retail shops, all within easy walking distance of many area homes.

James Bay Amenities

  • Dedicated pedestrian-only and bicycle-only paths
  • Beacon Hill Park
  • BC legislative buildings
  • Helmcken House
  • Royal British Columbia Museum
  • Victoria cruise ship terminal

Rockland

Adjacent to the Fairfield neighbourhood, Rockland is approximately three kilometres southeast of downtown Victoria. This historic community features several grand estates, historic homes, and impeccably-maintained gardens.

Several of the buildings and homes in Rockland were designed by famous Victorian architects, including Samuel Maclure and Francis Rattenbury. Some of the area's most significant historic homes have been converted into smaller units while preserving much of the original architecture. Low-rise apartments and townhomes are also available throughout Rockland.

Rockland residents enjoy being within convenient walking distance of the waterfront (Strait of Juan de Fuca), Cook Street Village, and even downtown. Right in Rockland proper, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria features works by local Victoria artists. The gallery was initially hosted in the historic Spencer Mansion, but today, it spans seven individual facilities and boasts over 20,000 pieces of art. The gallery is open every day except Mondays.

Keeping with the fine arts theme, the Langham Court Theatre Society has produced plays and performances in the local community for over 90 years. The Society puts on six productions each year, comprised of a combination of both traditional and modern plays. The theatre is a 15-minute walk for most Rockland residents, making it a popular option for a fancy night out.

Rockland Amenities

  • Walking distance from downtown Victoria and the waterfront
  • Brooke Street Park
  • Craigadarroch Castle Historic Mansion
  • Government House
  • Pemberton Park
  • Shine Cafe

Walk it Out in Victoria

The capital city of British Columbia, Victoria, is one of Canada's premier cultural and economic centers—and it just so happens to be highly walkable, too. The city comprises several communities that score high for walkability, offering convenient access to work, school, healthcare, transit, dining, entertainment, outdoor recreation, and other neighbourhood amenities.

Considering moving to Victoria? Whether you're a fan of high-rise condos or historic estates, there's something here for everyone. From the Inner Harbour to points further west, Victoria's charming neighbourhoods tie everything together, often within a 15-minute walk from major hotspots. You can get almost anywhere on foot from your Victoria home quickly.

If you're dreaming about living in Victoria, contact The Neal Estate Team at (250) 386-8181 to get in touch with a local Victoria real estate agent who can help you find your perfect home.

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The Neal Estate Group is your #1 source for all of your Victoria BC real estate needs. Get in touch with us online or by phone at (250) 386-8181 to speak with a Victoria real estate buying or selling expert today. With decades of experience as a top selling Victoria REALTOR® and ranked in top 1% globally with over 5,000 transactions and $1 Billion SOLD, Ron Neal & The Neal Estate Group have the industry experience and market knowledge to help you make smart and informed buying or selling decisions. 


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