Part of a series on our trip to Victoria in May 2019.
A long time ago, before the kiddos showed up, Mr. TwK and I visited Craigdarroch Castle on a trip to Victoria. This time around, our friends expressed an interest in seeing it, and we thought it would be fun to show the kids a real castle.
The Castle is located in a residential neighborhood just outside the main downtown area. While the onsite parking lot is small, the Castle does not usually have a lot of visitors so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a spot. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor’s Centre onsite and prices are very reasonable, $36 CDN for two adults and two kids.
When you purchase your tickets, you are given a map of the Castle and children are given a scavenger hunt list of interesting items to find in various rooms. I believe there are audio tours available, but we chose to just do a self-guided tour. Everyone follows a clear path through the Castle so it isn’t confusing at all.
One thing to note is that most things in the Castle cannot be touched. The rooms are mostly cordoned off with rope barriers that would do nothing to stop a determined child. Thus, this probably isn’t an attraction I would’ve chosen to bring my kids to when they were toddlers.
The Castle has a total of four floors. There are no elevators or ramps, so it is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. The tour takes you up the Castle through the rooms that the Dunsmuir family occupied, all the way up to the attic, then back down through the servants’ quarters. Along the way, there are many plaques and signs telling visitors about the history of the Castle.
Craigdarroch was built between 1887 and 1890 by Robert Dunsmuir, who made his fortune from coal. Through the years, it has served as a military hospital, a college, and a music conservatory. There is a room in the Castle where a screen is set up to continuously play a short film about its history. We found that this was a great spot for the kids to rest, take a bathroom break, and learn a little more about the place that they were seeing.
We didn’t have trouble keeping our children interested and engaged, despite the fact that the youngest was only four (albeit a precocious four!). The scavenger hunt helped a lot, as they enjoyed looking among the myriad of items in each of the rooms for the one they were supposed to find. The topmost tower room offered a great view of the surrounding area.
After we got out, the kids enjoyed running around the large grassy lawn on the Castle grounds.