Victoria Sights: Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

Part of a series on our trip to Victoria in May 2019.

Horse-drawn carriages are ubiquitous throughout the Victoria downtown area. Our friends were staying at the Hotel Grand Pacific, and the stop is right outside their hotel, so they were interested in trying it out. We’ve actually never done this activity in all the times that we’ve been in Victoria, and since Kid #2 is crazy about horses, we decided it would be fun to join them.

There are, I believe, a couple of companies that operate horse-drawn carriages in Victoria. We went with Tally-Ho Carriage Tours. They have a variety of different tours and you need to book beforehand, though you can do so on the same day. The prices range from $60 CAD for 15 minutes to $295 CAD for 90 minutes. This is the price for one carriage, which can hold a maximum of 6 people.

We chose the half-hour Heritage Tour, which takes you through the historic neighborhood of James Bay. We passed by where the big cruise ships docked. The guide told us a lot of stories about the historic houses that we passed, including one where Emily Carr used to live. We also learned about how the horses that pull the carriages are trained and cared for, which was fascinating in and of itself.

Our tour guide was a fount of interesting facts and tidbits, and not just about history. One thing we learned was that there are places on the route where the horses must not pee, because the city gets very upset about having horse urine in front of some public buildings. So if the horses do pee there, it becomes a huge cleanup affair and they have to get people to come out with sand and stuff to scrub it off. This almost happened once toward the end of our route, and our tour guide quickly urged our horse on while saying, “No no no, please don’t pee!”

My kids did get a little bored halfway through the ride. They’re a little young to really appreciate the history lesson, and it was getting dark so all they saw was a bunch of dimly lit old houses. Our own house is over a hundred years old, so this aspect was even less interesting to them. I would say if having interested and engaged kids throughout the ride is important to you, maybe doing the tour during daytime through downtown or Beacon Hill is a better choice.

After the ride, we said goodbye to our tour guide and horse. It was fully dark by this time and the parliament building was beautifully lit up, so we took some pictures and let the kids run around a bit before calling it a night.

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