The town west of Highway 17 (also called Patricia Bay Highway, locally abbreviated as the Pat Bay Highway) has a mixture of single-family residences and light industry. The majority of the town is east of Highway 17. Single-family units are also present east of the highway, but the eastern sector also has many condominium-type buildings, plus most of the service and retail outlets. The island-studded Haro Strait, part of the Salish Sea forms Sidney's eastern boundary.
Sidney is mainly an industrial town, with most people working in the construction, manufacturing, and warehousing fields (26%). Retail accounts for approximately 10% of the employment. Healthcare and social assistance employs 13%. There is a large boating and marine industry in the area, ranging from marinas to boatbuilders and marine suppliers.
Sidney is well known for having an abundance of senior citizens, producing a median age of 60.4 in 2016 as compared with the British Columbia median age of 43.0.
Sidney enjoys a cool climate with year-round mild temperatures and moderate rainfall. Most years see very little snow. Daily temperatures seldom climb above 31 °C (88 °F), or dip below −7 °C (19 °F). In the mildest winters, minimum temperatures stay above −3 °C (27 °F). Damaging winds are less frequent than in most other maritime areas of Canada.
By car & ferry
The main arrival point for most visitors is at the 1 BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay, about 6 km (4 mi) north of Sidney. This terminal provides the main connection to the mainland at Tsawwassen, just south of Vancouver. Public transit bus routes run by BC Transit between Swartz Bay and Victoria stop in Sidney.
Sidney is also served on a seasonal basis by 2 Washington State Ferries with connections to the San Juan Islands and Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. For security and immigration processing when travelling between the two countries, a 60 minute advance arrival at the terminal is strongly suggested. Walk on passengers need to arrive 30 minutes in advance. Vehicle reservations are recommended. Please speak with Washington State Department of Transportation Information Agents in Seattle tollfree on +1-888-808-7977 or reserve online. Passports are required to enter either country.
Sidney sits along Highway 17, which bisects the town from north to south.
Public transit bus service run by BC Transit travel between the airport and Sidney.
Sidney is not a large place so most of its amenities can best be explored on foot. Park on one of the side streets and take to the sidewalks. It's much less frustrating than trying to battle the traffic in your car.
By public transit
- BC Transit (Victoria Regional Transit System), ☏ . Runs a bus network within Victoria, between Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula including Sidney, and between Victoria and cities to the west including Langford and Sooke. Some notable bus routes:
- 70 - Limited stop route between downtown Victoria and Swartz Bay ferry terminal with stops at McTavish Exchange and in downtown Sidney. Travel time to downtown Sidney from downtown Victoria is 45-50 minutes and from Swartz Bay ferry terminal is 10 minutes.
- 72 - Route between downtown Victoria and Swartz Bay ferry terminal with stops at McTavish Exchange and in downtown Sidney. Travel time to downtown Sidney from downtown Victoria is 1 hour and from Swartz Bay ferry terminal is 15 minutes.
- 81 - Route between Butchart Gardens and Swartz Bay ferry terminal with stops at McTavish Exchange and in downtown Sidney. Travel time to Butchart Gardens from downtown Sidney is 40 minutes and from Swartz Bay is 50 minutes.
- 88 - Route between Sidney and Victoria International Airport with stops at McTavish Exchange and in downtown Sidney. Travel time between the airport and Sidney is 17 minutes. Travel time between the airport and McTavish Exchange is 4 minutes.
- 1 British Columbia Aviation Museum, 1910 Norseman Rd, ☏ . May 1- Sep 30: daily 10AM-4PM; Oct 1 - Apr 30: daily 11AM-3PM. In Sidney on the north edge of the Victoria International Airport. Displays, artifacts, restored historical aircraft and an ongoing vintage aircraft restoration workshop. $10 adults, $8 seniors & youth, $4 children.
- 2 Fisherman's Wharf, End of Beacon Ave (go east on Beacon Ave to the end).
- 3 Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Includes Sidney Spit; other "Gulf Islands National Park Reserve" properties on Saturna, Mayne and Pender Islands can be accessed by BC Ferries, while the smaller islands of D'Arcy, Isle-de-Lis (Rum Island), Princess Margaret (Portland Island), Prevost, Russell, Cabbage and Tumbo can be best accessed by private watercraft or marine charter. Visit the islands for whale-watching, bird-watching, kayaking and scuba-diving.
- 4 Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, 9811 Seaport Place, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Winter/spring daily 10AM-4PM; summer 10AM-5PM. Adult $15; child $5.
- Sidney Museum and Archives, 2423 Beacon Ave, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily 10AM-4PM. Features displays about the history of the surrounding Peninsula, the natural history of the area, the First Nations, the railways on the Saanich Peninsula, and numerous temporary exhibits. By donation.
- 1 Sidney Spit, toll-free: . Accessed by private ferry. Sidney Spit also offers incredible opportunities for bird watching, as Sidney Island is a popular stop-over for migrating shorebirds. Visitors who wish to camp at Sidney Spit must be registered at a designated campsite before the last ferry leaves the island for the day. Please note that while there is water available on Sidney Spit, it contains high levels of sodium and may not be suitable for people with heart or kidney ailments.
- 2 [dead link] Emerald Sea Adventures, 9807 Seaport Place (in the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa), ☏ . Whale watching and wildlife tours to see killer whales, humpback whales, porpoise, seals and bald eagles.
- 3 Paddle in the Park Kayaking, 2320 Harbour Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4 John Dean Provincial Park (Access Dean Park Rd from East Saanich Rd). 174 hectares of woodland with 6 km of hiking trails on top of Mt Newton; no vehicle access in winter.
- 5 Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary. Bird watching. The adjoining Sidney Channel Important Bird Area is an internationally recognized site important to a variety of seabirds and waterfowl.
- Grocery stores in Sidney include: 1 Save-On Foods, 2 Thrifty Foods and the 3 Fairway Market.
- Cameron Rose Gifts, 2447 Beacon Avenue, ☏ .
- [dead link] Emerald Sea Treasures, 9807 Seaport Place. Gift shop of local artisan pottery, woodwork, jewelry, paintings, photos and glassware.
- 1 Beacon Landing Bar & Grill, 2537 Beacon Ave #107, ☏ . 11AM-11PM.
- 2 Boondocks Cafe, 9732 1 St, ☏ . Family restaurant
- 3 Fish on Fifth, 9812 5th Street (Beacon at Fifth), ☏ . Specializes in fish & chips.
- 4 [dead link] Hyland's Fish & Chips, 10153 Resthaven Dr, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30AM-10PM.
- 5 Maria's Souvlaki, 9812 Second St, V8L 3C6, ☏ . Greek cuisine.
- 6 La Pignatta, 101, 2400 Bevan Ave (corner of 5th and Bevan), ☏ . 8AM-3PM. A grab-n-go soup bar and lunch counter open Mon-Sat for breakfast and lunch, Selection of hot soups, salads, paninis, sandwiches and wraps; 10” Margherita pizza served Thu-Fri. Baked goods locally sourced from Irene’s Bakery and the Origin Gluten Free Bakery in Victoria. Beverages include Oughtred coffee (Victoria), Mighty Leaf tea, fresh fruit smoothies, Italian sodas and a full espresso bar. Wheelchair accessible, indoor and outdoor seating, takeaway.
- 7 Sabhai Thai Restaurant, 2493 Beacon Avenue, ☏ . Asian cuisine; reservations recommended.
- 8 [dead link] Sidney Bakery, 2507 Beacon Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 7AM-5:30PM; Su 9AM-5PM.
Only slightly further afield are other eating establishments worth trying...
- 9 Blue's Bayou Café, 899 Marchant Rd, Brentwood Bay, ☏ . May-Oct: M-Sa 11:30AM-9PM; closed Jan. New Orleans style Cajun/Creole food on the waterfront. lunch items from $11; dinner items from $15.
- 1 Best Western Plus Emerald Isle Motor Inn Hotel, 2306 Beacon Ave, ☏ . Convenient to BC Ferries, Washington State Ferry Terminal, Victoria International Airport, and Greater Victoria Area.
- 2 Macdonald Campground, 10740 Macdonald Park Rd, North Saanich, toll-free: . Minutes from the BC Ferries terminal; a good base to start exploring Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.
- 3 Travelodge Victoria Airport, 2280 Beacon Ave, ☏ .
- 4 Quality Inn Waddling Dog, 2476 Mt Newton Cross Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Accommodation; includes an attached pub and restaurant; free Wi-Fi.
Most restaurants, bars and hotels will have free Wi-Fi. Cell service is good.
The BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay is only a few kilometres from Sidney and offers frequent service to the Lower Mainland and the Southern Gulf Islands. The ferries themselves are attractions as well — on the Tsawwassen (Vancouver) route, the twin vessels Spirit of Vancouver Island and Spirit of British Columbia are the largest passenger ferries in North America.
Washington State Ferries runs regular ferry service between Sidney and Anacortes from a terminal on the southern outskirts of Sidney. Some runs stop in the San Juan Islands. The service does not run in winter.
Sidney is at one end of Vancouver Island and there is much to see as one travels north. Out on the Pacific Coast side of the Island is Pacific Rim National Park and the communities of Ucluelet and Tofino. At the northern end of Vancouver Island is Cape Scott Provincial Park, occupying a more remote and wilder part of the Island.
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a very worthwhile hiking route accessed through Sooke, not far from Victoria. The trail runs between Port Renfrew and Jordan River and can be done as a series of day trips or as a multi-day backpacking trip. This is a good choice if you want a marine hike without the logistical challenges of the West Coast Trail.
|Routes through Sidney|
|Vancouver via ← Delta ← ferry ←||N S||→ Victoria → END|