Brentwood Bay is 3,000 person village at the foot of Brentwood Bay. There is a 25 minute ferry to Mill Bay (it runs every hour and 10 minutes until early evening), getting you up-Island without having to drive south through Victoria. The oldest part of town, close to the ferry dock, is known as "Moodyville" and has many weather-worn seaside cottages and even an old English pub. On the southern edge of town alongside Tod Inlet is the ever-popular Butchart Gardens.
The District is very rural in nature, with lots of open country. The larger parks are Gowlland-Tod Provincial and Mount Work Regional on the west, Island View Regional on the east coast (with it great beaches), and John Dean to the north. The Panorama Leisure Centre, just south of the airport, is the recreational hub of the Saanich Peninsula, though Commonwealth Place, six kilometres to the south, may be more spectacular. Just south of Central Saanich is the Centre of the Universe (Dominion Astophysical Observatory) on Little Saanich Mountain, great for stargazing. Also just south is Elk-Beaver Lake Regional Park, with lots of freshwater recreation, including boating, fishing and swimming.
Bear Hill Regional Park
Bear Hill Rd off Brookleigh Rd (Saanich)
This park is just north of Beaver-Elk Lake Park on the Pat Bay Highway, and has pleasant hikes up Bear Hill with views of Haro Strait and the Saanich Peninsula.
800 Benvenuto Rd, off Keating Cross Road (Brentwood)
This 20 hectare year-round garden only 21 kilometres from Victoria draws 750,000 visitors a year drawn by highway billboards as far east as Calgary. Built from a limestone quarry in 1904 features a wide range of native and exotic flora, shrubs and trees. The Gardens have several feature areas including a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden, and a Sunken Garden. There are evening singers Monday - Saturday, June through September, a light display, and fireworks set to music in July and August. In December there are Christmas lights and carollers.
Centre of the Universe Dominion Astrophysical Observatory
5071 W Saanich Rd,
Perched on the summit of Little Saanich Mountain the Centre of the Universe gives a great view of Victoria and the Cosmos. Open daily 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays Thanksgiving through Easter) the centre offers interactive exhibits, a planetarium and tours of the historic 1.8 metre Plaskett Telescope. Stargazing through telescopes is available 7 - 11 PM Saturdays, April through October and Wednesday and Sundays, June through August.
Island View Regional Park
Island View Rd, off Pat Bay Highway (Saanich)
This park has one of the best beaches in Saanich, with superb sand dunes, and great views of the islands in Haro Strait, with Washington's Mt Baker in the background. Sand bars create interesting tidal pools and a great terrain for beachcombers. The north end of the park has great bird watching.
John Dean Provincial Park
Dean Park Rd (2 km east of the East Saanich Rd.)
This 155 hectare inland day-use park includes Mount Newton, and provides great views of the entire Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands and Washington's Cascade Mountains. The parkland was donated by John Dean in 1921, with several trails crisscrossing the park. The summit of Mount Newton is dominated by radar installations.
Mount Work Regional Park
Willis Point Road (off West Saanich Rd)
This park is large enough to have two main entrances. This park has the highest peak in the Saanich Peninsula, at 450 metres, which can be a challenging hike. The park also has three lakes for canoeing or fishing.
Saanich Historical Artifacts Society
7321 Lochside Rd (east of Hwy 17 off Island View Rd)
12 hectare site with forest trails and nature pond. Working artifacts include farming equipment, sawmill, planer mill and a model railroad. The society hosts a Summer Fair in late June, when all items are turned on. Open daily, all day from early June to September, mornings in winter (groups accommodated by arrangement).
Victoria Butterfly World
Benvenuto at Highway 17A, Brentwood
This attraction is open every day year-round and features over 1500 butterflies in up to 150 species from around the planet. Exhibits explain the transformations as these insects mature. Many of these species are endangered in their home environment, and come from breeding farms which help rebuilt the natural populations.