Years ago, Olympic Game Farm was a home for actors. The bears, cougars, and big cats who lived on the premises were all movie stars?most often for Disney Studios, which worked with and filmed the farm's animals for 28 years. The farm's founder, Lloyd Beebe, served as the go-to trainer, and his bond with the wildlife was reputedly amazing. During those early years, he even managed to tame five wolverines, who would eat raw egg out of his hands.
Today, Lloyd's grandson Robert runs the farm. For the most part, the animals are no longer film celebrities?although footage of the famous waving bears has gone viral and even appeared in a Carrie Underwood video, and some animal actors from elsewhere still retire to the farm. The majority are descendants of the original film animals, or rescues. Visitors can drive through the park to see zebras, elk, wolves, and lions, then head to the petting farm for an up-close encounter. They can even feed many of the animals?whole-grain bread is an accepted treat.
Lilliputian Degases will be inspired to sculpt masterpieces in the energetic confines of this professional arts studio for children. Choose two of 4Cats Art Studio's many workshops, such as the Royal Oak location's Robot Polymer Clay or the Langford studio's Matisse Cards, in which highly trained curators teach young visionaries to express their creativity in seasonal motifs using paints, professional-quality polymers, modelling clay, and last night's meatloaf. Workshops vary by location, are intended for children ages 3–15, and include all art materials.
The Victoria Bug Zoo boasts a bountiful collection of live and robust multi-pedied insects, housing everything from warm and fuzzy tarantulas to the cold-hearted giant centipedes that wander the Sonoran Desert. Your Groupon is good for an annual pass to the insectorium, where you can freely roam the colony of more than 40 species of ’sects, bypassing the glow-in-the-dark scorpions to make a bumble-bee-line to the 400-leg millipede or the enormous ant farm. While bugs are kept safely in glass-enclosed insectariums, the friendly staff is known for hands-on education and often releases the friendlier of the bugs to mingle and wander up and down the arms of brave visitors.
The Whale Museum’s exhibits illustrate the natural history of marine mammals, placing special emphasis on the three orca pods that frolic in San Juan waters from May through September. Visitors can watch a looped 30-minute video on Pacific Northwest whales, or listen to the songs of various species in the Whale Phone Booth, which doubles as a superhero transformation chamber. Members enjoy discounts on educational programs and 10 percent off at the museum store.
Docked inside British Columbia's former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square, the Maritime Museum of BC provides visitors with a bridge to the province's past through an affluent collection of nautical and legal treasures. More than 35,000 unique artifacts—plus 40,000 photographs—join forces to ferry eyes through history, including exhibits that showcase notable pirates, explorers, heritage vessels, and shipwrecks.
A fleet of three iconic sailboats has also dropped anchor beneath the museum's roof, and despite its age and creaky joints from years of playing pond hockey, the oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America still totes guests from floor to floor. Aside from its seafaring trove, the museum also runs public and school programs on topics such as immigration, pirates, women at sea, and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 as a home for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in coal and wanted to show off his wealth and importance to the surrounding country. The stately mansion has since transformed into a military hospital in 1919, a Victoria College dormitory in 1921, and now a renovated historical site owned and operated by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society. The castle retains its original 11th- and 12th-century-inspired Romanesque characteristics, such as a cylindrical tower with a conical cap and frames ornamented with 33 original stained-glass windows. Formerly a 28-acre estate, the present day 1.75-acre grounds house a 20,000-square-foot interior boasting 39 lavish rooms accurately furnished in 1890–1900 period wares, an 87-stair ascent to a tower overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, and a fireproof underground rec room for the Dunsmuir’s pet dragon.