I’ve had to make a number of trips to Victoria recently and as weather has improved it’s reminded me what a great getaway spot we have waiting for us just across the Salish Sea.
As a former resident and someone who gets to regularly fly over to Victoria (via Helijet) I thought I’d assemble a few of my favourite things to do in the City of Gardens. (in no particular order)
10: Inner Harbour Causeway – surrounding the bustling inner harbour this pedestrian walk way is abuzz with activity. A great people watching spot, like Times Square or Picadilly Circus, if you wait long enough someone you know will pass by.
9: Eating – Victoria is full of great restaurants, pubs and eateries. Blessed with the bountiful waters of the Pacific Ocean and fertile fields of the Saanich Penisula at its doorstep, Victoria’s chefs have a plethora of ingredients at their fingertips.
8: Beacon Hill Park – in a city filled with parks and gardens, this 200 acre urban oasis has something for everyone. From open fields, colourful manicured gardens, natural woodland trails, children’s petting zoo, ponds and water features, cricket pitches, the world’s 4th tallest Totem Pole and the Cameron Bandstand.
7: The Fairmont Empress – It’s central prime location ensures it’s the first view visitors arriving into the harbour as they sail into dock. The history of Victoria and the hotel go hand in hand, the small archives in the lower level is a favourite place to show visitors a slice of yesteryear. Also a social hub of the city; from dining in the luxurious Empress Room, leisurely sipping cocktails on The Veranda, to the classic curry buffet in The Bengal Lounge and of course the all important Tea Lobby are all as much entertainment as they are restaurant/lounges.
6: Government House Gardens – This National Historic Site, the Official Residence of Governors of Vancouver Island and later, the Lieutenant Governors of British Columbia, is set amongst 14 acres of formal gardens surrounded by 22 acres of rare Garry Oaks. From dawn to dusk the grounds are open to the public, free of charge.
5: Golf – with the year round mild weather, less rain than most of the Pacific Northwest, the dozen + Victoria area golf courses range from simple community par 3 courses, to Jack Nicklaus designed public courses to exclusive member’s only clubs, most with some of the most amazing scenery anywhere.
4: Festivals and Fairs – Throughout the summer there is a bounty of fun family festivals around the city: Oak Bay Tea Party, Victoria Folk Fest, Busker’s Festival, Saanichton Fair, Rifflandia all bring a wildly diverse audience to town.
3: Royal British Columbia Museum – bestowed with royal patronage by Queen Elizabeth in 1987, one of the foremost natural & human history museums in the world this is one of the must sees in Victoria. Even locals like to make regular visits to see the permanent exhibits, like the lifelike dioramas of Westcoast rainforests and Old Town or the many exclusive travelling exhibits the RBCM is able to secure yearly. The just opened Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Barton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration exhibit.
2: BC Legislature / Parliament Buildings – hand in hand with The Empress, the Parliament Buildings frame the Inner Harbour. Home to our provincial legislature, while amazing to roam the grounds around the building gazing at the architecture and many statues, the majestic building is also open to the public to get a glimpse at the history inside the building.
1: Butchart Gardens – perhaps the most renowned attraction in Victoria, Butchart Gardens is a gem. 55 acres of spectacular show gardens is alive with colour throughout the seasons. Summer evening fireworks events are a huge draw and their Christmas season filled with brilliant lights and the 12 days of Christmas displays are sure to get anyone feeling the spirit of the season.