During the summer, city streets, waterfront cafes and gardens overflow with laughter, smiling faces, and a quirky charm that makes Victoria such a special destination.
Full of vibrantly unique residents, Victoria shares its originality with tourists, giving visitors the chance to connect with its colorful personality. Easily accessed for a weekend visit, Seattleites would be amiss not to seek out a stay to experience the charm, class, and imagination the city has to offer.
Happy 150th Birthday Victoria
On August 2nd, 1862, Fort Victoria was incorporated as the City of Victoria, it’s been a wonderful 150 years as Victoria has become one of Canada’s premier tourist destinations. With British influences Victoria is known for its walkability, tea at The Fairmont Empress, abundant gardens, and friendly charm. For Victoria, “in with the new” has not necessarily meant “out with the old.” While the city treasures its long standing traditions it has also moved forward to embrace new ones. With a creative food and cocktail scene (read more here) Seattleites will find world-class contemporary menus using many locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can expect to encounter several anniversary celebrations as well as local businesses turning out special anniversary products like the delicious “Incorporation Cocktail” at Veneto Tapa Lounge. It’s not everyday that a city turns 150 years old, so here’s to the next 150, we can’t wait to see what you do next Victoria.
Where to Stay: The Magnolia Hotel and Spa
Staying at The Magnolia Hotel and Spa two minutes from the Inner Harbor provides Seattleites with the ideal comfort and location from which to enjoy the city. With staff often caught grinning ear-to-ear, it’s hard not to smile walking in and out of the lobby. Boutique hotels strive to create intimate and unique experiences. In this vain, The Magnolia Hotel and Spa specializes in luxury, lightheartedness, and celebrating Victoria. Walking into the lobby guests are greeted with an aroma of sweet smelling flowers, a glass of infused lemonade, and music on the baby grand piano. The warm welcome (including from the General Manager Bill Lewis) puts guests immediately at ease, setting the tone for a relaxing stay.
With 64 guest rooms and a gracious staff dedicated to both their service as well as the city, visitors will begin and end each day enthusiastically. It is not surprising that The Magnolia Hotel and spa was voted one of the top hotels in Canada by Condé Nast Traveler readers and recognized as one of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Canada by Trip Advisor’s 2012 Traveler’s Choice Awards. Little details the like locally made chocolates from The Dutch Bakery left on the nightstand at turn down service and a complimentary breakfast that includes a fresh fruit smoothie are some of the luxuries guests will enjoy. Boutique hotels are all about the “extras” and The Magnolia offers plenty of them including one-on-one consultations for trip planning. The hottest extra? For $75 guests can have a “bubble bath butler” who will set up bubbly in the glass, hand whisked bubbles drawn for the bath, and candles, creating a picture perfect bubble bath. Other hotel amenities include the Spa Magnolia (a full service spa), Prime Steakhouse, a complimentary business center, meeting and banquet rooms, a fitness center and sauna, and they will let you bring your pets.
Special Offerings: The Victoria 150 Anniversary package offers two-nights accommodation in a beautiful room at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, including a $75 credit per day and a personal concierge to help create a customized vacation in Victoria. With the assistance of a personal concierge (who is available both during your stay as well as during the weeks leading up to a trip), guests can design an itinerary with activities such as Harbour Air scenic flights, whale watching tours, romantic horse-drawn carriage rides or a relaxing treatment at Spa Magnolia.
Seattleites who have been to Victoria know that it readily shares its delight with visitors. In keeping with a truly British Columbia personality, artists and musicians play an active role in making Victoria so distinct. The city’s long-standing tradition of street performers (like the Darth Vader Fiddler) has led to the establishment of Victoria’s International Busking Festival. Having just had its second successful annual event, buskers from all over the world work their best to keep the crowds laughing. One juggler relayed the sentiment well by saying, “You can have all the talent in the world but until you make them laugh they won’t pay you anything.” Notable acts from 2012 included Nigel, the heavy metal magician from England performing tricks to Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” and the Quebec City duo Les Vitamines whose acrobatics and humor is like watching a cartoon come to life.
Seattleites more willing to travel off the beaten path may discover a world of artists and musicians in Victoria that celebrate life everyday. Masala and Wontonara, two of Victoria’s grooviest drumming ensembles, recently held a secret forest show called “Beats in the Bush” where onlookers could dance to samba rhythms freely. Other unique events include the annual Victoria Symphony Splash when the Inner Harbor is transformed into an outdoor concert stage and the annual Ska Music Festival which happens in early July. Coming up, the Victoria Fringe Festival August 27- September 6 will host many eclectic comedy, improve, drama and dance performances.
Even though Victoria is located on Vancouver Island getting there from Seattle couldn’t be easier (or more fun). Travel by seaplane out of South Lake Union on Kenmore Air and feel like you are taking Willy Wonka’s Wonkavator with spectacular views from 1,500 feet of altitude. Travelers can also take the Clipper Ferry from Pier 69 at the Seattle Waterfront. Both the Clipper and Kenmore Air drop passengers off in Victoria’s Inner Harbor.