Monday, October 22, 2018

Seattleite Guide to Summer in Victoria, BC

Victoria is one of our favorite summertime destinations. It’s only a three hour ferry ride from Seattle, but the European architectural influence and the relaxed atmosphere makes it feels a world away. Here are the top spots we’d recommend for a weekend trip to Victoria. 

The city is lively with a little bit of everything. There’s delicious food, cute stores to peruse, and access to wildlife and nature. The city is very walkable and bike-able—whichever you prefer. The weather is slightly cooler than Seattle, being on the edge of the island, which might be welcome to Seattleites just about now. 

Expansive window views of arriving in Victoria. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Getting there 

There’s a new a Victoria Clipper boat and it’s bigger, faster, and has a Comfort Class. Clipper Vacations recently launched the Victoria Clipper V with stunning outdoor deck views, a spacious interior, and comfortable reclining seats.

For $20 more each way, you can choose to travel Comfort Class with priority boarding and more leg room. You’ll also have access to complimentary drinks (water, coffee, tea, and juice) and snacks (trail mix, chips, and cookies). 

Inner Harbour. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Fisherman’s Wharf & Inner Harbour 

The Clipper docks in the Inner Harbour where there are lots of boats, water taxis, and cruise ships. There are often little stands selling ice cream, jewelry, and artwork. Many hotels line this harbour, including the Magnolia Hotel where we’ve stayed the past two visits. They have exceptional service, the rooms have a nice view of the harbour, and it’s a smaller, quieter hotel than of the nearby options. 

Fisherman’s Wharf is across the water, about a 15-minute walk away. It is lined with colorful houseboats, food stands, and more boats. We came here for whale watching which—if I may say—is so underrated. It was a trip highlight. We took a three-hour tour on the Eagle Wing Tours‘ Wild 4 Whales boat. They also offer binoculars, gloves, sunscreen, sunglasses, blankets, and jackets onboard. 

Eagle Wing Tours has four boat options to choose from, with the two boats that are open-air and made for speed! You’ll get a 360 degree view, but be prepared to get a little wet. Luckily, they provide gear to wear for warmth and staying dry. 

We learned so much about whales and marine wildlife from the naturalists on board. For instance, did you know orca whales live in matriarchal-led pods? Also, studies show that orcas may have 4-5x the emotional intelligence of humans. 

Eagle Wing Tours Wild 4 Whales Boat. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Gardens & Parks 

An easy 15 minute walk from the harbour, Beacon Hill Park is a relaxing stroll with ponds, a rose garden, a petting zoo, and lots of greenery. 

Abkhazi Garden is approximately 15 minutes away via bike. Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, this heritage garden feels like a complete escape from the city. The teahouse is located in the original house on the property and offers a 4-course afternoon tea service for $50. 

Thirty minutes away, Butchart Gardens is a nice half day exploring the 55 acres of vivid floral displays. You can get there by car, by city bus (#75), or by shuttle/tour bus. It is nice year round, but especially nice during the summer months when you can explore it for several hours. 

Buddha Bowl by Cafe Bliss. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Food & Drink 

Our favorite coffee shop was Hey Happy on Johnson Street. They also offer alternative milks including cashew milk and coconut milk and it’s a cute space. 

Cafe Bliss offers healthy lunch options and juices and smoothies. Most of their menu is already dairy, gluten, and soy free, but they are accommodating if you have any other dietary restrictions. We loved the Buddha Bowl featuring a flavorful curry sauce over rice and loaded with veggies. 

Located in the city centre, 10 Acres Kitchen offers a tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu. They utilize fresh local ingredients from their organic farm. Right now, a few of their vegetable and herb offerings include hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, baby beets, kale, and basil. 

Photo credit: Lore General Store

Cute Trendy stores

  • Lore General Store: handmade goods from small independent companies and makers
  • Little Gold: carefully curated collection of handmade jewelry, accessories and homewares
  • Paboom: home & lifestyle shop 
  • Migration Boutique: local boutique offering distinctive urban items 
  • Regional Assembly of Text: charming stationary and paper goods (they have vintage typewriters where you can type up a card or letter—$2 for 20 minutes) 

For more information on what Victoria has to offer, check out Tourism Victoria

About Jennifer Liu

Despite the rain, Jennifer loves Seattle and is a rare native. From the gorgeous summer weather to the drizzle the other 9 months, this may be her forever home. She graduated from the University of Washington and has a master's degree in counseling psychology. She loves to travel, volunteer, and host themed dinner parties. You can find her eating, hiking, hanging out with her awesome dog, or napping. Ice cream, burgers, and sushi are some of her favorite things.
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