Find tradition, attraction and pure magnificence in and round this British Columbia captial metropolis
Outdoor fanatics can benefit from the metropolis from numerous angles, by land and by sea — Photo courtesy of Destination Greater Victoria
A return to beloved Vancouver Island feels even sweeter after a pair years away – and but extra particular for many who hadn’t made it to this enchanted slice of western Canada earlier than the pandemic shifted all of our worlds. With border restrictions lastly eased, it is a breeze to as soon as once more go to Victoria, the welcoming British Columbia capital that is surrounded by the beautiful Salish Sea (the Juan de Fuca Strait, Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia).
Although guests can simply arrive from Vancouver by air or by sea, the FRS Clipper proves probably the most handy mode to journey from the U.S. with out a automobile. Hop on a smooth, high-speed catamaran in Seattle for a soothing cruise straight to the guts of Victoria. This is the one service transporting passengers between the 2 cities’ downtown docks.
Where to remain
Magnolia Hotel & Spa gives boutique luxurious, with heat private touches, in a chief downtown location — Photo courtesy of Magnolia Hotel & Spa
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa proves a central and welcoming HQ from which to discover Victoria, which resides on the unceded conventional territory of the Lekwungen Peoples. Located a pair blocks from the Parliament Buildings and one from the Inner Harbour, the place seaplanes buzz, buskers serenade and seagulls swirl, the lodge includes a cozy foyer and welcoming rooms and suites showcasing heat and refined hues, darkish wooden, soothing artwork, nook fireplaces and stress-free tubs.
Traditional turndown service makes company really feel cared for in a non-invasive manner, whereas breakfasts downstairs in The Courtney Room (assume crab and aged cheddar omelets, grain bowls and fried rooster with waffles) show the right strategy to gasoline up for a day of explorations. Dinner on this elegant but unpretentious area means native delicacies together with fresh-shucked oysters, foraged-and-farmed salads, charcoal-grilled steelhead trout and Fraser Valley duck breast, maybe accompanied by a smoky cocktail or standout classic from B.C.’s Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country.
The Courtney Room inside Magnolia Hotel & Spa spotlights native fare in a sublime, light-filled area — Photo courtesy of Dasha Armstrong
Be certain to cease on the entrance desk to select up Magnolia’s Curated Trails maps. These detailed itineraries are grouped into themes starting from farther-flung finds (the Saanich Peninsula Flavour Trail and Cowichan Flavour Trail) to downtown treasures just like the Beautiful Boutiques Trail or Victoria Brewery Trail. Stops are really useful at cordial newcomer Herald Street Brew Works, the place grabbing a bar stool gives theater seating to the beer-making course of, and Whistle Buoy Brewing Company, whose dog-friendly patio in Market Square is a dreamy spot wherein to mingle with locals on a leisurely, sun-kissed afternoon.
Just on the opposite facet of the Clipper terminal, there’s Inn at Laurel Point, a 200-room lodge on the mouth of the bustling harbor that has a fascinating history, has been carbon neutral since 2009 and unveiled its stunning new foyer in January 2021.
Start the day with balcony espresso, watching the waterways thrum to life with playful otters, ducklings, kayakers, floatplanes, ferries and stirring residents of neighboring houseboat communities, too. From your elevated perch, get pleasure from “inn-room” breakfast choices like an eggs benny, porridge made with Canadian metal minimize oats or a build-your-own omelet creation with parmesan residence fries and toast.
The Inn at Laurel Point gives prime balconies from which to observe town bustle to life — Photo courtesy of Inn at Laurel Point/Destination Greater Victoria
Downstairs Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio combines soothing Inner Harbour views with globally-inspired small plates, lots of which showcase seasonal items, from kale to raspberries, delivered straight from the chef’s personal backyard. (His spouse occurs to be a wildflower farmer, too.) Try the grilled asparagus; halibut ceviche with coconut, cilantro, lime and taro chips; crispy pork stomach with fried peanut and bacon crumble, chicory and carrot-truffle mouse; or the seared sockeye salmon with fennel, orange salad and smoked trout roe.
Not-to-be-missed close by actions embrace a day expertise on the Pendray Inn and Tea House, inside a Victorian-era manor, the place you’ll be able to get pleasure from flaky scones, savory finger sandwiches and candy treats alongside unique teas, served in delicate dishware. Towers of vegan goodies can be found if you happen to specify forward of time, too.
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio permits diners to relish seasonal delicacies plus views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour — Photo courtesy of Inn at Laurel Point/Destination Greater Victoria
When it involves out of doors adventures, the choices right here appear limitless. In Victoria itself, there are tried-and-true favorites like strolling alongside serene Dallas Road or wandering Beacon Hill Park, a verdant metropolis gem that is residence to the world’s tallest story pole (measuring 127 ft and seven inches).
Spend a memorable morning connecting with First Nations neighborhood members by way of Songhees Tours, loved on foot or by canoe. During these enriching explorations, cultural guides lead you to a few of their folks’s most vital historic websites, weaving in wonder-filled tales and sacred tales alongside the best way. And for a particular finale? Savor historically impressed snacks like fried bannock from the Songhees waterside food truck.
Within the “cycling capital of Canada,” it solely is sensible to additionally hop on a guided tour with The Pedaler Cycling Tours and Rentals. Experience town’s distinctive neighborhoods from a brand new vantage level, through easily-accessed bike lanes, as you study quirky enjoyable info and insider secrets and techniques.
Or, if the climate’s not cooperating, select to spend some hours contained in the Ritual Nordic Spa, rotating between the Finnish sauna, steam room, chilly plunge pool, salt lounge, out of doors patios, rinse station and Nordic bucket bathe. (To really pamper your self, e book a non-public session right here.)
Don’t miss the magical, new Malahat SkyWalk, with a spiral wood ramp that provides a number of the area’s greatest panorama views — Photo courtesy of Hamish Hamilton
Those with out a rental automobile ought to prioritize taking a shuttle or taxi out to The Butchart Gardens, a Zen-filled National Historic Site with greater than 1,000,000 crops from 900-plus varieties. Then there’s the Malahat SkyWalk, an elevated tree stroll that leads guests by way of a magic-tinged madrone forest, with driftwood art work by Tanya Bub tucked among the many branches en route.
Climb the wood construction’s gently sloped spiral ramp, accessible to strollers and wheelchairs as nicely, that culminates with a wide ranging lookout level located 820 ft above sea degree. Drink in views of Finlayson Arm, Saanich Peninsula, Mount Baker and the distant Coast Mountains earlier than making your manner down – through the ramp or a twisty slide that may revive nearly any customer’s childlike spirit.
Where to eat
Culinary choices in Victoria delight, whether or not you attempt an old-school downtown institution like Nautical Nellie’s Steak & Seafood House, recognized for its tomahawk steaks, regional seafood treasures (attempt the scallop ceviche and seafood tagliatelle) and Wine Spectator award-winning beverage checklist. Or contemplate newer sizzling spots like Boom + Batten, a hip hangout from which to stare upon supersized yachts whereas indulging in oysters, seafood towers and exquisite dishes like island-raised Parry Bay lamb.
Eva Schnitzelhaus, a current addition to the downtown scene, brings delectable German-inspired fare to a pleasant eating room; menu gadgets may be tailored for gluten-free and vegetarian diners, because of considerate variations like eggplant schnitzel.
Eva Schnitzelhaus is a brand new eatery serving German-inspired fare in a enjoyable, informal method — Photo courtesy of Lillie Louise Photography
Between the Inner Harbour and Chinatown, The Mint is tucked beneath road degree, proving a pleasant area for conversing amongst Tibetan momos and engaging mains from butter rooster curry to “Ginger Cilantro Sticky Rice,” that includes marinated tofu and coconut peanut sauce. Tip: Check out the venue’s schedule for upcoming nights devoted to comedy, music and brave open-mic skills.
And within the charming Fernwood neighborhood, dinner at stage wine bar is an expertise to not be neglected. In a fascinating room boasting an intimate, European really feel, select shareable plates and tantalizing cocktails from a succinct, mix-and-match menu that exhibits off sardines, olives, cheeses, meats and native fish, too.
In the rolling Cowichan Valley, Merridale is a cidery, distillery, eatery and tasting room rolled into one — Photo courtesy of Merridale Cidery & Distillery
On its bucolic 20-acre orchard, the family-owned operation at Merridale Cidery & Distillery in Cobble Hill focuses on conventional strategies and practices – with some fashionable spins. Popular ciders vary from their Cowichan Dry to the Merri Berri, a refreshing mix of native apples fermented slowly, then blended with B.C. blackcurrant, cherry and raspberry juices.
The venue additionally produces its personal spirits, together with a rum that is made utilizing B.C. honey, then is fermented, distilled twice of their small-batch copper nonetheless and aged in oak barrels. On a dappled patio, maybe accompanied by reside music, get pleasure from a farm-fresh unfold of salads, charcuterie boards, burgers, pizzas and savory pies.
In Duncan, get pleasure from wine tasting from the scenic balcony of Blue Grouse Estate Winery, an operation that proudly maintains a sustainability-centric focus that permits the crew to really feel like true “stewards of the land.”
Blue Grouse Estate Winery welcomes guests to its smooth area, at one of many oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island — Photo courtesy of Blue Grouse Estate Winery
One final trek
On your final afternoon on the town, earlier than boarding the Clipper residence, it’s possible you’ll determine to push out onto the water with the assistance of the pleasant of us at Victoria Kayak, in operation since 1996. Maybe you be a part of a guided tour, or maybe you select a self-led paddle by way of the quieter tributaries of downtown Victoria, the quaint capital metropolis that is graciously welcomed you again to relish all her charms – outdated and new.
As you glide underneath a collection of bridges, your strokes falling into meditative rhythm, you may simply discover a presence you have not been in a position to seize for fairly a while. As you marvel at swish herons mid-flight and playfully debate together with your journey companion as to which waterside dock you’d most like to name residence, your spirit feels reignited – and also you bear in mind, gratefully, that that is one of the best reward journey has to supply.