My boyfriend, Cooper, and I love to travel and one of our favorite things to do are weekend trips. There is something to be said about hopping in a car, on a ferry, or even a short plane ride, and exploring nearby towns. Just about a year ago we were wandering around Victoria, BC for my belated birthday weekend.
We took an early ride on the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle so that we had a full Saturday of touring the city upon arrival. This was my first time on the Clipper and my one recommendation would be to grab a seat on the top deck. Luckily we did so, in combination with some motion sickness medicine, and I didn’t have any feelings of sea sickness. After a quick couple of hours, we arrived and walked across the street to the Hotel Grand Pacific. This was an excellent place to stay; they even upgraded us to a suite with a water view!
One of the best things about Victoria is the walkability of the city. We didn’t rent a car and never even had to catch a cab or bus. All of the main tourist sights and restaurants were within reasonable walking distance of each other and our hotel. Some of the highlights:
- Fisherman’s Warf – we had a great time walking through the brightly colored house boats and watching the seals swim around the docks. You can even buy food to feed the seals and they really do put on a show! There’s a small water taxi that stops here, which is a great alternative way to hop around the city, especially if you want to head up into Victoria West.
- Beacon Hill Park – a short walk from downtown, this 200-acre park is a great way to spend an afternoon on a nice day. There are beautiful small lakes and ponds with plenty of benches and areas to stop and take a moment to relax. We even found a peacock wandering around!
- Royal BC Museum – to be honest, I am not much of a museum person, but this is one I could get on board with. Most of the exhibitions were quite interactive and it was really interesting to learn about the natural history of the area. One highlight that is still current is the Natural History Galleries, transporting you into all of the types of environments and wildlife of BC. During our visit they also had a Gold Rush – El Dorado exhibit which was super interesting to view artifacts and watch videos of this era. It turns out history can be pretty cool after all. 😉
- Empress Afternoon Tea – arguably the most popular thing to do in Victoria is high tea at the famous Fairmont Empress hotel and it’s certainly something I would not skip! The hotel and tea room itself are gorgeous and while a bit pricey, the afternoon tea experience is absolutely worth the splurge. We had three courses of wonderful pastries and sandwiches and went with the traditional Empress blend for our tea of choice. It was more than enough food for lunch and they even send you home with a package of tea each which we savored for months!
- Grab a beer at a local pub – this may not be a typical “must do” in Victoria, but we had a couple of hours to kill so we stopped to grab a beer in a nearby pub and it ended up being a great time. Not only was the beer awesome (Lighthouse Brewing’s Race Rocks Ale) but the bar was full of locals watching hockey and Canadian football. It felt like a weird time warp into a scene from a How I Met Your Mother episode. It was a small reminder that we were in fact in another country with its own culture and it felt like quite an authentic afternoon.
Victoria, BC is a beautiful weekend getaway and it’s definitely a place we’ll return to in the future! What are some of your favorite weekend destinations in the Pacific Northwest, or elsewhere?