This year, Canada is turning 150! That’s a lot of candles. That also means there is a ton to do on an easy and relaxing escape to vibrant Victoria, B.C. For Seattleites, a fast ride up on the Victoria Clipper direct from downtown Seattle to downtown Victoria makes trip planning a breeze. Whether you have your eye on a weeklong adventure or quick weekend escape, here are 10 ideas to help you enjoy our precious summer days with our neighbors to the north.
- See The Butchart Gardens light up the night
No matter the season, The Butchart Gardens is sure to put on a show. From July through September, The Gardens features evening entertainment with performances by bands from across Canada. Hello, summer picnic! In addition, “Night Illuminations” create a fun evening experience with fireworks on Saturday summer evenings.
- Sip tea at the newly renovated Fairmont Empress Hotel
Having recently completed its multimillion dollar, top-to-bottom renovation, Victoria’s most luxurious historic hotel has added a contemporary twist that will knock your socks off. The hotel’s new Lobby Lounge is still the best place in town for an authentic British tea and pastry experience. Book a room early as the hotel weekends fill up quickly.
- Embark on a whale of an adventure
Have a soft spot for friends of the aquatic kind? Load yourself into an expedition catamaran on Five Star’s whale watching tour and get ready to make your Facebook friends jealous. Scan the horizon with a naturalist guide for tall black dorsal fins cutting through the water, signaling the arrival of some of the resident orcas that ply the waters of the Salish Sea.
- Explore B.C.’s Cowichan Wine Country
For a relaxing weekend, spend time with your girlfriends sipping your way through Vancouver Island’s burgeoning wine and balsamic scene on a tour of Cowichan Wine Country. Sniff, swirl and tilt your wineglass as you savor superb sips at three boutique vineyards.
- Don’t miss the Pickle Boat “Ballet”
When the Victoria Harbour Ferries were originally brought to Victoria in 1990, the skippers were amazed at their maneuverability. Every Sunday from May to September and all weekend in July and August, these little boats put on a fascinating display of beautifully choreographed sequences.
- Tour a historic Canadian castle
Minutes from downtown Victoria, you can visit Craigdarroch Castle, a legendary Victoria mansion built in 1890 by Robert Dunsmuir, the richest man in Western Canada at the time. The exquisite castle features four floors of stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and fabulous Victorian-era furnishings.
- Visit Victoria’s urban farm
A farm in the middle of the city awaits within beautiful Beacon Hill Park. Children can get up close and personal with pigs, donkeys, chickens and peacocks. Catch the “running of the goats” at 10:10 a.m. and 5:10 p.m. daily and witness a furry, bleating stampede underfoot!
- Soak in local history at the Royal B.C. Museum
Discover authentic artifacts and specimens from distant times and places displayed in the museum’s interactive exhibits. Slide back into the Ice Age or stand next to grizzlies in a massive forest in the Natural History Gallery or check out intricately carved totem poles in the First Peoples’ Gallery.
- Shop, sip and snap selfies around Chinatown
Canada’s oldest Chinatown district has plenty to see, we suggest exploring by foot. Visit Fan Tan Alley, discover a maze of courtyards and pathways, and find everything from tea shops and theaters to one-of-a-kind restaurants.
- Seek out Victoria’s secret garden escape
Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, the gardens are known for their majestic trees and dynamic, evolving plantings. Stay for lunch or afternoon tea in the original home, where you’ll feel like a personal guest of the Abkhazis.
Nestled on an island overflowing with outdoor activities, unique shops, award-winning gardens and impressive historical sites, Victoria is chock full of fun for couples and families alike. All accessible without having to touch your car, and instead enjoying a scenic Victoria Clipper cruise across the sound!
Ready to plan your summer getaway to Victoria? Book your trip today at clippervacations.com.