I’m blessed to live in Seattle, Washington. It’s close to the ocean, mountains, countryside and several other metropolitan areas. One of my favorite cities to visit is Victoria, BC. The city touts itself as being more British than Britain. Well, I can’t agree for certain, but it does a fine job of trying. If you’re visiting either Seattle or Vancouver, Victoria is well worth at least one day out of your trip. Here’s why: Beer. No, I’ll save that. Flowers. No, I’ll save that too.
The Inner Harbour is beautiful. It is small with cute little water taxis bustling about. From sailboats to seaplanes, everyone makes port here. The harbour also has stunning architecture surrounding it. Even if you never get off a boat or enter a building, pulling into the harbour is worth it on its own. Immediately you are greeted by the Parliament building and the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Both are prime examples of grand Victoria architecture. In the immediate area there is also a notable collection of totem poles (integral to the Pacific coast experience).
It’s clichéd to visit Victoria and attend high tea, but do it. There’s buzz about the travel world about being a traveler vs tourist. Tea is a tourist activity, but it’s worth experiencing. There’s a lot to be said for high quality tea service with delicate tiny sandwiches and biscuits. From very upscale to an informal sitting, tea is not to be missed.
As I mentioned, once in Victoria there are water taxis that, if they had cheeks, you’d want to pinch them they are so cute. There are other boat options for getting to other parts of the island too. And seaplanes. Oh the flights. Our most recent visit to Victoria was via seaplane from Seattle. The views were amazing from the air as well as the taxiing through the harbour. The best transportation for Victoria proper though is most definitely the bikes. Bicycles can be rented from vendors or borrowed from hotels. The city is very bike friendly and has a vast network of off-street bike paths to get to the major sights.
Being on the Pacific coast, Victoria joins its sister cities of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland in creating fine beers. For ease of experience, just head to the Swan Hotel and Brewpub for complex tastes that run the whole beer gambit.
Buchart Gardens and Beacon Hill Park are two of the most amazing collections of botany I’ve ever seen. Buchart is sprawling with blossoms and stunning landscape architecture. Beacon Hill has ornate, antique gardens as well as the tallest totem pole in the world and views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca that will make you lose yourself. In addition to these collections, Victorians know how to dress their streets and building facades with blooms. The city is forever stunning.
Beyond these sights, there is much more to do, but this taste is enough to last you a day or longer, especially if you’d like to explore the island further.
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