Discover tradition, allure and pure magnificence in and round this British Columbia captial metropolis
Out of doors lovers can benefit from the metropolis from numerous angles, by land and by sea — Picture courtesy of Vacation spot Better 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 gorgeous Salish Sea (the Juan de Fuca Strait, Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia).
Though 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 no automotive. Hop on a smooth, high-speed catamaran in Seattle for a soothing cruise straight to the guts of Victoria. That is the one service transporting passengers between the 2 cities’ downtown docks.
The place to remain
Magnolia Resort & Spa presents boutique luxurious, with heat private touches, in a primary downtown location — Picture courtesy of Magnolia Resort & 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. Positioned a pair blocks from the Parliament Buildings and one from the Interior Harbour, the place seaplanes buzz, buskers serenade and seagulls swirl, the lodge contains a cozy foyer and welcoming rooms and suites showcasing heat and refined hues, darkish wooden, soothing artwork, nook fireplaces and enjoyable tubs.
Conventional turndown service makes visitors 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 hen with waffles) show the proper option to gas up for a day of explorations. Dinner on this elegant but unpretentious house 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 Resort & Spa spotlights native fare in a sublime, light-filled house — Picture courtesy of Dasha Armstrong
Make sure you cease on the entrance desk to choose up Magnolia’s Curated Trails maps. These detailed itineraries are grouped into themes starting from farther-flung finds (the Saanich Peninsula Flavour Path and Cowichan Flavour Path) to downtown treasures just like the Lovely Boutiques Path or Victoria Brewery Path. Stops are really useful at cordial newcomer Herald Street Brew Works, the place grabbing a bar stool presents theater seating to the beer-making course of, and Whistle Buoy Brewing Company, whose dog-friendly patio in Market Square is a dreamy spot by which to mingle with locals on a leisurely, sun-kissed afternoon.
Simply 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 lovely new foyer in January 2021.
Begin 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. Out of your elevated perch, take pleasure in “inn-room” breakfast choices like an eggs benny, porridge made with Canadian metal reduce oats or a build-your-own omelet creation with parmesan house fries and toast.
The Inn at Laurel Level presents prime balconies from which to observe town bustle to life — Picture courtesy of Inn at Laurel Level/Vacation spot Better Victoria
Downstairs Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio combines soothing Interior Harbour views with globally-inspired small plates, lots of which showcase seasonal items, from kale to raspberries, delivered immediately from the chef’s personal backyard. (His spouse occurs to be a wildflower farmer, too.) Strive 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 embody a day expertise on the Pendray Inn and Tea House, inside a Victorian-era manor, the place you may take pleasure in flaky scones, savory finger sandwiches and candy treats alongside unique teas, served in delicate dishware. Towers of vegan goodies can be found in case you specify forward of time, too.
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio permits diners to relish seasonal delicacies plus views of Victoria’s Interior Harbour — Picture courtesy of Inn at Laurel Level/Vacation spot Better Victoria
Out of doors actions
Relating to out of doors adventures, the choices right here appear limitless. In Victoria itself, there are tried-and-true favorites like strolling alongside serene Dallas Highway or wandering Beacon Hill Park, a verdant metropolis gem that is house 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. Throughout these enriching explorations, cultural guides lead you to a few of their individuals’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.
Inside the “biking capital of Canada,” it solely is sensible to additionally hop on a guided tour with The Pedaler Cycling Tours and Rentals. Expertise town’s distinctive neighborhoods from a brand new vantage level, by way of easily-accessed bike lanes, as you be taught quirky enjoyable details 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 actually pamper your self, e-book a personal session right here.)
Do not miss the magical, new Malahat SkyWalk, with a spiral wood ramp that gives among the area’s greatest panorama views — Picture courtesy of Hamish Hamilton
These with no rental automotive ought to prioritize taking a shuttle or taxi out to The Butchart Gardens, a Zen-filled Nationwide Historic Web site with greater than one million 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 paintings 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 panoramic 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 – by way of the ramp or a twisty slide that may revive nearly any customer’s childlike spirit.
The place to eat
Culinary choices in Victoria delight, whether or not you strive an old-school downtown institution like Nautical Nellie’s Steak & Seafood House, recognized for its tomahawk steaks, regional seafood treasures (strive the scallop ceviche and seafood tagliatelle) and Wine Spectator award-winning beverage listing. Or think about newer scorching 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 objects may be tailored for gluten-free and vegetarian diners, due to considerate variations like eggplant schnitzel.
Eva Schnitzelhaus is a brand new eatery serving German-inspired fare in a enjoyable, informal method — Picture courtesy of Lillie Louise Images
Between the Interior Harbour and Chinatown, The Mint is tucked under avenue degree, proving a pleasant house for conversing amongst Tibetan momos and engaging mains from butter hen curry to “Ginger Cilantro Sticky Rice,” that includes marinated tofu and coconut peanut sauce. Tip: Take a look at 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 reveals off sardines, olives, cheeses, meats and native fish, too.
Within the rolling Cowichan Valley, Merridale is a cidery, distillery, eatery and tasting room rolled into one — Picture 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. Fashionable 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 stay music, take pleasure in a farm-fresh unfold of salads, charcuterie boards, burgers, pizzas and savory pies.
In Duncan, take pleasure in wine tasting from the scenic balcony of Blue Grouse Estate Winery, an operation that proudly maintains a sustainability-centric focus that enables the workforce to really feel like true “stewards of the land.”
Blue Grouse Property Vineyard welcomes guests to its smooth house, at one of many oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island — Picture courtesy of Blue Grouse Property Vineyard
One final trek
In your final afternoon on the town, earlier than boarding the Clipper house, chances are you’ll resolve to push out onto the water with the assistance of the pleasant of us at Victoria Kayak, in operation since 1996. Possibly 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 below a sequence of bridges, your strokes falling into meditative rhythm, you would possibly simply discover a presence you have not been capable of 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 house, your spirit feels reignited – and also you keep in mind, gratefully, that that is the perfect reward journey has to supply.