Discover tradition, allure and pure magnificence in and round this British Columbia captial metropolis
Outside fans can benefit from the metropolis from numerous angles, by land and by sea — Photograph courtesy of Vacation spot Larger 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).
Though guests can simply arrive from Vancouver by air or by sea, the FRS Clipper proves essentially the most handy mode to journey from the U.S. with out a automobile. Hop on a modern, high-speed catamaran in Seattle for a calming cruise straight to the center of Victoria. That is the one service transporting passengers between the 2 cities’ downtown docks.
The place to remain
Magnolia Resort & Spa gives boutique luxurious, with heat private touches, in a chief downtown location — Photograph 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. Situated a pair blocks from the Parliament Buildings and one from the Inside Harbour, the place seaplanes buzz, buskers serenade and seagulls swirl, the resort includes 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 friends really feel cared for in a non-invasive means, whereas breakfasts downstairs in The Courtney Room (assume crab and aged cheddar omelets, grain bowls and fried rooster with waffles) show the right approach 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 — Photograph courtesy of Dasha Armstrong
Make sure to 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 helpful 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 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 resort 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 residence fries and toast.
The Inn at Laurel Level gives prime balconies from which to look at town bustle to life — Photograph courtesy of Inn at Laurel Level/Vacation spot Larger Victoria
Downstairs Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio combines soothing Inside Harbour views with globally-inspired small plates, a lot of which showcase seasonal items, from kale to raspberries, delivered instantly 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 possibly can 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 for those who specify forward of time, too.
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio permits diners to relish seasonal delicacies plus views of Victoria’s Inside Harbour — Photograph courtesy of Inn at Laurel Level/Vacation spot Larger Victoria
On the subject of outside 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 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. Throughout these enriching explorations, cultural guides lead you to a few of their folks’s most important historic websites, weaving in wonder-filled tales and sacred tales alongside the way in which. And for a particular finale? Savor historically impressed snacks like fried bannock from the Songhees waterside food truck.
Throughout 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, 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, outside patios, rinse station and Nordic bucket bathe. (To actually pamper your self, e book a non-public session right here.)
Do not miss the magical, new Malahat SkyWalk, with a spiral picket ramp that gives a number of the area’s finest panorama views — Photograph courtesy of Hamish Hamilton
These with out a rental automobile ought to prioritize taking a shuttle or taxi out to The Butchart Gardens, a Zen-filled Nationwide Historic Website 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 picket construction’s gently sloped spiral ramp, accessible to strollers and wheelchairs as effectively, 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 means down – through 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 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 objects might 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 — Photograph courtesy of Lillie Louise Pictures
Between the Inside Harbour and Chinatown, The Mint is tucked beneath road degree, proving a pleasant house for conversing amongst Tibetan momos and attractive mains from butter rooster 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 abilities.
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 — Photograph 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 trendy 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 reside 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 crew to really feel like true “stewards of the land.”
Blue Grouse Property Vineyard welcomes guests to its modern house, at one of many oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island — Photograph courtesy of Blue Grouse Property Vineyard
One final trek
In your final afternoon on the town, earlier than boarding the Clipper residence, you might resolve to push out onto the water with the assistance of the pleasant of us at Victoria Kayak, in operation since 1996. Perhaps you be 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 beneath a collection of bridges, your strokes falling into meditative rhythm, you may simply discover a presence you have not been capable of seize for fairly a while. As you marvel at sleek herons mid-flight and playfully debate along with your journey companion as to which waterside dock you’d most like to name residence, your spirit feels reignited – and also you keep in mind, gratefully, that that is the most effective present journey has to supply.