Bucket List Worthy
By Liz Froment
I haven’t been on many ferries in my life, but the ride from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, BC has to be one of the prettiest out there.
I barely put my camera down as we pulled into Victoria Harbour. It was a hotbed of activity with seaplanes landing, whale watching groups heading, out and the cutest freaking water taxi’s I have ever seen.
I’ll admit, I think, actually I know, a little “squee” escaped the first time one puttered by.
It was love at first sight.
The best I can describe Victoria to people who haven’t been is as a mash up. Take one part rocky shores of Maine, add in one part old British style of Bermuda and plop a bunch of mountains around it.
If you love going on a holiday to a destination that offers a mix of total natural beauty, tonnes of outdoor activities, and a couple of museums to get your learning going, this is the place to be.
From adrenaline rushes to strolls through the flowers, it’s all here.
The Butchart Gardens is probably one of the most visited tourist spots in all of Vancouver Island, and it’s for a good reason. My sister really wanted to visit, so I went along for the ride and am really happy I did.
I know we use words like “incredible” and “awesome” way too much these days, but this place really captures the true meaning of both perfectly. With acres upon acres of immaculately maintained flowers, Butchart Gardens is pretty much a show stopper.
The drive to the Gardens from downtown takes about half an hour by car. There are about 25 tours that offer a combo ticket and bus rides.
In addition to spending a little bit of time out in nature, my second love is history. So, when I spotted the Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria, I knew we had to devote a few hours to it.
Luckily for us, the museum was offering a very cool exhibit that was celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee. Because of that the museum had a huge collection of photos, negatives, letters and other items that had never been on display before.
The museum also had great displays about the First Peoples of Canada, including a ton of full sized totem poles . They’re pretty cool to see close up. The amount of work that goes into making a totem is incredible!
Being from Boston, I can’t ever pass up a chance to wander around a harbour dockside. So, we made sure to spend an afternoon hanging around at Fisherman’s Wharf.
I loved this area. It was truly a hotbed of activity. Filled food stands, (if you like Fish and Chips, try Barb’s), buskers, and harbour seals, there is plenty to do and see. The wharf area also is a destination for the water taxi and kayak tours.
My favourite activity was walking up and down the docks peering in at all of the little house barges. Who hasn’t wanted to check out one of these since they saw Sleepless in Seattle?
Of course, no trip to this area would be complete without getting going on whale watching. The area around Vancouver Island is known for being the meeting grounds for a number of species of whales, including orca’s.
There are a number of different outfitters that leave right from of Victoria Harbour, so you can choose a tour operator that suits you.
For adventurous souls, hop on a zodiac tour, where you will get up close and personal with the whales, and get to wear an incredibly unfashionable full body flotation device! If you’re more into a standard whale watching trip on a bigger vessel, there are plenty of options for those as well.
One of the very best ways to get to know a city is to simply walk around it. Victoria offers something quite different from many other cities, a 2.7 kilometre walking path the wraps around the Inner Harbour and heads out to the neighbourhood of Songhees.
Take a few hours and wander around this pathway, it will bring you right up to the rocky shoreline and in some spots you’ll feel like you’re pretty far away from a bustling city.
What I loved about this walkway is that there were plenty of benches and chairs dotted along the way, as well as a couple of spots to grab a picnic lunch and just sit back and enjoy the beauty of the area.
I’ve given you just some of the best that Victoria has to offer it’s visitors. If you haven’t been, I cannot recommend it enough.
And, I’m sure just like me, once you get back, you’ll start planning a new trip all over again.