We've lived in Victoria for over 30 years and we're constantly discovering new and interesting places to go and things to do. We'll keep adding content to this page as time and energy allow. In the meantime, these are some of our favourites past, present and future.
If you click on the following link you'll learn about lots of interesting things to do and places to go that are happening right now in, and around, Victoria. Click here for the Victoria Explorer.
Just 45 minutes west of Victoria lies the village of Sooke. This small fishing community is morphing into a home for outdoor activities and events for visitors who want to experience a real "west coast adventure". Located about half-way between Victoria and scenic Jordan River, Sooke has many amazing places to see and is quickly becoming a popular tourism destination. Plan a day trip (or longer) to this growing jump-off point for adventure tours and much more.
Many visitors are not aware that the City of Victoria is comprised of several neighbourhoods, which have come to be known as local villages. This is not to be confused with the various municipalities, such as Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Saanich that make up the area known as Greater Victoria.
Each of these Victoria neighbourhoods has it’s own distinct character and it’s own vibrant community associations, which fiercely protect the heritage and future of the community.
While you’re visiting Victoria, it’s worth getting away from the usual downtown tourist sites to visit these special little places, tucked away in various corners of the City.
Fernwood, which is the oldest neighbourhood in Victoria, was once the main source of water for the City. The fresh water was pumped up from a series of underground aquifers. Today the Fernwood village square is filled with activities, local markets and festivals and is surrounded by coffee shops, restaurants and a local pub. Probably the best-known landmark in Fernwood is the internationally renowned Belfry Theatre. For more information click on the following link.
Another neighbourhood, which has recently “risen from the ashes” is the Quadra Street Village, once a forgotten cluster of small retail shops, it is now a thriving retail area with shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and its very own supermarket. Visit the Quadra Street village by clicking on the following link.
The Cook Street Village might be described as the Grand Dame of Victoria neighbourhoods, having always maintained a strong presence in the community. Cook Street, which runs through the village, is lined with beautiful heritage trees and there’s always a feeling that “something’s happening” when you walk past the coffee shops, markets, local wine store and the local pub. Find our more about the Cook Street Village by clicking on the following link.
James Bay might be known as “the seaside village” of Victoria. Nestled adjacent to the nautical gateway into Victoria’s Inner Harbour and tucked away behind the Provincial Legislative Buildings, James Bay feels more like a fishing village, with its well-known Fisherman’s Wharf and proximity to the ocean. More information about James Bay can be found by clicking on the following link
So when you visit Victoria be sure to spend a day roaming around our villages and experience what most visitors miss, a true feeling of “community” and a shared sense of the heritage of The City of Gardens.
Travel BC has recently come up with a wonderful web site that allows visitors to plan out their own tours of Victoria’s beautiful gardens.
Simply by visiting their web site you will find a wealth of information about our Victoria gardens and you can plan your visits so that you can make the best of your time and resources while you’re here.
There are many gardens in Victoria and, in fact, all over Vancouver Island that many visitors, even ardent garden enthusiasts, often miss or do not even know of, so this site is an excellent tool to assist avid garden fans.
A little-known island, located in Esquimalt Harbour, Cole Island holds the potential for fast becoming one of the Capital Region’s best-loved tourism sites. But first, much work has to be done to protect this valuable part of Victoria’s history.
Cole Island is a short sail, paddle or motorboat ride from Esquimalt Harbour and can be reached very easily within a matter of minutes. Once there, visitors will discover a small, but beautiful jewel where Arbutus and Fir trees shade historic buildings that date back to the 1880’s.
When the Royal Navy first repositioned their Pacific Fleet from Valparaiso, Chile to Victoria they began construction of an ammunition storage depot on Cole Island, which eventually grew to 17 buildings and a docking facility.
Unfortunately, over the years, the island has fallen into decline as there has been no definitive government or other oversight organization to monitor and protect the safety and well-being of the island.
Now, a group known as “The Friends of Cole Island” is working hard to protect this valuable tourist resource from the ravages of vandals and time and finally achieving something that can only be done when visitors, residents and various levels of government all pull together in the interests of rehabilitating this historically significant island.
For more information about Cole Island visit the web site at http://www.members.shaw.ca/cole_island/index.htm or read more about the island in an article contained on the Colonial History of Vancouver Island web site http://www.maureenduffus.com/cole-island.html
One of my favourite cruises is to take the 45-minute tour along the Gorge Waterway on board on of Victoria’s Harbour Ferries.
It’s a relaxing experience that takes you past historic homes, shipyards, and a variety of sea life. Step
Their Gorge Waterway Tour is a 45-minute marine adventure that takes you past the Selkirk Waterfront and deep into the Gorge Waterway. This is a part of Victoria that many visitors overlook.
The tour sets sail from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and takes you past stately, historical buildings, a working shipyard, while cruising under bridges and railway trestles and past tranquil residential areas, to the world-famous "Reversing Falls" before returning to the Harbour.
It’s a worthwhile experience that many visitors (and local area residents) never experience but, in my opinion, it’s a great way to see a part of Victoria that can never be seen from a land-based perspective.
If you’d like more information on the Victoria Harbour Ferries and the tours they offer you can visit the Victoria Harbour Ferry web site
It has been some time since I climbed to the summit of Mount Doug, so if I’m a little short of breath (pant) please bear with me. Actually, it’s not that bad of a climb and, when you reach the top, it’s all worth while.
From the top of Mount Doug, on a clear day, you can see for miles and miles and miles. Certainly the view over Victoria is one of the best to be found anywhere in our local region but, beyond downtown, the view across to the Olympic Mountains on the far side of Juan de Fuca Straight is magnificent.
Turning to a more south-easterly direction, the snow-packed face of Mount Baker glistens in the sunshine and further north and east, the Cascade Mountains stand like frozen soldiers against the blue sky as they guard the entrance to the interior mountain ranges.
Closer-in, and to the north east, the Saanich Peninsula unfolds itself before you, green fields amidst the patchwork of trees, lakes and ocean. Further to the north, the hills of the Malahat range invite exploration to "up-island" and, on a day such as this day, they beckon me to drive the Malahat Pass to the beautiful Cowichan Valley beyond.
Further to the North West, the hills of Sooke and the meadows of Metchosin create a welcome mat for the views along the Juan de Fuca Straight as it winds its way to the Pacific Ocean, bordered on its southern shores by the majestic Olympic Peninsula
To reach Mount Doug travel; 5 miles (8 km) northeast of Victoria at the north end of Shelbourne Street. Another 1.5 km up Churchill Drive brings you to the summit parking lot, and to several very fine viewpoints. Then take the short climb up the trail to the peak, from where you’ll enjoy some of the most spectacular views to be found anywhere in Victoria.
One special place that I like to walk at this time of the year is along the Gorge Waterway. There’s a well-paved route that winds along a route, adjacent to the Upper Gorge Inlet, it is lined by well-maintained gardens and grassy areas that, in the height of spring and summer, offer a palette of colour against the blue water of the waterway.
On the western shore of the Upper Gorge Inlet sits the Gorge Kinsmen Park which, in the early 1900’s housed a Japanese Tea House where Victorian’s would gather to sip tea while admiring the beauty of the Gorge Waterway. Today the Tea House is no longer there, but it is still a pleasant place to enjoy the pleasures of the park, including a small sandy beach where children can paddle in the water.
The Gorge Waterway is just one of the many beautiful and easy walks that can be enjoyed around our gorgeous Garden City, and it’s only a 5 minute drive from Victoria’s city centre.
Here n Victoria we’re spared the severe conditions experienced by other parts of Canada and the United States. I won’t say that we never get snow, or that it never gets cold but, generally speaking, we are very lucky to experience more "green" than "white".
Personally, I really enjoy walking in the rain, listening to the birds and smelling the freshness of the season.
On the waterfront, mainly in the more exposed areas, there are excellent opportunities for storm watching. There’s nothing like watching the waves crash onto the shore and smelling the salty spray in the sea air (although it’s usually advisable to stand well back from the shore in the lower-lying areas).
So, if you’re planning a trip to Victoria, bring a raincoat, galoshes and an umbrella, but also bring gloves, a scarf a sweater and a hat to ward off the winter winds.
Winter in Victoria is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. The pace of life is slower and the winter rains can often be gentle and refreshing. We hope you’ll visit us, in the winter, sometime soon.
One of the really great things about Victoria is the Inner Harbour. I’ve lived in Victoria for over 30 years and I still get a kick out of watching the activity in, and around the harbour.
We suggest that you spend some time watching the little Harbour Ferries as they shuttled passengers back and forth around the harbour. They are the cutest little ferryboats you’ve ever seen, and they’re a great way to get around to the various stopping off points around the harbour.
Stroll over to Fisherman’s Wharf. What a great little spot that is! Many tourists don’t know about this "hidden treasure" where you can buy fish, fresh from the ocean directly from the fishermen who brought them in. Or you can sip on a cappuccino, or cool off with a giant ice cream cone (we did) and there’s the world famous Barb’s Fish and Chips, where you can, as they say "Dine Afloat, Or Dine Ashore".
Victoria is definitely a seaside city, a great place to live, and a wonderful place to visit.
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