Yup, we’re making weekending a thing. Searching for weekend plans? We’ve got you covered. From garden walks to scenic flights and even wildlife discoveries, there’s always something to do in Victoria. Keep reading to plan your perfect long weekend.
Tucked on the southern end of Vancouver Island is the quaint city of Victoria. Don’t be fooled by its little harbour taxis and narrow cobblestone streets, Victoria has a worldly presence and is British Columbia’s capital city. Named after Queen Victoria herself, you’ll fall in love with this small city’s old English charm and nautical beauty as soon as you land in the Inner Harbour. Just a 35-minute flight from Vancouver, escaping to Victoria during a long weekend couldn’t be easier!
The Butchart Gardens – Victoria’s Crown Jewel
Photo: The Butchart Gardens
With it’s warm temperate climate, Victoria is known as the ‘City of Gardens’. Offering perfect growing temperatures for evergreen and seasonal foliage that is recognizable throughout the city walkways. Whether you’re an aspiring green thumb or a self-proclaimed botanist, The Butchart Gardens is the quintessential Victoria experience. Welcoming over one million annual visitors, the internationally renowned Butchart Gardens is one of Victoria’s National Historic Sites. Become both equally relaxed and inspired as you casually stroll down the cobblestone pathways that wind through the 55-acre property located 23 km north of the city centre. Venture through fragrant beds of roses and enjoy lunch or high tea at their garden view Dining Room Restaurant. Spring and summer are the perfect time to explore these magnificent grounds as they begin to welcome over 30,000 bulbs blooming in an array of vibrant colours. Spend the day exploring at your own pace and experience the oasis of colourful beauty that is over 100 years in the making.
Photo: The Butchart Gardens
Wear comfortable shoes and pack light! Your day will be filled with walking and exploration. Bring a small purse or backpack to carry some of your favourite travel essentials! Be sure to leave some room for unique gift shop finds. On Saturday evenings between June 29th and August 31st The Butchart Gardens displays a world-class fireworks show! Experience this colourful display from the comfort of the their viewing lawn and prepare to be delighted and dazzled.
High Tea – A True Royal Experience
Photo: The Butchart Gardens
Watch out Kate and Meghan, there’s a new Royal in town! Channel your inner duke or duchess and treat yourself like royalty with afternoon tea at The Butchart Gardens. Enjoy house-made sandwiches, pastries, delights, and seasonal fruit preserves from The Dining Room overlooking the Rose Garden. They have a wide selection loose-leaf tea as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options available with a little advance notice. Another great spot for afternoon tea is the The Empress Hotel where they have been serving England’s most beloved ritual of afternoon tea since since 1908! Over half a million cups of tea are served annually at the Fairmont Empress, don’t miss out on this ! The Tea House at Abkhazi Garden, The White Heather Tea Room, and Venus Sophia are just a few other Victoria gems that offer this timeless tradition.
Dress to impress! It’s your time to dress like our beloved royal style icons. Switch out your ball cap for a traditional British fascinator or go bold and rock a fancy tea hat! Psst…Don’t let your royal tea dreams steep for too long, these afternoon rituals book up fast!
Photo: Tea at the Fairmont Empress
Whale Watching – An Iconic West Coast Adventure
Truly a once in a lifetime experience, explore the amazing wildlife of the West Coast! See these magnificent sea creatures up close in their natural habitiat with Orca Spirit Adventures. Not a tank, net, or cage in site. Feeling adventurous? Suit up in a cruiser suit and board an open-style Zodiac to feel the salty spray of ocean water on your smiling cheeks. Or choose a covered vessel excursion with with plenty of comfortable seating and an on-board washroom for a more serene experience. Adventures begin right beside our Victoria Harbour Airport Terminal and with daily excursions never miss a whale tail! Perfect for the entire family or just for one! Whales aren’t the only wildlife you might see, keep an eye out for seals, bald eagles, porpoises, and maybe even a Harbour Air Single Otter!
Pack your sunscreen and bring an extra pair of clothes. Whether you’re on the zodiac or covered vessel you’re exposed to the coastal elements! Be sun-safe and stay dry after your ocean adventure!
Perfect Patio Pairings – The Flying Otter Grill
Photo: The Flying Otter Grill
Looking for a waterfront patio with epic harbour views? You won’t want to skip Victoria’s only floating pub, The Flying Otter Grill. Enjoy the afternoon sun on the south-facing patio while sipping on one of their classic cocktails, lagers, or house wines. Enjoy fresh West Coast cuisine like fish & chips or a wild salmon burger. Watch the bustling activity of the Inner Harbour from your front row seat on the patio, and you might event spot a seal or otter. Just steps away from the Harbour Air dock, go from flight to a happy hour pint in just a few steps!
What to order:
Dockside dining is made for fresh BC seafood! Grab ‘n’ go with delicious calamari or a coastal classic of Fish & Chips for dinner. Happy hour is from 3:00-4:00pm, see you there!
Harbour Air passengers are eligible for a 20% discount on food at The Flying Otter Grill, just show your boarding pass or receipt!
Getting Around – Pedaling Through the City
There’s no better way to experience this charming heritage city than on two wheels. Go green and self propel yourself through the cobblestone avenues of the downtown core or venture out to the paved streets of Dallas Road to take in the seaside views. Experience the fresh breeze from the Pacific Ocean and cycle to the beat of the live music played by buskers throughout the city.
The ocean breeze can be a bit brisk at times so bring a light jacket to stay comfortable or use it as a makeshift picnic blanket for pit-stop hangouts! And, of course, safety first: always wear your helmet.
By: Alannah Kennedy