I haven't been to Victoria, British Columbia since I'd gone up there on a third grade field trip. All I really remember was how mortified I was when I spilled coffee on my parent chaperone during the Clipper ride up, and getting a hole in my favorite flower print leggings while doing cartwheels on the lawn of the Parliament building. I was bursting with grace at ten years old!
Thankfully, Victoria Clipper gave me the chance to right my embarrassing ways with a weekend trip to the beautiful province capital. Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about a two-hour and forty-five ride on the Clipper from downtown Seattle. From start to finish, the Clipper staff provided stellar service, even keeping us updated on the sailing status on the stormy Saturday morning. The Clipper onboard menu is so good, serving Northwest favorites like Ellenos Yogurt, smoked wild caught salmon and Caffe Vita. We battled six foot swells and some motion sickness coming into Victoria, but we made it in one piece!
From the Clipper it was straight to the Victoria Food Tour. We'd never been on one before, but would highly recommend them for a fun way to get to know the city in a short amount of time. April-Dawn was our tour guide and she was AWESOME, dropping Victoria history knowledge bombs while we sampled the fare at seven different restaurants in a two block radius. There is so much good food and drink to be had in Victoria and we learned so much in a couple of hours!
From there, it was off to our hotel to get settled in. The Delta Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa is just over the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria's Inner Harbor. You could walk just about anywhere from the Clipper into downtown Victoria; the Delta Ocean Pointe would be about a 20-minute walk. We were told that it's one of the top three hotels in downtown Victoria along with the Fairmont Empress and Hotel Grand Pacific. Considering it's the only one not currently under renovation (and also the only one of the three I've stayed at) - I'd say it's the best pick! I mean, look at this view:
After a quick nap, it was back to the Strathcona Hotel to watch the UFC 194 fight card. April-Dawn told us that Little Jumbo was the spot to go to for dinner and drinks, so we ended our night there. Get the Jacked Santa Flip or the Die Hard Alone Story 2 holiday cocktails!
On a mission to make the most of Victoria during our weekend stay, Sunday started off with another recommendation from April-Dawn - brunch at the Jam Cafe. Bring an umbrella if it's raining, because there'll be a line and there aren't reservations! We wandered around the alleys in Chinatown before hopping in our rental car for a scenic drive around the island to Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park.
Jacob and I aren't usually the type to do touristy things, but there are a lot of touristy things to do in Victoria that you kinda can't help yourself when you're there. One of those things is having afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress.
The whole city is magical during the holidays, but the Fairmont Empress really takes things to another level. I've never seen so many lavishly decorated Christmas trees under one roof in my life! The halls of the Empress are filled with Christmas spirit, which made afternoon tea that much more special. We had the Empress Blend along with a full pupu plate of the finest little treats. I was stuffed when it was all over!
The other very touristy thing to do is to head up to The Butchart Gardens for their holiday lights display. The garden displays are enchanting, especially at night! This year, the theme was 12 Days of Christmas, and as you made your way from garden to garden, another day in the song was depicted. There were also carolers, a live band, a carousel, Santa, a mini ski display, an ice rink, poinsettia mountain and so, so much more. It's perfect for a romantic stroll or fun with the family. Very wheelchair-accessible too!
After dinner at Hank's again and a nightcap at The Churchill bar, day three was super chill. We walked around downtown some more (I wanted to explore all the alleys and secret courtyards!), sipped on local coffee and gazed at Parliament before heading back home on the Clipper. No cartwheeling this time. :)
I saw a sign in a boutique in downtown Victoria that said, "I love that I can walk to Seattle from here!" I think most of us Seattleites think of Vancouver or Whistler when we think of coming to B.C., but it's true. You could walk from downtown Seattle onto the Clipper, off into downtown Victoria - and back again, even in one day trip! I'd recommend making a weekend of it and doing all of these things. We had so much fun and fell in love with a little city.
Now it's your turn!
I have a pair of tickets to board the Victoria Clipper for a roundtrip to Victoria from Seattle. Enter below now through Sunday, December 20th. I'll announce a winner on Monday, December 21st!