Interested in Victoria?
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Victoria, "more English than England" in the words of our famous daughter Emily Carr, is the perfect low-cost weekend travel destination. Small enough to really feel like you've seen a lot of it in a weekend, it has attractons to match many much larger cities. Castles? Gardens? Cricket in the park? We've got it all. You don't have to go to England, just visit Vicki's own town. Plus it's on the ocean, with lots of great sea views and beaches. What more could you ask of a weekend?
If your budget doesn't run to the famous Victoria landmark Fairmont Empress, try this suite hotel for excellent value, starting at C$120 a night. You can still experience the Empress for High Tea (see below). Our family once stayed here for several days during a move. The kitchenette, which allows you to cook your own meals, is extremely convenient for those travelling on a budget.
For really inexpensive but decent accommodation, try any of the Traveller's Inn chain. They will often meet other hotel prices.
This retreat centre, run by the Sisters of St. Ann, offers an inexpensive accommodation alternative in a most peaceful setting, complete with therapeutic pool and theological library. Right on the ocean, the centre is steps from a beautiful beach.
This lovely hotel in coastal Oak Bay, next door to Victoria, is excellent value, with rooms at as little as $111.00 a night. If you're staying here, you have time for a visit to Oak Bay Village, the faux English village, with great shops and another great choice for English Afternoon Tea.
I defy you to find gardens prettier than these, even in the city of gardens. These, located in an old quarry just north of Victoria proper are for all garden lovers, whether you like roses, Japanese gardens or Christmas lights. Although the C$23.00 admission may seem pricey, teens are just $11.50, and kids 5-12 are only $2.50! Great value when you stay to see the fireworks on Saturdays throughout the summer. You can also have the required Victoria English High Tea here. (See below for other High Tea alternatives.)
You don't have to leave the city for a magnificent heritage garden! If you love gardens, don't miss this rhododendron wonderland.
This is my favorite attraction, because it's in my neighborhood. This turn-of-the-20th-century home of a coal baron is so Victorian it almost beats anything Vicki herself lived in. Very frou-frou. Walk down Joan Crescent to the Lieutenant Governer's residence, and visit her beautiful gardens, for free! We like to visit the duckies at the pond.
Only one of the best museums on the West Coast! The ever-changing special exhibits are among the best in North America. Wonderful collection of First Nations art and cultural artifacts. My kids love the reconstructed ship of Captain Vancouver, and the working mine replica. Plus the Old Victoria exhibit makes you think you've gone back in time. Don't miss the National Geographic Imax Theatre when you visit. Buy double admission (museum/theatre) and save!
The best bug zoo I've ever seen (and I've seen a few) this is a great destination for kids and adults alike. Observe the enormous ant colony, hold a tarantula, admire the death-feigning beetles, have a ball. Only $7 for adults, $4.50 for kids!
Second largest observatory and telescope in Canada, with amazing views of Vancouver Island and the cosmos. New Centre of the Universe interpretive centre offers lots of spacey activities. Even though it is slightly smaller than the Toronto observatory, waits to get in are much shorter (or nonexistent), and the light pollution is much less obtrusive. At less than $10 for adult admission, this is a great attraction for the budget conscious. And what an unusual Saturday night!
See these remarkable buildings, designed by the controversial Francis Rattenbury and just kitty-corner from the Empress, all lit up at night. Breathtaking!
This cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Church on Vancouver Island. It is home to the westernmost ring of 10 bells in the world. This means that every Sunday morning and Tuesday evening, you can go and hear/watch the change ringing, just like in the old country. Along with a beautiful building, this church has a 1608 English Bible. There are regular concerts on the brand new organ. This is where the Queen goes to Church when she visits Victoria.
A beautiful little jewel of high Victorian gothic persuasion, all blues and golds, this gorgeous small cathedral is filled with visual treasure. Note especially the First Nations art of the pulpit and altar.
Interested in art? Can't come to Victoria without visiting Emily Carr House, the home of our most famous native artist.
Don't miss our tiny perfect Chinatown, with the narrowest street in North America, Fan Tan Alley! Excellent Saturday and Sunday morning Dim Sum at several restaurants on Fisgard Street.
This lovely, enormous park, is a great spot for children and sightseers alike, with a fantastic playground, a petting zoo with goats and exotic small animals, and beautiful views. Cross Douglas Street to Beacon Drive-In for the best ice cream in Victoria. It's what Victorians do. But maybe we should eat a regular meal before our dessert.
Best breakfast in Victoria, at reasonable prices. Chef John Cantin has great menus for lunch and dinner as well. Don't miss Thai night (Monday)!
You missed Thai night? Not to worry. My favorite inexpensive restaurant in Victoria offers amazingly good Thai food. Try the lunch specials for especially good value.
You can't visit Victoria and miss High Tea at the Empress! Walk around the hotel and admire the well-displayed history of the place, and the historical photos of those dignitaries, like FDR, Churchill, and Truman, who have visited. The price for the Tea is high, but the views of the Inner Harbour make it worth it.
On the other hand, if more than C$50.00 for tea seems too high, another great place for High Tea is Point Ellice House (less than $20). This historic site has beautiful views of the estuary. Make sure you ask about the ghost sightings!
This little restaurant in Oak Bay is a great place for a quiet English Afternoon Tea and good English pub-style food. Ken, the owner, has decorated the place with mementos of his New Zealand childhood.
We have to represent the rest of the Empire, don't we? Don't miss this new gastronomical, economical treat at 1175 Cook Street. The chef is a native Sri Lankan who specializes in ayurvedic cookery, presented artistically. The decor is subtle and striking. The food you won't forget.
A great way to see the city, or Butchart Gardens, on that most English of vehicles, in the city that is more English than the English.
A slower, more romantic way to see old Victoria, including the Inner Harbour, James Bay and many of the major sights. Guides give excellent historical commentary.
Try this for discounts on many Victoria attractions.