If you’re looking for an easy weekend get-away, Victoria on Vancouver Island is just a short jaunt from Seattle, and offers a wide variety of options for filling your weekend. Of course, if you’re going in the winter, you’ll still probably be greeted with rain, but sometimes rain in a new city is just less annoying. Sometimes.
You have a few options for getting to Victoria, and it depends entirely on if you want your car or not. If you do not need a car, you can take the Victoria Clipper, which is a passenger only ferry leaving 3 times daily from downtown Seattle. It drops you off in downtown Victoria, so it is actually possible to rely solely on your feet and cabs if you want to ditch the car. The ride takes around three hours.
If you want your car, you’ll need to take one of the car ferries. You can either leave on the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes, which will drop you off in Sidney B.C. (about 20 minutes away from Victoria) or you can take the Black Ball ferry from Port Angeles, which will drop you off in the heart of Victoria’s downtown.
If you want to splurge on fancy (and beautiful) transportation, you can always catch a Kenmore Air float plane straight to Victoria’s Inner Harbor.
What to Do
Fisherman’s Wharf – This tiny and colorful dock village is a cute place to check out! There are food and drink options, including seafood at Barb’s Fish and Chips and tacos from Puerto Vallarta Amigos. There are also a few souvenir shops, kayak and SUP rentals, fishing boats, and the coolest houseboats. You are allowed to walk around and admire the floating houses, but a sign reminds you that real residents live there and to keep things quiet so try to keep your commentary on the down low. Please note, Fisherman’s Wharf becomes a bit sleepy in the winter with a lot of the businesses closing down.
Beacon Hill Park – This place is by far the best of the best when it comes to city parks. The park is huge and located on the shores of the Juan de Fuca straight. It’s COVERED with numerous ponds and fountains and a pride of peacocks. Yes, real peacocks ambushing your picnic! It’s the best. There is also some pretty incredible art at the park including the sleeping moss lady, who might win for best park art of all time. Can this place be any cooler?
Inner Harbor – The harbor is where the ferry boats dock when dropping off passengers, and it includes many streets that lead into the downtown area. This part of downtown is littered with restaurants and bars, and is a perfect place for afternoon shopping and souvenir buying. You can easily stroll it on foot and make sure to plan plenty of time for shopping and pub crawling.
Chinatown – Also located downtown, this Chinatown is extremely tiny (really just one street!), but a fun place to checkout and take a stroll down. There is a large red arch that welcomes you to the area and an ornate and beautiful Chinese public school in addition to groceries, shops, and restaurants. Despite it’s small size, it is the oldest one in all of Canada!
Eat & Drink
Bao – Located in Chinatown next to the public school, Boa is a delicious Asian fusion restaurant with a warm vibe. Everything on the menu is amazing, so we recommend getting the truffle ramen and a mix and match of all the boa. Wash it all down with some sake and bring a friend to help you split more dishes!
La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop - It might lure you in because it has the most instagramable floor in the city, but once you taste the tacos, you’ll forget all about your Instagram feed. All of their meat tacos have delicious flavor, but they also have an awesome selection of vegetarian tacos. We loved the hongos and the rajas con cream. And for the love of God, please order one of their fantastic margaritas with the spicy rim.
Pagliacci’s – Not to be confused with Seattle’s pizza chain of the same name, Victoria’s Pagliacci’s is a cozy and fun Italian joint that has been around since 1979. They have a large menu featuring a variety of pasta dishes plus seafood and steaks and soft focaccia bread! They also have free music from 8-10pm nightly.
Victoria Public Market – While pretty small, the public market is a great place downtown to stop in for some light shopping and a snack. There are currently around 13 vendors that make up this little market, and you can get your fill on tacos, teriyaki, sandwiches, waffles, pie and more!
Big Bad John’s - No city is complete without a bonafide dive bar, and Big Bad John’s has Victoria covered. It’s a self-declared “hillbilly” bar that opened in 1962 where country music is played, stiff drinks are poured, and you can throw peanut shells on the floor. The walls are covered in dollar bills, interesting art, and the occasional bra or two. It has everything you want in a dive bar and is a great place to get your night started, people watch, or drown your sorrows in a dark corner.
What else do you love about Victoria? We feel like we have barely scratched the surface, and we can’t wait to go back and explore more!