With intimate dinners and view-filled excursions, the BC Capital delivers the perfect kid-free getaway.
As our seaplane bounced along the waters of Lake Union past the colorful houseboats and the billowing sails of sailboats my heart skipped a beat. There is nothing more invigorating than an opportunity to examine a place you call home from a different vantage point. Doing so always allows you to come home with different eyes. The sun was glistening off the water, the skies were a brilliant blue and my husband and I were off on a much-needed romantic getaway weekend sans children.
As we passed over islands and skirted our way along shores, my eyes were keenly enthralled with our journey. As cliché as it sounds, when you are traveling with Kenmore Air, getting there really is half the fun. When you are up in a plane embarking on an adventure the possibilities seem boundless. After a short flight we started to serpentine our way back down into Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Staying by the Sea at Oak Bay Beach Hotel
Upon disembarking we were swept away by our shuttle and driven the short fifteen minutes to our highly anticipated destination - Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Although Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a short distance from the city, it feels like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our spacious and sumptuous room opened to sweeping views of Chatham and Discovery Island in the foreground, with the San Juan Islands in the background.
Our room's water view enticed us to take a dip in the heated mineral pools which are situated on the shores of the Haro Strait. Throughout Oak Bay Beach Hotel there are moments of pleasure to be had at every turn from watching a pair of bald eagles laze in the midday sunshine from your balcony and partaking in a cup of hot tea by the fire to savoring a treatment at the spa and curling up with a good book in your sunken tub. There are so many reasons to never set foot off the property, but also a wealth of fascinating places to explore just a stones throw away.
From kayaking at Oak Bay Island Ecological Reserve, golfing, the breathtaking gardens of Butchart, miles upon miles of trails and inlets to explore and a variety of islands like Salt Spring there is no end to the places to explore near Oak Bay Hotel. The options for activities are diverse as the seasons on Vancouver Island.
Exploring The Butchart Gardens
After settling into our room, we took a quick taxi ride downtown and boarded a bus to The Butchart Gardens. We weren't certain what awaited us at the gardens since a mere two weeks prior we had a legendary snowstorm. Much to our astonishment, we were greeted by the gardens, covered in a thick blanket of snow.
Undeterred by our snowy surprise we enjoyed a few activities unique to the garden this time of year. From the months of January to mid-March guests can enjoy the Spring Prelude Indoor Garden and historical displays in the family's original home, neither of which I had ever seen.
After gathering a plethora of gardening inspiration from the Spring Prelude we enjoyed a leisurely and restful afternoon partaking in Winter High tea. Shockingly, this was our first high tea experience and we enjoyed pots of steaming tea, miniature sandwiches and delectable bites of dessert. After stocking up on tea and flower seeds from the amazing gift shop, we headed back to our hotel.
Taking Time to Relax
Upon returning, we enjoyed a quick dip in the mineral pools before an unhurried dinner at the hotel. A candle lit, floral patterned room was the stage for our romantic dinner and over the next several hours we enjoyed course after course of distinctive local food like sea scallops, crab cakes, and seafood bouillabaisse culminating in very contented stomachs. That evening I fell asleep in one of the comfiest beds I have ever slept in while eagerly anticipating our hiking excursion planned for the next day.
The next morning we reveled in uninterrupted conversation and a hearty breakfast of vegetable frittatas and thick slabs of brioche French toast at the hotel. As parents of young children, we know there is nothing superior in life than a good night's rest, hot food and being able to complete your meal and sentences without interruption.
Exploring with Hike Victoria
Fueled for the day we met up with Mark from Hike Victoria and spent the day hiking at Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. The peaks of the Gowlland Range (from which the park derives its name) loom high above Saanich Inlet. Mark picked us up from the hotel and in less than thirty minutes we were at the trailhead. As we hiked along the snow-covered trail Mark taught us about the local flora and fauna of the region and generously offered to snap our photo at each overlook. We were astonished with the short amount of time it took to reach the top.
Once there, we were able to take in the breathtaking fjord and panoramic views of the San Juan and Gulf Islands. As Seattle residents, we are accustomed to invariably hiking along trails brimming with people. We thoroughly relished our day of having both an informative local guide with us and the trail to ourselves. Feeling as though we had hired our own personal photographer for the day felt especially novel. Along with guided hikes, Hike Victoria also offers a natural beauty walking tour for those feeling a little less adventurous.
Dinner Out and a Ghostly Walk
After a quick pit stop at our hotel we popped back into Victoria for dinner at 10 Acres Kitchen. 10 Acres is known for its inventive use of local products and they grow a majority of their menu items at their farm in North Saanich a short distance from their downtown restaurant. After a full day of hiking, we were ravenous and devoured everything from carrots and squid to gnocchi, trout, and striploin.
With full stomachs, we met up with Discover the Past for a Ghostly Walk through downtown Victoria. Guided by a remarkable storyteller we embarked on a memorable night walking through haunted alleyways and learning about Victoria's gruesome past. In all my travels, I have found it is only through learning about a place's history where you can truly appreciate its present day. Before our tour I had not thought much about where Victoria got its start. Afterwards, I walked away feeling more informed and had a greater understanding about the place we were visiting.
Scenic Flight Home
After another dreamy night's rest we headed back into the city for a quick shopping excursion and a good perusal of Munro's book. Whenever we travel I like to find locally made items to take home to remind us of our trip later. Time and time again Salt Spring Island Cheese and Roger's Chocolates are at the top of our list. Our flight back home, although a bit more cloudy, did not detract from the natural beauty of our journey.
As we flew past the Space Needle and made our quick descent back to Lake Union thinking back on our trip felt more like a dream than reality. Being swept away for a few days as a couple was just what we needed to feel refreshed and be reminded why, after all these years, we are still each other's favorite people on the planet. And that feeling alone is reason enough to book another trip very soon.
More Fun Things to do in Victoria
The food-hub showcases a diverse range of farm fresh and locally sourced artisan foods. While wares from local artisans are sure to catch your fancy, it’s the grassroots food vendors that are the real draw.
Fondly nicknamed the Garden City, Victoria's lush landscape is home to a wide variety of breathtaking outdoor spaces, including the 200-acre Beacon Hill Park.
Victoria is a city rich with historical architectural and beloved rituals – not the least of which is tea. From afternoon tea to high tea, Victorians and visitors celebrate the indulgent reprieve from the hustle and bustle of life.