Known for its exquisite tea scene, immaculately manicured gardens, and collection of castles, Victoria’s pedestrian-friendly streets have long been the ideal for lovers and elderly grandmas. But this Vancouver Island gem is also the ultimate girls’ weekend getaway destination.
With its plethora of bars, bakeries, and restaurants; luxury spas; and live music venues, Victoria is the ideal spot for you and the gals. Just a scenic 45-minute flight from Seattle’s downtown, the Inner Harbour serves as the ideal hub for your girl’s adventure.
Building his first oven in his driveway at just 18-years-old, Cliff Leir has been perfecting his bread for more than 20 years. The result is tangy, chewy baguettes and rye boules risen with wild yeast. This is the kind of bread that’ll make a gal weak in the knees. And, it’s readily available at Leir’s Victoria bakery, Fol Epi. The bakeries Yates Street location is also home to their lunch and dinner restaurant, Agrius. The menu ranges from albacore tuna spiked with sumac and duck breast with sunchokes to tender pork shoulder with sauerkraut and ling cod with nettles and oyster mushrooms.
For handheld fish and chip goodness, look no further than Red Fish Blue Fish, a small outdoor eatery. Housed in a refurbished shipping container, it’s located on the dock in the Inner Harbour.
In keeping with Victoria’s small-town leanings (such as friendly street greetings and never rushing through a meal), brunch remains a staple for locals and visitors alike. And the queen of brunch cuisine, Eggs Benedict, takes center stage. Favorites like John’s Place and Blue Fox Café have extensive selections of poached egg and hollandaise topped plates.
A relatively hidden gem, Nourish Kitchen and Café offers seasonally-inspired cuisine that caters to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Brasserie L’ecole offers a classic French country menu inspired by locally sourced ingredients. It’s long been praised for its mussels, but we’re particularly fond of its inventive take on rockfish and upscaled burger.
Savor Toast Worthy Drinks
With a growing collection of Vancouver Island microbreweries, hop lovers will dig Victoria bartenders’ commitment to local brews. (Check out this awesome DIY pub crawl recommended by Chateau Victoria’s Guest Service Representative, Roy Kiers.)
But don’t assume the city is all beer. The city knows more than a thing or two about wine. Located just a stone’s throw from Cowichan Valley, Victoria restauranteurs and bars alike offer some of the best locally produced wines. At Vis a Vis you can sip while enjoying a front row seat to the preparation of your charcuterie board.
And for those who love an inventive cocktail, Victoria’s blossoming cocktail scene offers elegant concoctions worthy of a toast. At Little Jumbo, with its unassuming speakeasy vibe, you’ll find a 15-page drink menu carefully crafted by skilled mixologists. Clark & Co. offers cocktails on tap. And, the Argyle Attic knows how to walk the line between sweet and sour like no one’s business.
Listen to Live Music
From jazz to Celtic, live music seems to be part of the city’s very heartbeat. At Hermann’s Jazz Club nightly performances showcase the region’s up and comers and world-renowned hits. Irish Times often welcomes fiddle wielding musicians. And, Bard & Banker has performances seven nights a week at no cover charge.
Shop 'till You Drop
Victoria’s Chinatown isn’t just the second oldest Chinatown in North America, it’s also a quaint destination for boutiques and novelty shops. In the LoJo district, you’ll find a collection of independently owned stores, like Tonic Jewelry, known for their delicate earrings and necklaces. Trounce Alley features high-end retails stores. And for a bit of wandering and maybe a bite, Fisherman’s Wharf offers eclectic shops and eateries.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Don’t want to just eat and lounge the whole weekend? Explore the city while you get your heart pumping…just a little. Take a DIY walking tour. It’ll give you the chance to visit some of Victoria’s most Instagrammable landmarks.
Soak in some fresh coastal air on a bicycle tour with The Pedaler. These rolling culinary adventures will let you see the city from a local’s perspective.
Relax and Unwind
Exploring can be tough work. Give your bodies a chance to relax and unwind. Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress is ranked as one of the Top Resort Spas in Canada by Conde Nast. This adult-only cellphone free spa offers a wide range of treatments. From full-body massages to cleansing facials, you and your girls can relax in style before soaking in the Hungarian Mineral pool.
The Inn at Laurel Point offers in-room massages that allow you to relax while savoring your water view. And for a spa treatment focused on organic, all-natural treatments, The Spa Magnolia delivers luxury with a dose of Mother Nature.
More Victoria Adventures
When you have just a day to soak up the majestic beauty of Victoria, B.C., don’t let a second go to waste. Hit the streets. Immerse yourself in the culture. And, don’t forget your camera. You’ll want it on this photo walk.
Beyond these standard tourist attractions, there are some lesser-known gems that offer a peek into Victoria’s rich history and culture without ending crowded corridors and long lines.
CVS Tours an air-conditioned, Wi-Fi equipped, scenic ride to The Butchart Gardens is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get to The Gardens.