My family and I just got back from a wonderful 3 night stay in Victoria, B.C. – the home of my first truly vivid memories, where I grew from a toddler into a young girl. I’ll share some memoir-style posts soon but today I thought I’d give you some ideas of things to do, food to eat and where to rest your head at night!
We were blessed with some great weather while we were on the island; it’s usually milder than it is here in the Lower Mainland. Our province’s capital is beautiful all year-round but I’d say from March through October you’d be able to enjoy all the outdoor things Victoria has to offer. And with plenty of indoor experiences, restaurants and cozy corners to curl up with a book (or significant other!) this romantic getaway should also be on your list of winter escapes.
Here’s Where We Ate:
Dinner at Pizzeria Prima Strada – For delicious, authentic Neopolitan pizza, you’ll love the variety of toppings and sauces this place has to offer. Children can select a special bambina pizza (straight cheese) so don’t write this off as an adult-only dining experience! My youngest actually devoured some of our funghi pizza, loaded with, of course, mushrooms! All 5 of us were intrigued by the way the dough was handled and stretched (I never thought to hang it over the countertop!) and then wood-fired to perfection.
Lunch at Frankie’s Modern Diner – We found this place just by walking around the downtown core. It’s got a great location with lovely street-side views. I’m so glad we gave it a try; the whole experience is created to represent a retro diner but definitely more upscale. All your favourite comfort foods are on the menu, mouth-watering and made from scratch. What caught my eye as we walked in was the incredible selection of desserts on display in the giant fridge by the reception area. So before I had even decided on lunch, I knew I was having the New York style cheesecake with strawberries. It was one of the best slices of anything I have ever had!
Dinner at Barb’s Fish & Chips – This restaurant we found on a list of top places to eat and I’m so glad we tried it. It wasn’t just the tasty battered cod but the fact that it was situated right on Fisherman’s Wharf. We ate there on a beautiful evening with the sun setting over the water and just a slight chill in the air. It was fun and casual with picnic benches under a covered area. We finished eating just in time for a stroll along the wharf, admiring the float homes and daydreaming about retiring in one of the condos overlooking the sea.
Snack/Dessert at Chocolats Favoris – This came recommended by my friend on Instagram where I had asked for ideas of where to fill our bellies in Victoria. So this chocolate heaven was already on my radar but also super easy to spot when the older kids and I took a walk around downtown. Of course, we had to stop in even though it was closer to dinner time; I couldn’t really say ‘no’ to a soft serve cone dunked in one of their incredible flavours (you can sample what you like till you find a match for your tastebuds!). And I don’t mean like a quick dip, coming away with a thin, flaky chocolate-like coating. I mean, this thing was so thickly coated, it was like there was a bowl of chocolate surrounding the vanilla ice cream. You had to bite through it. Definitely check this place out as it’s the only one in Western Canada!
Dinner at Millos Greek Restaurant – This was definitely a family hit with something for everyone. The food was incredible and I loved that it has been family owned and operated since it opened (and the restaurant is as old as me!). It was the perfect place to unwind after a few days on the go, eat some of our Greek favourites (oh, with the exception of my oldest who opted for the fettucine alfredo and said it was the best she’d ever had!) and then amble back to the hotel which was basically directly across the street. We would absolutely eat here again!
Breakfast at Willie’s Cafe & Bakery – Recommended by my friend Salma from The Write Balance, we made this our last meal on our way back to the ferry. We sat in a really beautiful section of this old-bakery-turned-restaurant where we were kept warm by a toasty fire. We rarely eat breakfast out, even when we travel, so it was nice to treat ourselves to pancakes, French toast, different styles of eggs etc. I loved the fact that this place has been around since 1887 and that they use local and organic ingredients.
Here’s Where We Played:
The pool at Hotel Zed (where we stayed the first night – more on that below!) – Recommended by my friend Jamie from Styling the Inside, we had to check out the waterslide called The Zedinator. It was a huge hit with my oldest and my husband; they both said it was fast and scary! We spent the entire first afternoon in this pool just unwinding from the excitement of catching the ferry!
Royal B.C. Museum – I didn’t know how a museum would go over with my 9, 7 and 3 year olds but I think the fact that we spent 4.5 hours in there and they never asked to leave once kind of gives you the picture! This was a highlight of our trip; we each came away with something. Even the 3 year old loved the interactive components (she didn’t know what was going on but she loved pushing the buttons!). My personal favourite was the First Peoples exhibit and the Our Living Languages section. There was so much to see and listen to and even life-size models to experience – it was just incredible! I would love to go back for the Terry Fox exhibit that opens next month. We ran into my son’s preschool friend’s family there (isn’t that crazy?) – they said they visit family on the island often and the museum is always a stop. I can see why!
Miniature World – This was a short walk from our hotel as well. The kids really enjoyed it but there was so much to see that they just zipped through the whole thing fairly quickly. If you’re a history buff, I think you’ll appreciate the scenes from the world wars and the development of technology. There are also some more whimsical displays of fairy tales and nursery rhymes; again there is an interactive component with many buttons to push, making this a hit for the 3 year old.
Colwood – This city is only 10 km outside of Victoria but truly does feel like its own entity. This is the neighbourhood I lived and went to school in so we really only stopped at my old home, my elementary school and the corner store I used to frequent for two cent candy! But there is more to see there in terms of parks, trails and lakes, and of course seaside beaches.
Goldstream Provincial Park – For a brief stop before catching our ferry home, we took in some deep lungfuls of fresh air amongst the giant Western Red Cedars. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the restaurants and activities when really, to truly appreciate a place, I think it’s important to connect with the natural surroundings. And in Beautiful British Columbia it’s a shame to go anywhere and not spend some time with Nature. You can spend a lot of time in this park on the trails and scoping out the waterfalls, but for us it was short and sweet. We’d definitely go back here again though with more time and a picnic lunch!
Here’s Where We Stayed:
Hotel Zed – As I mentioned above, my friend Jamie suggested we try out the pool and waterslide at this place. It’s a fun, retro motel-style lodging with bright colours and a really old-skool vibe. They even have typewriters in the lobby and rotary phones in the suite! This is a really budget-friendly solution for a family of 5; we got a suite with a separate bedroom for $149/night. There is a free VW shuttle that takes you right into downtown which is a 5-10 minute drive away. After the first night we decided to move closer to the inner harbour so we could just walk right out of our hotel lobby and to our destination.
Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour – When we were walking around downtown after dinner the first night, the Marriott caught our eye as a place we would like to try out; it was so close to everything we wanted to visit. When we discovered the pricing was also quite competitive, we decided to move in there for the next two nights. We didn’t have a separate room but were able to get a twin mattress cot so the 5 of us had comfortable sleeping arrangements. What we’re learning is that as a family of 5 we have to consider accommodations a little differently. We were thankful that the Marriott allowed us to roll in a cot!
Have you visited Victoria lately? Tell me in the comments where you ate, played or stayed! I’d love to hear!