Victoria British Columbia is the garden city of Canada; its refreshing ocean climate is the reason why flowers grow here all year long. The natural beauty it possesses lures several million tourists from all over to Victoria BC.
Although Victoria BC has so many wonderful features to share with the world, many people are simply unaware of where it is because of its location on the south tip of Vancouver Island, which is quite a ways away from Vancouver and Canada. And, the people who do come to see Vancouver sometimes won’t go to Victoria BC because of how far they have to travel; however, they are really missing out on a lovely city that is safe enough to explore by walking. And getting there is not as bad as it seems. The three typical ways: if you are coming in by plane then fly to the International Airport, if you coming from Vancouver or Tsawwassen then take the BC Ferry, or if you are coming up from Washington State then take the Coho Ferry at Port Angeles. Both the BC Ferry and the Coho Ferry take approximately and hour to cross over the Strait of Georgia.
170 years ago, Canada and America were fighting over their common border. James Douglas from Hudson’s Bay Company knew that they would call the dividing line at the 49th parallel, so he leased an area of land belonging to the British government. His main purpose was to keep this land from falling into America’s hands. He called this place: Fort Victoria, and since Fort Victoria was underneath the 49th parallel, it remained the property of British Columbia.
Then, Victoria’s 1850’s Goldrush brought 25,000 hopefuls to the area, but like most goldrushes, the gold soon ran out and so did the people. After that happened, the area, now called Free Port of Victoria, saw a rise in population to 20,000 around the year 1900. The town’s industries began to boom: mining, lumber, and fishing, and also brewing and shipbuilding. And when you do visit Victoria BC and see The Empress Hotel and British Columbia’s Parliament Buildings, remember that this was the time period in which they were built.
Now that you have arrived in Victoria BC and know a little background information, where should you go? A couple major attractions are the Inner Harbour, Emily Carr House, and the Village of Oak Bay. There are gardens and parks such as the Butchart Gardens and Thunderbird Park. And do not forget the museums full of native art, artifacts, and history: the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. If you are interested in adding some of Victoria BC’s native art to your collection, there are many shops and galleries ready to cater to you. And, when you have finished up with all that shopping, stop in at a microbrewery, restaurant, or bistro to people watch and drink up the atmosphere.
Would you like some more details? Let’s start with the Inner Harbour and the Fisherman’s Wharf, both popular tourist destinations. You will obviously have an endless supply of fresh fish from the commercial dock close by, but you might be too busy to notice because you are looking at all the restored historic boats. Or, maybe you are more interested in the buskers and skilled craftsmen who are entertaining and building. As you can see, there are numerous things to do on the harbour.
Victoria BC’s Chinatown, the first in Canada, is a great place to go too. Because it is only two blocks, it is not difficult to travel through by foot. But, do not let its small size fool you. There are so many shops, studios, and restaurants. And when you come to Chinatown, take notice of the red and gold archway with two stone lions. This is called the Gate of Harmonious Interest, and you will find the tile and stonework absolutely breathtaking.
Now, you definitely do not want to leave without seeing Victoria BC’s Butchart Gardens. This is one of the main things people come for, and it is only about 13 miles away by highway. For senior citizens, Via Rail and other tour companies offer discounts. The location of this place will shock you. It is actually a sunken garden in an abandoned quarry. It took Jeanette Butchart 9 whole years to create from start to finish, and every year, 60 gardeners have to plant around 250,000 flower just to maintain its beauty. And, the lights and fountains really add something special to the atmosphere.
After all that running around town, you will need somewhere relaxing to rest your head. Well, Victoria BC has no shortage of options. There are low priced budget hotels, tons of bed and breakfasts, and several luxury resorts: Fairmont Empress Hotel, Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa, The Westin Bear Mountain Resort, and the Inn at Laurel Point. But, if you want to research further then go to Travel BC’s website. No matter what time of year you plan to visit Victoria BC, you will enjoy your stay.
— Kate Hobbs