Victoria Two Ways

Whether you're a nature nut or an urban escapist B.C.'s capital has something to thrill 


 

Victoria blossoms in March. While most of Canada remains in a deep freeze, colourful flowers mark the arrival of spring on the country’s west-est coast. Whether your idea of fun is cavorting outdoors or cocooning inside, this gorgeous B.C. city has got you covered. 

The Nature Nut

With an ocean at its doorstep and wilderness in its backyard, Victoria is nirvana for outdoorsy folk. 

The Inner Harbour is the jumping-off spot for whale-watching tours, kayaking and a waterfront path that leads to the Robert Bateman Centre and its collection of works by the famous Canadian naturalist and artist.

Wander through leafy Beacon Hill Park and take in expansive views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains from the park’s southern lawns along Dallas Road.  

Hire a bicycle and pedal further afield on the Galloping Goose and Lochside Regional Trails that travel along former railway lines through woodlands and farmlands, over boardwalks and bridges, and along lake and ocean shorelines.

Drive to Goldstream Provincial Park to hike amongst 600-year-old Douglas firs and massive western red cedars and beside a meandering river that welcomes thousands of spawning salmon each fall. 

Climb to the top of towering trees—and scream your way back to earth—on an Adrena Line Zipline Adventure Tour. Then, test your muscles and your mettle on a treetop circuit of log ladders, tightropes, cargo nets, and, yes, more shriek-inducing zipline action at WildPlay Element Park.

After all this exertion, enjoy a relaxing B.C. Beach Stone massage at the nature-inspired Sante Spa, then head back to your room in the sustainability-savvy Parkside Hotel for a much-needed nap. 

Urban Escapist

Believe fresh air is overrated? Then book a room at the luxe Abigail’s Hotel, light the wood-burning fireplace, and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. 

When you venture out—and really, you must—admire the lovingly restored Victorian and Edwardian homes in the neighbourhood around Abigail’s. Step inside the imposing Craigdarroch Castle for a sumptuous glimpse at high society, Canadian-style, circa 1890 (think antiques and stained glass). Nearby, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of Japanese art in Canada, as well as the works of Victoria-born artist Emily Carr. 

Hungry? Tuck into authentic Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria Prima Strada in the Cook Street Village, or small-plate options at Stage Wine Bar in Fernwood. 

In Chinatown, indulge in a Green Tea Facial at tiny Silk Road Spalocated one level below the teashop of the same name. Lie back and let the pitter-patter of shoppers’ feet remind you how you’ve wisely escaped the urban rush.

Getting there: WestJet flies to Victoria 80 times a week from four Canadian, three U.S. and two international cities.

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