1. The capital city of Victoria is a beautiful 1.5 – 2 hour drive from Nanoose Bay. You can
easily make this a day trip, returning to your oceanfront sanctuary in the evening.
Start out early in the morning on the Island Highway, pausing for a fresh pastry and
coffee at about the halfway point at Russell Farms near the world-famous mural town of
Chemainus. This is a great place to stock up on fresh produce and local fruit for the
journey as well. Notice the vineyards on either side of the highway as you travel south
through the Cowichan Valley towards Victoria.
2. Once you’ve travelled over the majestic Malahat on the Island Highway, you’ll enter the
maritime capital of western Canada, Victoria, BC. Continuing your journey all the way
to the end of Douglas Street (named for a colonial Governor of Vancouver Island) will
place you at Mile Zero of the Trans Canada Highway at the Pacific Ocean. From here,
you’re a stone’s throw away from Beacon Hill Park, a refuge of peace and tranquility
with magnificent gardens, a children’s petting zoo and miles of walking trails.
3. Feeling a bit peckish after your tour of Beacon Hill Park? Find the Beacon Hill Drive-In
across Douglas Street and fill up on the best soft ice cream cones west of Coney Island.
In the mood for a little more “upscale” nourishment? Walk a block north from the park to
the venerable Fairmont Empress Hotel for an experience you will never forget. Time
stands still in this beautifully restored 1908 hotel. Every afternoon, English “high tea” is
served on fine china and silver service with scones, berries, Chantilly cream, tea
sandwiches, crumpets, preserves, pastries, tarts and proper pots of steeped tea.
4. Now you can walk off all those calories strolling around the Inner Harbour, across the
street from the Empress. Entertainers and First Nations artists provide nourishment for
the soul, and a fleet of miniature harbour ferries can transport you from point to point for
an informative look at the city.
5. For the adventurous and hardy walkers, there are two destinations that ought not to be
missed. Of course, they’re also accessible by car, should you prefer. The first is
Victoria’s Chinatown, with its impressive Chinese buildings and interesting shops — an
easy 5 block walk from the Inner Harbour. You can stroll around by yourself, or perhaps
sign up for a Hidden Dragon Tour in the evening.
6. The second is Craigdarroch Castle, a 10 block walk up Fort Street, where the restored
home of the influential Dunsmuir Family, with its magnificent architecture and gardens,
showcases the power and wealth of this Scottish immigrant family and their influence on
the development of colonial British Columbia.
7. If you only have the day to spend in Victoria and don’t have time to see the world famous
Butchart Gardens (a half hour drive from downtown), head north on Rockland
Avenue to Government House, the residence of the representative of the Queen, the
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The thirty-six acres of gardens feature native
plants to BC, as well as imported flowering shrubs and trees, and are all maintained by
a volunteer army of gardeners. Guided tours may be arranged for a nominal fee, or you
may wander around the public garden areas on your own at no cost.
8. Another Victoria highlight is a visit to the Parliament Buildings, adjacent to the Fairmont
Empress Hotel. While free guided tours showcase the history of the province and the
beautiful interiors, you may also wander around the gardens in front of and behind the
Buildings on your own.
9. On the opposite side of the street to the Parliament Buildings stands the Royal British
Columbia Museum, showcasing the width and breadth of BC’s economic and cultural
history. After you’re finished viewing these interesting displays, purchase a ticket to the
IMAX theatre and enjoy the impressive show of the day, while giving your feet a break!
10. During your stay at Nanoose Bay, you may have an opportunity to witness bald eagles,
seals, deer and even the occasional whale. If you want to pursue a dedicated tour of
whale watching while in Victoria, there are tours departing from the inner harbour on
days when the weather is suitable and there have been sightings in the Gulf of Georgia,
or Salish Sea as it is now known.
Without counting, we may have gone over the “Top 10” list here. You may choose any
or all of these suggestions for a full day in the capital city, before returning to the peace
and quiet of your sanctuary at Nanoose Bay.
Should you wish to investigate any of the suggestions above, just Google the name and
you will find direct websites for more information and hours of operation.