Before any trip to a new destination, people will share numerous thoughts on a place. Learning I was going to visit Victoria, British Columbia, my dad eagerly told his memories of how much he loved the small city filled with British history. My mom told me all about the famed Butchart Gardens and the abundance of blossoming flowers. Looking at a map, I realized just how small Victoria is and wondered what it had to offer. It wasn’t until I got to Victoria that I saw even more than what others had told me.
The first start of my journey began in Victoria’s small neighborhood of Chinatown. Although it’s only a few blocks and one of the smallest Chinatowns I’ve visited, it has the vibe of comfort and being at home, something evident throughout Victoria. A few small Boba Tea places and cafes, including vegan restaurant Café Bliss, give this Chinatown a laid back feel. The narrow street of Fan Tan Alley illuminates more of Victoria’s local art scene, but be aware that many shops here and throughout Victoria close early.
One of the highlights of downtown Victoria is the beautiful, old-fashioned hotel, the Fairmont Empress. With patches of ivy and royal emblems of crowns on structures near the hotel, this building maintains of the British regal persona. Off to the side I found some gorgeous pink flowers, further emulating the elegance of the Fairmont Empress.
Although I didn’t visit the Royal BC Museum, just south of it is Beacon Hill Park. This isn’t just any small park. Victoria takes its parks and gardens seriously. There’s small gardens, ponds, a variety of scenery, and walkways all with their own design and aesthetics. Around every corner there’s a new tree, flower, or carefully manicured area with a bench to sit on and relax.
Beacon Hill Park is not the only garden in bloom, however. The Butchart Gardens, a 30-minute car drive or a 45-minute bus ride from Victoria, is definitely a priority on my visit. A National Historic Site of Canada, this garden began from the inspiration of Jennie Butchart who decided to bring natural beauty to her husband’s Portland cement plant nearby. I’m eager to see the flower beds that have been in bloom for the past 100 years. I begin at the bottom of the staircase to the Sunken Garden full of trees, shrubs, and pink, white, and purple delphiniums. Heading back up the walkway, I occasionally stop to glance at the carousel, totem poles, and assortment of fox glove before I wind my way around to the Rose Garden. Unfortunately, everything has just been newly planted, so there’s hardly any roses in bloom except a bush of white roses at the end. I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out, however, as I walk through the archways of climbing flowers and hanging baskets. Up next on my trek is the Japanese Garden, the perfect place for zen and relaxation as I walk along bridges and over streams. At my last stop, I take a moment to enjoy the Star Pond and then enter the carefully carved shrubbery of the Italian Garden. Happy to rest my feet, I sit back to enjoy a sorbet from the Gelataria and soak in the natural beauty around me.
So, if you’re looking for a getaway to somewhere small with plenty of outdoor beauty, don’t rule out this Canadian city. While there are plenty of beach resorts and towns available, there’s something to be said for blossoming gardens and historical buildings in the small town of Victoria to help you get away.
Note: If you plan to use public transportation to get to the Butchart Gardens, check the BC Transit website for schedules. Bus #75 will take you to Butchart Gardens, but only at certain times, for example the day I visited the buses stopped running from downtown to Butchart Gardens from about 9am-1pm. It also only takes you from Butchart Gardens to downtown at select times as well.
This post is a part of Weekend Travel Inspiration hosted by Reflections Enroute, The Crowded Planet, Contented Traveller, Albom Adventures, Safari 254, FamiliesGo!, and Malaysian Meanders, The Weekly Postcard hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond, Sweet Inspiration hosted by My Sweet Things, Repurposing Junkie, The Boondocks Blog, A Crafty Mix, and Kreativ K, and City Tripping hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels.