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56 Hours in Victoria: How to Plan the Perfect Fall Adventure

Posted on September 3, 2019

It's official, fall has arrived! With a gust of cool air, the landscape has been transformed. The days have become a little crisper. Afternoons are filled with golden rays of sunlight. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know to embrace this magical time of year. For some, it’s a fresh start. A chance to celebrate the beginning of a new season and the opportunity to get lost on colorful, leaf-filled country roads. For others, it’s about gearing up for the holiday festivities to come, with trips to visit family and friends.

But sometimes, we just need a place where we can get out and relive our childhood memories of meandering through corn mazes or unapologetically jumping into crunchy mounds of leaves. A place where we can savour the bounty of the harvest through the enjoyment of a crisp cider, a perfect Pinot, or a farm-to-table feast.

Enter Victoria. Only a short and scenic ride away from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper through the Salish Sea, there is an entire island waiting to be explored! With activities the whole family can enjoy, Victoria, B.C. is the perfect destination for a quick weekend fall escape.


Victoria Day 1 

 

11:30 a.m. – Nourish Kitchen & Café 

Located inside a stunning heritage home and mere two-minute walk from the Clipper terminal, Nourish Kitchen & Café is one of Victoria’s hidden gems for healthy eating and a must-visit spot for a quick pick-me-up upon arrival in the city. Kick back and listen to soft, indie tunes and nosh on their melt-in-your-mouth whole oat Sleeping Beauty pancakes and probiotic kefir water, which hits the spot before an afternoon of exploring. 

 

1:00 p.m.  – The Butchart Gardens

Following lunch, head over to the Fairmont Empress to catch one of CVS’s double-deckers to The Butchart Gardens, where Mother Nature has worked her magic to transform the trees and plants from green to yellow to brilliant red. Once you set foot inside the gardens, head to our favourite little slice of Zen, the Japanese Garden. With glancing rays of golden sunlight combined with a grove of Japanese maples awash in a kaleidoscope of fiery colours, it doesn’t get any more breathtaking than this.

 

6:00 p.m.  - Dinner at Il Terrazzo 

Duck into Il Terrazzo’s intimate courtyard and cozy up beside one of the restaurant’s six brick fireplaces. A local foodie favourite, the restaurant serves up an excellent collection of North Italian cuisine, including home-made pasta and freshly caught local seafood. We recommend trying the Melanzane al Forno, with pasta folded over breaded eggplant, garlic confit, asiago and gruyere cheese, baked in a creamy tomato basil sauce. It is absolute perfection. 

Image by @nicole_eating

 

7:30 p.m. – Ghostly Walks Tour 

Not afraid of the dark, are you? After dinner, grab a lantern and follow Victoria’s pre-eminent historian, John Adams (or one of his expert storytellers), on hand-picked routes past some of the city’s spookiest haunts. With Ghostly Walks, you'll traipse past historic alleys and courtyards and listen to spell-binding stories of eccentric citizens, heroic deeds, ghastly crimes and tragic accidents. Those chills up your spine? We’ll leave it up to you to decide if they’re from an errant gust of wind or the spirit of an early settler who continues to make his mark on the city.

Image by @j_gibzzphoto

 

Victoria Day 2 

 

10:45 a.m. –Saveur

In downtown Victoria, Saveur serves incredibly decadent, farm-to-table bites. From the egg “McDuckin” breakfast sandwich to banana bread french toast, Saveur offers an elevated dining experience in a casual urban setting. 

Image by @stephforrer

 

1:00 p.m. – Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

While there are plenty of excellent watering holes in town that will happily serve you a crisp pint of cider, the best (and possibly the most fun!) way to experience this apple adult beverage is to go straight to the source. A quick car rental from downtown followed by a 30-minute road trip up the Patricia Bay Highway will land you at Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse’s scenic 10-acre property. Wander into the airy cider house and ask for a tour and the friendly staff will show you how everything from picking to pressing is done. Top off your visit with a cider flight paired with the tasty artisan lunch plate and drink in panoramic views of the stunning apple orchard and Haro Strait. 

Pro tip: Sample the seasonal Witch's Broom. Brimming with a variety of spices, this fizzy elixir is practically like fall in a bottle, and you will be hard-pressed to find a better beverage that showcases the flavours of the season.

 

3:30 p.m. – Explore Sidney by the Sea

Continue your peninsula adventure with an afternoon exploring Sidney by the Sea. Wander along Beacon Avenue and discover local shops and boutiques filled with local treasures. Walk along the water to explore the statue walk and peek into Victoria Distillers to see where the famous Empress Gin is distilled. 

Image by @matt_shannon_photography

 

 

7:00 p.m. – OLO Restaurant

Back in town, pop into the small, unassuming OLO Restaurant in Victoria’s Chinatown to sample the restaurant’s ever-changing menu of drool-worthy ingredients produced in local waters and farms. To get a taste of all the deliciousness, order off the Kitchen Tasting Menu for a five-course feast.

Insider tip: Plant-based diners can order the vegan tasting menu.

Image by @leilalikes via @olorestaurant

 

9:15 p.m. - The Garrick's Head Pub

Cap off your day and ease the fall chill at Victoria's historic Garrick's Head Pub. With a selection of more than 50 delicious (mostly local!) brews and a fantastic menu filled with elevated, west-coast inspired pub favourites, you'll get to sample a real taste of Victoria. 


Victoria Day 3 

 

9:15 a.m. –Agrius Restaurant

Walk over to Agrius on Yates street for the most important meal of the day: breakfast. With a menu that changes with the seasons, sample the flavours of the Island in this cozy space.

Image by @viranlly

 

10:30 a.m. - 'Hoods, Castles and Legends Bicycle Tour

Pick up some wheels at The Pedaler Tours and Bike Rentals and roll through Victoria’s scenic neighbourhoods, past the iconic Craigdarroch Castle and the historic Chinatown. As you ride back to Belleville Street, make a detour through the scenic Beacon Hill Park. The park is beautiful anytime of the year, but come fall, this 200-acre urban oasis bursts with colours reminiscent of those you’d find in a crayon box – scarlet, burnt sienna and goldenrod. If you are lucky, you may even get a chance to befriend one of the peacocks that roam the grounds.

 

1:00 p.m. – Tea at the Empress 

After pedalling in the crisp, fresh air of a fall day, warm up and refuel with Tea at the Empress. Be prepared to make some serious decisions when choosing among 21 of the finest loose-leaf teas and what to eat first from the three tiers of tasty treats. Bonus points for adding on a glass of bubbly to toast to your day.

Image by @alicia_haque

 

2:30 p.m. – Johnson and Government Street Shopping 

Before bidding farewell to the city, swing up to Lower Johnson and Government Street for a quick tour of the local shopping scene. Believe us, with more than a handful of modern, trendy boutiques, it won’t take a lot of convincing to get you to say “yes” to a little retail therapy. 

Pop into Oscar and Libby's to check out quirky games, toys, and household goods, and visit Baggins Shoes who boast the world's largest selection of Converse and Vans. You can even get a pair of kicks custom-printed and shipped to your home! 

 

4:00 p.m. – Clipper Terminal 

After one last stroll around town, hop back on the Victoria Clipper for the return voyage to Seattle. Relax in your comfy seats and catch one final spectacular view – the sun filling the sky with an orange and golden glow, before it drops below the horizon.