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Victoria Off the Beaten Track

Posted on June 28, 2019

Victoria’s downtown core is both vibrant and exciting. However, Victoria’s culture extends far beyond Government Street to nearby neighborhoods and townships. Here you’ll find entirely unique vibes and atmospheres. If you want a truly authentic local experience, then read on!

 

FAIRFIELD / GONZALES

Get your fix of quaint shops and eateries in Cook Street Village. Bustling with locals, discover your new go-to stop for comfort food, The Village, a local favourite for incredible baked goods and homestyle meals. Grab a coffee from their espresso bar and stroll through nearby Beacon Hill Park. Make sure you stop by the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm in time for the running of the goats at 10:10 a.m. daily for a hilarious herding of goats from the stable to the barn. 

A Saturday ritual for Fairfield locals between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is the Moss Street Market. Between fresh island-grown produce, locally made goods and freshly prepared food, it’s the ultimate place to find a bounty of the Island’s offerings.

After the market, head towards The Gonzales Observatory for an epic view of Fairfield and beyond. On your way down, check out Abkhazi Gardens. Wander around the stunning grounds, learn about the royal legacy of this property and enjoy afternoon tea overlooking the famous garden.  

In the evening, head back to Cook Street Village to enjoy a taste of Italy at Pizzeria Prima Strada. Wash it down with a beer or cider at local watering hole, The Beagle Pub. To cap off your day of exploration, watch the sunset along Dallas Road. 

Summer Market Guide

 

OAK BAY 

Some consider Oak Bay the mecca of relaxation. Start your day off with a pampering treatment at Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Boathouse Spa, then indulge with a dip in their famous mineral pools overlooking the ocean. Before you blissfully head on to your next adventure, stop by Kate’s Café for a treat and perfectly prepared latte. 

Wander around Oak Bay’s quaint village and take in the European inspired architecture. Stop by locally owned boutiques and walk along Willow’s Beach. Make sure to check out the Oak Bay Night Market on the second Wednesday of each month (until September) for local vendors, live music and more. 

When you’re ready for a bite, perch at Vis-à-Vis Bouchon & Bar where you can enjoy a Charcuterie board at the bar or opt for a patio seat right on Oak Bay Avenue - you choose your own adventure here.  

For a change of pace, head next door to enjoy a traditional English pub experience at The Penny Farthing. You’ll be amongst friends with libations and hearty English food flowing here.

Insider Tip: Vis-à-Vis offers a $9 before 9 a.m. breakfast special all summer from Monday to Friday. 

Oak Bay Beach Hotel
Image courtesy of @oakbay.tourism

 

JAMES BAY

Start your James Bay exploration with breakfast at Nourish Kitchen and Café. Enjoy a beverage—latte, bone broth, cocktail—from their cafe and take it to the homey seating area upstairs to soak in the atmosphere of this local gem while you wait to be seated.

After nourishing yourself, hop across the street and rent a bike from The Pedaler for your own tour de Victoria. Stop by Fisherman’s Wharf to explore the famous colourful floating houseboats then continue on to Emily Carr House, a National Historic site nestled right in the middle of this residential neighborhood.

Wander around the grounds and learn more about this internationally renowned Canadian painter and writer. 

Hop back on your bike and head down to Ogden Point. Lock up your ride and walk along the breakwater to watch the waves for local wildlife. Stop for a bite at the Breakwater Café & Bistro or head around back to their tasting room. On Friday evenings during the summer, enjoy live music and local eats and drinks on the nearby barge. 

Insider tip: Get a Pass it Around Victoria pass to gain access to spots like Emily Carr House, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and more for one flat rate.

Image by @stephsnelling

 

Burnside Gorge and Vic West

A short walk from downtown Victoria’s core, explore two true, off the beaten track neighbourhoods, Burnside Gorge and Vic West. Start off the day with a walk over to Point Ellice House to enjoy the gardens and charming historic home. Once you’ve had your fill of history, carry on to Hoyne Brewing, for a small sampling of Victoria’s local craft beer scene. Cross over to Vic West for breakfast at Victoria's newest restaurant, Boom + Batten. To cap off your day of exploration head back over to Burnside Gorge to try Moon Under Water Brewery & Pub for delicious food and a laid-back atmosphere.

Insider tip: Your Pass it Around Victoria pass gets you access to Point Ellice House as well.

Boom + Batten
Image courtesy of @boombatten

 

FERNWOOD

Fernwood is a vibrant and charming community, filled with eclectic coffee shops, take-and-leave libraries, a wishing tree, local boutiques and a charming community square. Often referred to as “funky Fernwood,” this is a neighbourhood that begs to be explored.

Make sure you check out the Belfry Theatre, a professional theatre company located in the square that produces contemporary plays in its 1892 historic building. Catch one of their 12 yearly shows during your next visit. 

Belfry Theatre
Image courtesy of @belfrytheatre

 

Esquimalt

Across the bridge from Downtown Victoria discover Esquimalt. Pack a picnic and enjoy Macaulay Point Park or explore the driftwood creations along Esquimalt Lagoon. 

On Thursdays from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., explore the Esquimalt Farmers Market at Memorial Park. Here local makers, bakers and growers gather to offer everything from farm fresh fare to handmade gifts. 

Image by @primastrada

 

There’s a lot of ground to cover in and around Victoria, so make sure you bring some comfortable walking shoes and a healthy appetite to venture beyond Government Street on your next visit. 

 

#ExploreVictoria