Victoria, British Columbia: A Great Getaway for Young, Budget-Conscious Adults
ROAD TRIP LOCATIONS
Various locations around Victoria, BC (which is located on Vancouver Island): the Parliament Building, the Fairmont Empress Hotel Gardens, Murchie’s Tea Shop, The Beagle Pub, Mo:Le Restaurant, Pizzeria Prima Strada.
After returning home from college for the summer, my four closest friends from high school and I decided to plan a weekend trip up to Victoria, British Columbia (B.C.). It seemed like the perfect way to maximize our limited time together since we all attend different universities and rarely see each other during the school year.
Victoria is great for groups of friends, families or couples. This article has specific advice for young travelers.
The cheapest way to reach Victoria is the Port Angeles-to-Victoria ferry. A spot on the ferry can be reserved online, and any remaining spots are filled on a first come first served basis. Once you’ve parked your car on the ship, you can head upstairs and see the ocean all around you, and watch as one city disappears and another slowly comes into view. With both indoor and outdoor seating, and food sold on the ship, the ferry is a more enjoyable experience than sitting the car for hours!
Where to Stay
Airbnb rentals are generally cheaper than staying in hotels, and provided the 5 of us with a more spacious environment. We were able to find a cute 3-bedroom apartment with a living room and kitchen just a short walk from downtown Victoria!
The Victoria Vibe
Despite being so close to Washington, Victoria shares more of a resemblance to Europe than the United States. The city is full of British style architecture, beautiful gardens and quaint alleys lined with shops. Pubs and tea houses are as almost as common as coffee shops, and tours of the city via horse drawn carriage are easy to find. At times I had to remind myself I was in Canada, because Victoria certainly puts the “British” in British Colombia.
What to do
Take a walk along the waterfront. Downtown Victoria sits right along the waterfront, where hundreds of boats sail by, including water taxis that take you to 14 different points of interest along Victoria Harbour. Walk along the docks for a stunning view, and find anything from jewelry to waffles being sold at stands nearby.
Go to the British Colombia Parliament Building and Walk through the Fairmount Empress Hotel Garden:
As the capitol of British Columbia, the massive B.C. Parliament Building is located near the waterfront in Downtown Victoria. Though only built in the 1890s, the renaissance-style architecture makes the building looks like a castle. Visitors can enter the building for free, and since 3 out of the 5 of us are political science majors, of course we did! Though much of the building is closed to visitors, the beautiful architecture and information provided on the history of the British Columbia Parliament is worth the trip. After our trip to the parliament building, we crossed the street to the Fairmont Empress Hotel to walk through their garden. Though small compared to many of the lavish gardens in Victoria, the tall trees and colorful flowers made for an elegant place to sit for a moment after a full day of walking (and it was also a nice place to take photos).
Have Tea at Murchie’s, a cute tea and coffee shop in downtown Victoria with every flavor of tea imaginable, as well as tea accessories available for purchase. The company began in 1894, and there are several locations across British Columbia. The café within the shop serves a variety of desserts and pastries in addition to their famous coffee and tea. Murchie’s was the best place for an afternoon snack between our brunch and dinner.
Where to Eat
Downtown Victoria and the surrounding neighborhoods have a variety of restaurants, including places that cater to dietary restrictions. We had no difficulty finding restaurants with food that all 5 of us could enjoy, and there is even a Chinatown.
Our first lunch in Victoria was at the Beagle Pub just a couple blocks from our Airbnb. This charming tavern was the perfect way for us to settle into the Britishness of the city. The menu mainly consists of burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads making it a great place for a casual, but tasty lunch.
Our first stop on our only full day in Victoria was brunch at Mo:Lé. This all-day breakfast and lunch restaurant has a menu packed with delicious breakfast foods (with multiple vegan and gluten free options), and an extensive list of brunch cocktails. I highly recommend getting the Mo:Lé Benny with the pesto hash browns, and a mimosa!
We spent our last night in Victoria at Pizzeria Prima Strada, an Italian restaurant in our neighborhood, just across the street from the Beagle Pub. The pizza was traditional Italian thin crust pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, and we all agreed that it was delicious. The restaurant is extremely popular with both locals and tourists, so expect a wait for a table. Luckily, the restaurant host will text you when your table is ready, so you can explore the area while you wait. We took a walk through the nearby Beacon Hill Park while we waited, and the food was completely worth the wait!
If You Go
ABILITY TO UNPLUG: high. Unless you have an International data plan on your phone, you should turn off your roaming and cellular data unless you don’t mind paying a big bill for texting and web surfing while in Canada.
Don’t forget your Passport or an enhanced driver’s license to cross the border into Canada.
Passports are checked once you exit the ferry in Victoria, and before you get on the ferry back to the U.S.
Despite 18 being considered the age of adulthood in the United States, 19 is the age of majority in British Columbia and the legal drinking age.
2 forms of ID are required in British Columbia to be served alcohol, so make sure to bring a credit card with your name on it or some other form of ID (such as a student ID card).
You must be 18 years or older to rent an Airbnb.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Samantha Goldstein is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but has lived in Seattle since 2014. Samantha graduated from Ballard High School in 2018, and is now an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is double majoring in political science and journalism with a specialization in public relations. Samantha believes that the best part of living in the Pacific Northwest is the ability to easily travel to Canada whenever a little break from the United States is needed. In her free time, she loves to go for walks through her neighborhood, Queen Anne, and spend time at different parks around Seattle with her friends.