Hey, YYJ! It’s been a minute.
Victoria has traditionally been a place I’ve visited quite a lot. I have a ton of great friends there, I like to get to Social Media Camp when my schedule permits, and they do cocktails like no other.
Having said all of that, it’s been quite some time since I vacationed in our Province’s beautiful and historic capitol. This time around, I also had Michael with me, so the focus of this post will be a family-friendly version of vacation (although I did drag him to several wineries, cideries and distilleries).
So our trip this time around was a mix of some of our favourite things to do in YYJ, and some new things as well!
Where to stay
When I travel with my kid, we have a pact: it’s imperative we stay at a place with a pool. I often joke that he’s half fish, and he is happy as long as he’s in the water. So this time around in Victoria, our home base was the Hotel Zed. This is a great location for families. First off, it’s fairly close to downtown (and the hotel provides a shuttle–my dream car, a Volkswagon Bus–to take you to where you want to go), and it’s across the street from the Mayfair Mall if you forgot anything, or you want to shop. It has tons of amenities for kids–from the pool with its built-in waterslide, to ping pong and video games, board games, roller skate and longboard or bike rentals, and lots of comics. I’m a fan of mid-century modern style, and there’s tons of vintage flare here.
Simply put, Hotel Zed is unique and funky. It’s not just another cookie-cutter motel. It has loads of personality, and is a fun place to stay while you’re in Victoria BC.
What to do
There’s much fun to be had here. The Royal BC Museum is something Michael always requests when we come to Victoria. The latest exhibit, about Egypt, is quite in-depth and fascinating. Plus you get to take a selfie with a wolly mammoth! We also took a tour of the inner harbour with Victoria Harbour Ferry. They take you out on these cute little water taxis, and give you a tour you can’t get any any other way. It was really interesting to see the city from that angle and learn about local culture, history, and the environment. By the way, if you take the tour, one of the stops is Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a great place to stop for lunch.
Book lovers paradise
If you are a bibliophile, Victoria is for you. They have loads of independent bookstores, some new, some used. Munro’s is not only a beautiful space, but it was co-founded by a Canadian literary treasure–Alice Munro. For used books, you can’t beat Russell’s.
Victoria BC is the brunch capital of Canada. When I say they are hard core about brunch, I mean, they are hard core. Rebecca Wellman, a local foodie and photographer, has written the book on brunch here. First We Brunch features all the best places to get your brunch on while in YYJ. I’ve tried many of the brunch options here, but this time around, we brunched at The Ruby (because it was conveniently located at our hotel) and we also checked out Rebecca’s current #1 brunch pick: Agrius.
The city has a young, tech-savvy population, and some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Clive’s the classic cocktail experience here, but I also adore Little Jumbo and Veneto. This time around, however, I was very much excited to check out The Courtney Room. It’s a brand-new space just opened up in the Magnolia Hotel. The room is beautiful, with soaring ceilings and a real Parisian bistro vibe. They do a fantastic happy hour with cocktails and appies that is worth making time for. Especially of note: Potatoes Courtney. I don’t know what wizardry they do to make the potatoes into such perfect little squares, but they are incredibly addictive. Just do yourself a favour and order two right off the start. Trust me, you’ll finish them all.
Since being in Paris last summer, I am more obsessed with pastry than ever. I’m constantly on the hunt for a good, authentic croissant. This was the first time I really kept my eyes open for bakeries in Victoria BC, and I wasn’t disappointed. Fol Epi is pretty amazing. The croissants there were everything they should be–crispy, flaky, and light. These guys know how to do croissants right. There were a ton of other options as well. If you’re as obsessed with pastry as I am, check out Crust Bakery on Fort Street. The cronuts!!! I also loved The Dutch Bakery. Inside, it’s like a 1950’s dining counter–it’s super cool. But you can also get pastries to go; interesting, different ones that you might not be familiar with (unless you’re Dutch).
Beer, wine ciders & spirits
If you have a car, there are loads of local breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries to visit. You can read about my trip to Victoria Distillers here, but the rest need to wait for another time.
I love Victoria, and it was so great to get back If you’ve never been, you need to check it out, or if you have been, go again! There’s always something new to discover, every time I go….