When my Mom offered to watch our toddler for a weekend getaway from Seattle, we figured it would be perfect timing to go on a babymoon. We decided to visit downtown Victoria, BC for our romantic weekend. I’d never been to Victoria Island before and figured we’d do some Victoria, BC tours, explore some restaurants, and relax at the spa at the beautiful Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Ferry to Victoria, BC

To get to Victoria, BC from Seattle, you have a few options. You can take a seaplane, the Victoria Clipper, or drive and take the ferry. Since I was pregnant on this trip, we decided to drive up to Port Angeles, WA and take the Coho Ferry to Victoria, BC.

Photo of the interior of the ferry to Victoria, BC in Canada
View of the interior of the ferry to Victoria, BC.

The drive up from Seattle did not go as planned. If you live in the Seattle-area, you know that traffic is pretty crazy. And it only gets crazier on a Friday afternoon. Add in some sunshine, and it’s a whole mess. We didn’t realize how long the ferry line in Edmonds, WA would be and we ended up in line for 2 hours before we were able to get on a boat. This meant that we missed the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC that we had planned to go on and had to wait another 4 hours.  Thankfully, we listened to Kunal Nayyar’s audiobook for the drive, which kept us laughing and in good spirits. We also got to have a leisurely dinner in Port Angeles.

And on the way home, we saw whales from the deck of the ferry! It was quite exciting!

Where to Stay in Victoria, BC

We splurged and stayed at the Fairmont Empress Hotel just a hop, skip and jump away from the ferry terminal. The hotel is absolutely amazing. It’s located in downtown Victoria, BC across the street from the waterfront. From our room, we had an incredible view of the Victoria Harbour Ferries water ballet.

Photo of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, which is the best place to stay in Victoria, BC
View of the Fairmont Empress Hotel at dusk.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel is home to one of the most popular attractions in Victoria, BC: Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel. It also has a relaxing spa on site and a delicious restaurant. It was recently renovated and it’s definitely the “it” place to stay in Victoria.

READ  Babymooning at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC

Victoria, BC Tours:

If you are searching for fun things to do in Victoria, BC, look for further! There are lots of tours of Victoria, BC on land and at sea! And there are unique things to do in Victoria as well as top Victoria, BC attractions.

Photo of the Parliament Building as part of our Greyline Victoria Hop On Hop Off bus tour around downtown Victoria, BC.
We saw the Parliament Building as part of our Greyline Victoria Hop On Hop Off bus tour around downtown Victoria, BC.

GREYLINE VICTORIA SIGHTSEEING HOP ON HOP OFF TOUR

We boarded the Greyline Victoria Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-Off Tour bus where we watched the Water Taxi Ballet perform before heading on our tour of Victoria, BC. The bus tour took us to Chinatown, the Wharf, Beacon Park and all over Victoria. We used this hop on hop off tour as transportation around downtown Victoria. Insider tip: Head up to the top deck for unobscured views of Victoria, British Columbia.

CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE

Craigdarroch Castle was our first stop on our hop on hop off tour of Victoria. It’s a beautiful home that has recently endured major restoration to show what privileged life in the 1890s looked like. My husband and I thought it felt like a smaller version of Downton Abbey!

Photo of Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Black and white photo of Craigdarroch Castle near downtown Victoria, BC in Canada.

One of the coolest things to see is the nursery. They have a few items for kids to play with. But, what’s fascinating is seeing the baby items they used in the 1890s. Craigdarroch Castle reminded me a lot of I`olani Palace in Hawaii, as they are slowly collecting items that used to be part of the estate. Insider tip: Be prepared to walk up a steep hill to get to Craigdarroch Castle from the street.

READ  Exploring Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC

ABKHAZI GARDEN

After we toured Craigdarroch Castle, we caught a taxi to Abkhazi Garden because we had a 1pm Afternoon Tea reservation. The garden is very small and intimate. We strolled around taking photos before sitting down at our table. We sampled the Royal Abkhazi tea that was made especially for the garden by Silk Road. It was so tasty that we ended up buying some to bring back home.
Photo of the Terrace of the Teahouse overlooking the gorgeous Abkhazi Garden near downtown Victoria BC.
We enjoyed tea on the Terrace of the Teahouse overlooking the gorgeous Abkhazi Garden. Photo credit: Gerhard Bock
The Afternoon Tea menu was fantastic! We weren’t even able to finish the dessert portion because we were so full. Just being able to taste these yummy treats while sitting outside in the sunshine soaking in the private garden felt like such a special moment.

VICTORIA HARBOUR CRUISE

So, after you sit back and enjoy the Victoria Harbour Ferries water ballet, hop on board! They have a little 45 minute cruise that features a guided tour of historic landmarks such as the Parliament Building, First Nation territories, houseboats and stunning views of seaplanes taking off and landing. Insider tip: grab coffee and sit on the steps to get a front row of the water ballet!

Photo of Fisherman's Wharf near downtown Victoria, BC
Fisherman’s Wharf was one of the many stops on the Victoria Harbour Cruise.

What’s cool about this cruise is that you can hop off at any stop and hop back on when you are done. I’d recommend exploring Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy fish & chips and ice cream! Or, sit back and relax as you make your way back to the Fairmont Empress.

ROYAL BC MUSEUM

The Royal BC Museum is one of the top attractions in Victoria, BC. It’s conveniently located just steps away from the harbor and the Fairmont Empress Hotel. When we were there, they had a Mammoth exhibit. We really enjoyed seeing the life-size animals and the detailed displays!

Photo of a First Nations exhibit at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada.
Cedar Canoe filled with traditional First Nations items in Royal BC Museum.

The rest of the Royal BC Museum reminded me a lot of the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, which was very cool. We appreciated the focus on First Nations culture and history. There’s also an IMAX theatre, for a date night!

READ  Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC

Where to Eat in Victoria, BC

Q RESTAURANT

Since the Q Restaurant is located at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, we ate here twice. First, we enjoyed breakfast. I had delicious Banana Bread French Toast and Darren had very fresh Eggs Benedict. Usually, we aren’t fans of hotel restaurants, but this one was so good that we came back for dinner.

Photo of the Q Restaurant at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC
Q Restaurant is located at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Fairmont Empress Hotel

While the food was really tasty, we found that the service was impeccable. We can’t wait to go back because of the personal attention and quality of the food. Fun fact: In case you are wondering (as we did), the Q stands for Queen.

TAPA BAR

We always ask locals were they like to eat. The Tapa Bar was the top recommendation. Located in Victoria’s historic Trounce Alley off Government Street, the Tapa Bar offers a diverse menu of Spanish inspired tapas and other specialties.

When we entered, we let the waiter know we only had 30 minutes to eat before heading to the ferry. He gave us recommendations for quick bites and immediately brought us our check. We had the most amazing mango balsamic mushrooms, coconut lime mussels and bacon wrapped dates.

Willow Stream Spa in Victoria, BC

No romantic getaway is complete without a trip to the spa. At least for our family! We were so lucky to find the Willow Stream Spa right at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. It was bright and cheery with a hint of old world charm. I had an amazingly relaxing facial and my husband had a deep-tissue sports massage.

Photo of Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC
We were relaxed as soon as we stepped foot in Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Photo credit: Fairmont Empress Hotel

As part of the spa, we were encouraged to arrive early to partake in their spa ritual. This includes a Finnish style sauna, steam inhalation room and mineral pool and is designed to open up inhalation, cleanse, detoxify and warm the muscles. We also enjoyed spa water and snacks before and after our treatments. Insider tip: It was recently renovated in 2017 and named a top spa by Conde Nast!

The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC:

We decided to take the 10am CVS Tour bus from Victoria, BC to Butchart Gardens since it also included a stop at the Butterfly Gardens. The timing worked out so we were able to get all cleaned up and packed and check out of the Fairmont Empress. We left our luggage with the porter so we could retrieve it on our way to the Coho Ferry.
At that point, it was 9:30am, so we walked up the street a couple blocks to Sam’s Deli to grab breakfast to go. It’s a really cool deli with all kinds of breakfast and lunch options that are easy to take out. It would be a great stop for a picnic! We hopped on the CVS Tour bus to head to the world-famous Butchart Gardens. The ride lasted about 40 minutes and was full of great information about Butchart Gardens and the Butchart Family. When we arrived at the Butterfly Gardens, we checked the time and realized we wouldn’t be able to do both, so we saved the Butterfly Gardens for next time so we could bring our toddler.
The drive into Butchart Gardens was bumpy because the concrete was original and had spaces in between each slab for expansion/shrinkage. I didn’t mind the bumps because it reminded us how the Butchart’s made their fortune.
Photo of the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC Canada
The Butchart Gardens is a top attraction in Victoria, BC.
When we entered the Gardens, we were transported to another time. Even the courtyard was laid out very nicely. We grabbed a map and they had a general route that we could follow. We walked toward the Sunken Garden first. I was blown away as soon as we turned the corner! The Sunken Garden really pops out. I felt like I had entered the Secret Garden because it is so hidden. It was absolutely stunning! It had everything from water features to beautiful flowers to views from various vantage points.
Photo of The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada
We couldn’t get over how gorgeous The Butchart Gardens are!
The Japanese Garden was simply serene. It had everything we’d expect from a Japanese Garden. We had learned on our CVS Tour that the family had been given a hundred Cherry Blossom trees from the emperor of Japan when they visited more than a hundred years ago. A Japanese gardener also came back with them and created the Japanese Garden. It was through this garden where people could take a boat tour of the cove. We didn’t have time to do it this trip, but it’s a must-do for our next trip.

We ended at the Italian Garden, which was very small and was in a courtyard with a gelato shop. Darren felt compelled to taste the gelato to see how authentic it was. He thoroughly enjoyed it! Just up the hill, they had several benches for people to eat and soak in the Gardens. We spent awhile here just catching our breath. Then, we headed to the bus area for our bus back to the hotel.

Tourism Victoria provided admission to Greyline Sightseeing Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle, The Teahouse at Abkhazi Garden, Victoria Harbour Ferry, Royal BC Museum, CVS Tours and Butchart Gardens provided one admission for review purposes.

Things to Do in Victoria, BC

Babymooning at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC
The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
Afternoon Tea at Abkhazi Garden in Victoria, BC
Exploring Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC
Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC

PictureVictoria BC Getaway from Seattle

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

48 Comments

  1. This is really cool. I used to live in Vancouver, BC and visited Victoria once but haven’t seen all the places you mentioned. I need to go back 🙂

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Thanks, Yulia! Victoria is amazing and you just can’t see it all in one trip! I’m already plotting my next trip there!

  2. Sounds like the perfect balance between relaxation and exploration for a babymoon! Mango balsamic mushrooms sound absolutely divine and how exciting you got to see (or feel the motions of) a whale! After reading your Exploring Craigdarroch post I had to Google search Craigdarroch Castle because as soon as I saw the name I was like “hang on, that’s Scottish! What’s it doing on the other side of the pond?!” Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion – explains it all!

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      That’s so cool that you Googled Craigdarroch Castle! It was such a remarkable home and I kept envisioning what it was like when it was first built. I will admit that the stairs got a bit exhausting since I was pregnant, but I’d definitely go back on our next trip over there!

  3. You guys clearly had lots of fun – and time out to relax and unwind which is just as important. I enjoyed reading re. your babymoon! Cheers

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Yes, we did! It’s so important, especially when you have older kids, to get a bit of rest before baby comes!

  4. So amazing that you got to have a “babymoon.” Sounds like day one came to the perfect ending with the spa and the serenity continued into day two with the garden.

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Yes, it was truly amazing and we are so, so lucky! I can’t recommend the Fairmont Empress enough!

  5. Oh what bliss! To do adult stuff! To not have small people pestering you every two seconds! I am so jealous.

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      That’s what made it so amazing! I wish everyone could get this opportunity from time to time to rest, relax and get back a sense of self. We are so lucky!

  6. Alberto C. Reply

    I had never heard of Victoria before, but it seems to be such a lovely city, very good choice for your little babymoon! 🙂
    I particularly liked the Butchart Gardens, they look like the perfect place for a stroll!

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Hi Alberto,
      If you ever come to the Pacific Northwest, you should definitely carve out a weekend to spend in Victoria, BC! It’s like a little slice of Europe!

  7. I’ve never thought of doing a babymoon, but when I do have a baby I’m definitely using that idea! Victoria looks so charming and the Sunken Garden looks gorgeous!

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      Thanks, Lianna! Yes, doing a babymoon is a great way to soak in “couple time” before life gets crazy! Victoria is a really special place!

  8. Soumya Nambiar Reply

    Congratulations on the baby. It is definitely important to go on a baby moon and looks like you guys had tons of fun. Victoria sounds delightful and I would love to go there one day.

  9. Marcie in Mommyland Reply

    Thanks, Soumya! It was so relaxing and fun! But, I’m also looking forward to bringing my baby and 3-year-old this summer to see what they think of it!

  10. Sarah @ Daydreams of Summertime Reply

    It sounds like you had a lovely couple of days. Butchart Gardens look so pretty.

  11. DA Adesanya Reply

    Made me laugh a little but wow having a Whale making an appearance on your adventures must of been a thrill

  12. Anna Schlaht Reply

    Aw, what a great time you guys had! How fabulous that your mom watched your son so you could go, too. We don’t have any kids yet, but if we do, I hope we’ll be able to go on a babymoon as well. Such a great way to spend some time alone together before the newborn arrives.
    Your time in Victoria looks so fun! There’s a lot of Canada we’ve yet to explore, but we’ll definitely have to make a stop here. Cheers!

    • Marcie in Mommyland Reply

      I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life and I can’t believe I never visited Victoria before! Definitely a place I’d recommend!

  13. You had me at Willow Stream Spa. This looks like a great romantic break and in a nice city too. I would have finished the afternoon tea, it sounded great!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It was such a great trip and we can’t wait to go back!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh totally! I’ve only been to British Columbia, because it’s closest to Washington. I’m interested in exploring the other provinces soon!

  14. Oh wow! This looks heavenly. I will definitely be adding it to my bucket list of places to go. As someone who has never traveled very much, that bucket list is mighty long!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Haha! Sounds like you need to get out and check things off!

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s one of our favorite places! So gorgeous, especially in the summer!

  15. Victoria is so beautiful! I didn’t realize you could get there from Seattle. I would love to see Craigdarroch Castle. But even more than that, I’d like to see the Butchart Gardens. I’ve only seen the replica at Disney World!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh I didn’t know there was a replica at Disney World! We’re heading there later this year so I’m excited to check it out!

  16. Great tips! I’ve never even heard to a babymoon before (maybe it’s too American for me, maybe i’m just not at that stage of life yet) but I want one!!! Willow Stream Spa looks fantastic, Fisherman’s’ wharf looks so colourfu, and those hotels… well… I just need a bit of them in my life. You’ve sold me! I need a babymoon and I need to go to Victoria BC!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Babymoons are all the rage here in the U.S.! It’s a great opportunity for couples to connect before baby comes!

  17. Victoria looks absolutely amazing! The ferry certainly offers a comfortable journey there, and the Parliament Building has spectacular architecture. I’d love to check out the castle and the Abkhazi Garden as well – is it by any chance related to Abkhazia? 🙂

    • marciecheung Reply

      YES! Abkhazi Garden is named in honor of Prince Nicholas Abkhazi, who escaped the Bolshevik Revolution. He and his wife settled in Victoria, BC!

  18. Such a beautiful place! I love the photo of Fisherman’s Wharf, especially. I still haven’t ever made it up to Canada, but hoping to change that one day soon. British Colombia in particular has so many incredible spots! Glad you guys got to splurge on such a beautiful hotel for your babymoon–looks amazing!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh you definitely need to explore British Columbia! It’s so gorgeous!

  19. I wish we would have taken the ferry to Victoria when we lived in Seattle. I have heard great things and these photos are gorgeous!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh you’ll have to come back! It was my first time and I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life. I had no idea what I was missing!

  20. Victoria is such a pretty place to visit in springtime! I used to live in Vancouver but never made it to Victoria (how funny!). Hope we will make it there sometime this year. Q Restaurant is so pretty – definitely putting that on our list!

    • marciecheung Reply

      We LOVE Vancouver! This was my first time to Victoria and we can’t wait to go back!

  21. Looks like an amazing weekend getaway! I’ll definitely keep these ideas (and that cool restaurant) in mind for our next trip!

  22. Denny George Reply

    I’ve never heard of Victoria, but it looks like an amazingly romantic place. I enjoyed your descriptions and photographs of the gardens the most. Your tips and recommendations would certainly come in handy for anyone visiting the town

    • marciecheung Reply

      It’s a little city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and it’s gorgeous!

  23. Congratulations on the baby. What a great place you decided to visit to celebrate. I have never been to this area but it looks amazing. I really loved your pictures. Especially, the Black and white photo of Craigdarroch Castle near downtown Victoria, BC in Canada. It is hauntingly beautiful.

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