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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
Where to Eat in Victoria, BC
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.
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.
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.
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 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