Are you looking for an awesomely romantic weekend getaway from Seattle? Keep scrolling to find out why you should consider Victoria, British Columbia in Canada!
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 Vancouver 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.
If we had more time, we’d totally have expanded our Vancouver Island itinerary to include a few more gorgeous destinations.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Victoria blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Victoria with kids.
Popular Victoria Tours/Activities
- Whale Watching Tour (a must-do in the summer)
- Butchart Gardens Express Shuttle (easy way to get there if you don’t have a car)
- Hop-On-Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Tour (easy for families with kids who are tired of walking)
- Chinatown Food and History Tour (see more than just the famous Fan Tan Alley)
- Flytographer photo shoot (they are easy to book are really affordable)
Kid-Friendly Victoria Hotels
- Fairmont Empress (amazing location with afternoon tea and a pool)
- Inn at Laurel Point (great harbor location with an indoor pool)
- Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza Hotel (budget-friendly option in a good location)
- The Magnolia Hotel and Spa (great location within walking distance of most attractions)
- Victoria Regent Waterfront Hotel & Suites (the suites have full kitchens)
Ferry to Victoria, BC
To get to Victoria, BC from Seattle, you have a few options. Taking the Victoria Clipper is a popular way to get there. You can also take a seaplane 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.
Other Romantic Victoria BC Hotels
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Victoria, BC Tours & Excursions
If you are searching for fun things to do in Victoria, BC, look no 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
While Victoria is a very walkable city, it was nice to give our feet a rest and experience the city from a different viewpoint.
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 Canada’s oldest Chinatown, Wharf Street, 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.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND it guarantees that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
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 Iolani Palace in Hawaii, as they are slowly collecting items that used to be part of the estate.
This is definitely one of the prettiest castles in Victoria, BC!
Insider tip: Be prepared to walk up a steep hill to get to Craigdarroch Castle from the street.
After we toured Craigdarroch Castle, we caught a taxi to Abkhazi Garden because we had a 1 pm 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.
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 British Columbia Parliament Buildings, First Nations history, houseboats, maritime history, and stunning views of seaplanes taking off and landing.
Insider tip: grab a beverage from one of the many nearby coffee shops 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!
Other Fun Things to do in Victoria, BC
Of course, we couldn’t do everything on our list. We didn’t have time to check out Fan Tan Alley, shop at the Bay Centre, see Miniature World, walk around Market Square, visit the Maritime Museum, or explore Greater Victoria.
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 where 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.
Other Notable Victoria Restaurants
- Little Yunnan Restaurant is one the best Chinese restaurants in Victora
- Red Fish Blue Fish is where you’ll get fresh fish
- Il Terrazzo is a romantic Italian restuarant
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 renovated in 2017 and named a top spa by Conde Nast!
The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC:
We decided to take the 10 am 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 9:30 am, so we walked up the street a couple of 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.
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.
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 that 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 a while here just catching our breath. Then, we headed to the bus area for our bus back to the hotel.
Visiting Victoria BC FAQs
How do I get around Downtown Victoria?
Downtown Victoria is easily walkable, but there are also several options for transportation including public buses, taxis, bike rentals, and even horse-drawn carriages.
What are the best shopping areas in Downtown Victoria?
The best shopping areas in downtown Victoria are Johnson Street, Government Street, and Fort Street, where you can find a mix of local and international brands, boutiques, and souvenir shops. These streets are pedestrian-friendly and offer a charming shopping experience with historic buildings and street performers.
What is the weather like in Downtown Victoria?
Downtown Victoria experiences a mild and rainy oceanic climate, with an average temperature ranging from 7°C (45°F) to 19°C (66°F) throughout the year, making it comfortable for visitors to explore the city in any season.
What are the best times of year to visit Downtown Victoria?
The best times of year to visit Downtown Victoria are from March to May and from September to November when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. However, the summer months of June to August also offer great weather, whale watching, and many events and festivals.
Victoria, British Columbia Getaway Wrap Up
I highly recommend staying in the downtown area of Victoria, BC. It’s such a walkable city with a cool mix of modern history and culture. And there are so many cute places for shopping, dining, and taking a stroll.
Plus, visiting Victoria is a great way to experience authentic high tea without traveling to Europe!
Tourism Victoria provided press passes for review purposes.