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Graced With a Scenic Harbor and Interesting History, Victoria, B.C., Beckons

victoria british columbia

Craigdarroch Castle was built for a Scottish coal magnate in the late 19th century.

(Photo: Craigdarroch Castle)

Victoria, the capital of Canada’s British Columbia province, is a fantastic jewel on the southeast point of Vancouver Island. The harbor is a popular gathering spot for visitors and locals, be they drawn by the scenic architecture or seasonal events. Harbor strolls, whale watching, high tea, gorgeous gardens and carriage rides are just some of what the city has to offer.

Budget

Stay: Generally speaking, the closer you get to Victoria’s harbor, the more expensive the room. You’ll find affordable hotels – including the Mayfair Motel, Robin Hood Motel and Days Inn Victoria Uptown – just 10 minutes north of the harbor.

Do: Explore the totem poles of Thunderbird Park, an eye-catching remnant of the area’s First Nations culture, then take a leisurely walk around the harbor. In the warmer months, strolls are usually complemented by the sight of pleasure crafts bobbing in the Pacific.

Dine: If your walk makes you hungry, stop by the Canoe Brewpub Marina Restaurant for a canoe burger made with beef from nearby Comox Valley. The Nourish Kitchen & Cafe is another option, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a late 19th century Victorian house.

Mid-Range

Stay: Stay a bit closer to the waterfront without breaking the bank. There are a lot of places to pick from, including spots like Hotel Rialto, Days Inn Victoria on the Harbour, the Best Western Plus Inner Harbour and Quality Inn Downtown Inner Harbour Victoria.

Do: Experience Victoria’s rich history at the Royal BC Museum, where exhibits touch on everything from the city’s many languages to a replica of the HMS Discovery. From there, check out Craigdarroch Castle, built in the late 19th century for a Scottish coal magnate, or explore Butchart Gardens.

Dine: Take in the scenic Selkirk Waterway and pedestrian trestle from your table at Glo Restaurant and Lounge thanks to the elegant eatery’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Nautical Nellie’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant is an option for folks who want to stay near the inner harbor.

Luxury

Stay: The city has four AAA Four Diamond Rated hotels. Marco Polo Inn is an Italian Renaissance-inspired bed and breakfast, while the Magnolia Hotel and Spa offers a boutique experience. The Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa and Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour both provide quick access to the waterfront.

Do: Head to the sea between April and October for top-notch whale watching (or, perhaps more accurately, dolphin watching, as you’re likely to see orcas). Or enjoy a posh high tea, a popular afternoon tradition that combines tea with small sandwiches and pastries.

Dine: Enjoy seasonally inspired tasting menus, including vegetarian options, at Saveur, about two blocks east of the harbor. If you want to stay closer to the water, visit Aura Waterfront Restaurant and Patio to choose from beef, seafood and vegetarian dishes with a view.

Have you ever visited Victoria? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Let AAA help plan your next Victoria getaway. Get started at AAA.com/Travel.

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