Victoria, B.C. is an amazing Northwest destination to visit! In May I spent a weekend exploring the highlights of the area. We had quite good weather considering the time of year, and found that even in the rain Victoria is a very beautiful place.
Our trip began in Anacortes at the ferry terminal where we took a roughly 2.5 hour ferry via San Juan Island to Sydney. Arriving on Vancouver Island we drove to Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria and enjoyed touring its amazing classic architecture. Then we drove up the island to Duncan and visited the raptor center where we enjoyed watching the owls and hawks, and even caught a glimpse of some wild bald eagles. Our day ended by driving past Cowichan Lake and through the mountains of Vancouver Island to the southern edge where we watched the sunset along with beautiful views of the Olympic Peninsula across the strait.
The next morning we visited the Gardens at HCP, a beautiful volunteer maintained garden. In the afternoon the butterfly garden proved to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. We spent several hours enjoying the amazing variety and colors of butterflies, parrots, turtles, flamingos, and frogs living in this indoor tropical jungle.
Finally, our third day we spent most of the day at probably the most famous attraction in Victoria, Buchart Gardens. It rained on us lightly almost the whole time we were there, but that didn’t diminish the beauty one bit–just made for a slight challenge while I tried to juggle my camera, tripod, and umbrella.
We had a little time left, so we ended up visiting another local attraction, the downtown bug zoo. This is a very small building, but houses some of the weirdest insects you’ve ever seen, as well as one of the largest captive ant colonies in North America. We ended our day with a boat ride on the Victoria Harbor Ferry.
On our way out we rode the BC Ferry to Vancouver just for variety’s sake. It was interesting to note that the BC Ferries are extremely luxurious! Washington State Ferries are clean and safe, but quite utilitarian while the BC Ferry was more like a cruise ship with a huge dining area, comfortable lounge chairs, play areas for the kids, etc. Highly recommended!
If you ever get a chance to visit Victoria, it is well worth your time! I was fortunate to live close enough to drive for a quick weekend, but it would be worth flying there for a vacation no matter where you live.