With international travel plans on hold, many have embraced the idea that 2020 is all about exploring our own beautiful British Columbia backyard.
The capitol, Victoria, is known well for stately Edwardian architecture, waterways and spectacular gardens and parks, and offers a truly wonderful weekend getaway.
A trip to Victoria is never complete without a culinary adventure.
This city espoused the farm-to-table philosophy with gusto. Arguably, considered a “foodie haven”, Victoria’s chefs source seafood off its shores, vegetables from its Island famers and some of the best fruit and wines from the Okanagan Valley.
Perhaps there is no better example of living the local farm to table mantra than at 10 Acres Bistro. The owner actually bought a farm to supply his eatery with organic, seasonal vegetables, duck and free-range pork. A vanguard who is passionate about farm-to-table cuisine and B.C. wines, e’s shown that 10 Acres does a fine job of it. All of the scrumptious dishes showcased (as much as possible) all organic and/or local ingredients.
For some authentic, rustic Italian fare, head to Il Covo Trattoria, where its elegant, northern Italian chic décor pairs well with any one of the fresh, house-crafted pastas or its gourmet pizzas. Staying true to Italy’s rich gastronomic tradition, the executive chef sources the finest ingredients from local farmers and culinary purveyors, with the best imported Italian specialty items for its extensive menu.
For a quick bite downtown, check out Tre Fantastico. As its name implies, the food here is seriously fantastic. The breakfast sandwich or the chicken burritos are some of the best I’ve ever tasted … remember though, to ask for lots of napkins. Steps from Beacon Hill Park, it’s a great place to picnic.
Talking about eat al fresco, its no surprise that the Fairmont Empress has elevated the art of the quintessential picnic to a whole new level of lux. Fanning out on the lawns of the Grand Dame is a true treat in indulgence. Lunch on the Lawn offers one a chance to enjoy a leisurely afternoon picnic on the hotel’s front lawn. Servers dressed in their finest signature Fairmont wear present you with chilled champagne and a host of culinary delights, while you lounge on comfy pillows and blankets under a bright yellow umbrella.
More than a foodie paradise:
A city of landmarks and historic sites, seeing Victoria on a bike is truly a fun adventure. For cycle enthusiasts, The Pedaler two-hour tour is a great way to discover some colourful history about our capital. Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest intact Chinatown in the world and its most famous architect, Francis Rattenbury, credited for designing the Parliament buildings and the Fairmont Empress, was shrouded in scandal and murdered by his wife's paramour.
Fisherman’s Wharf is a hidden gem worthy of a visit. The floating boardwalk takes you along a neighbourhood of houseboats in an array of brilliant yellow, lime green, barndoor red and blue, a hub for kayak and whale watching tours, and several seafood restaurants. We also had front-row seats as a young couple fed fish to a group of resident harbour seals.
This locale was also the start point for our two-hour kayak with Kelp Reef Adventures, where we joined a group of likeminded kayak enthusiasts. What’s more fun than navigating sheltered waters catching sight of sea lions frolicking in the waters and seals, including several newborn pups, sunning themselves on a rock.
Another great way to see this waterfront city is on the scenic Gorge Tour with the Victoria Harbour Ferry Company. Hop aboard the colourful vessel, which criss-cross the Inner Harbour and waterways. On this one-hour narrated tour, you’ll get an interesting history lesson about the Coast Salish peoples who have lived on the land for more than 4,000 years.