Five Reasons Why You Should Consider Victoria, British Columbia for a Ladies Summer Getaway
When did the summers get so busy? Every year, I say to my husband, “Let’s not make any summer plans so we can be flexible and enjoy the summer in our backyard.” But every year, we break this promise. The weekends fill up and the summer flies by. It’s the same reason I’m having a difficult time finding the time to write.
As we approach the July 4th (U.S.) holiday with the summer in full swing and the year half over, I’m forcing myself to sit down, reflect and take time to write this post. I think it is timely.
This time last year, a small group of friends, my husband and I celebrated the July 4th holiday and my friend’s birthday in Victoria—located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Canada.
We started the weekend as a large group in Seattle for a Mariners baseball game, and then four of us broke away and drove through the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles to catch a ferry to the city. It was a weekend full of food, drinks, sightseeing and nature, returning home just in time to catch fireworks along the I-5 corridor driving back to Portland.
The trip was very memorable and I want to go back. But next time, I want to explore Victoria with my girlfriends. I think it would be the perfect destination for a summer weekend with the ladies. Here’s why.
Reason 1: It’s not the most obvious place for a ladies weekend (or is it?). Even though one of Victoria’s nicknames is “nearly dead and newlywed,” implying it is a place for retirees and young married couples, it has all the makings of a traditional getaway for ladies. Its spas, high-end boutiques (on Lower Johnson Street) and afternoon tea houses, paired with the city’s charm provide an intimate environment to enjoy the company of your friends with plenty of pampering to make you feel like royalty.
I imagine starting the weekend with an authentic British tea experience. There are several options but the most popular is the Fairmont Empress. During my last visit, I personally enjoyed the Venus Sophia Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery in Fan Tan Alley (540 Fisgard Street). It offers vegetarian cuisine and a large menu of teas and coffees for much less than the higher priced Empress. A bonus, Fan Tan Alley is a nice stroll through Chinatown—the oldest one in Canada.
Reason 2: You don’t have to spend a lot to have a good time. If spa days and tea aren't your thing, there are a variety of outdoor activities and free or low cost things do in this quaint city. Spend time with your friends on the waterfront or in the city’s parks and gardens.
A visit to Beacon Hill Park, located along the south shore of the island, is an easy walk from downtown Victoria. It is a great place to take a stroll, set-up a picnic, enjoy the beach together or attend summer events.
Enjoy a walk along the Inner Harbour and watch the free Water Ballet, a choreographed "dance" performed by the water taxis, held every Sunday from May to September and all weekend in July and August at 10:45 AM. Afterward, wander along the water to the colorful boathouses along the Fisherman’s Wharf, or visit Bastion Square and poke around the artisan stalls, open Thursday through Sunday, May through September, from 11:00 AM 4:00 PM. You might even consider a whale watching tour if you have the budget.
The Butchart Gardens are also open year-round. Tickets are moderately priced for day access with optional packages for boat tours, fireworks and more.
At night, visit the British Columbia Parliament building to see it lit with 3,560 lights, or take a free daily tour.
Soak up all the beauty of this picturesque city by staying in accommodations near the water. I imagine my friends and I would stay in an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchen and a view, and enjoy preparing meals together highlighting local produce found at the Victoria Public Market or Moss Street Market. Then, enjoy the meals outdoors on a balcony or patio.
Reason 3: Victoria is walkable. There’s no need to rent a car, drive there, take a car on the ferry (from the U.S.), or even bother using public transportation. You can go from float to foot, and access all of downtown easily by walking or biking. (Many cruise ships stop here—fitting to the walkability of the city.) Check out the walking maps in the link below.
Reason 4: There are a lot of great places to eat and enjoy nighttime entertainment. We enjoyed the free live music at Bard & Banker, and ate a delicious meal at Nautical Nellies. You can also catch the Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria or a show at the Royal Theater.
For a night out, check out Big Bad John’s (BBJ) at the Strathcona Hotel. Dance around on the peanut-shelled floor or contribute your bra to the many others hanging on the pub’s ceiling—if that’s your sort of thing! We followed a few locals here (per their recommendation), and found other places nearby.
Reason 5: The locals are friendly. Truthfully, I've never met an unfriendly Canadian. Maybe one of your single lady friends will meet someone and fall in love... Just sayin.'
Victoria makes it easy to plan the perfect itinerary for your next ladies getaway this summer—and that’s why I think it is a top contender. From stylish boutiques, to great bars and access to beautiful nature, Victoria has something for everyone.
As I write this, I’m listening to the Ladies Weekend song list on Spotify. I think it’s time, ladies. Let’s go!
A Few Other Resources for this Post
- Black Ball Ferry (https://www.cohoferry.com)
(Note: there’s a current promotion to travel free on your birthday!)
- The Butchant Gardens (http://www.butchartgardens.com)
- Walking Maps of Victoria (https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1WYF61diyF2j-6pNk8uK2S7hTv1E&ll=48.418767805249324%2C-123.37911165496825&z=15)
- Afternoon Tea Service
Venus Sophia (http://www.venussophia.com/victoriaafternoontea)
The Empress (http://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/dining/tea-at-the-empress)