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Victoria has so much going for it – the outdoors, the food, the craft beer culture, music festivals, unique neighbourhoods and so much more. It doesn’t seem fair that only the locals know about the best spots to visit in Victoria, so this list is for anyone who wants to experience Victoria like a true insider.
If you’re a Fairmont President’s Club member, Fairmont Empress provides free access to BMW bicycles on a first come, first serve basis. Hop on the bikes and ride to any one of the locations mentioned below. Not a Fairmont President’s Club member? Sign up here: www.fairmont.com/fpc.
Free things to do while in Victoria:
Running of the Goats at Beacon Hill Park
A ceremonial activity daily at 10:10am and 5:10pm, the petting zoo’s team clears the main pathway as the adorable goat herd gallops from their pens to the petting area. Looking for the ultimate destination inspiration? Check out our F-scapes to Victoria package - a unique experience package including a bike tour to Beacon Hill Park to watch the running of the goats.
Harbour Ferry Ballet
A unique viewing experience – a water ballet performed by the Victoria Harbour Ferries on the waters of Victoria’s Inner Harbour. A 10 minute performance best seen from the Inner Harbour causeway, across from the Fairmont Empress.
Beacon Hill Park
A 62-acre park with manicured flowerbeds, gorgeous trees, ponds, a play park for kids, a stage with live music during the summer months, sports fields and a petting zoo. A lovely place to spend an afternoon with friends and family.
Ogden Point Breakwater
Built in 1916, the breakwater is a 762 meter walkway which provides stunning views of the Olympic mountains, and the Juan de Fuca straight. Keep your eyes on the water where you’re likely to see seals, birds and various species of seaweed.
A local treasure – the Galloping Goose is a 60 kilometer trail where you can walk, bike or ride a horse through some of BC’s finest scenery. Ask the concierge about the best place to access the trail.
Top Ten Spots to Visit in Victoria
Cold Comfort (food)
1115 North Part Street
This ice cream shop is as good as it gets. Small-batch, quality ice cream in the most interesting flavours including: Apricot & White Wine, Avocado, Tequila & Cilantro and Bacon, Brown Sugar & Buttermilk, Mocha fudge & popcorn more!
Regional Assembly of Text (shop)
560 Johnson Street
Upon entering The Regional Assembly of Text, one feels as if you’ve walked onto the set of a Wes Andersen film. This print shop features the best selection of stationary, cards for every occasion, buttons (there’s even a button making station!), typewriters and books that will fit in the palm of your hand. This is a must-visit place when in Victoria – you will not leave this shop empty-handed.
Fol Epi (food)
101-398 Harbour Road
Victoria is not lacking for bakeries – Fry’s, Cascadia, Wildfire, Bubby Rose’s and many more. Fol Epi really stands out from the pack with its incredible (and we mean incredible) artisan bread made from the flour that is ground at the bakery (be sure to try a baguette - or two), to die for sandwiches, croissants, maracrons, cakes, wood fired pizzas – (we could go on for days) and the location isn’t too shabby (patio offers great waterside views of the city). As an added bonus, Fol Epi is connected to Café Fantastico – a local favourite for coffee.
Smoking Lily (shop)
569A Johnson Street
An institution in the Victoria fashion world, Smoking Lily is a local manufacturer of silk-screened clothes including; unique t-shirts, dresses, capes, skirts, tea towels and bags. The store space is the tiniest shop you’ll ever step foot in (44 square feet!) but that doesn’t mean you won’t leave with a few (or more) purchases!
Part & Parcel (food)
2656 Quadra Street
Handcrafted cooking at its best. The food is delicious, prices are totally reasonable and the space is bright and delightful. The menu changes but we’ve never had something we didn’t love. The falafel, quinoa salad and the gnocchi are definite favourites.
Still Life (shop)
550 Johnson Street & 560 Johnson Street
Located on “Lower Johnson” (along with Smoking Lily), Still Life has a shop for both fashion savvy men and women. Find quality, stylish clothes and shoes from modern retail brands from smaller, international fashion labels.
Wheelies Motorcycles (food)
2620 Rock Bay Ave
You wouldn’t normally think about pairing custom vintage motorcycles with gourmet sandwiches yet this is exactly what is offered at Wheelies Motorcycles. It’s hard to choose from the menu because everything is that good but the Mac’ n’ Cheese, any one of the sandwiches and the housemade ice cream sandwich are must haves.
Milkman’s Daughter (shop)
1713 Government Street
A lovely, one-of-a-kind store that’s from the same family as Smoking Lily. Milkman’s Daughter offers home décor including silkscreened duvets, tea cozies, scarves, bags and so much more. Also included is a well curated collection of interesting magazines, pottery, jewelry, soaps and cards. A visit is highly recommended!
Empire Donuts (food)
Various Locations (2% Jazz – 1701 Douglas St)
Who doesn’t love a donut? Empire Donuts has amassed a loyal following from Victorian foodies. Empire donuts are low on pretentiousness and high on deliciousness. Find these delectable donuts at various locations throughout Victoria including 2% Jazz, Picnic Coffee and Fernwood Coffee.
Munro’s Books (shop)
1108 Government Street
Get ready to spend hours wandering around this beautiful bookstore. Jim Munro and his first wife, Alice Munro (Nobel Prize winner) first set up shop in 1963 and is now considered one of the best book stores in Canada. Located in a gorgeous neo-classical building, this truly is a place to spend some time browsing for your next great read.
BONUS! – Fabulous Fort Street
Eat and shop all on one street! Just a short walk from the Fairmont Empress - Fort Street between Government Street and Quadra Street has it all, including:
730 Fort Street
Just try to walk by the store window without stopping in. Everything you want in a bakery can be found here.
784 Fort Street
For those looking for a tangible music experience, look no further than Ditch Records – an independent record store that carries used and new vinyl.
787 Fort Street
What once started as a food truck in Tofino has now branched out as a store front in Victoria. Choose from a selection of tacos including Baja-style fish tacos, burritos, tuna ta-takos and more.
734 Fort Street
No visit to Victoria is complete without a stop at Russell Books. A bookstore that offers new, used, antiquarian and out-of-print books. Friendly staff and the vast selection of used books makes this place a favourite among most Victorians.
Chorizo & Co
807 Fort Street
Delicious Spanish street food available for takeout or eat in – with a tapas menu on Friday and Saturday evenings. The sandwiches come highly recommended.
Consider our Stay Longer, Save More offer and explore more in Victoria.