Vancouver Island enjoys the mildest weather in all of Canada and when summer rolls around, Victoria is the place to be. Aptly called the Garden City, blossoming flowers welcome you as you stroll the central promenade where boats line the docks and a variety of artisan stands draw your eye. All around are picturesque sights: Parliament Buildings, the elegant Empress Hotel for high tea, the not to be missed British Columbia Royal Museum. Festivities and summer extravaganzas abound from antique car and wooden boat festivals to park concerts all summer long.
Victoria is also a place of surrealist beauty, history and intrigue and as a ToursByLocals guide in Victoria, I can take you off the beaten path to back-in-time explorations of Victoria. Take a look at the photos (top right corner of the article) for some of the beauty you might experience here:
Imagine standing amidst tombstones of faded Cantonese characters and daffodils. Flocks of birds have flown high and away towards the ocean and the sheer splendor of the majestic Olympic Mountains is spellbinding. You are in Canada’s oldest Chinese cemetery, a dreamlike all but forgotten place of beauty and eternal tranquility. The cemetery is on a seaside bluff, overlooking million-dollar ocean views outside Victoria along Gonzales Bay.
Now picture that from the sea you arrive to the tallest totem pole in the world. It tells its story carved on cedar onto the sky and you walk along the scented paths of roses and lavender in a garden of peacocks and fountains, Garry oaks and giant Sequoias by the sea. You are in Victoria’s seaside Beacon Hill Park.
A rocky ledge runs far into the sea where Victoria’s first lighthouse stands steadfast and serene, a place of local legends and voyages of adventures, now a post for seabirds in the less visited Esquimalt Harbour. You can explore the lighthouse and Fort and the nearby tidal pools during low tide.
Abkhazi Gardens, exquisite and discreet, has a dramatic fairytale origin: when a Georgian Prince and Princess reunited after many years, they married and devoted themselves to the creation of a spectacular garden that embraces the stunning West Coast natural landscape. Walk amidst 50 year-old Garry Oaks, Japanese maple and carpets of flowers reflected in a pond.
This summer why not escape from it all? Let a local tour guide show you the fascinating heritage and natural beauty of Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island.
Thanks Elizabeth! You've painted a beautiful picture of the sort of nature, culture and serenity visitors can expect to find away from Victoria's tourist centres. Any travelers headed to BC's capital city should chat with Elizabeth about organizing a private tour to the city's special places.