Victoria BC travel advise please

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by silver92b, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm planning a trip to Seattle/Tacoma to visit my sons and decided to go to Victoria BC as well. I've wanted to do it and finally get a chance. We'll be there the first of July and have a couple of days to visit.

    I would love to hear recommendations about good places to see and take pictures in Victoria. Also I would appreciate advise on how to get there and back and good hotel recommendations.

    My tentative plans are to drive to the Tsawwassen Terminal, go to Victoria, spend a couple of nights and return to Port Angeles, drive to some nice places to see and shoot and then on to Tacoma.

    I tank you all in advance for your kind advise ;)
     
  2. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Well, the 1st of July is Canada Day so you'll want to take in the fireworks. Driving to Tsawwasen is kinda out of the way and the Canadian ferries will be nuts with the holiday. Seems everyone in the lower mainland wants to go to the Island on the holidays. I recommend going to Anacortes and taking the WSF to Sidney. Stopover in the San Juans maybe. Whatever you decide MAKE FERRY RESERVATIONS NOW!!
    Lots of hotels "behind" the Parliment buildings. Walking distance to all the downtown sights. Provincial Museum. A little out of downtown is Beacon Hill Park, a bit farther to Mt Douglas Park. Take the Malahat Hwy to Goldstream park. Buchart Gardens up the Saanich Penn. at Brentwood Bay.

    Pt Angeles, drive up Hurricane ridge.

    map
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  3. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    @PacNWMike@PacNWMike has good advice. Depending on where your sons live, you might be better off driving to Port Angeles and taking the Coho ferry. Having said that, the Anacortes ferry is a nice way to go and would make a nice loop if you return via the Coho and the Olympic Penninsula. If you arrive on Vancouver Island/Sidney via the Anacortes ferry, stop at Island View Beach while you're up that way. In Victoria, stay near the inner harbour. There are plenty of nice options depending on what you want to spend. There are lots of interesting sites things to photograph downtown and in the inner harbour, but it will be a busy time due to the holidays. Butchart Gardens is a must if you're at all interested in flowers/gardens. Beacon Hill Park is nice. Take the scenic drive around Beach/Dallas roads. If you want to drive further, head out in the direction of Port Renfrew along the southern coast. You don't have to go all the way but there are a number of nice parks/beaches out that direction. Returning via the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles and spending time exploring in Olympic National Park is a good plan. As suggested, Hurricane Ridge is a beautiful drive and wouldn't be out of your way. There are lots of interesting places to explore in the park. If you have time and don't mind hiking a bit, go out to the Olympic coast. Again, make ferry reservations and hotel reservations sooner rather than later! It's a beautiful corner of the world. Enjoy!
     
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  4. VDG

    VDG Mu-43 Regular

    25
    May 21, 2015
    Couple things to add to already excellent advice above: take a walk at the breakwater at the Ogden Point (half mile-long jetty with a lighthouse at the end), and visit Fisherman's Wharf, home to floating houses community and vibrant tourist spot.
     
  5. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    I agree with Mike and Evan, that the Tsawwasen ferry would be just about my last choice to get from Seattle to Victoria. If I were driving, my I'd take either the Anacortes-Sidney WSF ferry (first choice) or Port Townsend-Victoria on the Coho.

    However, depending on what exactly you have in mind to do in Victoria a car is not all that necessary, so I would consider taking the Victoria Clipper which is a passenger-only high speed catamaran that runs from Seattle's waterfront to Victoria's inner harbor. Best (though most expensive) of all would be a seaplane from Seattle's Lake Union on Kenmore Air -- it's an incredibly scenic flight.

    As far as what to see, Butchart Gardens is not to be missed if you enjoy flowers/gardens even a little bit. If you're there on a Saturday, bring a blanket and stick around for the fireworks show. The provincial musuem is quite good as well.
     
  6. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Thank you very much for all the great tips! I really appreciate your time and effort to write. DeeJayK, you bring up an interesting point. I had wondered if the car was a necessity or perhaps a hindrance. I would prefer not to have to deal with the car if I can walk or take public transit to interesting places. I just looked in the link to Kenmore air and the cost is not too bad considering the savings and convenience of the rental car issue (leave from and return to Sea Tac).

    My thanks to everyone else as well. Wonderful and thoughtful suggestions :thumbup:. I'm leaning towards arriving and staying near SeaTac the first night, visit a bit and take the seaplane to Victoria Inner harbor from SeaTac the next day, maybe 2 nights in Victoria with sightseeing and photo taking, and then return to Seatac, rent the car and tour the Olympic peninsula from my Tacoma home base. Maybe a good idea to book a hotel somewhere in the Olympic Peninsula for one night and return to Tacoma and visit with my sons for a few days....
     
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    You will not be taking a seaplane from SeaTac as it is an airport. Seaplanes depart from Lake Union, just north of downtown Seattle. You could also take the Victoria Clipper from downtown Seattle, It is a nice ride and will take you directly to Victoria's Inner Harbor. There used to be a very nice B&B near there called the Ambrosia Inn. It may have changed owners, but it was a charming place to stay. Also, the Clipper offers hotel packages that might be worth consideration. There are bus tours that will take you to Butchart Gardens, so you do not need a car unless you want to explore the island (and rentals are available).

    Have a wonderful visit,

    --Ken
     
  8. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    Good plan. A car is definitely a bother when dealing with the ferries. The float plane is a scenic and quick way to get here and the Clipper is equally scenic and just a bit longer. Either one will save you hours of sitting in a ferry line and, as you mention, aren't that much more than the cost of the ferry. There is public/tourist transportation to Butchart Gardens and other places, but there are a couple car rental places right downtown in Victoria if you want to rent a car for a day while you're here to do things on your own schedule.
     
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  9. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    The Kenmore Air site is a little unclear, since it allows you to book a "flight" from SeaTac to Victoria. As Ken notes (and is explained on the Kenmore site), this will consist of a shuttle van from SeaTac to Lake Union and then the flight from there.
     
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  10. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    I can't agree. IMHO, the flight is much more scenic as is the WSF (and BC) ferry route among the islands. The VC mostly transits the Straits quite far from land. However I don't disagree with TW's general advice. If you are reasonably fit and plan to remain in the downtown core a car is not necessary.

    Also note that the the recently implemented WSF reservation system eliminates the long waits for the ferries.
     
  11. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Graham
    Don't forget your passport, especially if you're going to fly to/from Victoria.
     
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  12. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Excellent advise! and thanks for the clarification about the seaplane. I was misled by the Kenmore Air site... That was silly of me since I missed the obvious. Seaplanes are not for airports :doh:. Anyway, I think the seaplane sounds wonderful and I see that there are good hotels for not too outrageous rates right in the inner harbor in Victoria.
    My next question would be, where would be the best place to go in the Olympic Peninsula for a beautiful scenery? I like lighthouses, but I would also like to be able to find the hotel not too many hours away from SeaTac... My son lives in Tacoma so that would be a logical stop before heading out to catch the scenery.... And thanks for the passport reminder!!
     
  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I've heard good things about Olympic National Park.

    Barry
     
  14. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Dungeness Light near Sequim. highly recommended. A 10mi rt beach walk or go as far as you like.

    The North Oly Penninsula is too far for a day trip from Seatac. Stay in Pt Townsend, Sequim or Pt Angeles.
     
  15. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    +1 on the Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria. I've been there twice and loved it. The last time we went, we drove up from Olympia, WA to Vancouver, BC, and then took the Tsawwassen ferry to Victoria. Then we took the Coho back to Port Angeles. We stayed in The Oswego Hotel in Victoria and enjoyed it very much. Very comfortable and within walking distance of the main attractions. An urgent care clinic (needed for my Mom) and grocery store/pharmacy were a couple of blocks away. Lots of good places to eat along the waterfront - we really enjoyed the seafood.

    Ditto on Butchart Gardens.

    +1 on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics. If you route into Port Angeles, you'll be close by. BTW, the fish and chips shop in the ferry terminal is great. Hope they're still there.

    You can go to the Olympics from Olympia pretty easily, so Port Angeles is a good starting and ending point. You could opt to come back to Port Townsend and drive back down too.

    If I had more time, I think I would have tried to visit the coastal areas further north on Vancouver Island. Must be beautiful. Perhaps one would have to book a short cruise to see them.

    Regardless of how you go, you'll need your passports. Also, check if you're carrying fruits or plants. The Canadian Customs agents were very polite and friendly - what a great introduction to Canada. Much respect to Canada.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  16. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    You could spend a week in Olympic National Park and not get bored--but it's a very large park. 2nd Beach and 3rd Beach out on the coast are remote, pristine and beautiful. I would put those us up against any beaches I've been to anywhere. Google some pictures from there. They require a hike--a couple miles plus or minus if my memory is correct (it's been several years since I've been there). The Hoh Rain Forest is also worth a visit. The issue with all of these is that they are on the western side of the park. I'm guessing it's a 4 hour drive from Tacoma. You could stay in Forks overnight. It all depends on how much time you have and how much driving and hiking you're willing to do.
     
  17. Mwing

    Mwing Mu-43 Regular

    48
    Jan 31, 2014
    Parliament building amd the surrounding area good for photoshoot

    a25cfd1198e027d2c0f476a6d028b0ca.
     
  18. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    As Evan mentions, it's a fairly long drive from Tacoma to ONP. Google says it's just over 3 hours from Tacoma to Forks, but I've never made it that fast. You can basically circumnavigate the peninsula on Highway 101 and see a good deal of the park. Not much to see in Forks -- mostly little stores in a dying town selling paraphernalia related to the Twilight book/movie series, which was set there. If you're going to do the Olympic loop, I'd recommend Sol Duc Hot Springs, Kalaloch and Lake Quinault as good places to stay.

    Definitely don't miss the Hoh rainforest -- especially if you like the color green. The ocean beaches Evan mentioned are indeed beautiful, but they do require an investment in time in the hike as well as the drive to the trailhead. Ruby and Kalaloch beaches are easily accessible (although subsequently much more travelled). You can get a decent overview of the park in 2-3 days, but you could easily spend much more time there.
     
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  19. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    As Keith mentioned, 101 is not always the fastest road because it is often lane-limited and frequently filled with large recreation vehicles. Do not assume 70mph as an average speed when calculating travel times.

    --Ken
     
  20. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Well, the plan is fleshing out. Decided to get a car anyway and deal with it. Had to have it for part of the visit and it became a nightmare to arrange pick up and drop in different places.. The wife nixed the seaplane :crying:, so the ferry is it. Looks like port Angeles both ways due to logistics.
    The Hotel Grand Pacific seems to be located near the the inner harbor. Should be a good location to view the harbor, people, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015