It’s Always Sunny in Victoriaby Joy Pecknold
How does one spend 24 hours in Victoria BC? Before heading out on a Vancouver Island road trip, I soaked up as many rays as I could. After all, it’s one of Canada’s sunniest cities, both in terms of weather (305 sunny days on average) and disposition. Herein, the highlights.
First order of business upon arrival, take in the whatever light’s left, and the prime location for that is the Inner Harbor. One can even expedite harbor time by arriving by float plane from Vancouver or ferry from Seattle—they both pull up here on a daily basis. The waterfront is positively picturesque, and a number of tourist attractions are just a stone’s throw away too, including the Royal BC Museum, Robert Bateman Centre, Legislative Assembly and even Miniature World.
Front row suite
There’s no need to part with the harbor when retiring for the night at the Fairmont Empress. The iconic property has overlooked the water for 110 years. While its exterior retains its turn-of-the-20th-century grandeur, the interiors were recently revamped to enliven its Edwardian bones with a pop of modernity. The new Q bar and restaurant is a prime example of this vibrant union of new and old. It’s here where I enjoy a unique gin ‘n’ tonic. Using the hotel’s very own gin, which naturally has purply-blue hue thanks to an infusion of butterfly pea blossom, the Empress 1908 G&T subtly turns pink with the addition of tonic or citrus.
But first, coffee
The next morning, before hitting the road, I walk the quaint streets in search of good coffee and come upon Hey Happy. Along with a cappuccino, I treat myself to a freshly-made cruller donut and I don’t regret it. Heading to the very back of the café takes you to a cheery courtyard, which is a part of the Market Square shops. Those inclined to do a little shopping after should swing by Still Life for cool clothes and The Regional Assembly of Text for fun stationary.
Then second, wine
Following breakfast, I head straight to lunch in wine country. A 45-minute drive outside of Victoria, the Cowichan Valley is home to more than a dozen wineries. I’d heard great things about Unsworth Vineyards and discovered for myself that they’re worthy of the accolades. Outside, overlooking the vineyards, I partake in a seasonal pasta and a plate of local cheeses with, of course, wine pairings. The wines are so tasty that I leave with bottles of their Rosé, Pinot Gris and sparkling Charme De L’lle, but seeing as I had a couple more nights’ holiday ahead of me, they shan’t stay bottled for long.