The beautiful city of Victoria is located at the south end of Vancouver Island and was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1843. Since then its flourished into a charming place filled with outdoor adventures, shopping, fine dining and great sites. As the capital of British Columbia, it's also a bustling city with locals and tourists taking advantage of its beauty. Because of its location, sailing, fishing, whale watching and surfing are all part of the norm here. Ferry rides take you to the mainland if you need to go, but Victoria is reason enough to come and get away from it all.
Named after Queen Victoria, Britain's influence is still evident as you walk down the streets filled with beautiful Victorian homes, pubs, cricket fields and gardens. Affectionately known as the City of Gardens, Victoria is filled with beautiful landscaped gardens perfect for enjoying its various types of flowers and plants. One of the largest is Butchart Gardens. Created out of an abandoned limestone quarry, it has more than 5000 species of plants. It first opened in 1904 and today has many interesting areas, which include the Rose, Italian and Japanese Gardens. Another great place to enjoy Victoria's beauty is at the Butterfly Gardens. Home to hundreds of colorful butterflies, this indoor tropical rainforest spreads across 12,000 sq ft and also has birds, waterfalls and streams filled with fish. For a more unique experience, make your way to the Pacific Undersea Gardens. It's an amazing marine wonderland where you can see the life that exists in the Pacific Northwest up close. More than 5,000 creatures are protected here, some of which include sharks, starfish, salmon, eels and stonefish. As part of the provincial marine-mammal rescue program, it's also a safe haven for injured or orphaned seals.
Victoria also has many wonderful parks. The Beacon Hill Park and Children's Farm is the pride of the city and dates back to the 1890's. It spreads across 62 hectares and is filled with gardens, flowers and even a petting zoo. There's also a 100-year old cricket pitch as well as tennis courts and playgrounds. Beacon Hill is a great place to catch an outdoor concert and is the home of the Luminara Community Lantern Festival. First built in the 1950's, the Queen Elizabeth Park covers over 130 acres and gives you some of the best views of Vancouver from its various lookout points. You'll enjoy the sculptures and beautiful Rose Garden as well as the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, which houses more than 100 birds in its unique dome.
The Royal British Columbia Museum is located in the heart of downtown Victoria. There are fantastic displays on Natural and Modern History as well as a great exhibit on local Aboriginal People. This museum also has an I-Max theater that has a great selection of interesting movies. Beside the museum lies the Thunderbird Park where Native carvers work on new totem poles inside a beautiful cedar house.
Feel like shopping? Make your way to the Market Square. As one of Victoria's oldest landmarks, it used to be the place to go for sailors and lumberjacks looking for a good time on their days off, but today it houses more than 45 fantastic boutiques where you can find anything from Health and Aromatherapy products to fabric and home décor. There's also a fantastic display of Canadian arts and great jewelry. Market Square also has great festivals, which are usually held in the center courtyard. Another great area in Victoria is its Chinatown. Founded in 1858, this Chinatown is one of the oldest across Canada. Make your way along Fisgard Street and see beautiful lantern displays, as well as many unique shops.
Stroll through the many parks and gardens, enjoy shopping at the unique stores in Market Square or Chinatown, and enjoy the beautiful sites that surround you. Victoria is a charming city, proud of its history and is excited to show you what it has to offer.