1. Rent a Scooter
There is so much more to Vancouver Island than just downtown Victoria. While there are multiple options for sightseeing, my favorite method is renting a scooter and putting along the coastline. Scenic routes are clearly marked and the cost of renting a scooter is surprisingly low. We only spent $40 for our three hour scoot adventure.
2. Go to the IMAX
The IMAX, which is located in the Royal B.C. Museum, shows more than just Hollywood hits. We had the choice to watch Godzilla or other lesser known films. We always choose the lesser known films. I have watched documentaries on tornadoes, the African safari and Great White sharks while in Victoria. My favorite movie was the one we just watched on Madagascar. For just $10, we watched the Island of Lemurs, which was a beautiful film about both Madagascar and these amazing creatures that live nowhere else on the planet!
3. Eat mouthwatering Irish food
My favorite restaurant in Victoria is the Irish Times Pub. The food is authentic and delicious. Even better, the second you step inside the restaurant, you step into another country: Ireland. Live music blares and in every nook and cranny you can find Irish culture.
4. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage
Okay, I have a thing for horses but can anyone say that it is not incredibly romantic to take a sunset ride along the water with the clop clop of horse's hooves echoing off the pavement?! An easy place to catch a ride is in front of the Empress Hotel. The rides go along the waterfront and include an informative guide.
5. Explore the Maritime Museum
Most people who visit Victoria go to the Royal B.C. Museum. As they should. It's great. But so many people neglect the Maritime Museum, which is sad because so much of Victoria's history and the Pacific Northwest's history is bound up in maritime. The museum has antique artifacts and interesting exhibits that illuminate the importance of maritime in the growth of the region.
6. Zip line in the forest
While expensive, booking a zip lining tour is a great way to see more of Vancouver Island's forest. The tour is 30 minutes outside of downtown Victoria and an absolute blast!
7. Walk around the harbor
The buildings along the harbor are stunning. The architecture is really un-Canadian/American and more European in nature. My favorite building is the parliament building. At night, a thousand lights illuminate the outline of the massive building.
8. Ride the Coho
Even if you arrive in Victoria via highway, it is well worth the fee to ride the Coho ferry through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Angles, Washington. The view of the mountains and water is spectacular and the old fashioned ferry is throwback to the 1950s. Round trip, the experience takes about four hours but it is one of my favorite parts of visiting the island.
9. Whale watch
Many whale watching boats go out daily from the harbor. These boats have extremely high sighting rates of Orca whales and Humpback whales. While a sighting is not guaranteed, the anticipation and sense of adventure make the trip totally worth it.
10. Have high tea at the Empress Hotel
Unless you are filthy rich, you will not be staying at the Empress Hotel (the cheapest room is $300/night). That said, it is fun to look at and a great place to spend an afternoon having high tea. You get those little tea sandwiches and delicious English tea. The lobby of the hotel is like stepping into a luxury magazine and it is well worth the money to indulge and people watch and wonder what life is really like for those who can afford to actually spend a night at the hotel.