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Favorite things in Victoria & on Vancouver Island?

Favorite things in Victoria & on Vancouver Island?

Old Nov 8, 2022, 11:35 am
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Favorite things in Victoria & on Vancouver Island?

Finally have our flights booked & hotel reservations - 3 nights in Parksville, 4 nights in Victoria, 2 nights Vancouver. This is our first visit to Vancouver Island - we're very excited. Our trip is at the beginning of December, so a lot of the outdoor stuff will be off the table or at least limited in scope - though we're still bringing the binocs and keeping our fingers crossed! I know one day we want to visit The Raptors (the day we leave Parksville to head to Victoria -so I should go get my reservations now). I have a few other outdoor areas on my list to explore. Have not at all thought about what to do & see in Victoria, other than the Royal BC museum, Butchart gardens (yes, even in December!) and at some point, one or more Bulk Barns. Yes, Bulk Barn. Because I don't have anything like that anywhere nearby. It's just not a thing in the US - sure, some groceries have an aisle with some bulk items, but not like BB. I fantasize about that store.

Anyone have favorites to recommend? (we enjoy wildlife, we enjoy strolling around cities, love history & engineering musems, adore food - did a food tour when we visited Vancouver so might do something like that in Victoria - and I might do a little shopping/browsing). We're equally happy relaxing with a book, too! Half our hotels have fireplaces and/or water views, so with a bottle of bourbon and/or wine, that's a great afternoon & evening right there ;-)
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 1:00 pm
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one of my favorite things is to visit an ancient forest in Vancouver Island:

Also, any of beaches along the pacific coast - the beaches are so special is a way that there are a lot of fallen tree trunks got washed onto the beaches. China Beach, French Beach are close to Victoria.

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Old Nov 8, 2022, 1:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel
......
and at some point, one or more Bulk Barns. Yes, Bulk Barn. Because I don't have anything like that anywhere nearby. It's just not a thing in the US - sure, some groceries have an aisle with some bulk items, but not like BB. I fantasize about that store.
......
Ha, ha, ha ..... Bulk Barn.

Ya, I like the store very much as well. The only one I know of is the one downtown, but suppose there could be others. The one passing note, is that sometimes their items are not the freshest. Speaking particularly of my guilty pleasures, gummy bears and licorice, as well as not so guilty pleasures, nuts.

Nothing like it on the island I'm currently stuck on ......

I am a fan of Goldstream Park, but another poster in another thread wrote that it would be hard to get to and find parking spots. The last time I was there year ago the parking lot was pretty full. Beacon Hill Park is of course much closer, but not all that big.
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 1:44 pm
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CRAIGDARROCH CASTLE
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 2:42 pm
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I think there is also a Bulk Barn in Nanaimo? Somewhere we could go while we're on that part of the Island. (google tells me there are 5 on the Island) And I have Goldstream Park saved (from the rec on the other thread, acknowledging parking/access could be an issue....) And a Victorian home museum? Yes please! Fabulous ideas - thank you!
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 4:52 pm
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re: Bulk Barn. Just be aware of what you can take home with you if you are planning to do that. I suspect most of it (raw, uncooked, unprocessed) won't be permitted by USDA as there's no country of origin labels and packaging is broken (was just at the Langford (Kelly Rd) west of Victoria last week to buy some dried fruit). Downtown Victoria one looks huge but I've never been in that one. There's also one in Duncan (between Nanaimo and Victoria). The Nanaimo one might be more difficult to get to and leave as that route takes you through Nanaimo (perhaps not that bad but I haven't done that in a few years). Courtenay is way too far north (though perhaps less than an hour from Parksville).

Goldstream PP. There are parking lots(2 or 3, possibly 4) off the southbound side of the highway which should not be too difficult as it's currently a speed-restricted work zone (wash out repair). IIRC 2 of these are after the Finlayson Arm Rd turnoff where the big parking lot is but I'd be cautious about trying to cross the highway to go southbound. Which lot you use also depends on what you want to see.

Old buildings in Victoria, there is Government House (well, maybe not so old but I believe the same architect that designed a lot of the western CP hotels and the provincial legislature) and also Hatley Castle (former site of the now-decommissioned Pacific coast military academy).

Could consult Eat magazine for all things food related.

If you have enough time after Raptors, there is the Hand of Man museum in nearby Maple Bay. Spend 1-2 months there 6-7 years ago and didn't even know it existed. Cowichan Bay is worth a drive through and you can avoid Duncan (traffic through always seems to be bad).

Supposedly a good bakery (always busy) called Old Town at Ladysmith but I've never stopped in. In Parksville, the Eat Fresh (across the small road from the Thrifty Foods) has an excellent in-house bakery.
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Old Nov 9, 2022, 9:38 pm
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I was recently (October) in YYJ and I really enjoyed https://www.butchartgardens.com. I think they've done an amazing job at creating a beautiful space there. But be aware, the airport to downtown Victoria and back to Butchart Gardens is a really long way. When I go back to YYJ, I'm absolutely renting a car instead of relying on taxis / public transit.
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Old Nov 10, 2022, 4:59 pm
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Originally Posted by RCyyz
I was recently (October) in YYJ and I really enjoyed https://www.butchartgardens.com. I think they've done an amazing job at creating a beautiful space there. But be aware, the airport to downtown Victoria and back to Butchart Gardens is a really long way. When I go back to YYJ, I'm absolutely renting a car instead of relying on taxis / public transit.
There's lights for the long winter nights. Your bus experience reportedly all depends on timing, and YYJ isn' the most convenient for busses (better to go to Swartz Bay for the ferry). Car journey there (Brentwood Bay vicinity) is fairly tedious from here I am so I rarely go out that way (or even into Victoria). FWIW , bus routes are 75 (to/from dontown) and 81 (Sidney/Swartz Bay)
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Old Nov 10, 2022, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by khkchan
one of my favorite things is to visit an ancient forest in Vancouver Island:
I've, unfortunately, seen bigger trunks on logging trucks. As for Cathedral Grove, be aware that parking may be (is) limited and road dividers were installed sometime in mid June (wasn't any when we drove by, but were when we drove past 2 days later) this year to prevent left turns. Might have to drive past and turnaround (turnaround point unknown as it isn't the easiest road to perform a turn around). Can be chaotic in the summer/peak tourist season especially with all the heavy trucks going through.

A better bet, to see a big tree in all its splendour, is Big Lonely Doug and nearby Avatar Grove (temporarily closed).

Also, any of beaches along the pacific coast - the beaches are so special is a way that there are a lot of fallen tree trunks got washed onto the beaches. China Beach, French Beach are close to Victoria.
Beware it's rather wet, with exposed tree roots on some of the trails rather slippery when wet (which it is most of the time outside summer), not to mention running surface water when it rains (again, seemingly most of of the time). French Beach is the easiest walk from a parking lot. The others can be a bit of a trek. At Port Renfrew (vicinity of Arbutus Grove and Big Lonely Doug) i Botanical Beach which apparently and unfortunately has caught on with the have-to-post-my-picture-on-social-media crowd.

No sure if there are any log sorting yards for drift log source at Port Renfrew but there certainly is one at Jordan River.
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Old Nov 11, 2022, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by RCyyz
When I go back to YYJ, I'm absolutely renting a car instead of relying on taxis / public transit.
I didn't specify in my original question, but we are flying in/out of YVR and renting a car for the Vancouver Island portion of the trip - but we're ending up with some time in Vancouver
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Old Nov 11, 2022, 12:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel
I didn't specify in my original question, but we are flying in/out of YVR and renting a car for the Vancouver Island portion of the trip - but we're ending up with some time in Vancouver
What are you plans to get to the island (appears you have a day or to to get back to YVR)? Be aware there can be and are, as recently as this past week, various (e.g., weather, crew availability, mechanical) issues with the ferry system. Getting from the airport to either terminal that gets you to Vancouver Island can be nightmarish depending on time of day and day of week. Reservations advised as sailings are 2 hour intervals currently,
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Old Nov 11, 2022, 1:02 pm
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Ferry reservations are on my agenda for the weekend. We arrive YVR at noon and are renting a car, I think I eyeballed a 3:15 ferry to Nanaimo? Not sure what ferry we'll take on the return, but will be Victoria to Tsawassen, then we're dropping the car off and taking train in to Vancouver, think our hotel is just a block from the station (L'Hermitage). We ended up with time in Vancouver primarily because I knew I wanted space in the itinerary in case of ferry problems.
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Old Nov 11, 2022, 4:42 pm
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1515 ferry sounds like a Tsawwassen-Duke Point ferry? Seems to be more reliable as it's more of a commercial route. If so, a 1400 wheels rolling departure from the airport should be just/barely sufficient time to get you to the ferry terminal (need to be at the ticket booth 30-60 minutes - they're pretty strict about this - before departure to claim your reserved spot). That said I don't know what the weekday southbound traffic through the tunnel is like at that time. I like to use the Ladner/Ladner Trunk Road (2nd exit after the tunnel) to get to the terminal. One traffic light but shorter road distance. If you get away from YVR earlier, there's a Bulk Barn in Ladner and you can take the backroad from there to the terminal (allow 15-20 mins).

If it's Horseshoe Bay, would require driving through Vancouver (with one ugly bridge crossing depending on traffic). At least one can go to Horseshoe Bay village while waiting as one can arrive 120 mins before scheduled sailing for this terminal.

There's various fare structures now with varying conditions. The Saver and Prepaid fares do include a reservation (normally $17).
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Old Nov 12, 2022, 4:02 pm
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Got the ferry reservation today - 1515 from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo. Got a super saver, we figure if our flight is delayed, we can call and pay the $5 to change the reservation. I think for return we opted for 1300 from Victoria back to Tsawwassen. I need to send the directions above, as well as these park and museum ideas to my husband to see what appeals to him

(I'll drive in cities but he has to drive on the ferry - I will not!)
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Old Nov 18, 2022, 1:11 pm
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Any good places to shop for hats? Hubs realizing he can't find his favorite rain hat, not really time to think about shipping now with US holiday & black friday right before our trip, so maybe we'll look while we're on vacation (we do it all the time ;-) Department stores, outdoor stores, hat stores? Thanks! (we both wear glasses and don't love umbrellas - esp in cities and if windy - so we like to travel with a nice wide brimmed hat to keep rain off our lenses...)
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