A few week’s ago my family and I headed to Victoria for 24 hours…via seaplane! I partnered with my friend’s at Kenmore Air to show how you really can experience so much in the beautiful capital of British Columbia in just a handful of hours. In today’s post I’m sharing how to make the most of your time with activities, food and of course, where to stay. Buckle up because I have heaps of info!
To start the adventure we arrived at the Kenmore Air Seattle/South Lake Union Terminal at 8:15am for our 9:00am flight. With only 10 passengers, check-in was a breeze, the staff was attentive and prompt…even gracious, gifting mini wood planes and ‘wings’ to my littles. I’d like to mention, this was actually my 4-year-old’s very first time in an airplane and that alone made it a trip of a lifetime…
Since I shared the whole experience on Insta Stories, I had several questions about take-off. It was quick, smooth and one of the best views of the Seattle shore and skyline.
I would recommend if you get motion sickness to take something beforehand, as a few clouds can make it feel slightly ‘wavy.’ Though, I will say, it didn’t bother my girl’s a bit. Just a heads up.
So I took somewhere in the ballpark of 200 photos over the course of 24 hours…and though I know I’m sharing a TON here, I really did narrow down my favorites. It was such a captivating experience, I struggled not posting every single one.
In just 45 minutes we arrived in the charming city of Victoria, located on the southern end of Vancouver Island. The landing was smooth as we pulled right into the Inner Harbour.
A few things to note when traveling via seaplane, passenger’s are allowed 25 pounds for all bags, regardless of number. And, no bag can exceed 50 linear inches.
Also, when entering Canada via air, a passport is required for all ages, including infants. And you will go through customs, as you would any other international travel, though I promise it’s quick as it’s a small terminal.
By 10:00am we’re ready to explore the city!
First stop – breakfast at West Coast Waffles. We actually stumbled up on this gem and it was everything we needed…and more. With a full menu of sweet, savory, vegan, and gluten-free options – it ranks as my pick for the BEST breakfast spot in the city. Fun fact – they’re open until 3am on Friday and Saturday – so…if you’re out and about…swing in for a late-night bite!
After breakfast, we headed to the Empress Hotel where we checked-in for our next adventure – Butchart Gardens via CVS Tours!
The guided bus ride to the gardens took about 20-30 minutes.
Located in Brentwood Bay, Butchart Gardens is one of the top tourist attractions in Victoria. A floral collective spanning from Japanese, Mediterranean & Italian origin (plus many other styles), it’s obvious why over a million people visit each year. A few things to note – it’s pet-friendly and open year round!
Once we entered the gardens, our first find was the Sunken Garden, which regardless of the season, is fascinating in all its detail.
The photo below is one of my very favorites…
Butchart Gardens is absolutely family-friendly – the carousel being one of our favorite stops of the day.
In addition to a plethora of greenery and blooms (during Spring), you’ll find beautiful wishing ponds…again, great for kids!
The perks of traveling during the off-season is that you have the entire landscape to yourself! There was only one other tour bus during our 3 hour visit which made it magnificent for photos and felt like we really were on our own adventure. Of course, you must also visit once everything is bloomed…so I recommend going again in the spring or summer to get the full experience!
With the variety of hidden gardens, windy paths and beautiful openings (like below), I felt as though we were in our version of The Secret Garden.
One of our last stops on the visit was the Spring Prelude, an indoor garden display that runs from January 15th – March 31st. It gives you a peak at what to expect during warmer months and offers that ‘bloom’ experience everyone craves when they visit.
It felt like a tropical oasis…
The tour concluded at 3pm and we were back in Victoria just in time to freshen up and head to dinner. I did my research ahead of time and discovered Varsha Indian Kitchen, located in historic Chinatown (walking distance from anywhere downtown). With its Indo Canadian cuisine, it’s received rave reviews for being both a unique and authentic Indian fine dining restaurant.
In addition to their expansive menu, Varsha also offers a delicious cocktail list – I recommend Liquid Sunshine which has raspberry liquor, limoncello and mango puree. Or check out their ‘Mock Sips’ section and opt for a Cucumber Mojito!
They also serve several local breweries on top.
Varsha is a great spot to bring kiddos, especially if you go early (we were there around 5pm). They offer a kids menu and, my favorite part, a fun seating area that gives them space to relax, color, etc. versus being antsy at the table. We were seated right next to it (perks to going early!) and it made for a pleasant dining experience for both my husband and I…and the kids!
My husband had the Bollywood Burger with a spiced lamb patty, chutney and siracha mayo and I had the Navratan Korma, mixed vegetables in a cashew-based gravy with Paneer.
The remainder of the evening, we enjoyed time at our hotel, Chateau Victoria, located just a few blocks from the Inner Harbour. The hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub, which is always a bonus when traveling with kids!
We stayed in a one bedroom suite with two queen beds which fit our family of four perfect.
Chateau Victoria is my pick for BEST hotel in Victoria for several reasons – prime location downtown, free wi-fi, indoor pool, in-room spa services available, complimentary shuttle, a variety of room options, pet-friendly, parking and in-house restaurant and lounge (which we used for a late-night order of their famous fresh-cooked potato chips!).
The following day we enjoyed breakfast at Cora, another kid-friendly spot! You’ll need some time to look over the menu, as it’s quite elaborate and includes the most delicious photos – but worth it, I promise!
The remainder of the day we explored the streets of Victoria, admiring the architecture, peaking in the shops and stopping to eat a few more times along the way (it’s a thing here – you must come hungry!).
Having a planned itinerary can make for an organized trip, but it’s imperative to leave some free time for wandering…
One of the most majestic places in the city, day or night, are the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.
For lunch, definitely head to the Irish Times Pub (all ages welcome) for fish and chips. They also offer daily happy hour from 3-6pm!
Since Victoria is a well-known foodie city it’s vital you take advantage of it! We happened upon Chocolats Favoris, a hand-dipped fondue shop that serves ice scream, milkshakes and chocolates dipped in flavors like red velvet, cookies and cream and dulce de leche. My pick for BEST dessert!
Our flight home departed at 3:30pm, so we headed to the Kenmore Air Terminal for check-in at 2:45pm. Again, it was quick and convenient!
Back in Seattle by 4:15pm!
Visiting Victoria via Kenmore Air provided the opportunity to take full advantage of our time, which we all know is so valuable, especially when traveling. A quick 45 minute flight allowed us to explore two full days in a beautiful city, enjoying a quintessential BC experience.
Here’s a roundup of my top picks for a family-friendly trip to Victoria:
Transportation: Kenmore Air
Hotel: Chateau Victoria
Breakfast: West Coast Waffles
Lunch: Irish Pub Times
Dinner: Varsha Indian Kitchen
Dessert: Chocolats Favoris
Activity: Butchart Gardens
If you’re feeling inspired to book your trip – you can find package options HERE!
You can also check out my interview with Kenmore Air HERE!
Cheers to adventure!
Disclosure: Kenmore Air, CVS Tours, Chateau Victoria and Varsha Indian Kitchen graciously provided complimentary product and/or services. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!