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Time Out: Victoria

Victoria sky line

Historically dubbed Canada’s most British city, Victoria has built a charming reputation around century-old landmarks such as the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Yet an explosion of culinary and cocktail creativity has transformed the British Columbia capital into a magnet for epicures. This green, ultrawalkable Vancouver Island city burgeons with restaurants using fresh, local ingredients. Steps from the Inner Harbour, downtown lounges with innovative mixologists beckon. Burning calories comes naturally on waterfront hikes and bike rides. And springtime is ideal for visiting less-publicized gardens, which blend traditional tranquility with cinematic vividness.


DINE

Breakfast on rotisserie chicken hash at The Ruby, the funky Hotel Zed’s restaurant, while old blues records spin. For lunch, quirky burgers incorporating items such as oysters or salmon delight at the sustainably focused Big Wheel Burger in Cook Street Village. Or hit Chinatown for afternoon tea with exquisite pastries at Venus Sophia. A five-course tasting dinner at nearby, high-ceilinged Saveur ranges from vanilla parsnip soup to duck confit.


SHAKEN & STIRRED
Victoria, home to the annual Art of the Cocktail festival, is rife with spots to grab a drink. At Veneto, classic concoctions such as the peated whisky-based Darth Matter anchor the menu. Just south, tucked-away Little Jumbo serves nerdy-but-fun cocktails and duck fat popcorn. Overlooking the public library, Argyle Attic celebrates Canadiana; try the Georgia Straight Sling with Victoria Gin.


EXPLORE
On the guided Hoppy Hour Ride by The Pedaler, cyclists sample Victoria’s vibrant craft beer scene—including a chocolate truffle pairing—at three locations. Zoom around in a sidecar attached to a Ural 750 cc motorcycle on a Sidecar Victoria tour. Or stroll the Dallas Road waterfront to view a 128-foot totem pole, paragliders and kite fliers.


GARDENS GALORE
Twenty minutes west of Victoria, lush Hatley Park offers formal Japanese and Italian gardens and 250-year-old Douglas firs surrounding a turreted castle that was featured in the X-Men movies. In the central Rockland neighborhood, Government House showcases English rose gardens and native plants with a view of the Pacific. Head north to the University of Victoria’s Finnerty Gardens for hundreds of rhododendrons peaking in April and May.

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