We went to Victoria over Easter and loved it! It’s such a gorgeous city. All the flowers were starting to bloom during our visit and the girls and I enjoyed pointing out all of our favorites.
From Olympia, we took a ferry out of Port Angeles early on Saturday morning (we spent Friday night in Port Angeles). The ferry itself was great and very comfortable. We did need to bring our passports for everyone and show them before boarding (it is a different country after all) but didn’t have any issues with that.
This was our our first time visiting Canada and we were very impressed with the city. We stayed at the Bedford Regency Hotel (affiliate link) in downtown Victoria and were mostly happy with our choice. It was a great location for everything we wanted to do, but it was rather loud outside until a little after midnight each night. Luckily, our girls slept through the noise just fine so I can’t complain too much. 🙂
After we dropped off our luggage at our hotel, we headed straight for the bus that would take us up to Butchart Gardens. We took public transit (BC Transit has a great site where you can plan out your trip -it seriously helped me so much with our planning!) but you can also consult Butchart Gardens’ site for travel info and options as well. It took us about 45 minutes to get up to the gardens.
Right away, we were very impressed with Butchart Gardens. We were met by a member of Group Services who gave us a quick tour and history of the gardens along with an Easter Bunny Hunt page and a couple of coloring books for the girls. They were super excited about both and set off right away to try and find the bunny sculptures hidden around the garden this time of year.
The gardens themselves have a rather interesting history. Originally a limestone quarry (you can still see one of the tall chimneys on site today), once exhausted, Mrs. Butchart set about to turn it into a beautiful sunken garden. She brought in tonnes of top soil and slowly built her garden. Later the Butcharts also added a Japanese Garden, an Italian Garden, and a Rose Garden. In 1939, the Butcharts gave their gardens to their grandson, Ian Ross. Since then, it’s been passed on from generation to generation and still remains in the family today.
The first thing that we checked out was the Sunken Garden. The whole place was very stroller friendly and we loved checking out the beautiful flowers starting to bloom. Even though it was barely Spring during our visit, we still saw plenty of gorgeous flowers and many trees blossoming.
From there, we headed back towards the entrance to grab a bite to eat. We really wanted to try the High Tea at the Dining Room, but it wouldn’t have given us enough time to see the rest of the gardens before the last bus left for Victoria. The menu looked amazing though and I’m hoping we can check it out on our next visit. Instead, we stopped at the Coffee Shop and grabbed a couple of sandwiches to go along with a scone and a couple of hot chocolates and sat at one of the outside tables to enjoy the sunshine. Everything tasted fantastic and I would gladly eat there again!
After lunch, we made our way over to the Rose Carousel. This was definitely the highlight for our girls. They haven’t really ridden any carousels since our time living in France, so they were beyond excited to ride one again! The carousel itself was beautiful and they could have gladly gone on it again and again if we would have let them.
Next, we walked through the Rose Garden. It was fairly bare during our visit, but in the summer I’m sure it looks spectacular! We could see all the beginnings of rose bushes all around and intertwined above us.
Next was the Japanese Garden. We loved all the bright red bridges!
This naturally led into the Italian Garden which also naturally led to us getting some gelato before heading back to our bus (which was delicious- make sure to try the chocolate!).
Our girls had found the 12 Easter Bunnies by this time, so we headed over to the information center where they traded in their finished papers for an Easter treat of jelly beans and chocolate.
It was the perfect way to start off our Easter weekend.
Afterwards, we caught our bus back into Downtown Victoria and then walked down to fisherman’s wharf for dinner. It was a bit of a longer walk than we expected, but we loved seeing the Parliament building up close!
Once we finally made it to the wharf, we discovered that almost everything was closed already (oops)! Kind of a bummer, but luckily the one place that was still open, The Fish Store, was delicious! We had the Salmon Chowder, the Baynes Sound Clams, and the Pacific Cod. The clams were mine and London’s favorite while my husband liked the chowder best.
The wharf itself is very brightly painted and fun to walk around. We were pretty tired after traveling this morning and visiting the gardens so we didn’t linger long after finishing our meal. We did see a cool looking playground right behind the wharf that would have been awesome to stop at if it hadn’t been so late already.
We loved our first day in Victoria and would happily visit Butchart Gardens again! Even though it was just the beginning of the Spring season, we still saw plenty of beautiful flowers. I can only imagine how even more gorgeous it would be in late Spring or Summer!
Thank you so much to Butchart Gardens for sponsoring our day at the gardens; we loved our time there and made such precious memories together as a family!