I’m strolling along the Inner Harbour, where a steady stream of seaplanes and boats crisscross the water. My son is mesmerized by all the activity, but my attention is caught by the majestic buildings across the street: the elegant Fairmont Empress, built in 1908, and the stately B.C. Parliament Building–our destination. It feels like I’ve stepped back in time, with horse-drawn carriages passing in front of the beautiful turn-of-the-century architecture.
I’m pulled back to the present as a street performer starts up his act near us: juggling while balanced atop impossibly tall stilts. A crowd starts to gather and we watch for a few minutes before continuing on. There’s a number of performers along the water’s edge from a hipster band playing soulful indie music to a woman painted copper from head-to-toe, standing as still as a statue. My son is delighted by all this free entertainment, so we take our time and let him set the pace.
We’ve just filled our bellies with the best fish ‘n chips I’ve ever had (I’m seriously contemplating going back to Red Fish Blue Fish tomorrow for more), but when we pass by a food truck selling ice cream cones piled high with soft serve, we can’t resist getting some for dessert. We’re still licking our ice cream, catching the melting drips, as we head up the stairs from the harbour to the B.C. Parliament Building. Free tours are offered here daily, but we’re in it for the outside view. We’ve heard that every night at dusk, over 3,300 light bulbs illuminate the building.
So we hang out on the lawn while we wait, people watching while our son burns off some energy running around in the grass. The anticipation builds as dusk approaches, then suddenly all the lights come on at once. There’s a collective gasp, and a magical spell is cast over everyone there. It’s truly romantic and beautiful, like a scene out of a movie. I’m charmed, and our son is equally entranced. We take it in for a few minutes, snap some photos to capture the moment, then head back to our hotel with full bellies and happy hearts.
This is why Victoria, BC tops my list of amazing weekend getaways. It’s a kid-friendly destination and fun for adults, too. With a charming, historic downtown, an amazing foodie scene, top-notch tourist attractions, and an abundance of natural beauty, there’s plenty to keep the whole family happy and entertained for a weekend (or longer). Here are my musts for hotels in Victoria (and things to do) for your next weekend getaway or family vacation.