It's hard to find enough nice things to say about Victoria, British Columbia's capital. Tidily poised at the southern end of Vancouver Island, the city is elegant, charming and picturesque. From the long lines of masts dancing to attention in the harbor to graceful colonial architecture, Victoria has a small-city feel with big-city flair.
Stroll the downtown area to get a feel for the place, stopping to sniff salty air and fresh sea breezes. Find artifacts and area history at the Royal British Columbia Museum, fine art at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and stories of ships and sailing boats at the Maritime Museum. It should come as no surprise to find that the sea food dining selection is splendid, and shored up by lunch, launch out to continue your city tour.
Pose for a photo in front of the regal Parliament Buildings and wander China Town but don't pass by some of the other active attractions on offer in Victoria. When whales begin to spout off in local waters, charter boats ferry hopeful watchers out to prime spots. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, rent sea kayaks and splash away. Week-long tours are available for those after a good paddling, or try a bit of windsurfing when the breezes pick up.
Should you run out of things to do on your Victoria vacation (unlikely), do some hopping around the San Juan Islands, accessible by ferry, or head out to explore the rest of Vancouver Island.
Victoria is linked to Vancouver from a port north of town, and to Anacortes, Washington. Nanaimo, the island's other big city, is 70 miles away up the east coast.