We spent a few days in gorgeous Victoria, BC this week while Warren’s mom and her husband were visiting us in Seattle. The highlight of our stay was the famed Butchart Gardens.
The gardens were created in an old limestone quarry by the owner’s wife, Jennie Butchart. Over the years, it has been expanded to include multiple gardens with different themes. The first garden is the Sunken Garden, and when you round the corner on the path this is the breathtaking view:
At the end of the path in the Sunken Garden there is a gorgeous fountain.
Throughout the garden there are whimsical touches like these moss-covered bears.
One of my favorite gardens was the Japanese Garden. The space is tranquil and filled the sounds of running water.
As you walk through the Japanese Garden you don’t forget to look behind you through the hedges to see the Cove, where the Butcharts used to go swimming and boating.
Getting to Victoria:
The Victoria Clipper leaves Seattle at 8 a.m. daily and arrives in Victoria at 10:30 a.m. This is a large speedboat that has comfy chairs, tables, and a concession stand, though you have to get first boarding in order to get those seats. The middle section rows are even closer together than most economy flights, so be prepared for a tight squeeze if you are in boarding group 3 or beyond.
If you check your bag you will have to wait to disembark until after the other passengers, so if you are going for a short trip pack light and save time.
You will have to go through Customs when you arrive, but it takes just a few minutes. Hotel shuttles, taxicabs, and buses are readily available in the parking lot, though if you are staying in the waterfront area it is easy to walk to your destination.
Getting to Butchart Gardens:
If you book a Clipper vacation package like we did you can save money by bundling your transportation, admission and hotel costs. We paid US$350 for a hotel room, 2 tickets to the Butchart Gardens, 2 seats on the tour bus (which comes with a short tour of Victoria as well), and roundtrip passage on the Clipper for 2.
Butchart Gardens is about 30 minutes away from Victoria and can be easily accessed by car if you don’t take a tour bus. Parking is plentiful.
If you arrive on the morning ferry at 10:30 a.m. you can easily catch the 11:15 tour bus departure. The tour bus arrives back in Victoria at 2:30 and the driver will drop you at your hotel if you ask. You can keep your bags onboard while you tour because the bus is locked.
It is possible to come up from Seattle for a day trip to see Butchart Gardens, but your trip will be much more enjoyable if you give yourself some time to see Victoria and landmarks like The Fairmont Empress Hotel, the B.C. Parliament Building, and fun shops like Rodgers Chocolates. If you like to exercise outdoors, you’ll find great scenery while you bike/run/walk in the area.
Ticket info for Butchart Gardens (all prices in Canadian dollars) (at the time of this writing the exchange rate was almost even to US dollars, but you should check before you go)
Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce (Tourism is their main industry, so you’ll find plenty of options here)
P.S. While we were there we saw one of our regular readers, Cornelius Aesop, lounging around the old market area. Nice to finally meet you in person, Cornelius!