Whiffs of mulchy leaves and pumpkin spice in the air greet the nose as fall arrives in the Northwest. After the summer’s heatwave, the unmistakable sound of a crackling fireplace and crisp, cool air are certainly welcome. Luckily, Victoria is a city made for cozy. From its countless cafes and brunch nooks, to indoor markets and museums, to an entire city of gardens transforming from green to yellow to fiery red, these are 50 reasons we love autumn in Victoria.

Discover Victoria Getaways

1. BC Parliament Buildings

Overlooking Victoria’s majestic Inner Harbour, the Parliament Buildings are a 19th century icon, and one of the finest commemorations of Canada’s independence.

2. The Butchart Gardens

No matter the season, The Butchart Gardens are sure to put on a show. In the fall a stunning parade of red, russet and golden maples greet the eyes. Don’t forget to stop by the tea room for a perfectly steeped steaming cup.

Come fall, Butcharts’ Japanese Garden is one of the most colorful places in Victoria to visit. Credit: The Butchart Gardens
Come fall, Butcharts’ Japanese Garden is one of the most colorful places in Victoria to visit. Credit: The Butchart Gardens

3. Royal BC Museum

Discover authentic artifacts and specimens from distant times and places displayed in the Royal BC Museum’s interactive exhibits. Slide back into the Ice Age or stand next to grizzlies in a massive forest in the Natural History Gallery or check out intricately carved totem poles in the First Peoples’ Gallery.

4. Abkhazi Gardens and Teahouse

Created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, the gardens are known for their majestic trees and dynamic, evolving plantings. Stay for lunch or afternoon tea in the original home, where you’ll feel like a personal guest of the Abkhazis.

Sip on a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald
Sip on a warm cup of tea as you stare out on the stunning Abkhazi Gardens. Credit: Scott McDonald

5. Miniature World

Often called “The greatest little show on earth,” Miniature World is a one-of-a-kind Victorian experience. The perfect activity for the young and young at heart, this little museum brings everything from historical battles to childhood fantasy lands to life in miniature.

6. The Scenic Marine Route

Jump in the car or hitch a ride on a hop on hop off tour bus and take in the spectacular waterfront views along Victoria’s coastal roads.

7. The Galloping Goose Trail

Set up along a former rail line, this trail can be taken as far west as Leechtown and north up to Swartz Bay.

The Galloping Goose crosses the Selkirk Trestle, connecting Victoria West to the neighborhood of Burnside. Credit: Pedaler Cycling Tours
The Galloping Goose crosses the Selkirk Trestle, connecting Victoria West to the neighborhood of Burnside. Credit: Pedaler Cycling Tours

8. The Causeway

A bustling walkway circling the Inner Harbour, the Causeway is our go-to spot for people-watching and taking in Victoria’s stunning sunsets.

Stroll along the waterfront and watch the boat glide through the Inner Harbour. Credit: Scott Meis
Stroll along the waterfront and watch the boat glide through the Inner Harbour. Credit: Scott Meis

9. Victoria Harbour Ferry

Tour Victoria and the Gorge Waterway aboard a cheerful harbour ferry. The 45-minute narrated tour departs every 15 minutes.

10. Johnson Street

Hit up LoJo (that’s lower Johnson Street for the uninitiated) to check out great shopping boutiques and pick up some new threads.

Check out a variety of carefully curated goods at the boutiques on Johnston Street. Credit: Scott Meis
Check out a variety of carefully curated goods at the boutiques on Johnston Street. Credit: Scott Meis

11. Fernwood Square

The artsy neighborhood of Fernwood radiates out from the intersection of Gladstone and Fernwood Roads, where you’ll find The Cornerstone Café, Belfry Theatre and night markets in the summer.

12. Cook Street Village

Tucked away in Victoria’s Fairfield neighborhood, this eclectic corridor is home to several organic food markets and coffee houses. Explore by foot and you’ll find antiques, reclaimed furniture workshops and accessories stores.

13. Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Browse impressive artwork displays at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Swing by the first Tuesday of every month for pay-what-you-can admission.

14. The Royal Theatre, McPherson Playhouse, The Belfry Theatre or Langham Court Theatre

All of these venues guarantee a memorable performance, be it a symphony, dance or play.

15. Ghost Tour

Victoria is known as the most haunted city in BC, and there are plenty of spots to visit. Bastion Square, formerly a courthouse ruled by “the hanging judge,” Sir Matthew Ballie Begbie, is one of Victoria’s most haunted spots.

The oldest surviving formal landscape in BC, the Ross Bay Cemetery is home to several resident ghosts. Photo: Tourism Victoria
The oldest surviving formal landscape in BC, the Ross Bay Cemetery is home to several resident ghosts. Photo: Tourism Victoria

16. Robert Bateman Centre

Discover the works of legendary Canadian wildlife and landscape painter Robert Bateman through his extensive collection at the Centre. Don’t forget to stop by the Gallery Shop for a unique selection of books and handmade pottery, woodwork and textiles by other local artists.

17. Hermann’s Jazz Club

If a jazz night is what you’re looking for, check out Hermann’s Jazz Club, Victoria’s oldest live jazz venue. Located between Blanshard Ave. and Douglas Street, this downtown gem is the go-to for island jazz cats looking to get down with the groove.

18. Russell Books

The popular Russell Books is one of the best spots in Victoria to score a new or used book to enjoy on your trip.

Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Scott Meis.
Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Scott Meis.

19. Victoria Food Tour

Treat yourself to the best of Victoria’s culinary scene on a two-hour guided walking tour. Discover the city’s secret hot spots as well as recipes provided by the chefs themselves and of course, samples!

Nosh on some of Victoria's tastiest bites. Credit: Nick Bentley
Nosh on some of Victoria’s tastiest bites. Credit: Nick Bentley

20. The Bay Centre

Covering one full city block, The Bay Centre is downtown Victoria’s premiere shopping destination. Fill your bags with gifts and goods from over 90 unique shops and boutiques.

21. Hatley Castle

Originally serving as a dormitory for cadets at Royal Roads Military College, it is now the administrative center of Royal Roads University and offers daily tours.

If walls could talk, the 40 rooms in the stunning Hatley Castle would have their fair share of stories to tell.
If walls could talk, the 40 rooms in the stunning Hatley Castle would have their fair share of stories to tell.

22. Emily Carr House

Discover the birthplace of Emily Carr and learn more about the painter and writer who was heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

23. Craigdarroch Castle

Take a tour of this ornate Victorian castle built by the coal baron Robert Dunsmuir between 1887 and 1890.

A National Historic Site, Craighdarroch Castle comes to life each Halloween. Photo: Tourism Victoria
A National Historic Site, Craighdarroch Castle comes to life each Halloween. Photo: Tourism Victoria

24. Tea at the Empress

For over 100 years, the Empress’ elegant Lobby Lounge has been the place to visit for an authentic British tea and pastry experience.

25. Terroir Tea Merchant

Sample one of their 27 farm-to-shop teas in a minimalist café with a modern vibe.

Tea brews to perfection in the Steam Punk brewing machine. Credit: Lucas Anderson
Tea brews to perfection in the Steam Punk brewing machine. Credit: Lucas Anderson

26. Sea Cider

Located on the beautiful Saanich Peninsula, Sea Cider is housed on a beautiful piece of farmland where their cider apples are grown.

Explore Sea Cider’s stunning orchard during the fall harvest festival.
Explore Sea Cider’s stunning orchard during the fall harvest festival.

27. Three Hour Definitive Craft Brewery Tour

Travel on the brew bus and taste regional brews from three unique breweries. At each stop, get a behind the scenes tour and the chance to learn local brewery history as well as the art of craft beer from the best brewers in the business.

28. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

One of Victoria’s original brewpubs, Spinnakers marries delicious handcrafted brews with a menu full of exceptional, locally grown treats.

Kick back with a tasting flight of frothy pints at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. Credit: Nick Bentley
Kick back with a tasting flight of frothy pints at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. Credit: Nick Bentley

29. Jam Café

A hip but homey little spot, Jam Café is one of the top spots in the city for an all-important weekend brunch. Pulled pork pancakes and Bailey’s infused French toast? Say no more.

30. OLO Restaurant

Translating to “hungry” in Chinook Jargon, this restaurant will leave you anything but, with plentiful fresh, farm-to-table dishes.

29. Habit

Featuring beans roasted by Bows & Arrows Coffee in Victoria, Habit’s business model vocabulary is dotted with terms like “locally sourced,” “community involvement” and “sustainability.”

Warm up with a cup of joe at Habit Coffee. Photo: Nick Bentley
Warm up with a cup of joe at Habit Coffee. Photo: Nick Bentley

32. Rogers Chocolates

For the sweet of tooth, Rogers’ Chocolates is the perfect answer to your sugar craving. As Canada’s first chocolatier, they know a thing or two about crafting irresistible treats.

33. Hold General

Just across the harbor in Victoria West, Hold is a home store carrying practical goods crafted by local artists.

Get your shopping fix at the modern Hold General boutique. Credit: Nick Bentley
Get your shopping fix at the modern Hold General boutique. Credit: Nick Bentley

34. Still Life

Arguably Victoria’s foremost fashion retailer, Still Life has both “for him” and “for her” boutiques on Johnson Street.

35. Citizen Clothing

From seasonal handpicked clothing selections to craft scents and fragrances, Citizen is the go-to for a man in need of some fresh threads.

Browse through a carefully curated collection of threads at Citizen. Credit: Scott Meis
Browse through a carefully curated collection of threads at Citizen. Credit: Scott Meis

36. Oak Bay Village

Just a ten-minute drive east of Victoria, the small seaside town of Oak Bay offers a surprising variety of boutique shops, art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants, as well as miles of beach.

37. Antique and Thrift Stores

Victoria has many treasures for you to discover. Johnson Street, Pandora Avenue and Yates Street are all prime spots for well-stocked thrift shops.

38. Victoria Public Market at the Hudson

Constructed in 1912, the Market now features soaring concrete ceilings and is home to a coffee shop, hot yoga studio and, of course, local artisan tables and an acclaimed farmers market.

Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Credit: Nick Bentley
Shop the vibrant market for an array of hand-crafted, local goods. Credit: Nick Bentley

39. Goldstream Trestle

A popular hike in Goldstream Provincial Park, this impressive bridge was once a functioning railway trestle.

40. Niagara Falls

Located in Goldstream Provincial Park, this waterfall is especially impressive in the fall. Time it right and watch the salmon run, likely followed by an eagle looking for a feast. This is the Northwest at its best!

Cool waters rush underfoot as you make your way toward Goldstream’s epic Niagara Falls. Credit: Gpoo
Cool waters rush underfoot as you make your way toward Goldstream’s epic Niagara Falls. Credit: Gpoo

41. Songhees Walkway

Cross the Johnson Street Bridge and take the trail just across the bridge to the beautiful walkway to the West Bay Marina. Soak up the views from across the Inner Harbour, then take a Harbour Ferry if you don’t want to walk for your return trip.

42. Breakwater at Ogden Point

A spectacular walkway jutting out about 800 meters from the shore, this is the go-to spot for catching the perfect Victorian sunrise.

Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Dannielle Siewertsen
Venture out on the breakwater for breathtaking vistas of the Harbor’s calm waters. Photo: Dannielle Siewertsen

43. Galey Farms

Just north of Saanich, this family farm offers up all kinds of fun, attractions such as a petting farm, produce market and their famous corn maze scavenger hunt!

44. Circle Tour

If you’re really trying to get out of town, take the day and travel up the Malahat Highway (Hwy 1) toward Mill Bay, taking time to soak in the views along the way. Enjoy a dockside lunch at Bridgeman’s Bistro before hopping on the Mill Bay Ferry across Saanich Inlet. Once you’re on the Saanich Peninsula, take Highway 17A to the Butterfly Gardens at Keating Cross Road, and work your way back to Victoria, stopping by the farms on Oldfield Road.

45. Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Part aquarium, part cultural center, the Shaw Centre brims with 160 species of marine life, as well as unique, regional Coast Salish art.

Slippery anemones and bumpy sea stars at the touch pools at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
Slippery anemones and bumpy sea stars at the touch pools at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea will keep the kids enthused for hours. Photo: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

46. “Booktown”

With a dozen bookstores scattered in a five-block area around Beacon, there’s no short supply of reading material for bookworms in Sidney, BC.

47. Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour

Unwind Up Island with a Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour. Whether it’s a romantic date escape or a girls’ weekend getaway, a visit to the valley’s world-renowned vineyards along roads with awe-inspiring viewpoints will surely leave you feeling refreshed.

Soak in stunning vineyard views from Blue grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard.
Soak in stunning vineyard views from Blue grouse Estate Winery & Vineyard.

48. Cowichan Bay

A small, seaside village, Cowichan Bay is the perfect pit stop on an Up Island road trip. Stop in at the Maritime Centre, admire the nearby boats and floating homes in the marina, and then grab a bite at True Grain Bread bakery.

49. Malahat Drive

Also known as “The Malahat,” this 15-mile portion of the Trans Canada Highway 1 runs along the west side of Saanich Inlet and is home to some downright breathtaking views. Along the highway, pullouts allow for scenic rest stops as you make your way Up Island.

50. Tigh Na Mara Seaside Spa Resort

A destination unto itself, there’s no better place to stay than Tigh Na Mara when embarking on an Up Island road trip. Located just north of Nanaimo in beautiful Parksville, Tigh Na Mara’s unique log constructed units are set amid 22 forested acres beside the ocean.

Restore and relax at Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa. Credit: Tigh Na MAra Spa.
Restore and relax at Tigh Na Mara Resort and Spa. Credit: Tigh Na Mara Spa.

With most of the city’s attractions within walking distance, it’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of fall: a foggy morning in the Inner Harbour, muffled boat horns sounding in the distance sounds just perfect. Or perhaps a stroll through any one of Victoria’s nature reserves and parks to catch a glimpse of the falling leaves, coffee in hand. Wherever your visit may take you, add a few of these stops to your itinerary and enjoy the perfect fall escape in tranquil, cozy Victoria.

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Feature Photo: Nick Bentley