You know the drill. It’s time to brace yourself for the most challenging task of the year – finding the perfect gifts for your friends and family. Venture into a crowded mall and fight your way through the herds of people or spend hours scouring the web to find something that won’t end up collecting dust in a junk drawer, re-gifted or returned after the holidays. Sound like fun?? Exactly.
To help narrow the overwhelming search, we’ve focused on ways to share the joy of travel with the special people in your life. Our favorite gifts help inspire adventures and make memories, whether you are looking for something for your significant other or the person who has everything, we have picks for all the lucky people on your gift list.
1. For the Green Thumb
Grabbing a pair of gardening gloves or watering can may seem like the obvious choice for a green-thumbed loved one. After all, every gardener can always use more, right? Yet, these gardening supplies don’t exactly scream “exciting.”
Instead, immerse them in the veritable jungle of the 55-acre Butchart Gardens to celebrate the glory of all things green. Not only will they dig the chance to get a little nature in their lives, but the swoon-worthy array of vibrant flowers and shrubs provide inspiration for decking out their own backyard.
2. For Your Girls
Sure, you talk to or at least text (multiple times) your best girlfriends every day, but sometimes those heart-to-hearts are best done in person. Expand your gossip sessions beyond just brunch and make a day of your girl-time by heading to Victoria. Once there, indulge in the quintessential tradition of afternoon tea at the Empress and let the gabfest begin.
After all, is there anything better than cozying up a on plush couch, with delicate and delicious treats while you sip on a comforting cup of tea? If you want to get really fancy you can even add flutes of sparkling wine to your meal and toast to your sisterhood.
3. For the Animal Lover
This friend’s heart has a soft spot for furry (or even slippery) friends of all shapes and sizes. After all, there isn’t a day that goes by that their photos and videos of cuddly creatures aren’t peppering your Facebook feed. Reward your friend for supplying you with your daily dose of cute and send them on a trek to out to our fabulous San Juan Islands for some whale watching to see a ton of orcas, seals, porpoises and eagles.
If watching our cherished local orcas jump, splash and play in sapphire waters doesn’t cause the face of your wildlife-loving friend to light up with glee, we don’t know what will. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of seeing a whole new selection of fascinating animals pop up on your news feed.
4. For the Stress-Fest Friend
Let’s be honest, 2016 has been one heck of a year. After riding a tidal wave of events and making it through a jam-packed holiday season, there is no better way to ring in the new year than with a much-needed escape.
Perched on the tip of Oak Bay Village, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel is the perfect locale for your overworked, stressed out pal to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to indulge in a little me time. Allow your friend to rejuvenate with one of the five-star spa’s pampering treatments or a relaxing soak in a steaming, hot seaside mineral pool while they take in spectacular panoramic views and think of absolutely…nothing.
5. For Your S.O. (Significant Other)
For that special someone, go all out to come up with a thoughtful, creative gift to show the person who would do anything for you that you really care and appreciate them. The cozy Inn at Laurel Point is just the ticket for a romantic couples escape.
Kick your feet up and soak in jaw-dropping views of Victoria’s tranquil Inner Harbour with a tall flute of bubbly at your side. This gives them what they really want – time alone with you to indulge in a little quality R&R.
6. For the Jetsetter
Send your globetrotting family member on an “off the beaten path” trip in the Pacific Northwest for an exploration of the region’s scenic harbors, towns and cities. They are sure to satisfy their wanderlust as they experience the hidden gem of Friday Harbor, the charming city of Victoria and the bustling metropolises of Vancouver and Seattle in the span of five days. Not only will they delight in the ability to check off multiple cities on their bucket list all at once, but they will also appreciate the break from the airports, which have begun to feel like a second home.
7. For the Fashionista
When it comes to pleasing the fashion it-girl or guy in your life, a generic gift plucked from a big-box store just won’t do, you need something stylish and chic. Treat the trendsetter of your group with the opportunity to expand their horizons beyond their local scene with a shopping spree to Victoria to explore the city’s burgeoning collection of unique boutiques.
Check out Still Life for Him & Her, The Milkman’s Daughter, Lore General Store and Little Gold, which brim with a carefully curated selection of locally crafted goods that deliver on a level at par or beyond what is offered by other major cities. Creating a winning fashion formula that involves tons of Instagram worthy clothing and accessories has never been easier.
8. For the Foodie
In a pickle coming up with a gift for your gourmand friend whose kitchen is already stocked? It might be time to whisk them away to Victoria for a culinary adventure they can really sink their teeth into. Hop on the Victoria Food Tour for a journey to more than six hidden, insider hot spots where your culinary obsessed friend can satiate their appetite for the finer things in life.
They will sample everything from sweet, spicy barbecue to delicate, melt-in-your mouth macarons. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your own sweet reward when your friend comes back armed with insider recommendations for your next visit.
9. For Your Bros
Oh boy! Your bros are often the toughest to shop for. Whether it’s your older brother you shared your bedroom with, the kid next-door you’ve known since you were five or the college friend you used to grab beers with after a football game, the pressure is on to find the perfect gift. Put all that time you’ve spent sampling Seattle’s micro-brew scene to good use and gift them with a trip north to Victoria for a big brew adventure.
Join Vancouver Island’s craft brew aficionados for a tasting tour of the city’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Taste the taps and sip on a lineup of freshly poured suds and be prepared to be amazed by your guide’s insider knowledge and history of the local brewers.
10. For the Friend with Nerves of Steel
Whether it’s skimming over the water on a kiteboard, speeding down icy slopes or cage diving in a sea of sharks, there’s nothing your thrill-seeking friend won’t try at least once. Why not add zipping through pristine evergreens high above the Sooke rainforest on the Adrenaline Zipline Adventure Tour to that list? Eight ziplines ranging from 150-1,000 feet long and up to 150 feet high will give them an adrenaline rush and let them to experience another side of Vancouver Island with a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy and stunning mountain and ocean vistas.
11. For the History Buff
Reading an epic book about someone who lived in a bygone era is sure to captivate any avid history buff for hours, but sometimes it’s more fun to walk in their shoes. Let your friend experience the romance of the past in person on a bicycle tour that travels to Victoria’s extravagant castles and numerous historic buildings.
They’ll geek out over the chance to explore the likes of Craigdarroch Castle and get a glimpse of what privileged life was like in the 1890s. Meander through the 39 rooms chock full of rich, Victorian-era furnishings, vintage photographs and some of the most beautiful stained glass in North America.
12. For the Wine Snob
You know the family member who taught you how to uncork a bottle of wine and to truly savor the flavor by tilting, smelling, swirling and sipping the delicious liquid within? Thank them for introducing you to the wonderful world of exquisite vintages with a trek to the heart of Vancouver Island’s wine country. On the Cowichan Valley Wine Tour, they’ll have a chance sip on some of the region’s finest wines and chat with the local winemakers.
13. For the Outdoor Enthusiast
Crisp mountain air. Endless forests of pristine evergreen trees. AND acres of terrain just begging to be explored. The coastal town of Vancouver provides the outdoor enthusiast on your list with perfect escape plan. Within 30 minutes you can leave the noisy and congested city behind for the tranquil solitude of nature no matter the season.
In the summer, outdoor enthusiasts can grab their hiking boots and head off for mountain trails or traverse the breathtaking Capilano Suspension Bridge for awe-inspiring views of the lush rainforest. Come late-fall and winter, tons of fresh powder at the popular Grouse Mountain create the perfect playground for skiing and snowboarding.
14. For the Culturist
Those elusive tickets to Hamilton your friend has been lusting after all year long might be out of reach, but you can give them an equally drool-worthy theatrical performance at Seattle’s Teatro ZinZanni. A crazy fusion of aerialists, magicians, cabaret artists and musicians create a magical performance filled with comedy, dance and acrobatics. All this while your friend dines on a five-course feast.
15. For the Person Who Has Everything
You know the one. The friend who has it all. From the latest iPhone to impeccable designer threads. Heck, most of the time they’ve picked up the newest gadget and are ready to move on to a new version before the first iteration is even on your radar.
Surprise them with something they probably haven’t yet discovered. A magical, roundtrip sea to sky adventure between Seattle to Victoria. This journey combines a scenic float plane flight and a cruise on a high-speed ferry. Unrivaled views of the downtown skyline, Salish Sea and countryside take center stage as you soar over the land between Seattle’s Lake Union and Victoria’s Inner Harbour on a Kenmore Air float plane. The quick, less than three hour ride on the sleek Victoria Clipper catamaran is equally exhilarating as the boat glides through the Salish Sea and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Still struggling to determine what adventure will suit your friend’s or family member’s fancy? Take the pressure off yourself and purchase a gift card and leave the decision making up to them.
Whatever gift you give this year, rest easy knowing our Northwest travel experts are always standing by to help guide your friends and family to the best possible options to create an escape they’ll remember forever. Now, sit back, relax and start crossing names off your list.