It’s a bright, sunny summer morning in Seattle. Rooster tails of sea spray fan up behind the Victoria Clipper V, as the sleek, high-speed catamaran smoothly skims across the water. Picking up speed to 30 knots, the vessel makes its way north across the Salish Sea. A collective sense of calm takes over as vacation mode kicks into full speed ahead.

In an era of busy work schedules, social media status updates and family obligations, nothing is more freeing than escaping the daily grind, especially when it entails a PNW adventure. And while some may scoff at the idea of planning a spontaneous international one-day getaway, a trek to Victoria, BC is quite simple and doesn’t require a car. Great restaurants, boutique shopping, lush gardens, cozy teahouses, seaside neighborhoods and historic buildings all await after a quick cruise across the Salish Sea.

Book our Seattle to Victoria Day Trip to Experience Victoria’s Iconic Attractions.

The best part? The trip up to British Columbia’s capital city is half the adventure. Go ahead and spoil yourself with Victoria Clipper V’s new private comfort class cabin (only a $20 upgrade) as you whisk across the water. Unlike a cramped flight, the vessel’s light-filled interior and wide walkways provide an irresistible sense of freedom and relaxation. The boat is yours to explore, with multiple sun decks, a fully stocked bar, locally-sourced menu and superb ocean vistas.

11:00 am – Tea at Pendray Inn

As you glide into Victoria’s Inner Harbour, it’s impossible to ignore the regal Fairmont Empress and the impressive Parliament Buildings (plan your visit right, and you can even observe debates in the Public Galleries when the Legislative Assembly is sitting) perched on the shore. Craving a delicious lunch? A quintessential Victoria tradition of tea and treats is a quick two-minute stroll up the street from Clipper’s Victoria terminal at the Pendray Inn’s gorgeous and historic 1890 property.

Kick back and relax inside the quaint Pendray Inn. Credit: Pendray Inn
Kick back and relax inside the quaint Pendray Inn. Credit: Pendray Inn

Pop inside the cozy Pendray Teahouse, where you can enjoy an amazing lineup of locally-produced goodies such as salmon pinwheels, cucumber sandwiches, hand-made macarons and more matched perfectly with a selection of TWG tea. And don’t forget about scones. Nosh on not one, but two freshly baked treats. We’ll leave it up to you to decide which is more irresistible, the white chocolate and lavender or the Earl Gray.

Macrons, shortbread and more top Pendray's three-tiered platter. Credit: Scott Meis
Macrons, shortbread and more top Pendray’s three-tiered platter. Credit: Scott Meis

While it’s easy to get caught up in the amazing food and conversation, don’t forget to look up every so often to soak in the amazing views. Original stained glass windows, hand-painted frescos on the ceilings and sailboats gliding through the Inner Harbour – what’s not to love?

The Pendray Teahouse's delicious goodies are almost too pretty to eat. Credit: Scott Meis
The Pendray Teahouse’s delicious goodies are almost too pretty to eat. Credit: Scott Meis

12:30 pm – Shop Fort Street

Burn off your tea treats by walking along Victoria’s unofficial main street, Fort Street, to shop like a local. Pick up stylish and eco-friendly threads at Not Just Pretty or swing into Ditch Records to add to your ever-growing collection of vinyl.

Next, head down the street to snag gorgeous stationery and unique gifts at The Papery. Cross the road to Russell Books for one last stop before leaving Fort Street and meander through three stories stacked floor-to-ceiling with rare and unusual titles.

Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Tourism Victoria
Peruse a selection of good reads at the popular Russell Books. Credit: Tourism Victoria

1:30 pm – Bicycle Tour of Castles, Hoods and Legends

One of the best ways to truly discover a city is to explore it from behind the handlebars of a trusty bike. Head to the small, but well-stocked Pedaler bicycle shop (the shop brims with everything from helmets and handlebar bags to tandems and electric-assist bikes), conveniently located next door to the Pendray Inn. Opting for the guided, 8.7 mile Castles, Hoods and Legends Tour will give you a good lay of the land while picking up some insider inspiration for other spots around town to check out.

Ride along Victoria's coastline for unbeatable ocean views. Credit: Scott Meis
Ride along Victoria’s coastline for unbeatable ocean views. Credit: Scott Meis

On the tour, you’ll follow the flat, bicycle-friendly roads as you pedal to Chinatown’s vibrant Gate of Harmonious Interest. From there, the ride takes you to the funky, artistic community of Fernwood, before stopping by the legendary Craigdarroch Castle. Cruise past heritage houses, with additional stops at the friendly Cook Street Village and the aptly-named Moss Rock (Inside tip: Climb up to the top of the rock for 360-degree views of Clover Point Park, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and downtown Victoria).

Cruise past the stunning Craigdarroch Castle. Credit: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours
Cruise past the stunning Craigdarroch Castle. Credit: The Pedaler Bicycle Tours

It’s easy cruising to the coast and along scenic Dallas Road, which is home to beautifully rugged beaches. On a clear day, you can see nearly every detail of the Olympic Mountains’ snow-capped peaks and even the city of Port Angeles. Miss that office cubicle yet?

Soak in jaw-dropping vistas from the smooth Dallas Road. Credit: Vadym Graifer
Soak in jaw-dropping vistas from the smooth Dallas Road. Credit: Vadym Graifer

3:45 pm – Fisherman’s Wharf Ice Cream Stop

For a great afternoon snack, stroll around the corner of the Inner Harbour to find Fisherman’s Wharf, a hidden gem of floating seaside goodness. Wander the docks as they creak and bob with the tide checking out dozens of houseboats painted in a rainbow of colors. Be sure to keep an eye out for seals who are eager to show off a few tricks.

Wander through a colorful collection of floating houseboats along Fisherman's Wharf. Credit: Penny Pitcher
Wander through a colorful collection of floating houseboats along Fisherman’s Wharf. Credit: Penny Pitcher

Along the way, stumble upon Victoria’s only floating ice cream store! Hands-down one of the best spots in the city for frozen treats, Jackson’s Ice Cream serves up 16 flavors, including good ol’ floats, swirly soft serve and refreshing gelato. Sample a classic cone the way they were meant to be with the “Danny,” a crunchy waffle cone filled with soft serve and then with a giant scoop of ice cream. De-licious.

Say "hi" to the friendly harbor seals as you explore the docks of Fisherman's Wharf. Credit: Sinan Demirel
Say “hi” to the friendly harbor seals as you explore the docks of Fisherman’s Wharf. Credit: Sinan Demirel

4:15 pm – Harbor Ferry Cruise & Drink with a View at Canoe Brewpub

Craving a little more water time? Victoria’s cheerful little water taxis are one of the best ways to wine and dine around the Inner Harbour. Hop aboard one of the vibrant vessels and cruise back to Chinatown for happy hour on Canoe Brewpub’s sun-drenched outdoor patio. Kick back with a pint of their West Coast Pale Ale, which perfectly melds Pacific Northwest hops with Canadian pale malt. There is no better way to get a taste of the region.

Hop on one of Victoria's cute Harbour Ferries and zip across the Inner Harbour. Credit: Scott Rose
Hop on one of Victoria’s cute Harbour Ferries and zip across the Inner Harbour. Credit: Scott Rose

5:00 pm – Dinner at Agrius

As dinnertime arrives, duck around the corner and up Johnson Street to the tiny, but airy Agrius. Don’t let the size of the space fool you, it packs a powerful punch. Hip with a laid-back vibe, the restaurant is a local foodie favorite with its rotating seasonal menu chock-full of flavorful eats. Everything is made in-house from the seasonings to the sauces, along with baked bread from the wood-fired oven.

Go big ordering off the tasting menu for a four or seven-course feast perfectly paired with wine. You also can’t go wrong sampling the wild Ling Cod or red fife spaghetti from the a la carte menu. Just be sure to save some room for dessert and grab one of the phenomenal pastries at Agrius’ sister bakery, Fol Epi, for the ride home. Dense raspberry mouse cakes or chocolatey, flower-topped eclairs bursting with cream, yum!

7:00 pm – Depart Victoria

With a full tummy and phone full of FOMO-worthy photos make your way back to the Clipper for 2-hour and 45-minute cruise back to Seattle. Enjoy the boat’s outside upper deck for views of Clover Point and the Trial Islands cruise back across international lines. Keep an eye on those Olympics as sunset approaches, you’re front and center for the best show in the Northwest.

Duck out onto the back deck of the Clipper V to catch amazing views as you cruise out of the Inner Harbour.
Duck out onto the back deck of the Clipper V to catch amazing views as you cruise out of the Inner Harbour.

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