Ever watched the “Running of the goats?” Sipped the rare, sweet wine known simply as #3? Pedaled through tunnels of multi-colored leaves?

When it comes to exciting and unique fall activities, Victoria, BC will flat out spoil you. As Seattleites, we are lucky to have this type of captivating getaway at our fingertips. A quick escape from the city on the Victoria Clipper is one of the best ways to embrace the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty as we transition into fall.

Victoria, BC Overnight Getaways

Unparalleled as a destination, the close-knit community of Victoria includes everything from historical landmarks to a burgeoning boutique shopping scene to century-old gardens filled with a dazzling array of plants. All within a 20-minute stroll from the Clipper terminal.

Although a weekend is rarely enough time to experience all greater Victoria has to offer, it is plenty of time to walk through the city’s parks, bike along country roads, cozy up with a cup of tea and get a taste of fall in this growing region.



In the city of gardens, you don’t have to go far to come across a park trail bursting with fall colors. A quick 10 minute walk from Victoria’s downtown core, Beacon Hill Park is rich with forest flora and fauna. Local Vancouver Island garden expert, Scott McDonald, from Gardens British Columbia, suggests heading to the park’s tremendous repository of Gary Oaks to soak in gold and brown hues before swinging by the Rose Garden for late blooms.

If you want to go for a longer stroll (and burn off that extra scone you’ll inevitably eat at afternoon tea), a 20-minute jaunt along the peaceful Dallas Road will land you in the hauntingly beautiful Ross Bay Cemetery. According to McDonald, not only is the park a resting place for some of Victoria’s most famous citizens, but it is also home to 100-year-old trees, such as brilliantly colored elms, Japanese cherries and massive maples. Visit in the morning or early evening, as the autumn leaves and surrounding grave stones become 10 times more mysterious when paired with fog.

Above: Sunlight streams into the Sunken Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens. Below: Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Keith Boone. Fall leaves, Credit: Scott Meis; Japanese Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens.

Of course, a fall garden tour wouldn’t be complete without a trip to The Butchart Gardens to view the Japanese Garden maples dressed in a fiery palette of colors ranging from orange to crimson. As a bonus, stop by the Sunken Garden Ramp adjacent the Bog Garden for an exceptional autumn experience. Glancing rays of sunlight filtered through the trees offers up the perfect opportunity to snap an amazing photo.

(Insider Tip: Swing by the Victoria Public Market and pick up locally-produced eats from Salt Island Cheese, Ravenstone Farm Artisan Meats and French Oven Bakery and enjoy a picnic lunch in the crisp autumn air).


With a quick Google search turning up more than 2,855 farms on Vancouver Island, it’s no surprise that the terms “locally-sourced” and “seasonal” are taken very seriously in Victoria. Hayley Rosenberg, the owner of Nourish (one of our favorite spots to grab a late brunch when in town), recommends checking out the slew of awesome farm-to-table restaurants in Victoria’s downtown core that bring the bounty of the harvest right to your fork.

Head to the modern and airy Zambri’s to grab a slice of ‘za or enjoy a classic pasta lunch at the counter. Pop down the street to Agrius for a rapidly rotating menu of contemporary, French-inspired fare featuring locally raised meat and produce. Over on Fort Street, Fishhook is THE place to go for French tartines piled high with smoked fish, silky cheese and an assortment of other well-paired toppings (when the wind and rain kick up, you also can’t go wrong with their spicy chowders and curries).

Above: Relax and savor authentic Italian dishes in Zambri’s open and inviting dining room. Credit: Zambri’s. Below: Savor open-faced French tartines at Fishhook. Credit: Fishhook.

If you’re up for a short drive, motor 17 minutes out of town to dine amid fall scenery at Nourish’s sister restaurant, Charlotte and the Quail. Rosenberg says, “Be sure to try the Roasted Veggie and Eggs with Cashew Hollandaise.” One heck of a good meal, the dish is both hearty and creamy, and is the current favorite.


When it comes to delicious, thirst-quenching beverages, Victoria has all the bases covered. Pick up a quick rental from Budget and drive through the picturesque Cowichan Valley to explore one of Vancouver Island’s best-kept secrets – its burgeoning wine scene. (Insider Tip: Skip drawing straws over who will be the designated driver for the day and hop on the Cowichan Valley Wine Country Tour and enjoy a day of sampling liquid perfection while someone else does all the driving AND the planning.)

According to local wine expert, Colleen Barrow of Island Time Tours, if you are only able to stop at one of the region’s phenomenal wineries, make it Venturi-Schulze. Barrow states, “One of the vineyard’s owners, Marilyn Venturi, has discovered a new way to produce sweet wine from wild yeast captured on their property. Rich, earthy and smoky, this unique wine (named No. 3) is perfect for fall and can’t be sampled anywhere else in the world.”

Wine not your thing? Nothing screams fall like a sweet pint of cider. If you do end up securing your own set of wheels, stop by Sea Cider’s 10-acre property to sample the seasonal Witches Broom. Crisp and brimming with spices, you will be hard-pressed to find a better beverage that showcases the tastes of the season.

Above: Sip on a flight of cider. Credit: Nick Bentley. Below: Sample Victoria's fine wines. Credit: Island Time Tours; Tea treats. Credit: Fairmont Empress; Steam punk brewing at Terroir. Credit: Lucas Anderson.

Cap off your day by cuddling up with a hot cuppa tea. With Victoria being home to one of the most fabulous tea scenes around, there is no shortage of options when it comes to sitting down for a sumptuous sip. Indulge in the classic Tea at the Empress and be prepared to make some serious decisions when choosing among the impressive number of fine loose-leaf teas.

For a slightly different take on tea, walk down the street to Silk Road’s modern tasting bar to sample what owner Daniela Cubelic describes as “the coziest of fall flavors” – their Snow Apple Spice Tea. Or, head over to Terroir, where owner Charity Hobbs suggests, “Sip on our Ceylon Chai, Alishan High Mountain Eco Fall and Mangalam Assam,” which bring spicy, nutty and malty flavors straight to your cup.


With Victoria’s growing community of like-minded, locally owned boutiques, creating a winning fashion formula has never been easier. Wander past the candy-colored storefronts on the trendy JoLo (that’s Lower Johnson Street for the uninitiated) and expand your horizons beyond your local shopping scene. Duck into Reunion and 8th & Main for a fun, modern and well-edited collection of threads. Pop across the street into adorable Tonic jewelry store to snag delicate hand-made gold and silver baubles.

Above: Explore Johnston Street shops. Credit: Scott Meis. Below, Tonic in Market Square. Credit Scott Meis; Fan Tan Alley. Credit: Scott Meis; Hold General Store. Credit: Nick Bentley.

While it’s hard not to tap out your credit card on Johnson Street, there are more shops to check out on the neighboring Government, Fisgard and Fort Streets. Pick up cute clothes with local flair at the eco-boutique Not Just Pretty, house-sewn and silk-screened creations at Smoking Lily or an array of unique housewares, deliciously scented bath products and more cozy scarves than you can count (seriously, there’s a whole rack devoted to them!) at Fan Tan Home and Style.


Perhaps it’s the cool breeze warmed by the afternoon sun prompting childhood memories, but there is something special about fall that calls for a fun bike ride. If you have the kiddos in tow, Jen Dotson from Thrifty Northwest Mom, suggests, “Rent wheels for the whole gang at the Pedaler and explore the city by bike, which makes it much faster to get round.” (If your kids aren’t avid bicyclists, pick up a cart that attaches to your bike and pull them along).

Cruise along quiet streets lined with colorful trees (we like to call them color tunnels) to Beacon Hill Children’s Farm and mingle with the goats, donkeys, pigs and other four-legged friends. Dotson notes, “Time your visit with the “Running of the Goats.” A kid-favorite, your little tykes’ faces are sure to light up with glee as the farm’s entire African Pygmy goat herd gallops past on tiny hooves.” As you ride back to Belleville Street, Dotson adds, “Make a detour to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is always sure to entertain the kids. Say “hi” to the playful harbor seals along the docks – they will put on quite a show for you!”

Above: Cruise along the Lochside Trail. Credit: Pedaler Tours. Below: Fisherman's Wharf. Credit: Penny Pitcher; Harbor seal. Credit: Darren Labiuk.

If you are looking for more ways to entertain your crew, a mere 15-drive minute drive north of downtown Victoria will land you at Galey Farms. Get lost roaming through the farm’s six acre corn maze and check out a variety of hidden exhibits along the way. Climb up to the platform to get your bearings and fabulous 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape.

On the other side you’ll find yourself in the spooky Ghost Town and Haunted Mansion. Once you escape the maze, hop on a hayride to pick out the perfect pumpkin or stop by the farm market for fresh produce. Thrill seekers looking for a scare should check out the farm’s Festival of Fear, which features four separate venues and two haunted houses bursting with monsters taken from your worst nightmare.

Come to Victoria for spectacular fall foliage and the Fairmont Empress’ world-renowned tea treats. Stay for the region’s undiscovered wine, shopping, gardens and the opportunity to uncover even more of the city’s hidden gems — that warrant further exploration and require a return trip.

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Photo Credits: 1st photo block: The Sunken Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens. Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Keith Boone. Fall leaves, Credit: Scott Meis; Japanese Gardens. Credit: The Butchart Gardens. 2nd photo block: Zambri’s. Credit: Zambri’s. Tartines at Fishhook. Credit: Fishhook. 3rd photo block: Sea Cider flight. Credit: Nick Bentley. Victoria wines. Credit: Island Time Tours. Tea treats. Credit: Fairmont Empress. Terroir. Credit: Lucas Anderson. 4th photo block: Johnson Street shops. Credit: Scott Meis. Tonic. Credit Scott Meis.  Fan Tan Alley. Credit: Scott Meis. Hold General Store. Credit: Nick Bentley. 5th photo block: Lochside Trail. Credit: Pedaler Tours.  Fisherman’s Wharf. Credit: Penny Pitcher. Harbor seal. Credit: Darren Labiuk.