things to do in Victoria BC
Victoria BC

Victoria is just 25 miles from Port Angeles, the closest American shore. That鈥檚 25 miles closer to America than its Canadian mainland. But the quaint British Columbia capital feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of US city life thanks to its walkable streets, historic architecture, and generally upbeat culture. 

Like its residents, its gardens tend to be bright and cheerful 鈥 thanks in large part to incredible Victoria BC weather patterns. Tucked within the Olympic Rainshadow, the small metropolitan hub gets 308 days a year with sunshine! So whether you鈥檙e looking for indoor activities or plenty of fresh air, there鈥檚 a wide variety of things to do in Victoria, BC. 

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restaurant dinner
Restaurant

A West Coast gem, Victoria is often praised for its picturesque harbor, historic architecture, and tepid weather. But the food scene here is equally as enticing. And the city鈥檚 not without its culinary cred. 

The British Columbia capital is the scene of Canada鈥檚 first brewpub. The nation鈥檚 first chocolatier opened up shop along the cobblestone streets. It鈥檚 been recognized as one of the best places to , is home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada, and its neighboring wine region has been not so silently earning attention.聽

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Roche Harbor by Jack Riley
Roche Harbor Resort by Jack Riley
Photo by Jack Riley

You don鈥檛 have to be a boat lover to enjoy this boater鈥檚 paradise. Roche Harbor鈥檚 richly preserved history offers nineteenth-century clapboard buildings, old gardens, and incredible sunsets 鈥 all perfect for relaxing. Enjoy local seafood, some of the best doughnuts in the Pacific Northwest, and views of the surrounding mountains. 

Whether you arrive by boat or seaplane, be sure to keep an eye out for pods of local orcas. They can frequently be seen playing in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands, especially during the summer months.

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Exploring Orcas
Orcas Island Summer Getaway

A towering peak, protected pebble-covered beaches, and a thriving farm-to-table food scene has earned Orcas Island a cult-like following. Visitors and locals alike rave about the horseshoe shaped gem, where the sun is more likely to shine than not and the views abound. While it鈥檚 hard to go wrong with any activity, the following showcase some of our favorite things to do on Orcas Island this summer.聽

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Nancy McDonnell Spaulding
San Juan Island Artist and Author Nancy McDonnell Spaulding

鈥淥ne of the things that drives my art is the desire to protect beautiful places,鈥 said . An accomplished San Juan Island artist and newly published author, Nancy鈥檚 work does so by showcasing simple pleasures 鈥 often found tucked among awe-inspiring sights.聽

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Emerald Queen Casino de Havilland Otter
Emerald Queen Casino Seaplane

While technically a part of Washington State, San Juan Island feels a bit like a foreign country. Heck, some of its rocky coves are closer to Canada than the American mainland. And traveling from Tacoma to San Juan Island is no small feat 鈥 until recently. Reaching the quaint Olympic Rainshadow destination is now as simple as catching a 55-minute scenic flight from Tacoma鈥檚 Ruston Way seaplane terminal. 

Located within the Olympic Rainshadow, San Juan Island offers a sun-filled reprieve from the drizzle of T-town. The following outlines the four most common ways to travel from Tacoma to San Juan Island.聽

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top things to do in Victoria this summer
Victoria BC summer activities

Renowned for its breathtaking beauty, walkable streets, and preserved historical elegance 鈥 this compact urban hub is rife with things to do. While 痴颈肠迟辞谤颈补鈥檚 mild climate lends it to year-round exploring, the city shines during the summer 鈥 and not just in the picturesque downtown, where floatplanes land in the harbor and whale watching tours depart.

The rich diversity of British Columbia鈥檚 capital glows among its neighborhoods, stretching up the coast and into the interior of Vancouver Island. It is a captivating mix of cultures, from Canadian and First Nations to Chinese and European. Castles. Wineries. Totems. Wildlife. Views. There are more than 70 unique and exciting things to do in Victoria this summer (and throughout all of Vancouver Island)! So whether you make it a Victoria day trip, weekend or extended stay, you鈥檙e sure to have fun.

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Friday Harbor House Fire Pits
Fire Pits at Friday Harbor House

Island life is slow and beautiful in Friday Harbor. Here, the streets feature roundabouts rather than stoplights and restaurants showcase farm-to-table cuisine. Perched one block above the Friday Harbor Marina, is ideally positioned for the ultimate weekend getaway. 

This quaint San Juan Island hotel offers expansive views of seaplanes landing and ferry boats docking. It鈥檚 conveniently located within walking distance of the entire downtown core, while still feeling removed enough to give you a sense of solitude. Not to mention, it鈥檚 home to one the best restaurants on the island 鈥 The Restaurant at Friday Harbor House. 

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Hotel de Haro at Roche Harbor Resort. Photo by Jack Riley
Roche Harbor Resort Hotel de Haro. Photo by Jack Riley

While summer boating roots run deep at Roche Harbor, this historic destination also blooms during the shoulder season. The site 鈥 a former lime quarry and manufacturing plant in the late 1800s 鈥 is now the pinnacle of luxury on San Juan Island. Modern lodging options (along with more modest historic ones), a host of dining establishments, and a plethora of nearby things to do make Roche Harbor the ultimate destination for families, couples, and gal-pal getaways.

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Sunrise from Mount Constitution by Travel Trend
Mount Rainier at Sunrise from Mount Constitution by Travel Trend

Sunsets in the San Juan Islands are visceral. Visits here seem to draw you to rocky shorelines and towering peaks (we鈥檙e looking at you Mount Constitution) to bask in the burst of burnt oranges and bright magentas as they fade into gentle pastels. While no one island in this remote archipelago far surpasses another, Orcas Island sunset locations do include the tallest peak and most convenient 鈥榯own鈥 access.聽

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