Victoria - the Garden City of the Pacific Northwest

It's like finding of little piece of England tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. Victoria, British Columbia sits on the southern end of Canada's Vancouver Island. The quaint city is a delightful mix of maritime culture and beautiful gardens.

A wonderful way get to the island from the USA is by taking a ferry boat from Post Angeles on the northern Washington coast. The 90 minute ride crosses the Straight of Juan de Fuca before depositing passengers in the heart of the downtown Victoria seaport. While the eastern parts of Canada can seem either American or French, depending on the province, this town has taken on the feel of it's namesake - Queen Victoria.

Being the home to dozens of gardens and provincial, regional and municipal parks, Victoria is known as "The Garden City". The largest and most beautiful is Butchart Gardens, featuring 55 acres and 26 greenhouses. Thanks to the mildest climate in the country, many of the gardens bloom year round. Even the grounds of the municipal buildings are well manicured and stately.

Victoria also provides a wide array of outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, and whale watching tours. Cycling is also popular, with everything from mountain bike trails to guided bike tours through the city. Tours around the city, whether on bike or foot, take in sites like the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia building (above) and the Craigdarroch Castle (left).

This city is mid-sized, boasting a little over 80,000 residents. Victoria is also the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, tracing it's history back to the First Nations people and the settlement of Fort Victoria. In addition to indigenous culture the town also has a long Asian tradition melded into the fabric of life here. Plus, the rugged natural beauty of the Pacific coast makes this a great spot for outdoor adventure is any season.

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