Unwind From Your Business Meetings with a Trip to Victoria
If business or pleasure finds you in beautiful British Columbia (BC), know that your coworkers, family, and friends are going to swoon over any bit of BC you bring home. Get your camera, stomach, and sense of adventure ready for this gorgeous destination. Located on the west coast of Canada, BC is known for its mountainous terrain, Pacific ports, and many parks and protected areas, including Glacier National Park and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Taking a business trip to Canada’s west coast will likely land you in Vancouver, the province’s largest city and one of Canada’s best-known cities around the world. Ranked as the most liveable city in the world by The Economist, Vancouver boasts its thriving Entertainment industry, blooming start-up community [home to Hootsuite], and of course its International Seaport. With access to so many natural resources and an infusion of international culture, it’s no surprise that Vancouver offers incredible restaurants for the frequent traveler looking to add to her [or his] ever growing and very competitive list of “must-visit” restaurants around the world: Vij’s (Indian), The Farmer’s Apprentice (Farm to Table), Hawksorth (Contemporary Pacific Northwest) and L’Abattoir (French/Small Plates) to name a few.
If you need a break from business or after you’ve completed the tasks that brought you to BC and indulged in the best eats that Vancouver has to offer, make sure to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes ready. Vancouver is teeming with activities, beautiful views, and some of the best shopping around.
Walking Shoes Needed
Shopping on Robson Street
This downtown shopping destination is lined with options from well-known brands and international designers, as well as Canadian-only options like the popular department store The Bay. If you forgot any essentials or need to pick up an extra outfit or a pair of tights, Robson Street is the place to come. For more luxe options, head a block north to Alberni Street, the Canadian equivalent of Los Angele’s Rodeo Drive.
If hiking and breathing in some forest air is your idea of the perfect break from a week of work, the Grouse Grind, known by locals as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, might be just the release you need. Your legs might hate you after, but the views from the top of this all in one, four season destination are worth the hike. If you want to give your body a break, but still take in the aerial views of city, sea, and mountains, you can take the Grouse Mountain Skyride up 3,700 feet above sea level to the top. Stay for Theatre In the Sky, a high-definition electronic cinema show or fine dining at The Observatory or Altitudes Bistro. Just 15 minutes from the Vancouver city-center, if you take the speedy gondola ride (8 minutes up!) you can enjoy lunch at the top and be back down in time for your next meeting or appointment.
Vancouver’s pride and joy, Stanley Park is well loved for good reason. This nearly 1,000 acre urban park is home to beaches, landmarks, great eats, and more. The activities are endless: wander along the sea wall and take in the oceanfront views, have a picnic in one of the many green spaces, smell the roses in the gardens. When hunger strikes, stop in at The Teahouse for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, 7 days a week. The restaurant’s building from the 1950s is shaded by surrounding towering trees and has unparalleled views of English Bay. A culinary favorite for locals and visitors, the restaurant recalls the pristine, bright, and airy dining spaces of eras past, with a well-selected wine list and delicious meals. If you make it on a weekend, try their Montreal Smoked Meat Hash or Smoked Salmon Raft.
Not far from Vancouver, a 1 hour and 35 minute ferry ride away, is the province’s capital city: Victoria. Offering breathtaking views and some of the best food and coffee around, Victoria is a great place to unwind after a long week of work and indulge the senses.
Getting to Victoria
Ready for your island getaway? Ferries between Vancouver and Victoria run daily and on the hour from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The ferry schedule may change depending on the season or holidays, so be sure to check the BC Ferries website before you plan to depart.
As you approach Victoria’s inner harbour, you’ll notice the Romanesque revival style (or at least the turquoise tops!) of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the many stately floors of the Empress Hotel. This is British Columbia’s capital city saying, “Welcome!” Once you’re off the boat, be ready to indulge in the many different offerings of the downtown area.
Need a boost? Much like nearby Seattle, Victoria is a coffee town.
Hey Happy Coffee
The new kid on the block, this small specialty coffee shop is doing things a little differently. Offering single-cup service for every order, your cup’s beans are ground, weighed for consistency, and brewed using a pour-over method. With a “brew menu” that changes coffee bean offerings daily, coffee aficionados will be in love. Not so coffee bean savvy? You may want to ask the barista what he recommends or stick to one of their crafty drinks like a mint julep espresso or a honey’d latte with local honey. Grab a house-made bottled cold brew on your way out (they have a regular and a cherry-infused version) for a delicious souvenir.
With two locations, one in Chinatown, the other inside the downtown Atrium Building, Habit Coffee is a popular staple Victoria coffee shop. Featuring locally roasted beans from Bows & Arrows Coffee, their drink and treat options are plentiful. Make sure you try one of their chocolate chip cookies!
Union Pacific Coffee
If you’re looking to relax and people watch or need Internet to get some work done, Union Pacific is the place to come. With ample seating and delicious sandwich and treat options, this brick and beam setting is perfect for lingering in. Check out the nearby Chinatown “Dragon Alley” for a fun, albeit “touristy”, walk-through after.
Tea at The Empress
The quintessential Victoria experience, tea at the Empress has been a time honored tradition since 1908. The tea lobby of the hotel is world renowned, having served afternoon tea to royalty, celebrities, and visitors alike. Enjoy the rich surroundings with antiqued rugs, elegant wing back chairs, hand-carved tables, and vintage furnishings, and then indulge with a signature handmade Empress scone and other pastries and tea-pairing treats. Afternoon Tea starts at 11:30 a.m. and the last seating is at 4:45 p.m. each day with a selection of quality seasonal teas that are created exclusively for the Empress.
As soon as your feet leave the ferry, you may be overwhelmed by all of the dining options around you. These three are not to be missed.
Look for the line of people on Herald Street and you’ll know you’ve found Jam. Popular seven days a week with locals, once you’ve had food at Jam, you’ll understand why it’s worth the wait again and again. An all-day breakfast and lunch restaurant in Old Town Victoria, their homemade fare will have your mouth watering as you read the menu. From green eggs and ham to huevos rancheros to their red velvet pancakes with cream cheese drizzle, there is something for everyone at Jam.
Pig BBQ Joint
“Proudly pulling pork for the people since 2007”, Pig BBQ Joint has garnered attention from The Food Network and locals ever since. For the pork enthusiast, this is the place to go. Try their classic pulled pork sandwich with a side of their bbq beans, crispy fried mac n’ cheese, or homemade cornbread.
Victoria Public Market at the Hudson
Local farmers, fishers, butchers, bakers, cheese-makers, preservers, brewers, vintners, florists and restaurateurs come together under one roof to provide unparalleled options at the Victoria Public Market. Indulge in authentic Mexican fare from La Cocina de mama Oli, sample cheeses from Salt Spring Island, dive into local seafood at Cowichan Bay Seafood, and more. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Continuously voted Victoria’s Best Italian Restaurant, Il Terrazo’s old town courtyard setting only adds to its charm. An internationally-acclaimed wine menu and food options featuring fresh west coast seafood and wood-oven roasted pizzas and meats…if Italian is your favorite, this place is a must.
Lure Restaurant & Bar
Boasting great food, cool cocktails, and amazing views, this fine dining establishment overlooking the inner harbour is worth devoting your evening to. Try the barbecue pork poutine for a fancier take on the popular Canadian dish in a refined, but comfortable setting.
Not quite downtown, you’ll find Bubby’s Kitchen in nearby Cook Street Village, one of the most charming areas in Victoria. When your meal is finished, take a leisurely walk in the surrounding neighborhood to take in the old Victorian houses and friendly Canadian neighbors.
Soak up the Views at Beacon Hill Park
Spanning the shore of the Juan de Fuca Strait, take a stroll in Beacon Hill Park any time of year. Home to the World’s Largest Totem Pole and seemingly endless park space, greenery, and trails, Beacon Hill is an oasis of natural and landscaped beauty for all visitors to Victoria to enjoy. Make your way to Dallas Road for views of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and Olympic Mountain Range across the way. On a clear day, you might swear you can see mountain climbers.
TAGS: business travel city travel