What’s better than a Disney cruise to Alaska? Getting off the ship and spending three nights in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
In the years before we had kids, my wife and I visited Victoria several times. Every Alaska cruise out of Seattle stops in Victoria for their obligatory foreign port, but it’s always a short stop, usually just an evening at the end of the voyage. We always wanted to spend more time in the area, so I planned a few nights in The Garden City to extend our “big family trip”.
After driving from the port to the ferry, riding across the water and driving to the southern tip of Vancouver Island, we arrived to a familiar setting: stunning architecture, a beautiful harbor, and lots and lots of people. Even without a ship in port, downtown Victoria is bustling, and navigating the dense shopping district filled with throngs of people was a challenge.
Tesla or not, I’d rather be walking! So we found our way to our rental home, parked the car for the night and got settled in. We quickly fell in love with our loft, the top floor of a private house overlooking the water, which I found on Homeaway.com. It was our first time using Homeaway and we weren’t disappointed.
As I write these words, it’s nearly a month since our visit and I still miss that view! The front window looked over Clover Point Park and across the water to the mountains of Olympic National Park in Washington. Clouds obscured the mountains when we first arrived, but later that evening I was in awe of the craggy snow-covered peaks.
Once all our luggage was situated, we loaded the boys in the stroller and walked a few blocks over to Beacon Hill Park. We strolled along the eastern edge of the park and soon arrived in the Cook Street shopping district, filled with markets and restaurants. Dinner was at Pizzeria Prima Strada, a local restaurant serving authentic Neapolitan pizza. (We enjoyed the wood-fired pizza so much that we went back the next night!)
The boys enjoyed the pizza, but were more excited by the nearby playground. It featured a huge sand pit filled with toys that would keep any young boy busy for hours. Jamie played with the boys while I did the grocery shopping, planning to cook breakfast in the room and make a picnic lunch for our adventures the next day.
It was a challenge to get either boy away from that playground. We didn’t get to explore everything else that Beacon Hill Park had to offer (which is a lot, sad we missed it) because they were dead set on more playground time. It reminded me of our previous Disney cruise last October, where we spent one day ashore simply walking to a playground where both boys had as much fun as anything we did on the ship.
We had two full days in Victoria, just enough time to get comfortable but not enough to see or do everything on our list. I had two very full days planned out, but life with young boys never goes as planned (ex: the very beginning of this big family trip) so we managed only half the itinerary. We didn’t get out of the house early, but at least we had a beautiful place to enjoy a relaxing morning!
Our travels the first day took us to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, and the second day we drove as far as our Tesla would take us to get to Port Refrew. Those adventures are too big to include in this first story, however we did spend a little time on the lawn in front of the iconic parliament building.
If we had visited downtown more than once I think the boys would have enjoyed running around the grass day after day. As small as Victoria seems compared to nearby Seattle or Vancouver, there is still a lot to do all over town, and I wish we had a full week to experience life in the city.
When we find ourselves heading back to the pacific northwest, I’m sure a few nights in Victoria will be a must. Check back later for a follow up post featuring photos and stories from the beautiful coast of Vancouver Island!