I’ve been living in Victoria B.C. for about nine months now and I have been loving it here. Due to working two jobs and taking my TESOL certification online I haven’t been able to see quite as much of the island as I would have liked and no I haven’t visited Butchart Gardens yet although it’s on my list. Regardless, I have had enough time to figure out what my favourite parts of living here in Victoria are (so far anyway) so I hope you love find this article on why I love living in Victoria BC and why you should visit both helpful and inspiring.
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I love love love that I live so close to the ocean. Growing up in Kelowna BC I was lucky to live near the big and gorgeous Okanagan lake, but something about the ocean has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s the way the air smells fresh and salty or the fact that just walking along the shore you can see a whole new universe filled with little crabs and barnacles and all sorts of life just waiting to be noticed. It could also be the tide and how the moon pulls the ocean back and forth or the sound of the pounding waves on the rocky shores in a storm, the ocean spray licking at your shoes. Because Victoria is on an island I’m only a short walk or bus ride away from sitting by the sea whenever I please.
Being the Anthropology grad that I am I love the museum in this city. Of the times I’ve visited this year I have especially enjoyed the Living Languages exhibit and the National Geographic Photography Contest exhibit. The Living Languages exhibit is interactive and features a lot of languages native to British Columbia that are either endangered or were looked down upon and beaten out of people in Canada’s dark period of residential school systems. At the exhibit you can go look at words in English and then in another language written out such as Cree or Ojibway and press a button that has a voice recording of someone saying that word in their mother tongue. It’s really quite fascinating.
There are so many unique and eclectic coffee and tea shops here in Victoria that there’s no way I could ever come up with a list of all of them. I have to admit I’m a bit biased but I love Teavana – especially the one downtown with the lounge (I work at the Mayfair location) *Update: Teavana is now permanently closed. But of the smaller shops I would have to say that Bean Around The World and Just Matcha are my two favourites so far. Both very unique and with different engaging atmospheres.
I love buying stuff from thrift stores not just because you’re guaranteed to find something unique but also because it’s one of the coolest ways to recycle perfectly good clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill. There are so many amazing thrift stores here in Victoria and I’m not just talking about Value Village (although the one here is huge). If you like thrifty prices and great deals you definitely have to check out Vintage Funk. They have tons of great records and books and anything you can think of really. If you’re more into vintage and gently used clothing and accessories The Patch is really wonderful as well. They have fun upbeat music playing and are open late into the night – it’s like a thrift party every time you go. Even Macklemore would approve.
There are so many art galleries here it’s hard to pick a favourite. You also don’t even have to go to a gallery to see the art. There’s lots of murals throughout the city that you will discover as you start exploring. If you decide to seek out a piece of art history then one of the coolest places to visit here is The Emily Carr House. It’s not so much a gallery as it is a museum. The house is where Emily Carr lived in painting and writing about the many wonders of Vancouver Island with an interest in the indigenous communities here throughout the early 20th century. You can go explore her garden and home and really get a feel for who she was and how she lived.
Although I haven’t been to any shows and I missed out on Rifflandia due to work, there is always music in Victoria. Whether it’s someone busking at a street corner with a guitar, their music competing over the crowds of bustling shoppers or there’s a stage set up in Beacon Hill Park it’s a rarity when you can’t hear any music in the city.
Everyone here is super laid back. Even though it’s bigger than my hometown, Kelowna, it just feels more relaxed and chill. Maybe it’s because with the big art and music scene and all the thrift stores everyone just seems to be a bit of a hippie. Then again maybe it’s because there’s almost as many dispensaries here as there are Starbucks. Regardless everyone seems super friendly and laid back.
I am an avid reader and lover of book shops. There are so many charming book shops here in Victoria all just waiting to soak up hours and hours of your time. If you’re willing to make the journey to Sidney (about a half hour north of Victoria) they even have a street so full of these magical book shops there is a website (www.sidneybooktown.ca) with a list of their most popular book shops so you can make sure to visit them all!
I have never had so many favourite restaurants before. I will probably have to make a completely separate blog post on this because the list is endless. Definitely be sure to check out Fiamo Pizza And Wine Bar. If you’re just craving a good old fashioned burger, Bin 4 has the best in town. Of course this list is not complete without adding La Taqueria (tacos to die for) . There are so many places to get delicious meals here in Victoria it can be overwhelming. If you want some great ideas and reviews just check out @vicfoodguys on Instagram – they eat at, photograph and review food at all the best restaurants here and have great recommendations.
I love that there is always something going on in this city. Whether it’s the Pride Parade, Car Free Day, Rifflandia, a new cafe or book store you can never get bored in Victoria.
April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies Leaving Footprints. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.