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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Coastal Cool in Victoria

3. What to Do

Troll the stands of island-grown produce at the cavernous Victoria Public Market.  

Shop like a local foodie at Victoria Public Market, which buzzes with year-round locavore activity. Sample a creamy chevre or tart raspberry cardamom jelly from Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, or order a whisky-bacon, lettuce, and tomato, served with pesto mayo on ciabatta ($6.50) from Ravenstone Artisan Meats, which also proffers an impressive selection of locally pasture raised meats. Shop for Danish sea salt flavored with blue cheese ($3), roasted almond-hemp butter ($7), or free-run Island-raised eggs ($5 per dozen) at the Grocer at Hudson. Hardy winter picnickers assembling their own meal will spring for seasonal farm produce, mushrooms, local hard cider, and wines at the Wednesdays Farmers’ Market (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), with tables assembled within the Public Market.

Get lost on foot amid Victoria’s nineteenth-century downtown streets, of late filled with independent boutiques and geeky finds. Smoking Lily sells island-silkscreened attire (such as narwhal-screened bamboo jersey “underlovelies,” $16) at their new shop, the Milkman’s Daughter, and their four-by-eleven-foot, closet-size flagship location. Nearby, bibliophiles will adore the new titles in Munro’s Books, co-founded in 1963 by Nobel winner Alice Munro; and Cherry Bomb Toys, chock-full of the retro toys and puzzles you’d thought lost forever, such as a Strawberry Shortcake figurine ($5). Rifle through the racks at Northwesticana-clothier shop Sitka, where a BC-made, hand-knitted Cowichan sweater ($280 comes with a side of environmental activism; shoppers needing a paper bag can choose between three environmental causes to support, but must donate $2).

Take a sip from Victoria’s flourishing spirits scene. Sidle up to the bar at the Drake Eatery, a craft-beer parlor with over two dozen rotating West Coast toasts on tap. Sample the Saltspring Crème Brulee Stout or Brassneck Passive Aggressive Pale Ale (four-ounce samples from $2), while relaxing amid the upcycled décor (such as table bases made from retired tires). Then snag a seat at the windowless, alleylike Little Jumbo to watch the zippy mixologists pop and shake like rock stars, making wryly named drinks such as the Red Woman (yes, that’s a Game of Thrones reference) featuring Ampersand gin, black-currant jam, and egg white ($11). Finally, settle into a leather-upholstered chair and peruse the fireplace-lit menu at Clive’s Classic Lounge, with more than five pages of American, Canadian, Japanese, Scotch, and even Indian whiskeys (pours $4.50 to $23).

Published on Jan 22, 2015 as a web exclusive.