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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Find Coastal Cool in Victoria

5. Oddball Day

Even in the winter, the lush pathways of Butchart Gardens are worth a stroll.  

Spend a day exploring Victoria’s historic past. Start with a breakfast of poached free-range eggs in a chipotle-tomato sauce on corn tortillas at Mo:le Restaurant ($10.50), and definitely go for the pesto hashbrowns as a side. Head to the Royal BC Museum (admission $13), visiting the natural history exhibit’s 11-foot-tall woolly mammoth; seeking sea monsters in a Jules Verne–like submarine display; and wandering the cobblestones of a re-created turn-of-the-century Victoria, where silent flicks and thrumming trains run all day. For lunch, try Skinnytato Polish Restaurant’s West Coast take on a traditionally carb-heavy cuisine, like the tangy “Nature’s Gift,” a mix of shredded veggies, green apples and raisins in a raspberry vinaigrette ($4.25). Hop aboard a double-decker municipal bus ($2 for a one-way) out to the 55-acre Butchart Gardens (admission $19). In January, the gardens clear out a café for the “Spring Prelude,” filling it with tulips and daffodils, but even in the cold, the grounds are worth a walk: The Sunken Garden, once a rock quarry, is home to rhododendrons, heather, and Douglas Firs all four seasons; and the Japanese Garden offers a maze of carefully manicured rock gardens, waterfalls, cherry-red bridges, and stone paths. Ride the bus back downtown and walk a few blocks to the Victoria Bug Zoo (admission $8), where chatty guides introduce visitors to unusual members of the insect kingdom, including shiny millipedes and palm-size birdeater tarantulas. Close out the day with dinner on the Inner Harbour at Red Fish, Blue Fish, known for its sustainably caught fish and chips with a twist, such as wild salmon tacones with pea shoots and lemon-pickled onions ($4). Dine outdoors at the original up-cycled cargo container (February through November) or, if it’s too chilly, at Fishhook, their year-round sister property.

Published on Jan 22, 2015 as a web exclusive.