An early British outpost that blossomed into a cosmopolitan center, this harbor city on south Vancouver Island boasts manicured gardens, Victorian architecture, and refined cuisine against a backdrop of Pacific Northwest mountains, forests, and ocean.
1. Dahlias, Japanese maples, and rainfed lawns in autumn dress create a profusion of color at Butchart Gardens, a life-list destination for horticulture fans. Highlights of the 130-acre spread include five sunken gardens, a carousel with a menagerie of hand-carved steeds, and a bronze dragon fountain.
2. A 45-minute tour with Victoria Harbour Ferry shows off the town’s watery side: houseboat neighborhoods, floatplanes on the marina’s harbor runway, Fisherman’s Wharf, and views of the Parliament Buildings along the shore. Keep an eye out for sea otters and seals.