I originally wrote this for my friend Lisa, who was visiting with her mom. But maybe it will help you too if you come visit!
Want to visit Victoria but get off the beaten track? Want to avoid the hoards of cruise ship tour busses and t-shirt shoppes?
Here's a fun day trip that Cindy and I take quite regularly. We tend to walk it out and take the bus back, but it's even easier if you have access to a vehicle.
The loop focuses on the Fairfield neighbourhood and Oak Bay, with gardens, beaches and plenty of great food.
On Saturday, start at Moss Street Market #
The market runs from 10AM - 2PM year round, but during summer the number of vendors (and people) swells. The market is at Sir James Douglas school on the corner of Moss Street and Fairfield.
If you're heading out from downtown, in a car, drive along Dallas Road to Moss Street for lovely coastal views.
(Optional) Gonzales Beach #
A few blocks from Moss Street Market is Gonzales Beach. There are lovely benches (and washrooms!) at the top, then an easy wheelchair accessible slope down to the beach. If the tide's out there is lots of sand too. We like to sit on the bench and pretend we own the red house over to our right.
There's some parking at the corner of Ross Street and Robertson.
Abkhazi Garden #
We haven't been here but we walk past it a lot. If you want to spend time at a formal garden without heading all the way to Butchart or wandering around Beacon Hill Park, this is a hidden gem. There's a tea room too if that's your thing. The garden is on Fairfield Road just across Foul Bay Road. Details at https://www.abkhaziteahouse.com/
Gonzales Observatory / Height of Land #
From the gardens, take a right on Fairfield Place up the hill to the parking lot at Gonzales Hill Regional Park. It's a very short walk from the parking lot to the Gonzales Observatory with awesome views of the city from the rocks around the observatory.
We walk a couple of blocks further along Fairfield Place, via a footpath connecting to Denison Road, to another lookout on your right side called Walburn Park. Where from the observatory you can see Victoria and east, the lookout at Walburn Park gives you a 360 degree view, where you can see Oak Bay and Mount Baker on a clear day.
(We call Walburn Park "the height of land" because it reminds us of a lookout in Prince Albert National Park. I don't know why, because they are nothing similar.)
LUNCH! (Delish) #
Back at the car (assuming you left it at the Observatory parking lot), go back down Fairfield Place to Fairfield Road. Turn right and the road magically transforms to Beach Drive. Follow Beach Drive down to McNeil Bay.
(Option: stop at King George Terrace pullout for more views! The Height of Land is behind you and up!)
Halfway along McNeil Bay, turn left on St. Patrick Street and head one block to Delish catering. It's a small house on the right hand side of the street and is our favourite place for a light lunch. You order inside and then sit at small tables on the front lawn / driveway. All the food is awesome, but we almost always get the Quiche Lorraine.
(Optional) Oak Bay Marina #
From Delish, it's a short drive to Oak Bay Marina, where you can look at the boats and walk around Turkey Point (the walking path around the parking lot.)
Oak Bay Village #
Oak Bay Avenue, between Monterrey St (closest to the ocean) and around Amphion Street is a lovely stroll with lots of shops, Ivy Bookstore, Hide + Seek Coffee and more. And it's nowhere near as crowded as Government Street in Victoria.
Willows Beach #
Back towards the ocean now, and continuing along Beach Drive, when you get to Dalhousie Street you'll see a big patch of grass. That's Willows Beach, our favourite beach. Nice sand, logs to sit on, washrooms(!) and the most delightful little tea house run by the Kiwanis club. Have a butter tart, some crinkle cut fries or an ice cream cone.
From this point, we tend to head home on the bus, footsore and full of good food. But you could also head on two more blocks to Estevan Village (more baked goods!), or continue along Beach Drive to Cattle Point for more scrambling around on the rocks, or continue even further to Cadboro Bay Gyro park for more beaches, and on and on and on!