i’m really excited to share some photos and a video we made from our time in victoria canada a few weeks ago! we have absolutely loved the chance we’ve gotten to explore some of the most beautiful places this past year as we’ve partnered with fairmont hotels and resorts. traveling with little ones is not the easiest, but i wouldn’t trade the memories and experiences we’ve been able to create together while doing so for anything. i feel really really fortunate that we’ve had this opportunity and i can’t thank fairmont enough for helping make it possible.
this was our family’s first time in british columbia (and canada!) and it did not disappoint. we stayed in victoria, the capital of british columbia, at the fairmont empress, a historic hotel built in 1908 a block from the capital building in front of victoria’s inner harbor. they just finished the first part of a huge restoration project and invited us to come experience some of the hotel’s traditions, see what’s new, and enjoy a bunch of really fun activities for families at the hotel and around victoria! you can check out the tea and garden experience fairmont is currently offering here.
watch the video we made above!
we had afternoon tea (or high tea!) at the empress one afternoon which was a lot of fun! slightly stressful with all that beautiful china and a 20 month old, but gosh i wouldn’t mind having tea like that every afternoon! the entire experience felt very fancy and special.
samson was very into choosing his tea (it was a peach herbal tea that was so delicious) and also watching and waiting for his tea to brew. (you can see his darling face diligently watching the tea timer in the video above, which might be my favorite part.)
this horse and carriage ride to beacon hill park for a picnic dinner on our first evening in victoria was also a lot of fun. that park is beautiful, especially as the sun was setting.
picking a spot to put down the picnic blanket for dinner! fairmont packed us the prettiest dinner spread which you can see below.
when you wanna just sit and picnic (and relax?! lol) but your children are too preoccupied with the ducks and water to really care. haha! our biggest tip for travel with kids is to keep a flexible and open itinerary as you just roll with the punches during your activities. those times where we just say “ok, let’s just watch and follow the ducks with the kids!” over doing what i might have envisioned (calm picnic) is when we have the best time. i often have to remind myself of this when we travel, but when i do, i’m glad i did!
the sunsets on this whale watching excursion were absolutely breathtaking, especially once we got over to the race rocks lighthouse where all of these beautiful sea lions were hanging out. also, we were able to spot over a dozen orca and humpback whales which was incredible to see up close. i don’t know if it’s something i’d recommend doing with little ones (sometimes we don’t have the wisest ideas) only because it took a full hour (at full speed) to get out to the whales (also a full hour back) and that very cold wind from a full speed boat on the water was hard even for me (let alone my kids). just a heads up for anyone interested! do it for the sunsets and whales, just pack every mitten and winter hat and wind protecter you can find beforehand.
still can’t get over this.
one of my favorite meals was breakfast at Q at the empress. the jazz apple and ricotta hot cakes (with whipped mascarpone and caramel) were so so good.
loved checking out the butchart gardens! gorgeous grounds for sure.
also, if you’re looking for a great local lunch spot near butchart gardens, we spent an afternoon at the roost where we had a great meal. it’s a 10-acre farm that also has a bakery/cafe attached and depending on the season, you can check out their wheat fields or pumpkin patches, and other vegetable gardens. we were able to meet hamish who started the farm in the 90’s with his family and he gave us a tour of his incredible car collection which included this cinderella pumpkin carriage that eleanor is sitting in as well as that motorized horse that samson couldn’t get enough of. i’ll take that old beautiful dark blue 1960’s mini cooper, please! ;)
checking out fairmont’s very own observation beehive where conrad proceeded to yell at the bees. haha! it was hysterical. it’s like he remembers that moment last summer when eleanor got stung and he’s still not over it.
something very cool at the fairmont empress is its own small rooftop garden. they invited us up to pick some of their fresh herbs and fruits to use in making our own fresh juice drinks and sodas (fancy mocktails, if you will) with their bartender right after.
we are all about making our own smoothies and juices at home, so this was fun to do with herbs like mint, lavender and rosemary which we don’t normally include in our concoctions at home.
bubbles (one of conrad’s favorite things to say!) are always a good idea.
so are hotel robes in tiny sizes!
lunch outside on the veranda, where the crab, chicken, bacon and avocado sandwich won us over for sure. as did the views.
josh is elated that eleanor will be learning how to play chess at school this year. haha. he’s been working on it with both her and samson for a while now so they all had fun playing chess together (or attempting) whenever we’d stop by the fairmont gold lounge.
conrad on the other hand is more of a chinese checkers kind of guy. ;)
we didn’t know until we arrived in victoria and someone saw samson’s shirt and asked if he was going to the bug zoo, that victoria is home to A BUG ZOO! when we heard we were like, clear the schedule! we must go! and go we did! the kids were able to hold a few different insects and i took one for the team and held the tarantula since samson was dying to but you had to be 18 years old to hold her. (i hate spiders with a passion so it’s difficult for me to admit that holding this spider was actually surprisingly enjoyable. she was just so light and soft!) anyway, that zoo is very very cool and we all loved it.
conrad is our cool little new yorker through and through, never leaving home without his sunglasses these days and insisting on wearing them indoors often (if you try to take them off he gets rather possessive of them and refuses. haha!)
another favorite part of this trip for us was renting bikes through the pedaler and taking a bike tour of victoria (our tour guide, karly, was the sweetest). we biked over to fisherman’s wharf where we fed some fish to the most beautiful spotted bay seals. (you see their beautiful spots really well in the video.) we loved biking along the shore and through some of the local parks and neighborhoods. we stopped at the ogden point breakwater (which you see in the video where eleanor and samson are running and jumping on those walls and finding shells) and that walk right there on the water is truly stunning.
we flew kites at clover point! couldn’t beat that backdrop (and we also ran into some local firemen and their yellow firetruck who were practicing drills there. they invited the kids into the truck and gave them a little tour which made their day. the nicest guys. and i love how victoria has yellow firetrucks over the red here in new york! i’d never seen a yellow firetruck before but i’m a fan.)
other highlights not pictured include our meal at jam cafe (thank you to everyone for the recommendation on my instagram!), our walk through downtown and chinatown, and spending time at the marina and harbor. such a beautiful place.
thank you again to fairmont hotels and resorts for an incredible stay and for sponsoring this blog post.