Victoria with Teen Girls
In July, we did a Girl Scout trip with several high school girls, staying at a local Girl Scout property.
Day 1: After a beautiful crossing, we arrived in Victoria. Bought groceries at a Fairways. Impressed by the mix of Asian foods at the grocery store. Made dinner.
Big surprise when we arrived was that all of us got texts about roaming charges. We had wi-fi at our lodgings but had to figure out how to shut off all our auto-updates for when we were out and about. Stop by your cell phone carrier before heading north.
Day 2: We went to the Royal BC Museum. Would not recommend trying to find parking down there and work out a public bus if your lodgings are too far for your group. After that attempt we hiked in each time.
Girls really enjoyed the museum, some more than others. I think some have less attention span but also some have traveled more and seen similar things elsewhere. I always love the Western town upstairs. I remember it when I first came here when I was 7. We had sack lunches on the lawn outside and then did an IMAX movie. Note to Americans: Canadians have some great cookies that we don't. Dare brand with currents and frosting were great.
We got a little shopping in along the main drag, mainly Rogers Chocolates.
We had our only dinner out at Spaghetti Factory. This restaurant is in a historic location downtown and very pretty. That, plus its reputation as being more affordable and likely to please many girls were the reasons we picked it. Note to Americans reading that this location was more expensive than at home and also the menu was somewhat different than back home. My daughter’s fettucine alfredo tasted very different. Surprisingly, two of our party did not get nearly enough sauce on their entrees. The waitress all the plain pasta left and offered to bring more sauce. She acted like this was somewhat normal. Not terrible, but not great.
We did the Ghost Walk offered at the Tourist Centre in the Harbour. The girls liked it and it gave them plenty of creepy stories to talk over. A little gruesome in parts for preteens so think about your group . If in doubt, I’d skip it. Also, I want to mention that the Tourist Centre in Victoria is excellent. They will help you find anything on the island and you can pay and reserve there for most things. Quite impressive.
Day 3: Went to Butchart Gardens and had high tea there. This was a planned event the girls voted on. Frankly, it’s expensive but really well done. There was a lot of food and you will definitely feel full. With a larger group, we got to try 3 teas, no problem. Of course, it was more fun to do a high tea with other girls than your kid brother. We felt the Gardens’ Tea was just as formal and worthwhile as the more expensive yet Empress Hotel. The girls really liked the gardens a lot.
We followed it up with a trip to the nearby Butterfly Gardens about 10 minutes away. Besides tropical butterflies, this little place has bright-colored frogs, lizards and a few birds. The girls really, really loved this place and more than one mentioned it as a highlight of the trip.
We stopped at Walmart outside of town afterward for more groceries. We got our two cars a bit separated from each other in traffic. I did not have a GPS unit since I had planned to rely on my phone. I found it a bit hard to turn my phone’s GPS back ON quickly after I had shut a number of things off two days before. So we ended up driving around until we found our route back. Interesting to see which girls had the best sense of direction. Discovered a local market nearby with Naimano bars, a big hit.
Day 4: We went to Craigdarroch Castle in the morning. I enjoyed it, as an adult who loves history. But truthfully, this was the least favorite activity of most of the girls. They had been to old houses elsewhere, and this was not really a castle in the true sense.
In the afternoon we went to the Parliament tour and did a carriage ride (the other big highlight of the trip). They opted to take a carriage route out by the water instead of the inner harbor, since they’d seen that so well on foot. The Parliament tour proved to be a sleeper hit as well. After starting in the usual fashion, there was a surprise twist to this tour. I won’t spoil it—but go! I would recommend it to ages 12 and up easily. A precocious 10 and up as well.
We also squeezed a bit more shopping in. Munro Books was highly popular as it had been on our ghost walk but turned out to be a great bookstore, spirits aside. Because we had been hiking in to town, we had discovered a couple of great stores a bit outside the “main drag.” You will have to wander a bit to find them but one has a large amount of Dr. Who, Star Trek and similar quirky themed items. Another one has lovely little crystal dragons, some of which were even within price range for our girls.
In the evening we went swimming at the public Crystal Pool. This was really a great pool. The girls were thrilled that most kids and all teenagers were allowed in the hot tub. (In public or hotel pools near our home, it is often minimum age 16 or even 18.) There was also a rope swing, diving boards and a slide that alternated being open. And there was a late evening teen-hour where the adults and little ones all get out. Public pools in our home town often are more heavily life-guarded and require swimtests to swim in the deep end. This one did not—anyone could jump in off the diving board, it seemed. So definitely the expectation is on the parent or guardian to know their kids’ abilities.
Final thoughts: We really enjoyed our trip. Looking back, I probably would have squeezed in a hike. Perhaps if we’d shortened the Museum time and squeezed in the carriage ride, then moved the Parliament tour to earlier or later the last day….Besides the hikes recommended to me on the other thread, there is also a nice walk all the way around the bay. We also did not make it to Oak Bay. This is a nice sized city to take teens to, if you are in the Pacific Northwest. Hope this is of help to future groups.
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Victoria with Teen Girls