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sanderskn Nov 3rd, 2014 10:41 AM

Victoria questions for 30th birthday trip
I am in the process of planning a surprise 30th birthday trip for my husband for May 2015 (4 nights). Right now I am strongly considering Victoria, BC. My husband grew up in Seattle and his immediate family and many friends still live there, although we live in California now (Bay Area).I know my husband went to Vancouver frequently in high school with family and friends. I personally have never been to Canada, which seems crazy considering I've been to Europe and Asia many times! I'm looking at either BC, Canada or Washington state because more of his family and friends would be able to go.

He really likes outdoorsy stuff and I would love recommendations on going whale watching and also on a company with whom we can charter a deep sea fishing boat. How do you think the weather would be for these activities in May?

My husband is also a big foodie so I would appreciate recommendations on a good restaurant to set up a birthday dinner for 10 to 15 people. Willing to spend a bit of money on that one. Hoping to get a group of family and friends to come up from Seattle. Any other advice on fun things to do also. I would look forward to going to going to the gardens.

Also I know Victoria is a smaller city but any advice on spots to go out on the actual birthday celebration night? Do you think we should go to Vancouver instead? Would there be more to do there celebration wise? Honestly we would want one night of celebration and then the other days on the trip spend doing whale watching, seeing natural sights and doing things in town, etc.

I know this is a lot of questions. Thanks so much in advance for your advice.

NorthwestMale Nov 5th, 2014 01:53 PM

Be aware that the logistics of getting from Seattle to Victoria, just 73 miles, are enough to suggest that Vancouver may indeed be a much better choice!!

(the more people you get to go to the party, the greater the effect of the aggravation of getting from Seattle to Victoria)

It's challenging enough that some will have to get either a passport OR an enhanced driver's license to go from the Seattle area to Vancouver, in order to join you. To increase their expenses and time invested by a great deal won't exactly make more people want to join your party.

The fact that YOU have never been to Canada further suggests that you should select what is often regarded as the most livable city in North America (sometimes the world) for your first-ever visit.

The reminiscing you can do with your husband should be exceptional as you get a tour of Vancouver through the eyes and memories of your now-30-ish husband.

Victoria is less than 80 miles from here, and I've been there once in <b>forty years</b>. (I've even been to <I>Point Roberts</i> since I last visited Victoria ... and talk about a speck on the map)

<I>(I'd go to Victoria in a hurry were it not for the giant natural barriers which make it so difficult to get there)</i>

BC_Robyn Nov 6th, 2014 03:44 PM

Choosing Victoria or Vancouver is kind of like trying to figure out if you should celebrate your foodie boyfriend's 30th birthday with a group of friends in Olympia or Seattle, or Monterey or San Francisco.

If you're looking for a quiet romantic getaway, the smaller city may be what you're looking for. However, based on what you're telling me, Vancouver would be the better fit. If you're looking for a vibrant place to celebrate with a group of friends, given that you're seeking a foodie destination, Vancouver will win hands down (even though Victoria has some good food options, too). I celebrated my 25th birthday in Victoria with my boyfriend in June years ago... and it was really quiet. Victoria's truly lovely, but, for the nightlife and dining options, head to Vancouver. will give you a good overview on Vancouver's foodie destinations. Maybe go to and ask on the Vancouver board for specific foodie restaurant options.

Note that both Vancouver and Victoria have outdoor activities and whale watching. Whale watching in Vancouver will eat up half the day (3-5 hours on the water) while Victoria usually only eats up 2 hours. Orca watching season begins in May, so timing is good. There are also mountains a 20 minute drive from downtown Vancouver, over 1000 acres of rainforest in the heart of downtown Vancouver (Stanley Park), yacht/boat rentals downtown (I'm sure you can find a fishing charter, but it'll be $$$), and all kinds of trails and outdoor wilderness at your fingertips. is a good source for wrapping your head around those options. I guess what I'm saying is, Vancouver may be the larger city, but it's a city with immediate access to wilderness - that's what makes it so unique. Beaches, rainforest, mountains, and fjords, all within a 30 minute drive.

Also, I disagree that getting to Victoria is more difficult than getting to Vancouver. Getting to Victoria from Seattle is pretty easy - just hop on the Victoria Clipper catamaran, and you'll be there in less than 3 hours. It goes from downtown Seattle to downtown Vancouver - can't get easier than that. Vancouver to Seattle is otherwise a 3 hour drive, not factoring in the border waits. Border waits can range anywhere from 15 minutes in length or up to 1-2 hours (and sometimes even longer). You can also take the Bolt Bus (super cheap) from Seattle to Vancouver, or the Amtrak train, which takes, I believe, 4 hours... but it bypasses the border lineup. So technically, getting to Victoria is easier, but it's known for its quaint charming ambiance and tranquility. Definitely not a party destination.

BC_Robyn Nov 6th, 2014 03:47 PM

Gah - minor edit there in the last paragraph. Meant to say, "Getting to Victoria from Seattle is pretty easy - just hop on the Victoria Clipper catamaran, and you'll be there in less than 3 hours. It goes from downtown Seattle to downtown VICTORIA - can't get easier than that."

BC_Robyn Nov 6th, 2014 04:03 PM

One last update, iIf you do decide to go to Victoria, I'd perhaps recommend getting cocktails at Clive's Common, and then hitting up Little Jumbo or Cafe Brio for dinner.

For Vancouver, consider dinner somewhere like L'Abbatoir, Blacktail Florist, Chambar, Bao Bei, Fable, Maenam, Homer Street Cafe, Farmer's Apprentice, Vij's, or Hawksworth... grab cocktails at (well, all those restaurants do excellent cocktails, but also) the Keefer Bar, Pourhouse, Mamie Taylor's, or Diamond Bar, or craft beer at the Alibi Room. Maybe have a wine flight and charcuterie at Salt Tasting Room. Gastown has tons of craft cocktail joints if you're into that. This is just the tip of the iceberg!

Good luck and have fun, wherever you go!

sanderskn Nov 17th, 2014 06:41 AM

Thanks everyone.

AndrewDavid Dec 13th, 2014 11:20 AM

Victoria not a party city???

i don't think UVIC and Camosun College students would agree!

a great place for a party would be GLO pub on the gorge (an arm off the upper harbour). you can get up there by water taxi from downtown

the clipper is easier and quicker imo than have to deal w/ the vagaries of the raolroad and or bus. i got stuck in vancouver once and took the "quick" bus to seattle. it made multipke stops and i think we were an hour at the border w/ the checking of baggage and bodies ;-(

for a 30th b-day party, as in oh my can i really be 30. your husband might enjoy a floatplane transit one way. ythe planes go from south lke union in seattle to the inner harbour in victoria. great views from the plane. transit and flight seeing for one price.


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