Victoria/vancouver Island-2 days

Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:26 AM
  #1  
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Victoria/vancouver Island-2 days

My husband and I will be traveling to Vancouver Island in late April for 2 nights. We will have our rental car arriving in Sidney Harbor in the AM. Since we have a car, we'd like to do a couple of short drives in the area (1-2 hours)(to see the scenery), also we'd like to do a 1-3 hour bike trip. We know we'd like to see the famous gardens as well. Any ideas? We are also trying to decide where to stay. Either in Sidney, Victoria or Sooke harbor area. We prefer small and quaint (up to $150 US) as opposed to larger hotels that cater to the day tourist throngs. I am thinking we should just stay in Victoria for both nights because it's supposed to be a good walking town and is centrally located. But, both the Sidney and Sooke harbor areas look nice, too! We would like to have dinner at the Sooke House in Sooke Harbor. Has anyone eaten there? It's supposed to be delish. It looks like a short drive from Victoria. Too many decisions, not enough time!!!Thanks for any thoughts on this matter.
Roadster is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 12:35 PM
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LOL @ "tourist throngs" in Canada in late April (I hate it when that happens)

I think you should stay in Victoria both nights too, if you've never been.

My favorite attraction in the area is the big castle up on the hill in Victoria ~~ "Craigdarroch Castle" (spelling uncertain).

Have to wait for other replies regarding the sightseeing drives.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 01:23 PM
  #3  
 
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For cycling, search "Galloping Goose Trail" for an excellent cycling option.

Sooke Harbour House does have a very good restaurant and has seen some of British Columbia's best chefs pass in and out of its kitchen doors. However, some visitors feel a little let down relative to their high expectations given the superlative praise SHH tends to garner in the international press. In my personal view, it's good, but it isn't that good. I actually think the restaurant at the Aerie Resort is better: www.aerieresort.bc.ca -- it's a 20 minute drive North of Victoria. Also, the wine mark-up at Sooke Harbour House is over-the-top ridiculous. I have no problem with a $400 price for a bottle of wine purchased 10 or 15 years ago at $100 -- it does cost money to carry an inventory -- but I choke over a $175 price for a bottle which can be had immediately at an Island liquor store for $50 (as was my first-hand observation on my last visit). No wonder they don't post their wine list on their website! Precious of them.

Within Victoria, for restaurants, I would recommend Cafe Brio or Brasserie L'Ecole. Neither has views, though. Restaurants in Victoria need to be approached with a certain degree of suspicion -- as is probably the case everywhere, the benefits of the scenery seem to foster complacency with the quality of the cuisine.

Sidney is a nice little town, but I wouldn't pass up Victoria to stay there. "Sooke Harbour" is somewhat of a misnomer: Sooke has a harbour, but it isn't a centre of commercial activity e.g. shops and restaurants. Sooke Harbour House is off on its own in a residential neighbourhood, although it does have a very nice park/spit to walk on right outside its door. To stay there, however, would be well beyond your budget. There are B&Bs within walking distance of it, however.

Given the tax (~17% on hotel rooms) and currency situation (~1.2:1.0) , you're basically looking for a base rate per night of about $150 Canadian. Others may have B&Bs to recommend. If you could stretch out a bit further, I would recommend Abigail's Hotel.

littlemountain is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 02:29 PM
  #4  
 
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In regards to going to Sooke Harbour House for dinner. While it is a "short drive from Victoria" it's a very windy road and one that I would not want to drive back on after having wine or a drink with dinner.
Cruiseryyc is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 03:15 PM
  #5  
mms
 
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We just stayed at Abigail's last week and loved it! It is a short 5 minute walk to the inner harbor area and about 2-3 blocks to Beacon Hill Park. The hotel is very nice, and the staff were very helpful the entire time. I had checked rates a while back and Expedia had a cheaper rate than their website, so I called and they matched it ($122 USD). The hotel has a really nice breakfast and then at 5pm each day an appetizer and wine (wine is a small fee) hour in the library. We were very pleased with both the location and the hotel itself.
mms is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2006, 07:29 PM
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Don't laugh, NorthwestMale (if you were). Lots of easterners come out in winter. I had relatives who had difficulty getting a hotel room in Victoria one February.

"Restaurants in Victoria need to be approached with a certain degree of suspicion -- as is probably the case everywhere, the benefits of the scenery seem to foster complacency with the quality of the cuisine."
You've certainly got that right, littlemountain!

I also like the White Heather tea room in Oak Bay. There are really only a few options for back road drives on the peninsula. You can take the scenic waterfront drive out of Victoria through Cordova Bay with a stop at Mattick's Farm perhaps. Then it becomes a little tricky because further along you can veer off right and zigzag around and eventually turn right onto Lochside which brings you to the market barn on the corner of Island View Road. Trust me, you'd need a map. Crossing the highway there takes you to a chocolate shop which is a nice spot for a coffee and muffin.

I would omit Sooke from your choices of places to stay.
April is offline  
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