Family weekend jaunt to Victoria

Victoria is great for a weekend jaunt across the water.  Close to home but far enough to make you feel like you went away.  We went there many times without kid, then with 1, then 2, and now with 3 kids in tow !  The day before we go I like to print out a map of our hotel and surrounding places (restaurants, point of attractions, convenient shops, etc).  I also jot down a tentative itinerary for our four days there.  Listing things we can do and places we can go if the weather is nice or if it's cloudy and rainy.  I do this every time we travel, to give us a frame work to shape our day, to save time and to ensure all the must do items are covered.  For me, I want to visit Hatley museum while the girls said they must visit the bugs zoo.

For this trip, I booked it through BC Ferries Vacation, which includes ferry reservation, ferry rides, and hotel. It's convenient and now with family of 5, I need that extra booking help of an agent with finding us a family room for a steal !  My agent, Kathie, was friendly and helpful.  When posted pictures on fb about this trip, I realized a lot of people don't know that BC Ferries has a travel center that grouped hotel and ferry cost into an affordable package. We saved a lot booking through them vs booking hotel and ferry separately (if you know me, I am all about price comparison and finding deals :)  We saved close to $100 per night at the hotel we picked and also saved the $15/day hotel parking.  I worked out, with the package, ferry ride both way is over $200 so hotel works out to be about $200 a night.  The hotel website quoted me over $300 so this is a deal !  The room we booked is a suite, with full kitchen, so it's a plus.  We will definitely go this route again with BC Ferries.

The ride

The drive to ferry was smooth and put baby Peanut to sleep.  Yay !  When we about to board, C realized he forgot the stroller and I realized I forgot my ergo carrier at home :(  No no no no no !  I can't believe it !!!  The most important item to take and we both forgot ! I even walked around the house to ensure we got everything too.  Oh well, we'll have to pick up a cheap one once there.

We had lunch on the ferry, trusty Triple O :-)  Can't go wrong with chicken tenders and greens.  We had our fill then let the kids blow off their energy at the small play area.  There's free wifi so we quickly logged in to check on the weather and news then logged off.  We want to limit being connected, just so our brain can really rest.

Hotel check in isn't til 4 so we went and check out Hatley castle.

The castle is quite magnificent !  I was picking between this one and Craigdarroch but I opted for Hatley when I read the latter one was reportedly haunted and I am not into that.  Hatley's ground is very well kept.  We went on a Friday so it was quiet.  They were setting up for a wedding and Peanut is wide awake so we decided opt out on the tour.  He would be agitated and we can't see everything due to the wedding anyways.  The visit was a nice stop on the way to hotel.  The girls ran up and down and around this place.  They should be tired and ready for dinner !

We arrived to our hotel, Parkside Hotel & Spa Victoria, a little before 4pm but they let us check in early.  Front desk staff was super nice and friendly.  Our suite was nice and quite huge, over 600 sq. at least.  I like the modern decor and the kitchen with a breakfast counter.  The kids love the huge pool and hot tub and the koi fishes.

Right in front of this hotel, cutting through beautiful yard of St. Ann's Academy, is Beacon Hill park !  Our kids will love the green space.  From here, it's a walkable distance to all other main attractions.  It's just right at the skirt of the downtown core, no car fumes, less crowd, and not noisy.  Quite peaceful here !  The coffee shop downstairs make a delicious Americano.  My husband planned to visit it twice a day.

After touring the hotel and settling in, we went out for dinner then back to our room.  The kids were excited to go swimming at the hotel's pool.  We were excited to use the hot tub.

Hotel guest area

Khoi pond that's a hit with our kids

The big pool, starts at 3 1/2 feet deep

Our suite, queen bed in the bedroom with queen pull out sofa.  Fully equipped kitchen, dining area, laundry closet with a small washer and dryer,  and living room with a big screen TV. 

Bedroom connected to bathtub that's connected to a bathroom (with a standing shower in there)

Private patio with a patio set

Hotel roof top area with benches and patio sets for guests use
Day 2

Morning we went wandering around downtown Victoria, grabbing some warm drinks to keep us toasty !  My phone reported 17 degrees but the city is surrounded by water so it's quite cool and windy at times.  I love the charming heritage look of Victoria city.  No tall glass high rises and no box like buildings.  There are many local brands/stores on the main shopping district.  You don't find Starbucks at every corner.  I sense there's a strong support for local shops here.

Picked up a carrier from Walmart.  I was hoping to pick up a used Ergo on Craigslist but couldn't find any.  Still mad at myself for forgetting my Ergo at home :-S

After lunch we head to Beacon Hill park, about 5 min. walk from our hotel.  This place is a beauty.  It's the highlight of this trip for me.  The kids love the petting zoo with loads of goats and peacocks wandering around.  After petting the goats, we went on a short hike and let the kids run wildly up and down the hills.  Admission to the zoo is by donation and the lady at the gate gave us a peacock feather for souvenir!  How nice is that ?

After dinner and some rest in our hotel, we headed downstairs to the pool.  The kids love swimming in there !  Even more so after they discovered the swimming wings (allowed them to swim in the deep end).  I like the pool here because it is not very crowed.  Usually there're 2-4 other kids and less than 5 adults.  C especially liked the hot tub !  He and I switched holding baby so the other can have some soaking time !

This is the first trip as a family of 5 and the kids behaved so well !  Yay for future road trip !

Day 3

We went to the bugs zoo as per the girls request.  It's a small little place with lots of creepy crawlies.  The kids went nuts, screaming and cringing.  I was lining up to touch a tarantula spider but Peanut was hungry and won't stop whining so we left.  We all got our hands stamped on the way out, this way we can return later in the day.  The admission price is for all day access !

After feeding Peanut, we went for lunch then back to the hotel to pack for the beach !!!  Willows beach is a 10 min drive away, a really nice sandy beach with loads of drift woods.  I fell in love with it the moment we set foot on the sand.  Quiet, not crowded, fine soft sand, and free parking.  I walked around exploring the beach with baby Peanut, while C and the girls collected drift woods and built a hut !  C always built something at the beach :)  He is made to be an architect.

While waiting for our food at Red Fish Blue Fish, we watched the water boats coming and going.

Red Fish Blue Fish's taco !  Seriously delicious.  We make a stop here every time we're in Victoria.

After the beach, we went out for dinner then back to the hotel for a visit to the pool :-)  No matter how fun the day is, it isn't quite complete without swimming !  For our 2 girls that is.

Going home

We went out for breakfast on our last day then back to hotel to pack up.  Before heading home we wanted to visit Willows beach again.  We hang out there for a couple of hours, enjoying the hut C built the day before !  Our time were spent lazying around !  The beach was quiet today.  The sky was blue, calm and clear.

Waiting for a seat at John's Place.  It's so crazy busy here.
Story of my life !  Always late for the camera !!!