Victoria is a very walkable city. You will find many attractions close to the conference hotel, including the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Parliament Buildings, Beacon Hill Park, and the Inner Harbor itself.
Follow the shoreline from the harbor past Ogden Point, where the cruise ships dock, all the way to Clover Point, where you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the Olympic mountains to the south and Mount Baker to the east. Or take a leisurely stroll through Beacon Hill Park, where you can watch a cricket match or admire the peacocks.
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America. Take a short walk north along either Wharf or Government until you get to Fisgard Street. Explore Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada and certainly one of the funkiest. You will find coffee shops, ice cream parlors, and brew pubs a-plenty on your way to and from Chinatown.
Shoppers can explore the Bay Center on Government Street. If you’re looking for books, try Munro’s, also on Government, founded in 1963 by Jim and Alice Munro (yes, the Alice Munro), or Russell’s, on Fort Street between Douglas and Blanshard. Russell’s has a huge selection of second-hand books.
June is usually mild rather than hot. During the day, expect a high of around 21˚C (70˚F). Evenings can cool down quite a bit, so bring a sweater or jacket.
The Rabbit-less Campus
The University of Victoria (“UVic”), located about 6km to the northeast of downtown, is what we Canadians call a “comprehensive” university. Basically this means a mid-sized university with a comprehensive set of undergraduate and graduate programs but no medical school. UVic has about 20,000 students.
Until quite recently, UVic was home to a colorful collection of domesticated rabbits (“UVic bunnies”). The university’s verdant park-like campus suited these prolific breeders very well. Lots of nicely watered grass to chew and ne’er a predator in sight.
What happened to the rabbits? Well, they were too successful. The rabbit holes became a nuisance. So at great cost to the university, they were humanely trapped and transported to various “rabbit farms” across the continent, including one, believe it or not, in Texas. I haven’t seen a rabbit since.
Where to Eat
There are many good restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. In fact, Victoria's food culture has flourished over the last fifteen years or so. My colleague Andrew Murray has conducted years of painstaking and arduous research in this area. Here are his favorite eateries. Andrew will be attending some of the events at the conference, so don’t be shy about asking him where to eat.
Attractions Further Afield
If you plan to spend an extra day or two in Victoria, there are many things to see and do outside the downtown core. Below are a few suggestions. For a more complete list, visit Victoria Tourism.
The Galloping Goose Trail
For a good view of the city, hop on a bus to Mt. Douglas or Mt. Tolmie and hike up one of these “peaks.” If these climbs strike you as too tame, make your way to Goldstream Park and hike up Mt. Finlayson.
If you enjoy gardens and don’t mind paying to see a truly spectacular one, visit Butchart Gardens, 30 minutes to the north of downtown. The front desk can give you information about bus departures to Butcharts.
There are many beaches to visit, from the spectacular beaches to the West of the city in the rural communities of Metchosin and Sooke, to the beaches in the neighboring municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich. You will need to rent a car to visit the beaches to the west, but the city beaches to the east and north can be reached by bus, moped, or bicycle. Get yourself a map and off you go.
On the Water
Whale watching is popular in the summer, but be prepared to get wet as you bump the waves in these high-powered boats. For a more tranquil water activity, rent a kayak and explore the Gorge from the Inner Harbor all the way to Portage Inlet.