As much as we Seattleites die a little when people say “Pike’s Market” instead of “Pike Place Market,” it’s probably a little the same up in Vancouver when people think Victoria and Victoria Island are the same place too. As neighbors to the south, we know that Victoria Island does not exist, but Victoria on Vancouver Island with kids is such a fun trip and since Vancouver Island is close to Seattle and we have family up north, I jump at any chance we get to visit Canada, no matter where in Canada it is.
When my sister ended up having a class at the University of Victoria for a few weeks this summer, my kids and I decided to head up for a couple of days to hang out with her family and explore the area too. Since the hubby was working, it would just be me and the duo traveling so we decided to try the Victoria Clipper for the very first time. I was very curious to see what this fast ferry would be like coming straight from Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. This would be our first time heading to Vancouver Island without a car and this was my first time traveling to Vancouver Island with kids without my husband so I was a little apprehensive on how things would turn out.
We followed all the directions given to us by the Clipper and I made sure I had our passports and a letter from my husband saying that I could travel with the kids without him. I thought about taking an Uber to the Clipper terminal from our house but because there is 4 hour street parking nearby, I just drove my own car and parked on the street and took a picture of where I parked and the hubby picked the car up on his way home from work.
The first part of our ferry ride was really smooth and we even saw a seal float by and a a few whales spouting in the distance. We are big fans of the Alaska Air cheese plate and the cheese and fruit plate on the Clipper is equally fantastic- we even ended up buying a second one. We also got a Ginger Ale because I thought that Ginger Ale might help on the boat if things got a little rocky, and things really did get rocky on this journey. We were on the top of the ship and the sea was very rough for about an hour of the ride. My guys and I were fine eating our snacks and playing games on our devices but there were many people on board this ride that became seasick and when I asked about it I was told this was an unusually rough crossing. The staff on the ship was so helpful though-they came around multiple times to make sure everyone was okay, they had free seasickness medication and they handed out ginger candies and sick bags. I noticed another mother who was traveling alone with a baby and a small child and a staff member was extremely helpful with that family too.
When we arrived in Victoria it was really easy to find a taxi and get a ride to the University of Victoria where we would be staying with my sister and her family in an apartment-style dorm for our first night on the island. The taxi ride was about 30 dollars and it seemed like it would be easy to get taxis in Victoria if we needed to. The University of Victoria campus is gorgeous. We played in the grassy courtyards, searched for deer on an evening walk and we played at the nearby beach playground at Cadboro Bay and ate some delicious sushi from Mustuki-An. My guys liked pretending that they were University students and had fun buying their own breakfast in the cafeteria the next morning too.
The next day my brother-in-law drove us into downtown Victoria where we rode one of the little green water taxis, hung out with the goats at Beacon Hill Park and lunched at Big Wheel Burgers (Ps. They have Gluten-Free and Vegetarian options as well as awesome milk-shakes). We ended the night with some yummy ice cream at Chocolats Favoris and the boys and I stayed downtown at the Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour so we could visit the Royal British Columbia Museum in the morning. I was really excited because our hotel was a short walk to Murchie’s which is a tea place I always love to stop at when I visit Victoria and Munro’s Books,a gorgeous bookstore in an old Bank of Canada building from 1909.
I have been wanting to go to the Royal BC Museum forever, and it has reciprocal membership with Seattle’s Mohai family plus membership through affiliation with the NARM Association so we were able to visit for free. (Being a member of Mohai plus has been so great for family travel-it is one of our favorite memberships in Seattle.) The boys especially loved an area where we learned about fish. My parents also came to visit Victoria and we hung out with them in Fan Tan Alley and ate ice cream at Kid Sister Ice Cream before we had to get ready to head back home to Seattle; the ferry terminal was only a short walk from the hotel. Our trip home was perfect-the boys and I checked in early, cleared customs and boarded the ship where we found great seats, ate our cheese plate and Ginger Ale, had no rocky waves and we watched the sun set as we sailed into the city where my husband picked us all up and drove us home. This was a really easy trip for me to do alone with the kids and we are even talking about making this an annual tradition. Vancouver Island with kids is a great family vacation from Seattle!
(PS. I received a media discount to try the Victoria Clipper, but these opinions are my own and we really enjoyed the convenience of traveling to Vancouver Island from Seattle without having to drive.)
(PPS. I booked The Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour with points I have saved up from all our recent Marriott stays and I loved that we still had a really beautiful room and were treated really nicely despite staying for free. We’ve really loved our Marriott stays this past year and this location was really convenient in Victoria.)