While it’s not yet officially winter in the Capital City, it sure feels like it! Temperatures have plummeted and people are bundled up to face the icy ocean breezes and heavy winter rains. On the clear winter days, Victoria is alive with people outside enjoying the crisp air and gorgeous skies, a welcome reprieve from the wet weather. But we’ve learned how to cope with the soaked streets and found ways to keep our spirits high. Find out the favourite ways locals like to keep the winter blues at bay and stay as dry as possible – no matter how soggy it is!
Eat, Drink and Be Merry!
Victoria is famous for its incredible dining and there’s really no better way to keep those winter blues away! Whether you’re looking for the best soup to warm up with or a place to perch at a bar and soak up the ambience, Victoria’s got it all!
Since 1991, Ferris’ has been a local standby for great food and friendly service. Their entire menu is amazing but for a drizzly day, there’s no better cure than Ferris’ slightly spicy and oh-so-delicious Chicken Penne Soup with wild rice dumplings. For ambience, you can’t go wrong with an evening at Ferris’ Upstairs where diners can come for something more upscale and intimate or grab a seat at the bar at Perro Negro for absurdly delightful cocktails and tapas.
Nestled in the middle of Trounce Alley, you’ll find this long-standing local favourite. This cozy, bustling restaurant is the place in Victoria to find tantalizing tapas, great cocktails and excellent wine. If you’re looking for the place the locals love, it’s Tapa Bar.
If you aren’t looking for The Mint, you might just miss it! Tucked away underground, behind wrought iron gates on Douglas St, this incredibly cozy, eclectic, Victoria dining staple is a must. Here, you’ll find a funky space with an impressive cocktail list, gorgeous wines and great beer on tap as well as a menu that offers an interesting mix of contemporary West Coast, Italian and Himalayan dishes. You have to taste it to believe it!
Located within half a block of each other on Government St, downtown Victoria, these two sister pubs are everything that you could want from an English style pub during the holidays. With stained glass, dark wood and brass accents, these heritage buildings have been turned into two of the most popular pubs in Victoria. Get out of the rain and enjoy a pint or two on a sodden afternoon or pop in for an evening of live music!
As one of the oldest pubs in Canada, The Garrick’s Head is a staple in Victoria’s history. Today, The Garrick’s Head has maintained all it’s heritage charm and expanded to allow more spaces for guests in a beautiful, windowed expansion. This is a great place to shake off a chill or two and watch the world go by!
Art Galleries, Museums and Cultural Centers, oh my!
On a rainy day, there might not be a more peaceful and fulfilling activity than wandering through the exhibits of a museum or gallery. In these places around Victoria, you can go at your own pace, explore the art and learn about the history and ecosystems of this beautiful Island.
At The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, visitors can see a diverse assortment of exhibitions including showcases from their own impressive collection of over twenty thousand pieces of Canadian and Asian collections as well as the permanent Emily Carr exhibit. The Art Gallery is also known for creating, commissioning and hosting important contemporary exhibitions and is an organization that has a vital role in Victoria’s art community.
For over 35 years, the Alcheringa Gallery has been proud to represent First Nations artists as one of the leading Indegenous galleries in the world that specializes in contemporary art from the Northwest Coast. Visitors to this amazing gallery will have access to some of the most forward thinking contemporary First Nations art in the world!
This beloved museum has something for everyone with three floors and dozens of rooms to explore! Visit the Living Languages exhibit, where visitors can hear the greeting of over 34 First Nations languages, and Totem Hall that evokes the feeling of a 19th century First Nations coastal village. Take a tour through Old Town to see what Victoria may have looked like during the Victorian era and wander through the incredible exhibits of our coastal ecosystems. It’s a great way to spend a day out of the cold!
Tucked away in the heritage neighbourhood of Rockland sits Craigdarroch Castle, a late 18th century castle built by local coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir. Visitors can join a tour of the famous castle and learn about what life was like for the upper class in Victoria at the time.
This local museum has nearly ten thousand artifacts from early colonial coastal and maritime life. These items are used and create dynamic exhibits, ensuring these local treasures are always available to the public. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also offers visitors monthly featured exhibits.
This incredible community organization connects visitors to the bio-region of the Salish Sea through interactive and informative exhibits and showcases the life-giving importance of the cold dark waters around Vancouver Island. Here, visitors can tour over thirty separate aquarium habitats, a fully intact Orca skeleton, Coast Salish art, and offers public programming and self guided tours.
Shop Till You Drop…or Dry
It’s always fun to do a little bit of shopping while you’re visiting a new city and when the weather isn’t cooperating for an outdoor adventure, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon! These shopping places are, in our humble opinion, the best places to lose yourself for an afternoon and maybe grab some great stuff while you’re there!
Monro’s Books might be one of the most beautiful bookstores on the Island. In a stunning heritage building in the heart of downtown Victoria, this landmark bookstore is the favourite hangout of local bibliophiles. If you love books and want to spend a rainy afternoon browsing for books, Munro’s is the place to go!
If you’re looking for a shopping experience that’s an eclectic cornucopia, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon browsing Capital Iron. With the feel of a traditional general store, friendly, helpful staff, and incredible high-end goods, this is a place you can get lost browsing in for hours!
At this time of year, you may want to avoid shopping malls at all costs but The Bay Center in the heart of downtown Victoria, is a little different. During the holidays, this lovely city mall has a great vibe with strings of lights that twinkle and Christmas trees all throughout the mall. The annual Festival of Trees to support BC Children’s Hospital is hosted here so you can enjoy a little bit of shopping and see all the trees decorated by the contestants, then vote for your favourite and make a donation!
This incredible, bustling, indoor public market is everything you could want in a local market. From fresh pies and incredible coffee to the best (and healthiest) alternative meat options and bean to bar chocolate, this is your one stop shop if you need to create a thoughtful gift basket or if you’re just looking for a few goodies to take home with you!