Weekend Trip from Vancouver: Victoria, BC

One of the best things about living in Vancouver is how many places there are to explore that can be done within a day or weekend trip.  One of my favourite places is Victoria.  Recently, my parents came up for a visit and we met in Victoria.  I flew via seaplane from the South YVR seaplane terminal on Harbour Air, and they came across on the M/V Coho from Port Angeles in Washington state.


Our first stop was the world-famous Butchart Gardens.  They have nearly a million visitors per year and it’s easy to see why, the gardens are impeccable and absolutely stunning.  We spent a few hours here and enjoyed a picnic on the grounds.


On our way back to Victoria, we stopped at Sea Cider for cider tasting on their outside deck.

We stopped to drop off our things at the hotel: the Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel & Marina.  We were given a great room with a balcony overlooking the marina.  After a quick break and a swim in the pool, we decided to head down towards Fisherman’s Wharf to check out the dinner options, as well as visit the houseboat community.  There is a resident harbour seal community and you can purchase fresh fish to feed them.  We had fish & chips (gluten free for my sis!), wandered around a bit, and headed back to the hotel for an early night.


Gluten free fish & chips!
Gluten free fish & chips!

The next day we had already decided to try The Blue Fox Cafe for breakfast.  There was a bit of a wait, but was well worth it.  We had booked afternoon tea at the Fairmont later in the day, so we spent the midday going around downtown Victoria, visiting various shops etc.

The Blue Fox Cafe
Fan Tan Alley

And soon it was time for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress!  It was so yummy!!

Orange Pineapple Tea


Here is a photo of the view from our hotel balcony of the marina as the sun was setting – what a great Saturday!


On Sunday morning, we went off to explore Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, and the Fisgard Lighthouse. This was the first lighthouse built on the west coast of Canada, back in 1860.   You can explore the fort which includes gun batteries, guardhouses, barracks etc.   This area is also a great birdwatching spot.


Inside the Fisgard Lighthouse

After lunch at the Four Mile House, we went around Beacon Hill Park before the trip back home.  As always, the weekend was too short, but we did a lot and had a wonderful time.

Four Mile House Restaurant
Beacon Hill Park
Peacock in a tree!


Harbour Air seaplane trip back to YVR

*All photos are the property of Charlotte Moore, unless stated otherwise, and may not be used without written consent

Skagit Valley Tulips

I know I said that I was going to feature Thailand during the month of April, but last weekend, while on my way down to Seattle, I visited the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Since the festival only happens during the month of April, and starting earlier or later depending on the tulips, I figured I should write this one up quite quickly.  For 2015, the festival started about a week early, and will go until April 30th.  Skagit Valley Tulips


Rogue red tulip! 

Skagit Valley Tulips

Here the workers are cutting the flowers in the early morning hours before the rest of the tourists arrive! 

Skagit Valley is exactly halfway between Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC, and directly off I-5.  It gets super busy on the weekends (the freeway exits back up), so it’s best to go early or on weekdays.  The show gardens are open from 9am-5pm everyday.  There are 2 main show gardens, RoozenGarde and Tulip Town, plus acres of fields to see.  This is a driving tour, so you’ll need to pick up a map or download it from their website.  Note, it changes every year so you’ll have to make sure you get a new one as the crop fields rotate.  You’ll see tulips, daffodils, irises, and even corn.

Skagit Valley Tulips

I decided to leave Vancouver super early (4:45am), to arrive just at sunrise (6:41am on April 3rd).  None of the show gardens are open then, but I was able to drive around the whole area and occasionally pull off the road for a few photos.   This daffodil one below is probably my favourite.

Daffodils at Sunrise

As you can see, the daffodils are almost finished for the season.  This photo was taken April 3rd. 

Skagit Valley Tulips

Skagit Valley Tulips


Website:  http://www.tulipfestival.org/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/SkagitValleyTulipFestival

When:  April each year.  Bloom times vary so visit the map to find out exactly when:  http://www.tulips.com/bloommap

Where: Skagit Valley, exits 221-231 off I-5.

Show Gardens:  RoozenGarde and Tulip Town.  $5 admission, includes free parking.  At the show gardens, you can purchase bulbs and buy cut flowers.  Open 9am-5pm.

Limited parking on the side of the roads – and sheriffs will ticket you!

*All photos are the property of Charlotte Moore, unless stated otherwise, and may not be used without written consent.

Day Trip from Vancouver: George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary & Steveston

For an excellent day trip from Vancouver, spend the day just 1 hour south of the city at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, and then visit the small fishing town of Steveston.

The George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary

    Northern Pintails

Northern Pintails

The Reifel Bird Sanctuary is the winter home of the Lesser Snow Goose and one of Canada’s top bird-watching sites in the heart of the Fraser River estuary, one hour’s drive from the City of Vancouver, British Columbia.  The Sanctuary is one of 92 protected areas across Canada termed bird sanctuaries by the Government of Canada. The Sanctuary consists of nearly 300 hectares (850 acres) of managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dykes in the heart of the Fraser River Estuary.

Red Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbirds

The fall migration period (October to early December) is the best time to view noticeable large flocks of waterfowl feeding and resting in the estuary and the ponds. The fall viewing is made most spectacular by the arrival of the “Fraser-Skagit” flock of Lesser Snow Geese.  This particular sub-population of snow geese numbers between 50,000 and 100,000 depending upon nest success in arctic breeding grounds on Wrangel Island (Russia). These birds start to arrive in early October and spend the winter at the Sanctuary, in surrounding parts of the Fraser River Estuary (Delta and Richmond) and in the nearby Skagit River Estuary in Washington, USA. They depart for northern nesting grounds in April.  There is an 10m high observation tower at the furthest point of the Sanctuary.  There are also a couple of bird blinds across the trail (just make sure you close the windows and doors when you leave!).

Over 280 species of birds have been recorded at the Sanctuary so there certainly is plenty to see!

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, camera, and wear good walking shoes.  Most of the trails are gravel or grass.  If you are visiting on the weekend, I would recommend arriving early (before 11am) as it gets extremely busy.

“Don’t miss this” tip!  Sunday mornings at 10am – the guided bird walk!  If you’re new to bird watching, this is a great walk for you.  If you’re a seasoned bird watcher, you’ll still enjoy this too!  The guide will point out birds, explain species and behaviors.  They may even know bird calls to teach you.  Highly recommended!  Just drop by, the walk is free with paid admission.

Saw Whet Owl

Saw-whet owl

There are washrooms and a picnic area by the parking lot.  The gift shop sells bird seeds for you to feed the many varieties of ducks.  Children will love it.


Plenty of other wildlife to find besides birds 🙂

More Info:


Where:  5191 Robertson Road, Delta BC, V4K 3N2

Reifel Map

*Map from the Reifel Bird Sanctuary Website

When:  9am-4pm everyday, including holidays! Adults $5, Children and Senior $3

Please note: no dogs allowed.


Stevenston is a quaint fishing village (with over 600 fishing boats!) that sits at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River in Richmond – still officially part of greater Vancouver. Since the 1870s, Steveston has been home to salmon canneries, attracting Japanese, Chinese and European immigrant workers there. Today, the town retains a heritage charm due to the preservation of many historic buildings but has also grown to accommodate an increasing population and tourism industry.

Since 1945, Steveston has hosted an annual Steveston Salmon Festival on Canada Day, July 1.  The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, a National Historic Site, is also found in Steveston.  Recently, Steveston has also become known as “The Gateway to the Orca,” referring to the very active whale watching industry here.  Walking distance from the cannery is the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site.

“Don’t miss this” tip!  Take a quick side trip to visit Mary’s British Home Store.  This small shop, run by Mary Carter, which imports all kinds of tasty treats from England.  They also have a full case of pasties, pies, sausages etc.


More Info:


Gulf of Georgia Cannery


Where: 12138 Fourth Ave, Richmond BC V7E 3J1

When: 10am-5pm daily.  Adults $7.80, Seniors $6.55, Youth $3.90, Family (Max of 7) $19.60

Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site


Mary’s British Home Store

Where: 3740 Chatham St, Ste 4, Richmond, BC V7E 3A6

When: 10am-6pm daily.

All of the photos posted in this blog are mine 🙂  More photos from my trips to the Bird Sanctuary can be found here:



*All photos are the property of Charlotte Moore, unless stated otherwise, and may not be used without written consent.