Urban Nature and Culture in Victoria, B.C.

Posted July 21, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Hotel-fairmonth-victoria_tea-def Twice in the last several years, British Columbia's capital city has taken the "Best City in the Americas" title. One visit to Victoria and you'll see why. You can go hoity-toity and have afternoon tea, British-style, go low-key at an Asian noodle bar, or get away from it all in a garden of 2,500 roses.

Afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel: This landmark hotel (100 years old this year) on the harborfront is outrageously luxurious and expensive. But you can feel like a well-heeled guest without going broke when you take afternoon tea in the parlor. Raise a pinky to the British ritual as you sample the secret Empress-blend tea and spread clotted cream and strawberry preserves on fresh-baked raisin scones. Pay $50 per person.

Butchart Gardens: In this "City of Gardens," Butchart Gardens is the crown jewel. Jennie Butchart transformed a barren, worked-out limestone quarry in 1904 into gardens that have been in bloom ever since. The most breathtaking section of the 55 acres is the Sunken Garden in the old quarry, but you'll also find amazing displays in the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, and Italian Garden. Get more for your buck if you visit during the afternoon and stay for the free fireworks and live music Saturday nights in the summer.

The Noodle Box: Stop in at this fast-food noodle joint on your way to the beach and pick up the perfect picnic in a box starting under $10. The Southeast Asian noodle bar stir-fries noodles in giant woks right before your eyes and serves them in those great Chinese take-out boxes with wire handles. Try the Thai-style chow mein with egg noodles, sprouts, crushed peanuts, peppers, cilantro, green onion, and soy and ginger sauce, with a side of Malaysian roti bread. An Asian noodle cart experience without the language barrier.

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(Photo: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)

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