The Whale Museum’s exhibits illustrate the natural history of marine mammals, placing special emphasis on the three orca pods that frolic in San Juan waters from May through September. Visitors can watch a looped 30-minute video on Pacific Northwest whales, or listen to the songs of various species in the Whale Phone Booth, which doubles as a superhero transformation chamber. Members enjoy discounts on educational programs and 10 percent off at the museum store.
Docked inside British Columbia's former Supreme Court building in Bastion Square, the Maritime Museum of BC provides visitors with a bridge to the province's past through an affluent collection of nautical and legal treasures. More than 35,000 unique artifacts—plus 40,000 photographs—join forces to ferry eyes through history, including exhibits that showcase notable pirates, explorers, heritage vessels, and shipwrecks.
A fleet of three iconic sailboats has also dropped anchor beneath the museum's roof, and despite its age and creaky joints from years of playing pond hockey, the oldest operating birdcage elevator in North America still totes guests from floor to floor. Aside from its seafaring trove, the museum also runs public and school programs on topics such as immigration, pirates, women at sea, and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 as a home for Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune in coal and wanted to show off his wealth and importance to the surrounding country. The stately mansion has since transformed into a military hospital in 1919, a Victoria College dormitory in 1921, and now a renovated historical site owned and operated by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society. The castle retains its original 11th- and 12th-century-inspired Romanesque characteristics, such as a cylindrical tower with a conical cap and frames ornamented with 33 original stained-glass windows. Formerly a 28-acre estate, the present day 1.75-acre grounds house a 20,000-square-foot interior boasting 39 lavish rooms accurately furnished in 1890–1900 period wares, an 87-stair ascent to a tower overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, and a fireproof underground rec room for the Dunsmuir’s pet dragon.
When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibited art in the historic 1889 mansion that is now adjacent to its seven modern galleries. With almost 17,000 works of art, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria's artist community.
Standing at the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific?s birds, bees, and butterflies attraction, you?re liable to see all sorts of winged creatures descend upon the exhibit?s thriving canvas of blues, pinks, purples, oranges, and yellows. This is just one of more than 30 distinct areas designed and planted to showcase a wide range of gardening techniques, specifically those suitable for the Pacific Northwest.
The Centre?s nine acres of gardens feature more than 10,000 varieties of plants, most of which are labeled so they don't have to introduce themselves. You can explore the lily garden, the herb garden, and even internationally inspired Japanese and Mediterranean gardens. But because it has a total of 103 acres at its disposal, the Horticulture Centre offers more than just plants. It also boasts a bistro, a college for aspiring horticulturists, and even a library filled with more than 2,500 landscaping- and garden-related books and magazines.
The regal Victoria Harbour resort made the 2010 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List as a reader-selected favourite, with the opulent 1908 Edwardian estate boasting more than 450 luxury guest rooms and suites with glorious views of the city, the harbour, the Fairmont courtyard, and roving ghost jug bands. Enjoy a one-night rendezvous for up to two people in any of the hotel's elegantly designed Fairmont rooms (a $299 value on average), palatial chambers furnished with either a king bed, a queen bed, two double beds, or two twin beds—all ideal for couples in need of a romantic overnight retreat away from the howls of the neighbour's pet yak. Each spacious room features a sofa- or armchair-furnished sitting area and a stylishly designed bathroom.