Five Favs For Everyone: Victoria, BC

#5 Cook Street Village

As one would expect, Cook Street Village is on Cook Street, between Oscar and Champman Streets.  From Downtown you will need to wander up Fort Street to Cook take a right and it is about another 5 minute walk or if you can walk through the residential community admiring the gardens different architectural design of the homes.  I was particularly intrigued by the conversion infill houses.  

Once on Cook Street you can enjoy a cup of java at Moka House Coffee or if you are hungry the Prizzeria Prima Strada is excellent,  there is also Rosie Diner which is very retro.  Book lovers will want to check out Fairfield Bookshop and there is also a home accessory/antique store that is fun to explore.  Oxford Grocery store is also a throw back to mid-century shopping.  There is a good buzz on Cook Street, people of all ages and often lots of runners and cyclists as it isn't far from the ocean pathway along Dallas Road.  

Example of Victoria conversion i.e. where an old house has been lifted off its foundation and a second house placed underneath. Conversions can have 3 to 5 units in them depending on the size of the original house and lot. 

Example of Victoria conversion i.e. where an old house has been lifted off its foundation and a second house placed underneath. Conversions can have 3 to 5 units in them depending on the size of the original house and lot. 

#4 Downtown Thrifting 

Downtown Victoria has perhaps the best collection of downtown thrift stores that we have ever found.  The mecca of thrift stores is the Value Village store on you will never guess Store Street    .  It is reputed to be one of the largest and busiest VV boutique in the chain.  For any serious thrifter it is definitely worth a visit.  

Next door is Capital Iron, while not a thrift store it is Victoria icon and must see.  It has four floors and an outdoor area that offers everything from antiques to garden furniture, from hardware to fabric, as well is has a complete outdoor clothing department. Think  old General store.  

Also downtown and definitely worth a visit are a Salvation Army, Women In Need and St. Vincent de Paul Thrift stores.  A bit further afield is Second Chance next to the James Bay Thrifty's grocery store.  It is located in the ground level of a major apartment block that is full of seniors.  It is a consignment store but great prices, no clothes - lots of art and home accessories.  We always find something there.

If you are looking for something to eat while in the Value Village area - Canoe brew pub is a Victoria institution - gotta love a beer and a burger.  

Thrifters Mecca - Downtown Victoria Value Village 

Capital Iron - too much fun - something for eveyone

#3 Ross Bay Cemetery

Whenever we are in Victoria we almost always go to the Ross Bay Cemetery there is something about this Cemetery situated just above Ross Bay that makes it one of our special places.  Perhaps it is the many trees that are sculptural in form, adding an air of ???? It is home to many ornate gravestones as well as row on row of Canadian soldier graves.  It is most well know for being the grave site of Emily Carr on of Canada's most famous 20th Century painters, on par with Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo.  

Across the street if Fairfield Shopping Centre where you will find a good pub, a Starbucks and a Thrifty's Grocery Store (I am told it is one of the oldest in the chain).  Or if you love to explore beaches and love driftwood like I do check out the Ross Bay beach.  

Ross Bay Cemetery sculptural trees. 

Ross Bay cemetery grave stone. 

#2 Estevan Village

If you are really into OTBP (off the beaten path) places you will want to find your way to EV (Estevan Village).  It took us a few visits to find this place but it is definitely worth the effort. First stop is Crumsby's Cupcake Cafe where you will find more than just cupcakes, you will find the place packed with kids - it is like a friggin daycare centre! We love the animation, kids running around or drawing on the big board. Yes they do have cupcakes but they also have other sweets, beverages and meals.  The other don't miss spot in EV is Willows Fish & Chips which is at the other end of the block.  If you are lucky you will get one of the 6 seats - yes that's all! But they are all window seats as you are sitting at a small counter.  There have new owners which unfortunately means no more humungous apple fritters which were to die for.  

From EV, it is only a few blocks to Willow Beach from some more driftwood shopping or in the summer you can enjoy the beach frolics. If you are lucky on a clear day you can see Mt. Olympus the tallest mountain in Washington State.

Willow Galley fish and chips.

Willow Galley fish and chips.

Willows Beach, Victoria, BC, great driftwood shopping 

#1 Oak Bay 

Oak Bay is actually a separate city from Victoria with its own city hall, library and main street. It is the most upscale of all the street retail area with restaurants, galleries, pubs and shops.  It is a quick cab or bus ride from Downtown.  If you want to treat yourself you might want to stay at the Oak Bay Marina which opened recently to rave reviews.  The Library, located off Main Street by a half block but accessible by a small alley is a great place to mix with the locals - check out the reading room at the back.

Oak Bay's reputation is as a quaint, charming neighbourhood with a genteel British atmosphere, however it is becoming much more diversified selection of stores and more young families moving into the area. 

Oak Bay Hardware Store. Main Street is a mix of old and new, upscale and local businesses. 

Oak Bay streetscape, eclectic mix of shops. 

Oak Bay's Main Street is colourful all year round with flowers, banners and in the winter the trees are full of lights.