Summer 2021 can be full of new experiences, even with COVID-19 restrictions in place
On Tuesday, May 25, the B.C. government released their plan for incrementally reopening the province after over a year of COVID-19, and over 3 months of indefinite restrictions.
If you are anything like me, you were already a recluse before the global pandemic isolated us all for over a year. With an end in sight to restrictions, however, you are probably more than ready to get out and experience life beyond your front door again.
In an ideal world, getting out and experiencing life would include getting out of the city to see other parts of Vancouver Island, the rest of Canada, or other parts of the world. Unfortunately that doesn’t look like it will be possible as travel is still going to be restricted this summer. The province of B.C. is not allowing intraprovincial travel until June 15, and does not foresee even allowing travel across Canada until July 1 at the earliest. But don’t worry — this does not need to stop you from having an enjoyable summer.
Even though the province is set to remain under such travel restrictions, there is ample opportunity to experience the city we live in by becoming tourists in our own town. There is so much to see and do in Victoria, it is really just a matter of knowing where to look. Here is a list of five different ways you can get out, have fun, and act like a tourist in Victoria this summer.
1. Go to a market
There are several notable markets in Victoria. The James Bay and Moss Street markets are particularly great options. They run every Saturday. Markets are a great way to get outdoors, learn about, and chat with local artists, farmers, artisans, and so much more. There are also local art vendors on the lower causeway of the inner harbour every day — one of my particular favourites is Ray Brunet and his wood whale carvings.
2. Try a new restaurant in the city
Victoria was declared the brunch capital of Canada for a reason! Victoria is second only to San Francisco in restaurants per capita. There are so many great restaurants to try in Victoria. Whether you’re craving Korean, Thai, pub food, all-day breakfast or what have you, Victoria has something to offer everyone. One of my personal favourite haunts is Sült Pierogi Bar. Their pierogies are amazing, and so are their homemade sausages. Some other good local spots are Frankie’s Modern Diner, a diner with particularly amazing desserts, and Sookjai Thai. Even if the pandemic has left you with increased social anxiety making it uncomfortable to sit in a restaurant, you can still order food to go and enjoy an outdoor picnic in the sunshine.
3. Enjoy a nature spot you have never been to
Victoria is an amazing place for enjoying nature. With intense hiking trails and scenic beach views within mere minutes of each other, PKOLS (Mount Doug) is one of the more popular spots. There are plenty of other great locations to go for hikes, explore the woods, or play in the water, however. A true hidden gem, the Christmas Hill/Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary is another spot that boasts it all! And if hiking is just not for you, that is fine! Relaxation on the beach is never far away, and some of the easiest to access are Arbutus Cove beach, as well as the several small beaches found along Dallas road.
4. Go on a tour
I have lived in Victoria for three years and I still see new parts of the city every single day. Specialized tours are available throughout Victoria for whatever you might be yearning to experience. For example, A Taste of Victoria is a food tour that highlights local restaurants. A great way to blend food and tours together, this tour emphasizes trying new restaurants while you learn more about the city. One of my other personal favourites is the Ghostly Walks tour which presents the spookier side of Victoria’s history with a comedic twist to keep the mood light and entertaining. The Ghostly Walks tour is so great that I have been on one almost once a year since I moved here! Even if you don’t want to pay for a tour, the city is a great spot to explore alone or with someone close to you.
5. Visit one of Victoria’s world-famous attractions
Many of Victoria’s businesses and attractions are dependent on tourism–particularly the cruise ships that dock here during the summer–to survive. With no cruise ships returning to the city any time soon, and no B.C.-based tourism until July at the earliest, these businesses are in dire need of local support. Iconic destinations such as Miniature World, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Victoria Bug Zoo (as well as all of the shops along Government Street) face a desperate situation without their usual annual source of income. In reality, every local business, artist, and restaurant needs local support now more than ever in order to keep going.
So let’s not allow the pandemic to take more than it already has. Even though no one is supposed to leave, you can have fun while experiencing the city as if you just walked off of a cruise ship, ready to explore. So, head on down to Government Street, buy a kitschy Victoria t-shirt, and go off to a new restaurant, a tourist attraction, or experience one of the many beautiful hiking areas in and around the city.