Springtime in Vancouver & Victoria

For spring break this year we decided to take a family trip to Canada. We were looking for a destination that would have fair weather and where we could do a mix of outdoor and city activities. The flight from SFO to Vancouver is just under 2.5 hours making it an easy destination to travel to with our kiddos, plus it’s in the same time zone. We began our trip in Vancouver where we stayed for a few nights. After that we made our way to Victoria for 2 nights. Traveling with 2 little ones (3 & 5 years old) we tried to keep the itinerary flexible with plenty of wiggle room for rest and play. Since the weather was a little rainy we found some indoor activities to enjoy that we had not planned for and hope to go back again to enjoy some outdoor things that we missed.



Fairmont Waterfront is conveniently located close to downtown, Gastown and nearby Stanley Park. We stayed in a top floor Signature Harbor Stanley Park Suite with connecting parlor and the views were amazing! We loved watching the sea planes take off and land. Fairmont Waterfront has a fitness center, hot tub and rooftop pool which the kids used daily. Their in house ARC restaurant was perfect for breakfast and we even had dinner there one of the nights when everyone was running low on energy.


Stanley Park was definitely on my list of things to see since it was springtime. Unfortunately it was pretty rainy on our trip there so we didn’t get to walk around as much as we would have liked. The gardens were beautiful and we even got to see some cherry blossoms. The kids had a fun time playing on the playground as well. The park sits on nearly 1,000 acres of natural West Coast rainforest. You’ll find views of the water, mountains, sky, miles of trails to hike, beautiful beaches, local wildlife, historical landmarks, and more at Stanley Park.

The Vancouver Aquarium is located within Stanley Park and was a great place to spend the afternoon and take shelter from the rain. Besides sea life, the aquarium is also home to a sloth and many bugs and reptiles. The outside otter and seal exhibits were definite highlights for our family!

Granville Island is like a little magical escape within the city. It’s considered Vancouver’s artistic and cultural hub! Once you enter the arched sign underneath the bridge you know you are in a special place. There are many artist studios, galleries, shops and restaurants to enjoy all located within a small walkable area. The public market is where all the foodie goodness awaits you. Here, over 50 of Canada’s best different food vendors are serving up their specialties. Grab something to eat, then explore the cute shops and galleries.

The Gastown Steam Clock was located a short walk from the Fairmont Waterfront so we passed by multiple times. It sounds off every 15 minutes and you can hear a little whistling symphony. The kids got a kick out of it every single time!

Abbotsford Tulip Festival is located at Lakeland Flowers in the Fraser Valley. It’s about an hour drive from the city center out into the country. In the Springtime, from late April-May 70+ varieties of tulips, bloom in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. The farm sits on over 27 acres so make sure to bring good walking shoes! There are plenty of photo opportunities here!


There are plenty of good eats in Vancouver, it’s known for its culinary scene and for good reason! Below are some of our favorite spots that we tried

Saku Vancouver is known for their Japanese Pork Cutlet. I’m not typically a huge fan of Katsu, but theirs is tender and full of flavor. Their meals come in a little box set and you can get refills of the side dishes. We also tried the Ebi Hotate Katsu and the kids were huge fans of their Chicken Katsu.

Miku is conviniently located right across the street from our hotel. We were told we probably couldn’t get a walk in table, but we lucked out. If you love sushi and Japanese food then definitely put this restaurant on your list. Everything was beautifully presented and just as tasty. Make sure to try their specialty rolls. We enjoyed the Miku Roll and Surf & Turf. We thought this restaurant might not be too kid friendly but the staff was so nice and had coloring pages and crayons for the kids to keep busy before the food arrived.

Maruhachi Ra-men makes their broth with chicken. It’s creamy and satisfying on a drizzly day. I was a little worried about the lines I read about in reviews but it was a surprisingly short wait on a weekday for lunch. Sometimes ramen just hits the spot!

Breka Bakery & Cafe is located in downtown Vancouver. We stopped here for breakfast one morning and then came back later in the afternoon for a treat. Their cases are filled with both savory and sweet pastries, desserts and more! They are open 24 hours so you will never go hungry!


To get to Victoria from Vancouver you can either take a sea plane or take a ferry. We decided to go with the more affordable option and take BC Ferries from the Tsawwassen terminal to Victoria (Swartz Bay). It’s recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time and you can either choose to book for passengers only or for a vehicle as well. We had a rental car so we drove our car onto the ferry, which was a fun experience. Once on board you can exit your car and find a table or chair and hang out or just pass time by walking around the ferry. There are dining options available, a children’s play area and restrooms. The whole trip is about 1.5 hours long.


Fairmont Empress Hotel is the iconic place to stay on the island. It’s located right in front of Victoria’s Inner Harbor and is known as Canada’s Castle on the Coast. It’s rich in history and is recognized as one of Top 21 Iconic Hotels in the World by National Geographic Traveler magazine! It’s both luxurious and modern. We were lucky enough to stay in one of their newly remodeled Fairmont Gold rooms. Gold rooms have a dedicated reception and concierge, spacious rooms, and access to the private Gold lounge, offering daily complimentary breakfast, all day snacks and evening canapés! You really can’t beat this location and the hotel just feels old world and transports you back in time.

If you are traveling with kiddos be sure to check out their Kids Rule the Castle package. It includes

  • Luxurious family friendly accommodations
  • Daily breakfast for the family (2 adults and 2 children)
  • A special scavenger hunt and toy for each child
  • An Empress children’s activity book with scavenger hunt for each child
  • Milk & cookies amenity
  • Children aged 6-12 dine for 50% off when ordering from the regular menu
  • Children 5 and under dine for free when ordering from the children’s menu in Q Bar or Q Restaurant*Dining discount is not valid from In-Room Dining 

Our kids loved staying here, of course they loved the milk and cookies and special play tent set up for them but they also loved just walking around this magical place. The indoor pool and hot tub area was their favorite!


Victoria Butterfly Gardens was a must visit for us and our butterfly loving kiddos. This indoor butterfly garden is home to frogs, tortoises, iguanas, flamingos, tropical birds and more. There are so many butterfly types and seeing them all flutter around was really a treat! It’s also a great opportunity for little ones to learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly and visibly see all of the stages occurring in real time.

Buchart Gardens is 119 years old and internationally renowned! Visit 55-acres of gorgeous garden displays. Springtime is the perfect time to visit , but it is beautiful year round. It’s a great way to get those steps in while soaking up the beauty!

Craigdarroch Castle is a great place to visit if you love history. The castle is mostly restored and furnished as it would be in the 1800’s. The tours are self guided and both of our children enjoyed exploring the mansion.

Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful public park in downtown Victoria. It’s a huge 200 acre park with beautiful paths for walking, ponds to watch the ducks, gardens to stroll, sports courts, play structures and even a children’s farm! It’s easy to spend as little or as much time as you like here.

Malahat SkyWalk is known for its sweeping views. Located in the forest, high above the sea you’ll get an amazing view. It’s a spiral ramp up to the top, making it wheelchair and stroller accesible. On the way down you can take a 20 meter spiral slide, fun for the whole family! We didn’t get to visit the skywalk on our trip due to time and weather constraints but really hope to make it happen next time we’re in Victoria!


Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress is a classic experience. I remember coming here as a child for tea time and wanted my children to have the same special experience. It’s a tradition that has been enjoyed by guests for over 110 years ago, since the hotel opened.

When you enter the tea lobby you’ll be greeted by the sweet sounds of a live piano player. Once seated you can choose your tea (and bubbly if you want to get festive!). Tea is served in special china, exclusive to the hotel gifted by Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother). Guests are then served an impressive tea tower complete with scones, savory bites and sweet treats. They use local ingredients and serve the highest quality teas from around the globe! For little ones they offer a prince and princess tea. Children can select a decaf tea or juice and they will receive their own special tower complete with decadent treats. My kids loved this special experience and definitely felt like little royals!

Be sure to book ahead of time for this tea experience, you’ll feel like you are in old Victoria!

Sea Cider is a farm cidery, home to 1,300 organic apple trees in over 50 varieties. They produce their own traditional fermented ciders and they have a tasting room on site at their farm. Adults enjoyed hard cider flights and the kids enjoyed their Temperance Non-Alcoholic Cider tasting flight. They have a beautiful tasting barn or if the weather is nice you can enjoy their patio. They also have munchies such as charcuterie plates and dip platters available for purchase as well. Reservations recommended.

Red Fish Blue Fish serves up some of the best fish and chips we’ve had! It’s perfectly light and flaky. Order at the window and then find a seat outdoors to enjoy your meal. We’ve heard that lines can get pretty long, but we went for an early weekday meal and were surprised to find no wait to order. If you do encounter a long line try ordering on their app!

Rogers’ Chocolates has been a Victoria staple since the 1800’s! They now have shops in the Vancouver area, but Victoria is where their original store was and still is today. Once you open the doors you’ll feel as if you stepped back in time! All of their chocolates are delicious but our favorites are the Empress Squares and Almond Brittle Squares. A great place to pick up a few gifts to bring back home.

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