Oak Bay Village
My favourite walk in Victoria starts out in Oak Bay Village. I like to do this walk with friends and we always start at Ottavio’s, one of Victoria’s destination delis. Fuelled with a cappuccino and a croissant, we head west down Oak Bay Avenue and continue along Prospect Place that begins at the junction of Oak Bay Avenue and Newport Avenue.
There is a flight of stairs leading down to Beach Drive just a few steps along Prospect Place. Once on Beach Drive we turn right, walking along the sidewalk overlooking the beach and Oak Bay Marina. On a clear day the peak of Mt. Baker glows across the water. We enjoy the sailboats berthed at the Marina, enjoy seeing the occasional seal, or heron. Sometimes a kingfisher is diving for food. Ducks and geese live on the beach and rocks of Queens Park just before the Marina. Take a minute to swing in the big double swing before walking on past the Marina up to the corner of Orchard Avenue. Turn right there and take a walk through the Native Plant Garden and see what is blooming. In early spring it is full of wild flowers, particularly fawn lilies. Then head down Orchard Avenue and turn right on Newport Avenue. Take a few minutes to explore the Rose Garden at the corner of Newport Avenue and Currie Road. Then continue on Newport to Windsor Road, turn left and walk along Windsor to St. Patrick or Oliver Street , enjoying the pretty character homes and gardens for which Oak Bay is famous. Walk two blocks north on Oliver Street or St. Patrick and you are back at Oak Bay Avenue near Ottavio’s. Depending on how long you take to explore the gardens and enjoy the homes along the way, this walk is about 40 minutes long.
A great waterfront walk in Victoria begins with a walk through the historic Ross Bay Cemetery where many of Victoria’s pioneers are buried with imposing tombstones beneath a canopy of mature trees. Look for the tombstone of Sir James Douglas, B.C.’s first governor, as well of those of Emily Carr, Victoria’s most well-known artist. From the cemetery, which is on Dallas Road and the waterfront, continue to walk east along Dallas Road, heading towards Clover Point. Walk down to the end of Clover Point and enjoy watching people flying kites and hang gliding. Continue along the pathways on the waterfront until you reach Cook Street. Turn off the water and walk north along Cook Street until you reach Cook Street Village where there are choices of coffee shops and restaurants for a quick warming coffee or lunch. Continue your walk north until you reach Fairfield Road. Turn right on Fairfield Road and walk east on Fairfield Road until you reach Memorial Crescent. You are now back at Ross Bay Cemetery. Your whole walk, depending on the time you take for lunch or coffee will likely take between 2 to 3 hours. This is a beautiful way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.
One reason people love living in Victoria is because there are so many beautiful places to walk and cycle near the ocean. Another great walk is one that starts at historic St. Ann’s Academy on Humboldt Street. This area is any easy walk from the major downtown hotels. St. Ann’s Academy was built as a school and run by the Sisters of St. Ann; today it houses a provincial government ministry and its beautiful park and gardens are enjoyed by everyone. Be sure to walk to the back of the buildings to see the lovely gardens that have been created there. Then continue to walk south until you reach Southgate Street that is the north boundary of Beacon Hill Park. Beacon Hill Park is a maze of beautiful pathways meandering through lawns, around ponds and among gardens. It is easy to choose a route to explore the park. I always like to head right and do a loop that takes me around the ponds, over to the Petting Zoo and back past the conveniently placed wash rooms and the children’s play areas where there is every swing set and climbing apparatus you can imagine. If you have the time, go over to the famous Beacon Drive In on Beacon Avenue to the west of the park and indulge everyone in soft ice cream. Then walk back through the park to St. Ann’s Academy. This walk, with detours and time to play in the playground, is 2 to 3 hours. A brisk walk around Beacon Hill Park can be done in an hour. Once you discover the playground you can take the grandkids there without doing the walk en route. A great place to enjoy for anyone who lives in or visits Victoria.