It’s been a little rainy lately, but I’ve learned that when you’re living on the Wet Coast, you pretty much just have to suck it up, put on some rainboots (*note to self: buy rainboots), and find things to do until at least December when it’s more acceptable to to start hibernating. Plus, the big crowds of tourists are gone, there’s still lots of sun and blue skies between showers, and there are so many amazing things to do in and around the city this time of year! Here are 10 ideas:
1. Check out the Salmon Run at Goldstream Provincial Park:
Goldstream Provincial Park is beautiful any time of year, but if you’re able to go in the fall you’ll be treated to something magical. Every year, from about mid-October to early December, thousands of salmon return from their ocean adventures to spawn (… and then die) at Goldstream Park (so it smells a bit fishy).
The trails by the stream are lined with moss-covered trees that give the forest a bit of a supernatural vibe. Bald eagle sightings are common, and you’re guaranteed to see hundreds of salmon (and the circle of life in action as seagulls peck at the dead ones’ eyeballs). I’m making it sound gross but it’s really incredible to see them all! There’s a lot of information about the salmon life cycle, as well as a visitor centre. Also, it’s beautiful to visit in the rain! Enjoy the misty views of the estuary, Mount Finlayson, and the ancient giants that make up the forest. Unfortunately it would be difficult to visit without a car (bus is possible, but tricky).
2. Eat the best food, with a shorter line
Red Fish, Blue Fish is my main food recommendation for visitors to Victoria most of the year. Sadly, they close for winter (November to February), but they’re still open for one more week! In the summer, you can expect to wait in long lines (still worth it), but tourist season is over and I would imagine that the wait is much shorter this time of year. The kitchen is in a converted shipping container in the inner harbour and seating is outdoors, with front row views of seaplanes coming in and taking off. Try the chowder!!
3. Stay warm with hot chocolate
If you’re chilly, enjoy a chili hot chocolate at Chocolat, Chocolatiere de Victoria. That’s all I’ve ordered there and it’s all I’ll ever order! The atmosphere of this place may not say ‘hipster-cosy’ or anything, because its raison d’être is chocolate shop, not hangout spot. But if you’re a fan of the chili/chocolate combo, order up and you won’t be disappointed, whether you stay and people watch at the window bar or get it to go. It’s incredibly rich, and comes with a delectable chocolate sample.
4. Win big at Music Bingo
Music bingo is a great indoor activity for cold and rainy nights! I’d never heard of this wonderful musical event until I moved to Victoria. It’s like regular BINGO but each round is a different music “theme” (a decade or a genre), and cards have songs rather than numbers. Prizes usually include beer and money off your bill! Different bars host on different nights of the week!
5. Visit a seaside cidery
Not surprisingly, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse is an orchard and ciderhouse by the ocean. The property and views are beautiful, the ciders are delicious and each one comes with a story (one is made with leftover apples from local orchards). You can visit for tours and tastings any time, but October happens to include BC Cider Week, and Sea Cider is celebrating all month with festivals and socials! Try Witch’s Broom for some tasty fall spices – a limited release this season! Difficult to access without a car – you can bike, weather permitting.
6. Go to some spooky events
There are so many Halloween events to choose from in Victoria! Sadly the awesome-sounding Halloween dance at the Royal BC museum is sold out, but there are tons of other things going on. Wicked Wench organizes parties for queer women and trans folks, and they throw a wicked Halloween party! If you’re in the mood for a not-too-scary flick, you can enjoy a Movie Under the Maltworks at Philipps Brewery (this week: Shaun of the Dead), watch the new Ghostbusters (for free!) at the Victoria Public Market, or of course catch the Rocky Horror Picture Show or see it live! Horror Escape Room is also fun. For spooky, outdoor, more kid-friendly activities, Galey Farms is the place to go for corn mazes, hay rides, and a haunted house.
7. Hit up a Halloween burlesque show
Speaking of spooky activities, Halloween burlesque shows are the BEST! Cheesecake Burlesque Review’s show is coming up next weekend – their Halloween show last year was amazing; great performers, hilarious MCs, and what I’d describe as a naughty-musical-theatre vibe. Also, boobs. 😀
8. Head to the beach
So maybe it’s not prime weather for beach days, but I love going down to Willow’s Beach this time of year! The walk up to Cattle Point is beautiful rain or shine, and on clear days you get a great view of snow-capped Mount Baker and the Olympic Mountains. My personal favourite reason for hanging out at the beach this time of year? Puppies!!! Dogs are allowed at Willow’s on and off leash from October to April.
This is a foolproof way to warm your insides. Cenote Restaurant and Lounge has a slew of creative cocktails and food options (including fancy stuffed dogs). It’s a little pricey, but the basement-chic atmosphere makes it worth a visit (think magnetic poetry wall, dim lighting, book shelves, etc.).
10. Get lost in a secondhand bookstore
Head to Russell Books or Chronicles of Crime Mystery bookshop and forget about the rain outside! Russell Books is huge (Canada’s largest used & new bookstore!) and has heaps of unique sections. Chronicles of Crime has pretty much every category of mystery and crime novels you could conceive of, as well as some mystery-themed décor.