Saturday, June 24, 2023


We had a few days of PTO and we wanted to step outside of US but with caution, given it would be the first time traveling with our three year old. So what could be better than Canada! Vancouver has been one of our favorite go to places because of many factors, short flight from San Francisco, feels like US, so many activities to do, and offers a variety of landscapes. The city had a very relaxed laid back vibe. And on our previous visits, we had skipped Victoria, so we added that to our itinerary. Only this time, we were flying to Seattle and then driving to Vancouver.

You can also scroll down to 'A day in Victoria' if that is what you are looking for.
Previous Vancouver itinerary is here.


Day 0: Arrive in Seattle. Spend the day with our friends
Day 1: Drive from Seattle to Vancouver
Day 2: Spend the day in Vancouver
Day 3: Ferry to Victoria
Day 4: Day in Victoria
Day 5: Ferry to Port Angeles. Stay Overnight.
Day 6: Half a day in Olympic National Park. Drive to airport.

Seattle to Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver
We arrived in Seattle with a lot of hullabaloo! We were in the middle of the potty training and decided to take this trip. How very brave of us. After exploring the noisy flushes of airports and crying at loud at the automated flushes, we made it to the airport and rented a car to drive to our friends' house in Issaquah. They have two and it was lovely to see kids play together and explore the creek behind the house and have fun. Even though the travel was tiring, it was very relaxing to just be out of our daily routine. 
The next day we drove from Seattle to Vancouver with a few stops. Drive was about 3 hours and the landscapes started getting prettier as we got close to Canada border. Immigration was quick, no waiting, not even getting out of car. So pretty smooth and we got to Vancouver with no hiccups. We were staying near the University of British Columbia, so it was a bit away from the city center, but was nice to see a few students around and a few coffee shops to explore.
We spent the evening walking around Vancouver downtown. The area near Gastown is always lively and has a plenty of restaurants to offer. Plus walk up to the convention center offers nice views.

Capilano Suspension Bridge
A Day In Vancouver

We had our to-do list for the day all planned! It also became a toilet-exploration trip due to potty training in progress. Piku wanted to see all the toilets, everywhere. If they had automatic flushes or manual. If there were paper wipes or air dryers, how many stalls were there, etc. etc. In the background, we checked off the three places on our list.

Capilano Suspension Bridge  

We arrived early, right after breakfast, to beat the crowds. Got our tickets and crossed the bridge! It was sunny and they do have quite a few activities for kids. We also did the treetop walk and learnt about the owls. This place will keep the kids busy especially with their booklet of puzzles and games. Then we of course had to get ice cream from the ice cream shop before we headed out to our next destination.

Grouse Mountain

Bird Show, Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain is very close to the Capilano Bridge. We found parking right next to the gondola ride. Piku got super excited for the gondola ride and once we reached atop the mountain, we just walked around. The views are great and you cans pend as much time as you'd like to, here. There were a few icy patches here and there. There are plenty of activities to do, like zip lining, hiking, etc. We were interested in the lumberjack show as it is quite entertaining (we remembered from our previous visit), but the show time wasn't until much later. However, we attended a bird show where they had owl, eagle and a hawk displaying their antics for you. Super entertaining. 

Stanley Park

After we grabbed lunch, we headed to Stanley Park. We parked our car and walked around a it towards the west side as we were looking for a play ground. It was full of kids and it kept Piku and us busy for sometime. There was a pool as well and we didn't realize that it would be accessible to public, else we would have gotten our bathing suits too!  We got some nice views and had beach access, but no swimsuits! We retired for the night after an excellent meal at Kesari in Vancouver downtown. Highly recommend this restaurant.

Vancouver to Victoria

Fisherman's Wharf
We were up bright and early to get on the car ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. It is highly recommended to pre-book the ferry. It is all very streamlined and comfortable. The cars are parked in the lower floors and you can sit indoors on the upper floor or just spend time outdoor on the deck. It takes about a couple of hours to get to Victoria. The ferry has a small cafĂ© that sells snacks and drinks. The toilets are clean too. We spent some time on the deck taking pictures. And also spotted a few dolphins in the water. Once we reached Victoria, we drove out in our car and headed to Victoria downtown. Ferries from Vancouver leave and arrive on the port that is west of the island. Driving to the downtown takes about 45-60 minutes. 
Parking is hard to find! We found paid parking at a hotel. And we had to walk a bit to get to our lunch spot. After lunch and of course, ice cream, we checked in to our hotel. This is a very touristy place, with plenty of places to eat at a lot of things to see and do.
We stayed at the Chateau Victoria and after we checked in and freshened up, decided to go for a walk at the waterfront. This is really a very beautiful island and has a "Victorian" feel to it. We walked around the waterfront, to the fisherman's Wharf and then took pictures near the Fairmont Hotel and at the
Legislative Assembly. There was a horse carriage ride nearby with very royal horses, but we skipped it. Then we headed out for dinner and retired for the day, all charged up to spend a day on the island the next day.

A Day In Victoria

Butterfly Gardens
Bright and early, we headed to The Butterfly Garden in the morning. It isn't as big as I had imagined, but it was fun, especially for Piku. There weren't just butterflies, but a few other tropical birds and animals! Flamingo, parrots, etc. and it was a fun visit. We decided to skip the Butchart gardens, as it wasn't really spring and reviews said that we wouldn't be seeing many flowers. Instead, we headed to the Victoria Bug Zoo. Houses in a couple of rooms, it makes for an interesting stop especially with kids! We loved the creepy crawly creatures. 
We headed to Mexican restaurant for a quick lunch. It was located in the Commonwealth Center and here we saw the lovely swim activity center. Oh boy, how much we regretted not getting our bathing suits. It looked like a prefect place for a summery afternoon. Pool, slides, splash pads!
We sulked and got hungry and grabbed a burger at bin4burger. Really good burgers. Must try. And then we headed straight to the hotel pool. We figured that driving back to the commonwealth center would take a long time, so it made sense to just make do with our hotel pool, which btw, was good enough and did not disappoint at all!
Then for the evening, we stepped out to the Craigdarroch Castle. Strolled around, took a few pictures as it was closed for entry by then. And then headed to the QV Cafe near Victoria's Chinatown. As I had posted about Victoria on social media, a long lost classmate pinged me who had moved to Victoria a year ago! It was so good to meet him and his family! The true power of social media.
Craigdarroch Castle

Victoria (Things to do)

We skipped a few as they didn't make sense with a three year old. There were also bike rentals which would have been a good idea. They had bike buggies for kids, but they had to be booked in advance, so we missed out on that. Here is the list:

Victoria to Port Angeles

Feeding Alpacas
The next day we took the car ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles in USA. The immigration check is done in Victoria, Canada. And we made this reservation in advance as well as the number of ferries allowed on the vessel aren't much. The port for this ferry is right at the Waterfront, it is a different port compared to the one where the ferry for Vancouver departs.

Once in Port Angeles, we drove to Olympic National Park. We had a few hours, so we drove to Lake Crescent. And then took a short hike near the visitor center. We did a loop of Moments in Time Trail. The park is beautiful, but we were short on time, so did not explore more. We stayed at a hotel near Port Angeles.

Next day we could have driven to the park to another vista point, Hurricane Ridge, but we decided to skip it and instead drove to Olympic Game Farm close by. Here you drive through the farm/zoo and can feed the farm animals. The animals are expecting you to feed them and hence can get really aggressive and get their heads inside the car. It is silly and scary at the same time. There was moose, peacock, bear, tiger and a plenty of animals. It was quite entertaining. 

Then we headed straight to the airport with a stopover for lunch. And to our surprise, out neighbor was on the flight and was our seat neighbor! What are the odds!