The Canadian borders are re-opening mid-August, and we’re ready for some northern exploration!
If you’ve been craving adventure or are itching to explore a new city, this is the perfect opportunity. Because of Canada’s thriving vanlife scene, it’s a great place to take your first van trip or to dive further into vanlife culture.
With new national parks, cities, and hidden gems to explore, where do you start?! Here’s your 3 day itinerary for exploring Victoria.
Pick up your Cabana in Ballard or Capitol Hill. (Add early check-in to your booking so you have plenty of time for your travels.) Stop for groceries before you hit the road. You’ll want snacks for the road, plus there’s a great spot for an afternoon picnic coming up!
There are a few ways to get from Seattle into Canada. For this trip, we recommend taking the Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, so start by driving to Port Angeles (about 2 hours and 45 minutes).
If you haven’t spent much time in Olympic National Park, spend a few days looping around the peninsula before making your way to Port Angeles. Otherwise, stop at Sasquatch Bakery for a box of donuts and a coffee to enjoy on your ferry ride. Black Ball Ferry recommends arriving 60 minutes before your vehicle reservation. Although with the ferry newly reopened, you may want to arrive even earlier just in case. Then, the ferry ride takes approximately 90 minutes. Enjoy the serene view of the water and surrounding islands as you look forward to hitting land in British Columbia.
If you picked up your Cabana in the morning, it should be early afternoon when you reach Victoria. Drive 3 minutes from the ferry terminal to stretch your legs with a leisurely walk in Beacon Hill Park.
Beacon Hill Park is 200 acres of lush greenery right in downtown Victoria. Look back at the Olympic Mountains, marvel at the enormous trees, and find a spot among the gardens and ponds for a picnic.
Once the snack food re-energizes you, take a walk down Dallas Road Waterfront Trail, an easy out and back trail with stunning ocean views along the way. Then find your way out of the park to Cook Street Village. Cook Street Village is a trendy shopping district with a funky food truck scene and plenty of choices for restaurants with pleasant patios for a nice evening outdoors.
When you’re ready to settle in for the night, head to your campsite. Goldstream Provincial Park is less than 30 minutes outside the city and has reservable campsites for the summer.
Make an energizing breakfast at your campsite to fuel up for the day’s hike. The hike up Mount Finlayson is a 3.7 mile loop trail rated as hard. This is a busy trail, but if you spent the night in the park you should be able to beat the crowds.
Looking for a more relaxing trail to start your day? Goldstream Provincial Park has plenty of easy and moderate trails of varying lengths to choose from. We recommend the trail to Goldstream Falls.
After working up an appetite on your trail of choice in the morning, head back into the city for brunch. Try Fuego Old Town Eatery, a Mexican-inspired brunch spot in Market Square, then explore the rest of the open-air market filled with unique boutiques and one-of-a-kind items. For a little more of a fine dining experience, enjoy PNW delicacies at The Courtney Room. (You might want to take advantage of your Cabana’s shower between hiking and dining at this spot, named one of Canada’s 100 best restaurants.)
Feeling a food coma coming on? Spend the afternoon out by Oak Bay for tranquil water views. Rent kayaks to get off the island and take in the surrounding mountains with a new perspective.
Want to try a night of city sleeping? If you’ve never tried “stealth camping” in a city, Victoria is a good spot to give it a try for the first time. We recommend the app iOverlander to help find safe, legal places to stop.
Here are our general tips for overnight city parking:
- Find a spot that is legal. (Check for a no parking sign or no camping sign.)
- Avoid parking directly in front of someone’s home.
- Avoid using the kitchen in open city areas.
- Be discreet. (Draw your curtains.)
- Be neighborly! (Keep noise down after hours.)
Once you secure your spot, you’re ready to take on the night life! Now that you don’t need to worry about driving, walk downtown to dive into Victoria’s bar scene. (Drop a pin on your map for where you parked your Cabana and your future inebriated self will thank you.)
If you’re planning to return your Cabana on day 3, you’ll definitely want to add late checkout to your booking. Stressing about your drop off time through customs is a less than ideal way to end a great weekend of relaxing fun.
If you don’t want to return your Cabana just yet, take a quick ferry to San Juan Island instead.
Otherwise, head back the way you came. Keep in mind that the Black Ball Ferry recommends arriving 90 minutes early when going in this direction.
Fingers crossed that going through customs and crossing to Port Angeles is a quick and easy process! If that’s the case and you end up with some extra time, walk along Dungeness Spit Trail in Sequim for a last look over the water.
Looking forward to your trip up North? We’ve compiled everything you need to know to take a Cabana to Canada.