Visiting Vancouver November!
August 18, 2022 1:21 PM   Subscribe

So, it looks like Mrs. Gefilte and I will be heading to Vancouver in November for a conference. We'll be in the area for a week before the event and would like to visit Victoria and possibly Tofino as I've never been to either. Keeping in mind that the weather is likely going to be sub-optimal, what are some things worth doing? Are there other places on the island that would be better-suited for November weather?
posted by greatgefilte to Travel & Transportation around British Columbia (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I can't comment specifically, but please keep in mind that many folks flock to Tofino for winter storm watching November to February/early March ish.
posted by Juniper Toast at 1:29 PM on August 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I grew up on the Island, just outside Victoria. If you can give some more specifics about what you're interested in, I can probably give some good suggestions, but just in general:

- You probably know this already, but if your conference is in Vancouver, you'll likely need a car, even to see Victoria. Yes, the two are technically connected via ferry, but it's a solid 45 min drive from city to terminal on either side, and while public transit does service the terminals, it is (from long personal experience) not a particularly pleasant or scenic bus ride on the island side. You'll definitely need a car to get anywhere outside of Victoria's core. The inner harbour area is walkable (and very tourist friendly), but other parts of the city are quite sprawled.

- If Tofino is on your list but you're worried at all about crowds and tourist-ification, Uclulet is just on the other side of the Pacific Rim National Park, and has much of the same natural beauty and far less (at least the last time I was there) of the tourism price inflation and other issues.

- If you enjoy coastal hiking, consider heading from Victoria along highway 14 out between Sooke and Port Renfrew for some gorgeous trails. You can do sections of the Juan de Fuca trail as day hikes, and they are probably some of my favourite hikes on the entire planet. Sombrio Beach is worth visiting, even if you don't feel up for a long hike, and even (especially!) on a stormy November day.

Happy to offer other suggestions if you have specific questions or things you're looking for!
posted by Dorinda at 3:13 PM on August 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Happy to offer other suggestions if you have specific questions or things you're looking for!

Thanks so much, that's great! We do like outdoors-y activities, so suggestions for day hikes along Juan de Fuca or near Ucluelet would be great.

In case of _really_ inclement weather, any suggestions for things to do indoors in either Victoria or Tofino/Ucluelet? Not sure if you're up to date on restaurant suggestions, but those would be great too!
posted by greatgefilte at 3:33 PM on August 18, 2022

The Royal British Columbia Museum would be great for a bad-weather day. I was sorry I misses it when I was in Victoria. Munro's is a great downtown Victoria bookstore.
posted by jgirl at 4:29 PM on August 18, 2022

Best answer: I'll second Ucluelet, especially in storm season. It is rockier and cliffier than Tofino and I think that is much better for watching waves crash. Accommodation books up fast, though. If that is somewhere you would like to go you will need to book soon.

Keep in mind that the 3rd floor of the RBCM is currently closed, so it isn't quite as good as it usually is. Rotating galleries and stuff are still good, though. Also, they're on strike right now. They might not be come November, but something to keep in mind.

I wouldn't be too scared away by rainy weather if you enjoy hiking. I actually think our forests are gorgeous in the rainy season and trees will shelter you from a lot of the worst. A nice bonus is that there are less people clogging up the trails. For specific hikes: choose anywhere along the Juan de Fuca trail for that end of the island. You don't have to do the full multi-day hike and there are lots of places to access it. My main recommendation would be to go to Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew. It won't be peak tide pool season, but it will still be good and the geography is fantastic. You can then follow that trail backwards along the cliffs until you decide it is time to head back. My favourite hike in Ucluelet is actually one of the easiest and shortest: Shorepine Bog Trail. It is a cool ecosystem and quite different from most anywhere else in the area.

There are plenty of theatres and bars that host events in the city. Most of the bars won't have calendars covering November yet, but the the theatres all have their programs up. McPherson Playhouse will have the most well known/established acts and Victoria Event Centre will have the exact opposite. There are also arcades, escape rooms, board game cafes, and that sort of thing. There are a handful of small art galleries and one larger Victoria Art Gallery. None of them are particularly exciting compared to Vancouver or a larger city, though. The small non-profit/co-op run galleries like XChanges tend to be the most interesting. Also plenty of artists around that do studio tours and workshops if that is your thing.

Bastion Square and Market Square and adjacent streets are usually worth wandering around. That's where most of the more unique shops are. Most things on Government St are an overrated tourist trap, though.

I recommend these restaurants:

Boom + Batten
Wind Cries Mary
Be Love (vegan)

These bars:

Little Jumbo
Clark & Co.
Q at the Empress
The Drake (for beer)
posted by forbiddencabinet at 5:26 PM on August 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

I was in Victoria recently and although the weather was perfect, we also did indoor things. The Victoria Bug Zoo was neat. Board with Friends Cafe obviously has board games but we also happened upon a well-done trivia night.

Citrus & Cane was one of the best examples I've seen of restoring a swanky bar. Even if you aren't much into cocktails, the 1970s decor is worth checking out.
posted by mullacc at 5:32 PM on August 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Keeping in mind that the weather is likely going to be sub-optimal, what are some things worth doing?
November weather along the coast can, indeed, be sub-optimal. But I can tell you, from many years of dwelling in SE Alaska (i.e. similar climate, only moreso) that with the proper gear and the right attitude you can still enjoy quite a bit of outdoor recreation that time of year. It's a little harder when you are traveling, as you don't have as much luxury to pick your day, but if you pay attention to the forecast, dress in the right gear, and have a backup plan in case of a really foul forecast you can still enjoy quite a bit of what the Pacific coast has to offer.

If you can find someone who's locally knowledgeable, they may be able to help you select a couple of alternatives which you can select from based on conditions. The terrain in this part of the world is such that microclimates abound and a place that is sheltered from one direction may be completely exposed when the weather is from another. And while it won't protect you from a heavy downpour you might be surprised to find how much the forest canopy can protect against light to moderate rain.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:58 AM on August 19, 2022

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