Victoria, BC, Canada
Old-world Victorian elegance mingles easily with the bustle of a thriving international city in Victoria, BC, the "City of Gardens." You'll likely hear many languages spoken, and sampling authentic international cuisine is part and parcel of daily life in Victoria.
Before you plan your trip, though, be sure your passport is up to date -- you'll need it, a passport card or WHTI-compliant travel document to visit Canada [source: U.S. Department of State]. Your getaway starts with the Hydrofoil Clipper Service from Seattle to Victoria. The two-hour trip gives you a chance to relax in the fresh salt air.
Exiting the hydrofoil, the imposing Victorian Parliament Building greets you. Return at night to see the building sparkle against 3,333 twinkling lights [source: SPC Travel Network]. Still on the Inner Harbour, visit the Royal BC Museum, and then enjoy afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. The double-decker red bus #75 from the Inner Harbour takes you to Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of gardens featuring more than a million bedding plants of 700 varieties [source: The Butchart Gardens]. Flowers are in bloom from March through October, but winter awakens a multitude of blooming shrubs, and the heated greenhouse is open year-round. Stop at nearby Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and Victoria Butterfly Gardens.
On your way out of town, stroll through the quaint neighborhoods around the Inner Harbour, where hanging baskets of flowers adorn the lampposts. Along the way, you'll find plenty of shopping and restaurants to pass your final hours in Victoria.