In May 2019, we did a three-day road trip to Victoria, B.C. with friends who had never been there before, and had a great time introducing them to such a beautiful city.
Check out the links below for reviews on where we stayed and what we did:
- Victoria Airbnb Review: New Home in Langford
- Victoria Sights: Craigdarroch Castle
- Victoria Food Review: Bao in Chinatown
- Victoria Sights: Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
- Victoria Food Review: Beavertails
- Victoria Sights: Beacon Hill Park and Children’s Farm
- Victoria Food Review: Frankie’s Modern Diner
One of the easiest ways to get to Victoria from Seattle is via Clipper Vacations. The biggest downside, though, is that you won’t have a car once you get there. So we have always chosen to drive to Port Angeles, then take the Black Ball Ferry over to Victoria. On the way back, we took the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, then drove through the Canada/U.S. border and all the way down Interstate 5. Our route looked like this:
There are a few things to note about this route. First, Black Ball Ferry Line only operates two to four sailings each day between Port Angeles and Victoria, depending on the time of year. It is highly recommended that you make online reservations beforehand, because they do sell out.
When traveling from Seattle to Port Angeles, you can choose to take either the Seattle-Bainbridge or the Edmonds-Kingston ferries. Another option is to go south through Tacoma. You can see the three possible routes on this map:
Taking one of the two ferry routes is the fastest, but you have to remember that even though these ferries have frequent sailings, they are not 24/7 and you cannot guarantee that you will get onto any particular sailing. This means that if you want to make the earliest Black Ball Ferry sailing from Port Angeles, trying to catch the earliest ferry from Edmonds or Seattle might not get you there on time (Black Ball also requires that you arrive 60 minutes before your reserved time). Your only option would be to go the Tacoma route.
This is why we usually choose to take the ferry to Bainbridge, stay one night in Port Angeles, then take the ferry first thing the next morning. It’s a beautiful drive at sunset.
Unfortunately, there is only one 3-star hotel in Port Angeles, the Red Lion Inn, and it’s pretty basic even as far as 3-star hotels go. But the good thing about staying at the Red Lion is it’s literally right beside the ferry terminal. Also, since it’s the only 3+ star hotel in the area, you can get a pretty good deal on Priceline’s Express Deals without having to guess what property you’re getting.
As a further bonus, Rakuten usually has great cash back for Priceline. Sign up here and get $10 after your first purchase.
When you head out the next morning to catch the ferry, all you have to do is move your car out of the Red Lion Inn parking lot and into the ferry line.
Black Ball Ferry operates the MV Coho between Port Angeles and Victoria. It’s not a big ship. Sailing time is 90 minutes, and it can be pretty choppy most of the way. Seasickness is definitely something to prepare for. Once you get to Victoria, you will go through customs as soon as you leave the ship. It’s usually a quick and painless process.
On this trip, due to school and work schedules, we didn’t get to Port Angeles until late at night. However, on previous trips we’ve been able to arrive earlier in the day and take advantage of the local attractions. The Olympic Game Farm is definitely a quick and fun place to check out if you and/or your kids like animals.
On the way back, we usually prefer to go through Canada for a change of scenery. Travel time is approximately the same, and this way you only have to take one ferry. The Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route has frequent sailings and no reservation is needed. It is also a much bigger and nicer ship!