British Columbia
Victoria and Vancouver: Glorious West Coast Gardens
Discover the botanical beauty of Victoria and Vancouver, where a blend of Asian, First Nation and European aesthetics combine to create some of the world’s most stunning gardens.
Rating (5)
Program No. 2679RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
16 meals
7 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Vancouver, BC
Best Western Plus Sands Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a buffet meal; coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Travel and transfers will be via bus unless noted otherwise. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time” and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Stanley Park, City Field Trip, Nitobe Gardens, MOA
Vancouver, BC
Best Western Plus Sands Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking approximately 1 mile, standing at museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold options plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: On an exceptional field trip, we’ll be joined by a member of the Stanley Park Ecology Society for an in-depth coach exploration of Stanley Park. We'll visit the Rose Gardens and world-famous landmarks in the park including Lost Lagoon, monuments and sculptures, and the 5.5-mile seawall that encircles the park. This breathtaking expanse with a backdrop of majestic cedar, hemlock. and fir trees remains unspoiled and a testimony to the giant trees that occupied Vancouver in its former days. With the ocean and mountain vista as a backdrop, we’ll learn about this unique park and its temperate rainforest ecosystem as we experience an environment rich in tranquility. We’ll continue our exploration of Vancouver with an expert historian and heritage advocate. Explore the False Creek area including Olympic village and the old Expo 86 site, and learn about changes in the city over the last 20 years. We’ll see some of the city’s most notable neighborhoods and hear about points of interest as we make our way to the University of British Columbia campus. We’ll also stop for a short visit at Queen Elizabeth Park. The park has nearly 129 acres (52 hectares) of greenspace including a quarry garden, an arboretum with exotic and native trees, and sculptures including one by internationally renowned artist Henry Moore.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal; pop, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk through the beautiful Nitobe Memorial Garden, part of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, with a local expert. This traditional, Japanese-styled oasis of serenity is considered one of the top five Japanese gardens outside Japan. It honors Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933), a noted agriculturalist, author, educator, and diplomat who wrote an internationally acclaimed book, “Bishido: The Soul of Japan.” Every element of the garden is designed to reflect harmony and an idealized conception of nature. A 5-minute walk takes us to the start of our next field trip, to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), with one of the world's outstanding collections of Pacific Northwest Aboriginal artifacts. During an expert-led exploration, we’ll get a glimpse into the remarkable lives of the indigenous peoples of the northwest coast of British Columbia. Our exploration will be led by docents who are students of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Massive totem poles, carved boxes, bowls and feast dishes are displayed in the Great Hall, while smaller but equally magnificent pieces in gold, silver, argillite, wood, ceramic, and other materials are exhibited in the galleries. Canada's largest teaching museum is located in a spectacular building overlooking mountains and sea. Its collections, exhibitions, and programs are renowned for providing insight into the cultures of indigenous peoples around the world.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with starter, entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to head out and see more of Vancouver on your own or just relax at your hotel.

Chinatown, Dr. Sun Yat-sen Garden, Free Time
Vancouver, BC
Best Western Plus Sands Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile, some standing; pavement, stone walkways in garden.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll transfer by bus to Chinatown and visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden, named for the man considered the father of modern China. It was the first of its kind outside China, an authentic representation of an age old garden tradition that reached its peak in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Garden is characteristic of the private spaces within a Ming scholar's residence. With its asymmetrical arrangement of rocks and plants, winding paths and corridors, and vistas that overlook its courtyards, the Garden emulates the rhythms of nature.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Van Dusen Botanical Garden, Ferry to Victoria
Victoria, BC
Royal Scot Hotel & Suites

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. The ferry to Victoria is 24 nautical miles, approximately 1.5 hours; participants will be responsible for boarding and disembarking the ferry with their luggage. Walking up to 1 mile on paved paths and groomed trails, some standing, a few stairs with railings.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll travel by coach to VanDusen Botanical Garden and explore the gardens with a local expert. This spectacular 22-hectare (55-acre) garden in the heart of Vancouver has matured into a botanical garden of international stature since opening to the public in 1975. The mild climate allows the cultivation of an outstanding plant collection that is a delight any time of year. The garden design features displays of plants in picturesque landscape settings. Specific garden areas are planted to illustrate botanical relationships, such as the Rhododendron Walk, or geographical origins, as in the Sino-Himalayan Garden. These areas are set amidst rolling lawns, tranquil lakes and dramatic rockwork with vistas of the mountains and Vancouver cityscape.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like on the ferry. You can choose from a variety of items such as sandwiches, wraps, sushi, burgers, salads, as well as hot and cold entrées, hot and cold beverages.

Afternoon: We’ll transfer by coach and ferry from Vancouver to Victoria and go to our hotel for check-in. Take some time to become familiar with the landscape in the area or freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with starter, choice of entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll be joined at the hotel by a local historian who will provide an overview of Victoria and its landscape, environment, culture, and history. We’ll learn about forces that shaped Victoria, the current character of the city, and what the future holds.

Beacon Hill, Horticulture Centre, Free Time
Victoria, BC
Royal Scot Hotel & Suites

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking 1.5 miles; gravel paths, mostly flat ground.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers hot and cold options, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll transfer by coach to Beacon Hill Park, one of downtown Victoria's crown jewels, for a walking exploration with a local expert. The park is beautifully landscaped and manicured with bridges, lakes and ponds, and an alpine and rock garden. It is home to numerous species of ducks, birds, and wildlife; peacocks roam freely in the park. There are wondrous displays of exotic and native trees, including Garry Oak, Arbutus, Douglas-fir, Western Red Cedar, birch, willow, maples, and more. Next we will transfer by coach with our gardening expert to the Gardens at HCP — Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. This non-profit “gardener’s garden” is a botanical center engaged in lifelong learning, conservation, and research. There are more than a dozen specialist and seasonal gardens. The public garden is cared for by staff, students, and volunteers. Coach transfer back to the hotel followed by free time.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time. You might like to take a walk along historic Government Street, have tea at one of the numerous tea houses or the spectacular Empress Hotel, further explore the Inner Harbour, or rest and relax.

Dinner: On own or to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to continue exploring local sites, take a horse-drawn carriage ride or harbor ferry exploration, explore Beacon Hill park, walk along the seaside trail, just relax.

Inner Harbour Walk, Butchart Gardens
Victoria, BC
Royal Scot Hotel & Suites

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles, standing during field trips; concrete and pavement on Inner Harbor walk; paved, tightly packed gravel walkways in Butchart Gardens, some uneven ground.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will provide background and an introduction to Butchart Gardens. We’ll hear the remarkable story of Jennie Butchart and the history of the gardens. Next, we’ll embark on a walking field trip in Victoria’s Old Town and Inner Harbour. This seaside gem of a city has an old-British charm. As we walk along Wharf Street, we’ll see many examples of Victorian architecture. Our historian will point out both well-known and hidden treasures. In addition to Old Town and the Inner Harbour, we’ll see the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and the historic Empress Hotel.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, a soft drink or juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll journey by coach through rolling countryside with glimpses of the ocean and old-growth forests to Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site and one of the world’s premier floral show gardens. Maps and flower guides will be provided on arrival for our self-directed exploration. Butchart Gardens is still owned and operated by family descendants. There are 55 acres with meandering paths through wonderful floral displays amid expansive lawns and spectacular views. Explore at your own pace, from the Sunken Gardens and rose-laden arches, to the serenity of the Japanese Gardens that were completed in 1906 with assistance from an expert Japanese landscaper.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, dessert; coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Lily Maxwell Garden, Abkhazi Garden, Government House
Victoria, BC
Royal Scot Hotel & Suites

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Walking up to 2 miles, standing during field trips; mostly outdoors, uneven ground in public and private gardens, concrete and gravel paths, variable weather conditions.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we will have an exclusive field trip to the private garden of Lily Maxwell, named the Number 1 residential garden by the national Canadian Gardening magazine. This beautiful garden is located in the Oak Bay area overlooking a vista of the Strait of Georgia and the magnificent, snow-covered Olympic Mountain range. Sweeping garden beds are filled with interesting, rare, and unusual perennials. Next we will visit a second private garden designed by Lily Maxwell for its current owners. Using formal plantings, foliage and texture, Lily created a wondrous low-maintenance garden that provided year-round interests that embraced the strong sea winds and frequent deer visitors. Experience its open spaces and relaxing meditative garden. We’ll then transfer to Abkhazi Gardens for a visit with our expert gardener. The gardens , a 1.4-acre heritage home and garden created in 1946 by Prince and Princess Abkhazi, famous for its splendid collection of rhododendrons

Lunch: At the Tea House at Abkhazi Gardens, we’ll have a afternoon tea service, accompanied by delicate savouries, fresh baking; with coffee, tea, water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Moving on, we’ll explore the gardens at Government House, home of the Lieutenant Governor, the Queen's representative to the province of British Columbia. Within the 36-acre (14.6 hectares) Government House grounds are 14 acres (5.7 hectares) of formal gardens. There are more than a dozen distinctive specializations, from an extensive rockery developed on a natural rock outcropping overlooking the ocean to a formal tapestry planting featuring Mediterranean herbs. We’ll walk under heritage rhododendrons, towering copper beeches, giant Douglas firs and sequoias (California redwoods), and stand beside the towering metasequoia (dawn redwood), one of the first specimens to be planted in North America. Coach transfer back to the hotel with time to relax and freshen up before our farewell dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, our farewell dinner will be a plated meal with starter, choice of entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: Wrap-up at the hotel after dinner. At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
Victoria, BC

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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