Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Stunning structures in the Inner Harbor area such as the Parliament Buildings and the Empress Hotel indelibly impress visitors with Victoria's English heritage. And indeed the city's foundation by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1843 set the imperial British tone that is reinforced today by stately homes and charming tearooms, the elaborately formal Butchart Gardens, colorful horse trolleys and red double decker busses. Yet the city also boasts a wealth of First Nations heritage and the second largest Chinatown anywhere. During the Gold Rush era, fully half the population was Chinese, and incredibly narrow Fan Tan Alley allows visitors to recapture that feeling. Thunderbird Park displays the iconic totem poles of the Coast Salish, and further cultural artifacts and natural history features are displayed in the impressive Royal BC Museum. A host of museums and galleries vie for attention, from general interest to specialized collections such as the BC Aviation Museum, the Maritime Museum or the center displaying some 160 works of Canada's famous wildlife painter Robert Bateman. Culinary curiosity can be satisfied in the dim sum palaces of Chinatown, any number of sedate Edwardian tearooms, or even the august surroundings of the Legislative Dining Room in the Parliament Buildings. For those planning a day in Victoria, the challenge is the city's embarrassment of attractive and interesting riches from which to choose.