Whether you prefer turquoise waters where cold drinks melt in your hand, icy peaks where you feel like you’re on top of the world or invigorating coastlines that make you want to curl up next to a crackling fire, travelling during the holiday season is magical. So is wrapping up the gifts you’ve found while you’re away to fill stockings or place under the tree. It’s these mementos – from the tacky fridge magnet that made you laugh to that rare treasure, watching friends and family enjoy the gifts you’ve brought them from your adventures is wonderful. South Vancouver Island has some incredible shopping where you can find everything from the truly outrageous to incredibly meaningful – you’ll find something for everyone on your holiday list, including you.
At the top of the Saanich Peninsula, you’ll find the little town of Sidney. If you’re staying at either the stunning Oceanside Lodge or Pendray Home, you’ll be thrilled to find that a short drive will take you to Sidney town center: an easily walkable and an excellent place to find great holiday gifts. Cameron Rose is basically a one-stop-shop for everything you’re searching for. While Cameron Rose isn’t a large store, it carries everything from clothing and jewellery to games, puzzles and toys to novelty napkins and magnets. This is a great place to go if you’re pressed for time and you need unique, travel-friendly gifts. If you are looking for amazing gifts for the ladies on your list, Miss Bliss Boutique is an excellent option. This little store prides itself on personalized service and high quality women’s clothing and accessories – you’ll find your holiday ‘wow’ here. There are few better places on the Peninsula to find an excellent selection of books than Tanner’s Books. This little bookstore is a fixture in the community for good reason – besides the selection, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better, more helpful staff of literary experts than at Tanner’s. If you’re looking for something a little different, Galleon Books & Antiques specializes in non-fiction books and has a plethora of antiques and collectables to peruse – it’s a great store to stop into even if you’re with a non-shopper. Last, but certainly not least is Snowden House Gourmet & Gifts Ltd. A lovely little farm just west of Sidney town center, Snowden House will have the perfect gift for any gourmand. With small batch vinegars, pre-mixed bread kits, dips, rubs, herbs and spices as well as cards, locally crafted vessels and more – you won’t be disappointed!
A quick trip south of Sidney and close to both Dalmeny Farm Estate and Ardmore Executive House, is one of the longest running markets in the Victoria region, the Peninsula Country Market. Located at the Saanich Fairgrounds, this market hosts vendors that “make, bake or grow” everything they sell. It is a great place for anyone who really wants to immerse themselves in the community and find some amazing gifts even in the winter – check when the market is running while you’re visiting here. For those who love to rummage through eclectic shops, The Old Attic should be your next stop. Part retro, part vintage, part antique, this store has nothing but top quality collectables and one-of-a-kind pieces for the one-of-a-kind people in your life. Way out there in left field is Quarky Science, an absolute must for all the professional and amateur scientists on your holiday list. You can find something for every scientific discipline here from small 3D bug specimens and brass magnifying glass sets to prepared microscope slides and telescopes.
Only a half an hour drive from the top of the Peninsula is Victoria, one of the most visited cities in the world, for good reason. Between the breathtaking beauty of the Juan De Fuca and the preponderance of perfectly maintained historical buildings, this incredibly vibrant, heritage city on the tip of Vancouver Island is the perfect blend of natural and architectural beauty. There are a few stops that you won’t want to miss and if you’re staying at either EMR properties, Arbutus Hill or Nature’s Gate Executive Vacation Home, these gems will not be far from your doorstep. At the top of the list is Murchie’s Fine Tea and Coffee flagship store located in the heritage Murchie’s building on Government street, right in the heart of Victoria. Since 1894, Murchie’s has been blending perfectly balanced teas, providing Victorians and visitors alike with unique and exceptional products. The soaring ceilings and rich, dark wood shelves inlaid with stained glass that line each wall, showcase the art deco era of the building and give patrons an experience from another time. But it’s not just the beauty of the building that draws people from all over the world – in the tea room you can find an extensive food menu and decadent treats to nibble while the adjoining gift shop carries a myriad of different tea sampler boxes, tea cups, mugs, tea towels and so much more. If you’d prefer to seek out small, local businesses and artisans, then give the mall a miss and head to Lower Johnson or “LoJo” as the locals call it, where you’ll find every kind of gift you could possibly want. From genuine, First Nations artisan ware to smart eco-friendly toys, to luxurious clothes to fun gadgets and knickknacks, Lower Johnson has it all. While you’re checking out LoJo, make sure you visit Market Square. The historic, Italianate building was built in the late 1800’s and is the cornerstone of Victoria’s Old Town. Today it’s home to dozens of locally owned businesses where you can find one-of-a-kind merchandise, dine-in and take-out restaurants and an open-air square that is a venue for art installations, performances and fairs.
With so much choice for holiday shopping, make sure you visit and support local businesses where you are sure to find unique, thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list.