January 3, 2018
Guest post by Ryan Dickie; all photos by Ryan Dickie There are few stretches of highway more historic than the Alaska Highway. Although it is…
By Rachel Rilkoff December 16, 2014 #php comments_number('0 Comment', '1 Comment', '% Comments'); ?> #php echo wpb_get_post_views(get_the_ID()); ?>
For residents of the Fairfield neighbourhood in Victoria, Cook Street Village is a strip of amenities, providing the area with grocery stores, coffee shops, a local butcher, charming boutiques and the requisite British-inspired pub. I’ve lived near Cook Street Village for several years and it’s the kind of place where you can run all of your errands, know your butcher by name (“Meat Dawg,” by the way) grab a burger or beer for lunch, and bump into half a dozen people you know.
So what is it about Cook Street Village that would be of interest to an out of town visitor? Two words: Dallas Road.
This beautiful, rugged beach is a mere ten minute walk from Cook Street Village. It’s possibly my favourite place in Victoria and the fact it sits right on the edge of the neighbourhood is one of the things that makes Victoria such an enchanting place. Natural beauty is so easy to find here — sometimes right outside your front door.
The other nice thing about Victoria is that the beach is a year round option. There are things to keep in mind, like dressing for the weather, but there’s usually a spate of sunshine, even in the winter, to spend a few hours watching the waves crash. And Cook Street Village is the perfect place to stock up for a day at Dallas Road, rain or shine.
Let’s talk about picnics. There’s two grocery stores to choose from — Oxford Foods, the discount joint where you can grab a bag of potato chips and a bottle of Perrier, or Mother Nature’s Market & Deli, the fancier option for organic snacks and kombucha. Or you can visit the old school vegetable stand, where the owner ambles over to collect cash from you in person. For some great nibbles, Island Meat and Seafood has a big selection of locally made sausages, jerky, and other meaty snacks.
If you’d rather someone else take care of the food prep, there’s several options for take out. Pizzeria Prima Strada is one of my favourite eateries in the city. Order a wood fired pizza and a piatto grande (cheese, salumi, bread) and you’re set for dining al fresco. If it’s raining, sitting at the counter and watching the cooks maneuver the thin crust pizzas in and out of the big oven is pretty great too. Big Wheel Burger is a sustainable version of fast food, using local products, compostable supplies and high quality ingredients. Across the street is the Cook Street Village Food Court, where you can take away Mexican, sushi or Ethiopian food.
If it’s a chilly day and you want a hot beverage to warm your hands, there’s also a Starbucks and Moka House in the village.
So now that you have food and drink in hand, simply follow Cook Street south, passing a playground, a lawn bowling club and gorgeous heritage homes, until you hit the ocean.
You’re now on Dallas Road, home to one of the most beautiful off leash dog parks (personally I find dog watching even better than people watching!) and there’s several staircases along the path that lead to the beach. The beach is backed by high bluffs, making it feel wild and private, and the driftwood provides ample seating. Across the Juan de Fuca Strait, you can see the Olympic mountains in Washington State. On a clear day, you can see the city of Port Angeles, and every detail in the snow-capped peaks of the mountains. There is really no better place in Victoria to watch the sun set than Dallas Road. And if you want to keep moving, you can follow the path along the road all the way downtown.
To be fair, there are still lots of other reasons to visit Cook Street Village outside of Dallas Road. It’s home to a great neighbourhood pub, The Beagle, where you can try locally brewed beers from award-winning breweries like Phillips and Driftwood, and, if you like what you sipped, there’s a well stocked liquor store across the street with a gigantic selection of craft beers. Bubby’s Kitchen has full service dining or pastries to grab and go and The Hot and Cold Cafe is an adorable lunch spot, with soups and salads.
If you miss independent video stores, Pic-a-Flic is a Victoria institution that’s still going strong — even if you don’t have access to a player, it’s still fun to pop in and visit. Kay’s Korner is a charming vintage store with an eclectic collection of antiques and retro goods. Fairfield Book Shop is the perfect place to browse for used books, especially if the weather is nice and you’d like to spend an afternoon reading down at the beach.
I love the friendly and humble neighbourhood feel of Cook Street Village and feel really fortunate it’s nearly on my doorstep. It has certainly been good to me over the years, whether as a pit stop to fuel up for a day at Dallas Road or just running errands. And it’s only a 20 minute walk from the Inner Harbour, so it’s the perfect place to experience a day in the life of a Victoria local, with Vancouver Island’s natural beauty a short stroll away.
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