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Vancouver/Whistler trip - March 2011

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Hi! My husband and I are thinking of planning a trip from March 11 - March 20th. We will be flying from RDU to Seattle on Friday (3/11). We are planning to rent a car in Seattle and driving to Vancouver (although I'm not convinced this will be cheaper) and then on to Whistler.

The ROUGH plan is:
Seattle - Friday, Saturday & Sunday night
Vancouver - Monday night
Whistler - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night (skiing!)
Seattle - Friday night (leave Saturday)

Is this too much time? Will the skiing be good around then? Should we plan more time in Vancouver? Should we reverse this itinerary and go skiing in the first part of the week? Should we plan a day in Victoria? I have heard that Vancouver, while beautiful, doesn't have that much to see. Is this true?

Please feel free to suggest alternatives! I am just in the beginning process of planning. Thanks so much!

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    Vancouver is a much more interesting place than Seattle-the more time here the better and you can always do Seattle the last day.

    Check how Amtrak fits your schedule.

    You can always bus to Whistler-no need for a car there except to run up parking fees-ditto downtown Vancouver this place is totally walkable/pedestrian friendly with a easy to manage transit system.

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    The US rental car companies don't want you taking their cars into Canada-(insurance issues etc.) There is at least 1 Amtrak train and 2 Amtrak buses from Seattle to Vancouver each day.
    The transportation system in Vancouver and to Whistler is top notch since the 2010 Winter Olympics.
    Make time while in Vancouver to see Stanley Park, Canada Place, Gastown and Granville Island.
    If the skiing is not so great, see more of Vancouver.The only place you would plan to rent a car would be after you got off the boat on Victoria Island.

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    Tom Fuller is confused:

    The U.S. rental car companies are going to be much more suitable to you than would Canadian companies IF a border crossing is involved.

    Tiz far more (possible) to rent a car in your own country and take it to another country than it is to rent one in another country and bring it back to your own country.

    I myself WOULD go through with your original plan/instinct... to rent a vehicle in Seattle and drive to Whistler. (in fact, I recall renting from a smaller rental company in Seattle "Enterprise" and their saying that it was OK to take their cars as far into Canada as "Whistler").

    The vehicle affords you so much freedom and spontaniety...

    I'm intimately familiar with the path from Seattle to Vancouver and know of scores of points along the way, and in each, where the convenience of a car would be most ideal for tourists.

    If I were you, I'd fly on Friday, then depart for Vancouver on Saturday afternoon... the timing should be good relating to the border, getting through on Saturday evening.

    Saturday night - Vancouver
    Sunday, Monday, Tuesday nights - Whistler

    Then, on the way, back, YOU DECIDE on the fly whether to spend more time in Vancouver or more time in Seattle, though I'd always vote "Vancouver". In March you would have little trouble using to get a good rate on 4-star downtown Vancouver/Seattle hotels, resulting in savings even after they gouge you for parking.

    Sam Salmon is pretty accurate about Vancouver being more of a draw than Seattle.

    In either city, plan for rain, and chilly-ish temperatures... OR even colder temps. clear skies, and a cold north wind.

    Right now, January in Seattle is unseasonably warm, and drizzly. envisions "60" degrees here for Wednesday.

    (that means you'd better dress for "32" in March) (I'm kidding, but dress for it anyway)

    Oh, as for skiing, you might even contemplate going just outside of central Vancouver to "" where you take a gondola up the side of a mountain to a ski area right there.

    I'm not a skier, and of course Whistler is the name destination... but at least *know* of Grouse Mountain being up there when back in Vancouver.

    I wouldn't waste time getting over to Victoria, and Vancouver could be absolutely stunning if skies are clear, with snow-capped peaks and water all around.

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    No, it's not true that Vancouver doesn't have much to see. It has as much, if not arguably more, than your other destinations. I suppose it depends on what you'd like to see, but many first-time visitors underestimate their time in Vancouver. At least that has been my observation on travel forums

    Typically if you want to properly experience Vancouver, 3 full days will give you that taste. Vancouver's more of a city about natural attractions (parks, beaches, trails, etc.) and neighbourhoods, as opposed to say, big museums and galleries. It has, however, tons of small museums, and that's without even exploring the Greater Vancouver region which you could spend weeks exploring.

    Ideally a Vancouver itinerary would have you spending one day to explore Stanley Park and Granville Island. This would include an obligatory walk or cycle around the seawall and a water taxi ride to Granville Island. Throw in windowshopping on Robson/Yaletown and perhaps dinner/cocktails in Gastown and you've had a full day without even leaving downtown.

    You'd want another day to explore attractions like Lynn Canyon Park, Lighthouse Park, and if you feel up for it, skiing/snoeshowing on the local mountains: Grouse, Seymour, or Cypress. This would be on Vancouver's North Shore - a 20 minute drive from downtown.

    Another day exploring the cultural attractions like the must-see Museum of Anthropology out at UBC the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown, or a botanical Gardens like VanDusen. Queen Elizabeth Park is gorgeous for a short stroll on a clear day.

    This doesn't go into exploring neighbourhoods like Commercial Drive or Kitsilano, or visiting historical sites like Fort Langley or Steveston.

    Needless to say, there's enough to do in Vancouver to last a week if you wanted. :)

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    Living in Whistler, March skiing is still pretty awesome. Lots of nice clear sunny days if I remember correctly.

    There is an awesome little hotel called the Summit Lodge & Spa. They located in the heart of Whistler village, about a 10 minute walk from the ski lift, and also offer complimentary shuttle service to the lifts and free ski storage. They have kitchnettes and fireplaces in all their rooms, the people who work there are LOVELY, and also have a hot tub, pool and sauna for when you're off the mountain.

    Whistler is also awesome for snowmobiling, ziptreking, snowshoeing, backcountry, eating out and lots of stuff - so you'll definitely want to spend a couple of nights there!

    Don't forget to stop off at Squamish as well on your way up, there's some really neat little restaurants and cafes there.

    If you call them, ask for a girl called Lorraine. She'll be able to offer you an unbeatable rate!

    Oh yeah, if you're bringing your dog, they'll let your pet stay for free, and they'll put their name on their chalkboard for you on check in. So cute!!

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    I love skiing at Whistler in March, I do it every year. The mountains have so much vertical (about a mile), you can usually count on there being good snow at some altitude. In March, you will find that the High Alpine areas still have winter conditions and should be fun. Check out Harmony, Symphony and Peak chairs on Whistler, and 7th Heaven and Glacier chairs on Blackcomb.

    If the snow is any good at all, consider taking Blackcomb's Showcase T-bar, and then a short walk will put you onto the Blackcomb Glacier, a huge wide bowl with fantastic views. If you are a good skier, consider climbing Spanky's Ladder, near the top of Blackcomb's Glacier Express, and then dropping down into 4 spectacular bowls (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet).

    Although I am a Seattleite, I agree with above posters that Vancouver has lots of interesting things to do. You could easily spend 2-3 days there doing fun stuff. Victoria is great too, but it will take a little time to get there via one of the ferries. If you like ferries, consider driving to Anacortes, then taking the Washington State ferry through the San Juan and Gulf Islands to Sydney, just outside of Victoria. After checking out this small but lovely city, drive up the east coast of Vancouver Island to Nanaimo, then take the BC ferry to Horseshoe Bay, and you will be well on your way up the Sea to Sky Highway, to Whistler.

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    Thank you all for such great suggestions! We have bought our flight and arrive on Friday, March 11th at 11:00 am in Seattle. We are thinking of driving immediately to Vancouver and spending a night there. After that, we'd like to head up to Whistler for some skiing. We're both skiers, and have been looking forward to this trip! We are trying to find a place to stay on I think a one bedroom condo would be perfect, but they are a bit expensive. The Whistler website actually has pretty good deals/promotion packages too. I'm trying to figure out the best place to stay. Whistler Village? Village North? How difficult is it to catch the bus to the lifts?


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    The village is so small you can stay in creek side or north you will have no problem walking to the lift even with your boots on! We went in Jan. to visit our daughter and we used the bus the whole week and the car sat idle. Better be die hard skiiers , we had to take a day break between skiing, and one of us skieed for a living once so not beginner skiiers here. BTW we loved whistler ,fantastic! check on line for prices of tickets they can go up to 95 a day to ski !!

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