I'm a 36-year old solo female traveler planning to visit the Pacific NW for the first time in early August - specifically, August 4th to 18th. There are so many things that I want to see that I'm having a hard time editing for the time available. This will probably not be my only trip to the Pacific NW, but I would like to make the best of it. So far, I've excluded Oregon, figuring that I'll pick it up on future trip combined with Northern CA. I've also excluded the national parks to the east of Seattle, thinking I can combine them on another trip, either on their own or mixed with a summer trip to the Canadian Rockies (I've been in the winter).
I love nature and beautiful landscapes, but I also have an interest in the cities where I like do typical touristy stuff as well as exploring some interesting neighborhoods.
After doing quite a bit of research, I've edited down to this plan, but I'm wondering if it is still too ambitious....and if so, should I be omitting the San Juan islands? or some other aspect? Am I allotting enough time to Seattle, Vancouver and Olympic National Park? If I remove the San Juans, am I removing anything unique about them that I won't pick up somewhere else? Considering the small amount of information I've provided about me, are there any recommendations of something that I may have missed - either in one of the cities or as a worthwhile scenic route...or perhaps Mt St Helens or Mt Rainier should be in my plans instead of something else?
Sun Aug 4 - Arrive in Seattle at 11a. Possibly explore Fremont and the Fremont Sunday Market.
Mon Aug 5 - Seattle - Coffee Crawl, Experience Music Project, Chiluly Garden & Glass, Olympic Sculpture Park, Space Needle
Tue Aug 6 - Seattle - Pike Place Market w Savor Seattle Tours, Left Bank Books, Pike Street Hillclimb (lunch/shopping), Seattle Aquarium, Waterfront Park, Seattle Art Museum or Library, possibly ferry to Bainbridge Island and back (Seattle skyline view)
Wed Aug 7 - Depart Seattle to Vancouver, stopping at Volunteer Park Conservatory and Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (aka Ballard Locks) on the way out of Seattle, driving up Whidbey Island and stopping at Deception Pass State Park and then on to Orcas Island
Thu Aug 8 - Orcas Island / Moran State Park
Fri Aug 9 - Orcas Island - Kayak Trip to Sucia Island / Orcas Island Historical Museum / Eastsound
Sat Aug 10 - Orcas Island - Stop at Cressent Beach and look for seaglass, ferry back to Anacortes and continue to Vancouver via Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway, arrive in Vancouver, Capilano & Grouse Mountain at sunset
Sun Aug 11 & Mon Aug 12 - Explore Vancouver (use Hop On and Off Trolley for visiting touristy spots), Gastown tasting tour or Guilty Pleasures Gourmet tour, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Gardens at UBC
Tues Aug 13 - From Vancouver, early ferry to Sidney, Victoria Butterfly Gardens, Butchart Gardens, not sure about the Royal British Columbia Museum (I see people rave about it, but if I've visited all the major museums in London, is this worth my time?), ferry to Port Angeles
Wed Aug 14-Sat Aug 17 - Olympic National Park - Interested in Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rainforest, Crescent Lake, beach area (don't have this planned out well yet)
Sun Aug 18 - Need to drop off rental car and be at Seattle airport in time for 3:00p flight - Have a little time in the morning for something but not sure what.
I suspect that I'm rushing Vancouver in exchange for Orcas Island, but I don't want this to be a city trip either. Would spending a night on Whidbey Island somewhere help break up the Seattle-Vancouver city time? Or is there another recommendation of someplace beautiful between Seattle and Vancouver that is deserving of one night and involves less ferry navigation than Orcas Island? Perhaps somewhere that one can take a good water tour of Puget Sound since I'd be dropping the Sucia Island trip? If I did just a one night stop somewhere, that would give me an extra two days in Vancouver and it would have me crossing the border on a Thursday rather than Saturday, which I suspect (hope) would be less time consuming.
Finally...Are there any ferries that I'll be using that you recommend having a reservation for?
Thanks so much for your help!!
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