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How best to do Seattle,San Jaun Islands,Victoria and Vancouver

How best to do Seattle,San Jaun Islands,Victoria and Vancouver

Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 11:07 AM
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cd
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How best to do Seattle,San Jaun Islands,Victoria and Vancouver

We're looking at the first week in July to fly into Seattle and leave the next day via ferries to visit San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island (especially Victoria) and Vancouver then take the train back to Seattle to fly home. How is this itiniary? With 7nights,8days, how would you do it? We thought the only time we would need a car would be the few days on Vancouver Island. Are we thinking right? Which ferry would you take from Seattle to Victoria, Washington State or Victoria Clipper?
Our main interest is nature and to see the beautiful scenery, especially from the water. Thanks!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Opps, forgot, how are the Coast Hotels? I found some packages that include the one in Vancouver and Victoria. Thanks again.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 07:43 PM
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cd, I don't know which is the best ferry to get you from Seattle to Victoria. I've never done that voyage myself. However, as far as I can tell from the map, the ferry route from Port Angeles does not go through the San Juan Islands so, if the islands are important to you, that is something you may want to factor into your research.

Also, one of the ferry routes deposits its passengers right at Victoria's Inner Harbour, while another delivers them to Sidney, which is 18 km north of Victoria. I don't know the best way to get from Sidney to Victoria if one doesn't have a car. My research has not yet found a downtown to downtown bus/ferry combination between Seattle and Victoria to match the one that exists between Vancouver and Victoria.

With the relatively short time you have available, I think it would be best to skip the train journey from Vancouver to Seattle. I think you'd be better off booking open jaw flights, into Seattle and out of Vancouver. Possibly this would be a little more expensive. However, it would save you time.

Also, supposing you really want to stick with the idea of the train, I don't know if you've researched how you'll get from Seattle's train station to the airport. By the time you've paid for the train and for transportation from the station to the airport, you may break even on open jaw flights.

If you want to do a trip that is more focused on the three cities, you could consider something like this:

1 - Land in Seattle
2 - Look around Seattle
3 - Morning ferry to Victoria, afternoon walk around downtown
4 - Collect rental car, morning visit to Butchart Gardens, afternoon drive into the countryside outside of Victoria
5 - Another drive into the countryside, return rental car, evening ferry to Vancouver
6 - Vancouver
7 - Vancouver
8 - Fly home

If you want to see less of urban spaces and more of natural spaces, you could consider something like this:

1 - Land Seattle
2 - Explore Seattle
3 - Morning ferry to Victoria, afternoon walk around downtown
4 - Collect rental car, visit Butchart Gardens, drive into the countryside, overnight in a small town
5 - Explore rural area around your small town base
6 - More rural explorations in the morning. In the afternoon drive back to Victoria, drop off the car, and catch the ferry to Vancouver
7 - Look around Vancouver
8 - Fly home

I've deliberately kept the definition of "countryside" vague. It could be on Vancouver Island, or it could be on one or more of the Gulf Islands.

I personally think you need to give some more thought to what you most want to see. You say you're interested in nature and beautiful scenery, and yet your proposal of three cities in seven nights doesn't really put you in the midst of nature very much.

>>>We thought the only time we would need a car would be the few days on Vancouver Island. Are we thinking right?<<<

Yes and no. First of all, I can't address this question as far as Seattle is concerned.

When it comes to Victoria, the downtown area lends itself to walking, and the city also has a good public transportation system. But if you want to explore Vancouver Island beyond Victoria, you are right that a car would help enormously.

Opinions on this forum differ when it comes to Vancouver. I think we all agree that downtown Vancouver is accessible on foot or, if you are not inclined to walk quite so much, then by a combination of walking and public transportation.

There seems to be a certain amount of disagreement when it comes to places that are beyond downtown. Take the North Shore, for example. Vancouverites say that Grouse Mountain is accessible by public transportation. But it does take a bit of effort to find out the right seabus/land-bus combination. If one's visit to Vancouver will be very brief, one may not want to invest the bit of time it would take to become familiar with the public transportation system. I personally think it's nice to have a car to drive around and look at North Vancouver and West Vancouver up to Horseshoe Bay at least.

However, if one is going to have only a single day in Vancouver, then it's best to concentrate one's efforts on Stanley Park and downtown, and one doesn't need a car.

>>>how are the Coast Hotels?<<<

I've never stayed in them, and don't know how they are. The location of the Comox Street, Vancouver one looks good. It's quite close to Stanley Park, which I would consider to be an advantage. But be aware that there also is a Coast Hotel near the airport, and I don't imagine that's the one you want.

As far as the Coast property in Victoria is concerned, it overlooks the harbour, and is relatively close to downtown, but is not in the heart of downtown. I don't know how strongly you feel about being centrally located.

Hope that helps.
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Old Jan 24th, 2005, 01:07 AM
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As far as I know the passenger-only Clipper is the only ferry between Seattle and Victoria. It will drop you in Victoria not far from the Coast Hotel. The Coast should be fine. As Judy mentioned, it is a bit of a walk to downtown but a pleasant one if you cut down to the harbourside walkway.

It would be a very cheap taxi ride from there to the bus depot (by the Empress Hotel) where you can catch a bus over to Vancouver.

In Vancouver we found the public transportation to Grouse Mtn easy to use, but would I do it again? No. We found the restaurant up there abysmal and the views disappointing in the hazy afternoon light that day (this was in November). I would much rather spend my time driving up Howe Sound where the scenery is spectacular.
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Old Jan 24th, 2005, 06:37 AM
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Judy and April:
Thanks so very much for your very informative answers. I appreciate the time you took and value what you have shared. Judy, I had thought of the open jaw but have not looked into the cost but will certainly do that.
If either know of hotels, b&b's on the water in Victoria that you could recommend, I would be interested. I might go with Coast in Vancouver because of the location to the Park but will also give futher thought to a car for a day to drive areas you have recommended. Thanks again.
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Old Jan 24th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Someone here posted a positive review of the Victoria Regent. It has a great location in town at the base of the harbour.
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Old Jan 24th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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I've stayed overnight at the Coast in downtown Vancouver after a few parties. It's close to Stanley Park and the resturants on Denman Street, and also to English Bay spots. The hotel is pretty good. Rooms are not the fanciest but fine - you could do a lot worse. The hotel isn't really close to the main shopping or business area but is in a quieter location.

The Coast in Victoria IS on the water. Maybe you meant to say you wanted to hear about places a little closer to downtown? The Coast is not that far a walk from downtown - most of the hotels that are on the harbour are not right in downtown. You could also try the Hotel Grand Pacific - view of the harbour and a short walk to downtown. The Empress is on the harbour and on the edge of downtown.

We go to Seattle fairly often in the car, but if you are just there a short time you would probably not need one as you wouldn't have time to explore much in outlying areas or suburbs. Downtown has lots of great shops long 4th, 5th, 6th avenue, art museum, and the Pike Place Market further west. You can also take a monorail from Westlake Centre (downtown mall) to Seattle Centre where the Space Needle is located. We always like to have a drink in the evening in the lounge in the Fairmont Olympic where you can sit amongst palm trees and plants and listen to music. We've stayed there too, when we're feeling rich, and it's lovely - but hard on the budget.
If you had more time, and a car, you could check out the University area, or Queen Anne's hill, or even drive to the Snoqualmie Pass. But there is lots to do and see downtown.
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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Thanks April and Taggie
I need to try and make the most of our time since it's just 7days. The reason for taking the ferries is mostly to view the sights along the way but maybe we should rent a car in Seattle, drive to Vancouver and make our way back to Seattle via the ferries. As you can see, still need to do research. :_)
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 06:07 PM
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Well then that is exactly what I would do - drive to Vancouver, then take the ferry to the island. From there you could ride the Coho ferry to Port Angeles. I prefer this counterclockwise route because cars can be left in the Coho ferry line-up while you wander around Victoria or go for a bite to eat. (I like to be there first thing in the morning for the first sailing and would rather over-night and wander around Victoria than Port Angeles.) From Port Angeles you might consider stopping at Dungeness Spit or Port Townsend.

Another option would be to take the Washington State ferry between Anacortes and Sidney (about a 30 minute drive from Victoria). I believe they accept reservations so it wouldn't matter as much which way you go. If you still want to cram in the San Juans, I guess that would be the one to take.
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Old Jan 29th, 2005, 03:25 PM
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I've stayed at the Coast in Vancouver. You can read my review of our trip to Victoria and Vancouver at www.scubamom.com/travels/ - take the Victoria/Vancouver trip review link.

You'll have a great time. And we liked the ferry too.
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Old Jan 29th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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Ah, it was you, ScubaMom, who stayed at the Regent. I love your reports and pictures.
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