Is Vancouver a not-to-be-missed stop?

Old May 11th, 2009, 04:53 PM
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Is Vancouver a not-to-be-missed stop?

My husband and I are in our early 50's and are about to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary. We love to explore the outdoors, but also enjoy many things big cities have to offer. We especially liked Chicago and San Francisco when we visited there.

We plan to fly into Seattle in August and spend one night. The next afternoon, we'd like to take the Victoria Clipper to Victoria and spend one night. After that, we were thinking of renting a car and driving up to Tofino, stopping at a couple of the small, interesting towns on the way. After leaving Victoria, we would have four more nights on the island before returning to Seattle to to catch our flight.

Will we always feel like we missed something if we don't include Vancouver? Our first thought was to only spend 2-3 nights on the island, and then go to Vancouver and take the train back to Seattle. Which is a better plan? Thanks so much for your opinion.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 06:24 PM
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One vote in favor of leaving Vancouver Island and spending a couple of days in Vancouver.

Back when I was in my early 50s, I was in Vancouver and Victoria a lot; you'll find an intresting combo of urban-ness and in-city nature in Vancouver. Well worth a couple of days.

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Old May 11th, 2009, 10:45 PM
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I would only go to Tofino if you can stay at least 3 nights--otherwise, it's too long of a drive to be worthwhile IMO. And Tofino is well worth at least that amount of time.

So if you spend 3 nights up there, you'd have one night to at least get a taste of Vancouver before returning to Seattle, if I'm reading your post correctly as to the amount of time you have. Take the Nanaimo/Horseshoe Bay ferry to Vancouver. However you may run into a steep drop fee to pick up the car in Victoria and drop it in Vancouver so that may not work.

Another option would be to skip Victoria and just head to Vancouver from Seattle and fly from Vancouver to Tofino.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 05:02 AM
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Thank you for your input. To clafify- if we decide to include Vancouver, we would not go all the way to Tofino while on the island. So with the time we have, maybe it boils down to this: Tofino or Vancouver?
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Old May 12th, 2009, 05:45 AM
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Tofino.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 05:45 AM
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If it is Tofino or Vancouver, we need to know more about you. Vancouver is Canada's greatest city to visit and Tofino may just be Canada's great almost-wilderness place to visit.

But it is a long drive; that said, it's a nice long drive. I've only been in the park near Tofino for about an hour, in the rain, twenty years ago, and it is still memorable.

And I'd be bored out of my mind if I was stuck there for three days.

As for Vancouver: I used to have a life where I could often pick from half a dozen cities to be in each weekend for about two years, and for perhaps 20 of those weekends, Vancouver was my destination.

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Old May 12th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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Hi

Vancouver's an interesting city, one I've enjoyed visiting on two occasions. I think one error people make in checking out the Pacific Northwest is trying to squeeze in too much. They say, "Now that I'm in the Pacific Northwest, I've got to see Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, Tofino, Whistler, the Olympic NP (and maybe even Portland Oregon)" There's a lot interesting in the region, and trying to "do it all" kind of misses some of the point of the Pacific Northwest. My advice is make a decision, and then just stick with it, with no regrets. You're bound to miss something and it gives you a good excuse to go back one day .

My first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I spent four full days only in Greater Vancouver (and loved every minute!). My second trip, I spent four days in Seattle, three nights (two full days really) in Victoria and an afternoon in Vancouver (and loved every minute!). There's still so much for me to check out in the region, but that's cool... because now I have excuses galore to go back to a region that I've fallen in love with!

Anyhow, that's my philosophy, but have a great time whatever you decide . DAN
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Old May 12th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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I absolutely love Vancouver..but there is nothing prettier than Tofino.....Do one..and then come back again another time and do the other!!
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Old May 12th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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LOL, BAK...I on the other hand have been to Tofino numerous times and my most recent trip was for 5 days during the winter...and I *still* didn't feel like even that was enough time there. So as you said, it really does depend on the OP's interests and what they like to do.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 06:12 PM
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Just wanted to add, I also enjoy spending time in Vancouver, it's a great city with a wonderful food/restaurant scene. So if you enjoy both cities and scenic outdoorsy places, as I do, it might just come down to which you feel like doing more of this trip.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 06:57 AM
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Thank you all so much. I,too, believe in making a decision and then making it a GOOD decision by sticking with it and having no regrets. Since we will experience 3 nights in cities (Seattle and Victoria), we have decided to spend the rest of our time on the island, and save Vancouver for the next trip. We can hardly wait!
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Old May 13th, 2009, 08:06 AM
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Jumping in late but I also favor Tofino. I am from Ontario and spend every chance I get when I go out west there. When we go and ski in Whistler, we ALWAYS make a side trip to Tofino, whatever the weather because we love it. My husband proposed to me there
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Old May 13th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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We are a 50 -something couple from the midwest who did your exact trip itinerary in August,2007. and REGRET not spending more time in Tofino! We spent 3 days there, and rushed back to Seattle by way of the Vancouver, spending 3 nites in Vanc. After decompressing at the idyllic glorious beaches and harbors of Tofino, we arrived in Vanc. finding it noisy, expensive,hectic and pan-handler filled, much to our dismay.
The greatest thing about Tofino is that it's low-key, unspoiled and refreshing. And we would have never known to go there except from reading many posts on this forum, raving about it. Yeah, Tofino!
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Old May 13th, 2009, 10:17 PM
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I agree that you need to spend 3 days at least in Tofino. I go there around once a month and never get bored and can usually do something different each time. If you love the outdoors it is the best place to be. Just be sure to make reservations before you get there as it is limited in accomodations and gets booked up in August. If you want to be on the beach you can go high end, Wicaninnish or Long Beach Lodge, or mid range to Crystal Cove resort, Tin Wis (Best Western) or Ocean village resort. These are all right on the beach. There are lots of places in Tofino as well and lots of b and bs too. Just, as I say, be sure to have reservations or you may be doing the 1 1/2 drive back to Port Alberni.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 02:21 PM
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Thanks so much for your input. We now have 3 nights reserved for an ocean-facing room at the Middle Beach Lodge in August.
Now we are wondering...Is it also important to reserve hotel rooms ahead of time in Victoria? Is August a very crowded month there? And one more question: Would you choose a whale watching excursion from Victoria or from Tofino for that time of year?
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Old May 15th, 2009, 06:17 PM
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Middle beach is great, good choice. I have never done a whale watch in Victoria, but heard it is good. I am not sure about August though.In Tofino you will pretty much always see whales. There are many more hotels in Victoria than Tofino so you can get a room, just depends on how picky you are. August is a very poplular month for tourists on the island, and BC in general. You may spend a bit of time on your holiday making a bunch of phone calls to find a place.
If you want to be right downtown you will pay more and you may want to book that in advance. Victoria is a fairly spread out city, so staying closer to town will mean you will spend less time travelling around if most of what you want to do is down there.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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Middle Beach is my favorite place to stay in Tofino. Are you in the original lodge or the newer Headlands lodge? If the former, be aware the rooms are very basic and small--but the setting is glorious.

I would definitely make reservations ahead of time in Victoria--do you really want to be stressing about where you're going to stay and spending your valuable vacation time looking for a place?

Re whale watching--it depends on what type of whales you're interested in. You're more likely to see orcas from Victoria; from Tofino, it would more likely be gray whales who stayed in the area for the summer rather than completing the migration up to Alaska.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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Can anyone describe the driving from Victoria to Tofino. How long does it take? Are the roads excessively twisty? Is it a two lane highway? Are there places to stop off on the way? I am seriously motion sickness challenged, but am considering trying a patch to see Tofino. I want to know what I am up against. Thanks very much. Annetti
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Old May 16th, 2009, 06:52 PM
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We are in the original lodge at Middle Beach, so we'll be expecting a small room with a beautiful view.
As for the whales, I'd really love to see orcas, but am mostly interested in which place has a higher probability of actually spotting whales in August, since we've never been whale watching before.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 06:57 PM
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Annetti, about an hour of the 5 hour drive is on a road that is pretty twisty and turny with lots of switchbacks. The rest of it is fairly straight highway, 4 lane in places. Yes, there are lots of places to stop on the way...Cathedral Grove is one particular highlight.

Onthego, I would say you have a better shot of seeing whales in Victoria since the pods are resident in the area, whereas in Tofino it would be more hit and miss. But as with any wildlife viewing, there are just no guarantees. You might wait until you get to each place and ask what's been spotted in the area in recent days.
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