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Please help plan trip to Seattle/Vancouver/Vancouver Island


Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:35 AM
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Please help plan trip to Seattle/Vancouver/Vancouver Island

Please help me plan a 25-year anniversary trip to Seattle, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island in July 2009. Neither of us have been to any of these places and our kids are old enough that they will not be coming along (yeah!) We both like good food, good wine, beautiful scenery, hiking (moderate), bicycling (flat), interesting museums and gardens, and wildlife. We have a total of 25 days, including travel by plane from (and to) Washington, DC. We can afford to stay in luxury hotels ($300-$400 per night) when it is worth it for a few nights, but for the most part, we need to keep the lodging around $200-$250 per night). The most difficult task is trying to decide how much time to spend in each place and which day trips to include outside of Victoria, Seattle, and Vancouver. It seems like the west coast of Vancouver island might itself be worth a few days? Thanks in advance for your advice.
laminmd is offline  
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Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:20 PM
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25 days for a trip, 25 years of marriage! Congratulations!

There are many ways you can slice this trip. How committed are you to staying mainly in the cities with day trips? The PNW is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it would be unfortunate to only see it on day trips.

Here are some close places to go:

Whistler for a few days - good biking, pretty hiking, nice town - very "planned." (Would not be my first choice, but is nice)

Vancouver Island, Tofino - 3 days. Pacific Rim National Park, rain forests, GREAT food (more papered chefs/pop than anywhere in Canada), kayaking (I know you'd enjoy it), hiking, bears, eagles.

Gulf Islands (BC) or San Juan Islands (WA) - a few days. Lovely scenery. Lots of artists. (You could go to Saltspring Island in the Gulf Islands for a couple of days, touring the island with their little tourist road map that leads you to gallaries, bakeries, cheese making stores and wineries) Also Lopez in the San Juans for biking, and stay on San Juan Island and see the historic sites (learn about the Pig War, our big war with Canada).

Mt Rainier Nat Park - stay two nights. One of God's most beautiful gifts to the world.

Olympic National Park (a few days)- visit Hurricane Ridge (great views - alpine), Port Townsend.

Banff NP in Canada - Should be on everyone's "bucket list." It's 500 miles from Vancouver, but you should consider it.

Here's an idea without Banff and without a lot of driving:

Seattle, 4 nights
Olympic National Park 3 nights
Victoria 2 nights (see Buchardt Gdns)
Tofino 4 nights
Saltspring Is 3 nights (or some Gulf Island. Galiano Island has a beatiful harbor - Montague Harbor and a great pub)
Vancouver 4 nights
San Juan Islands 4 nights

There are many great alternatives, including going east of the Cascades through the NW Cascades NP in the US around to Lake Chelan, getting you into the dry country. This would be great.

If you do that or Banff, I'd eliminate one set of islands (eliminate the San Juans or Gulf Islands) and/or one set of coast (eliminate Olympic National Pk or Tofino). If you're interested, let us know and we can help you figure out timing and balance.
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Jun 23rd, 2008, 09:45 AM
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in your price range for hotels in victoria: marriott inner harbour or magnolia
b&b's compete w/ high end hotels: binners b&b

in victoria royal bc museum , art gallery of victoria, craigdarroch castle are all good wet day options

in addition to butchart gardens try to see Abkahzi in town; just walking around neighbourhoods like james bay, fairfield or rockland to admire house and gardens

tour the inner harbour by water taxi or rented kayak; lessons available at ocean river sports

day trips :hard to beat botanical beach about 2 hour beautiful drive up west coast road from victoria

wide range of good dining downtown: vin rouge; sanuk; reef; bengal lounge (curry buffet) or main dining room at empress; niche
more casual but good quality milestones; moxies'; med grill or glo or canoe brewpub or spinnakers ( last 3 on the water

lots of choices in china town: don mee etc


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Jun 23rd, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Thanks to both of you for posting such great replies. We want to try to find the most efficient way of covering ground (without backtracking, for example) and make as few moves as possible without sacrificing seeing great places. For example, I think we should plan a few days near Pacific Rim Park, the San Juan Islands, Olympic National Park, etc as you recommend since they are all fairly accessible to the cities we want to see. I guess I don't want to stay in more than 6 or 7 places over the course of the trip. We can actually tack on another day on either end for traveling and end up with a total of 25 days "on vacation" without travel days.

So, does this plan make sense?

5 nights in Vancouver
2 nights in Victoria
4 nights in Tofino
4 nights San Juan Islands
2 nights Mt. Ranier National Park
3 nights Olympic National Park
1 night Port Townsend
4 nights Seattle

Also, I am somewhat confused about the best order and transportation mode(s) to do this. Should we fly to Vancouver, or is it better to fly to Seattle and then take the train or the ferry to either Vancouver or Victoria? I have read on some travel boards that it is better to do customs from the ferry or the train than from the airport or crossing the border by car. Please advise, and thanks!
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Jun 23rd, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Most of the ferries take cars, so they are not mutually exclusive. I suggest you rent a car for your entire trip, as I think it will be less expensive by the week and cost less to drop off and pick up in the same place.

You should plan the trip so you cross the border once each way. The car crossing is fine if you time it right. (avoid CA and US national holidays!!!).

I am guessing it is less expensive to rent a car in the US, so this is how I would do it, making a clockwise loop.

Seattle - 4 nights
Mt. Rainier Nat Park - 3 nights.
Olympic National Park - 3 nights
Victoria - 2 nights (Coho Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, across border on ferry))
Tofino - 4 nights (BC Ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver)
Vancouver - 4 nights
San Juan Islands - 4 nights (Drive across border between Vancouver on I-5)
Seattle - 1 night
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Jun 23rd, 2008, 02:30 PM
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I like the plan Orcas has outlined but I would adjust it slightly to have less time at Mt. Rainier (I think 2 nights there is more than enough, even 1 night is fine), and I'd split up your time on the peninsula, 2 nights Lk Quinault, then 2 nights Lk Crescent/Port Angeles. I wouldn't bother with staying a separate night in Port Townsend.

In Tofino, my favorite place to stay is Middle Beach Lodge--it's very nice but not as over the top elegant and expensive as the Wick. I think it would be worth splurging on a single cabin with private hot tub for your special trip, but there are less expensive options as well.

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