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russp3762 Feb 27th, 2010 11:22 AM

Seattle/Vancouver Itinerary Late July (CAN)
 
(Adding this to the Canadian Forum in hopes of getting added suggestions for Whistler and Vancouver - also, in the US Forum, it was recommended I modify my Day 3 itinerary to take the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, and then ferry to Horshoe Bay on route to Whistler - rather then my original plan below - open for more suggestions!)

I thought I would start a new string to get feedback/suggestions regarding my planned itinerary for my family's trip to the Seattle/Vancouver area July 27th - Aug 4th. We are going to celebrate my wife and I's 20th anniversary, and it will also be my wife's birthday during the trip - we are very excited. It will be myself (48), wife (43), daugher (17) and son (14). We are a very active family and love the outdoors, but also want to take in the "city life" while we are there as well.

Based on some prior recommendations - i have put together the following itinerary: Any input on the lodging choices I have made, as well as suggestions for places to eat, see along the way would be very welcome. For lodging, I have budgeted about $200 per night although happy to save where possible (we are staying 8 nights/9 days), and would like to find roomy accomodations that give the family some space since travelling with 2 teens - everyone can probably use their own space from time to time! For restaurants - looking for mostly casual locations, with unique to the area attributes ( we like seafood, sushi, mexican, chinese/thai, but willing to try more).

Day 1: Arrive Seattle around 11:30 am (from KC) - Rental car - drive to Port Angeles via Bainbridge Ferry. Ideas of where to stop for late lunch/early dinner along the way? i presently have reservations at both the Red Lion and the Olympic Lodge in PA for about the same amount - suggestions on which would be a better experience? Considering making the drive up Hurricane Ridge this first evening - is this getting too much for day 1?

Day 2: From PA, driving to Hoh Rainforest and doing some hiking. If I don't go to Hurricane Ridge day 1, then would also include that as part of day 2. If we do go to HR on day 1, then options are to drive over to a beach or back to PA and possibly kayak Dungeoness sea dune area.

Day 3: Depart PA in morning and begin drive up to Vancouver - take ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island and stop at Deception Pass State Park along way to Vancouver - suggestions for places to eat, or other stops along route to Vancouver? I have reservations in Vancouver at both the Blue Horizon Hotel and L'Hermitage Hotel - again, any recommendations for which is better? Probably won't have much time in Vancouver this first day other then to walk and explore a little - considering this is really just a stopping point to break up the drive up to Whistler - open to other options as to where may be a more convenient stop as we will be returning to Vancouver after Whistler.

Day 4 & 5 - Drive from Vancouver to Whistler to spend next two days - while in Whistler, plan to do Zip Line, White Water Rafting, and possibly Mountain bike. I have not yet booked hotel for Whistler.

Day 6: Depart Whistler for return to Vancouver - again return to either Blue Horizon or L'Hermitage. While in Vancouver, open to suggestions for places to see - most likely this will be more of walking around the city and taking in the vistas or the sites - not really looking to spend time doing things like museums. If there are unique places/sites that are "must see" please share - I have not yet done a lot of research on Vancouver itslelf.

Day 7: Depart Vancouver by early afternoon for return drive to Seattle - site seeing in Seattle - possibly Space Needle and scenic dinner location. Hotel reservation at Marriott Spring Hill Suites.

Day 8: Seattle - Fish Market/Acquarium - possibly kayaking Lake Union or drive over to Mt. Ranier. Thinking with two days in Whistler, we might bypass Mt Ranier. Still firming up what to do in Seattle.

Day 9: Flight out of Seattle at 12:05 pm

russp3762 Mar 10th, 2010 08:07 PM

try again

Carmanah Mar 11th, 2010 12:04 PM

Well, the Blue Horizon is an old, former apartment building from the 1960's, but the views are spectacular and the rooms are spacious and you're right in the heart of the retail shops and restaurants of Robson Street. Because of that, this hotel offers good value.

L'Hermitage was only built about 2 years ago, so it's very new, modern and boutiquey tower right about an 8 minute walk down Robson east of the Blue Horizon, but also about a 5 minute walk away from trendy Yaletown.

Either hotel will be central (one is not *more* central than the other becauase one location will put you closer to some things but further than others, and vice versa... and the distances between the two, again, are negligable).

So realistically, you have one full day in Vancouver. Barely.

If you're in Vancouver for one day, you'll probably end up spending the majority of the day at Stanley Park. That's the must-see. And not just the manicured eastern section of Stanley Park, but make sure you walk the entire perimeter around the park and go explore the forested interior of the park around Third Beach and Second Beach (which most tourists unfortunately miss). Having that temperate rainforest within walking distance of downtown is really what makes Stanley Park a jewel.

The seawall along English Bay, under the Burrard Street Bridge makes for a pleasant stroll where you can take a False Creek Ferry (a toy-boat like vessel) across False Creek to Granville Island. The thing is, if you're going to visit Granville Island (which is worthwhile if you enjoy food), you'll want to visit before 6pm. Granville Island's a stroll-and-observe-and-windowshop kind of artist & market area. It has a great energy.

And if you want something different, drive north over the Lions Gate Bridge and head east to Lynn Canyon Park, which is home to a free suspension bridge. It's also in the temperate rainforest with rivers of turquoise and emerald green, and beautiful waterfalls. Did I mention it's free?

That's what I'd do with your limited time.

Carmanah Mar 11th, 2010 12:08 PM

And of course, in July the sky doesn't get dark until well after 9pm. So take advantage of the daylight hours.

Also in Vancouver on the last Wednesday and Saturday of July and the first Wedneday and Saturday of August is the Celebration of Light fireworks competition. If you happen to be in Vancouver on those dates, it's worth heading down to English Bay for the 10pm fireworks display. Just be warned that 100,000+ others will be doing the same thing.

One last point: August 2nd is the BC Day long weekend, so everyone in BC will have that day off work. Typically this is a crazy busy weekend for the ferries, so have reservations, otherwise you may be waiting for hours.

christy1 Mar 13th, 2010 05:55 PM

Unless you are really going to get out and hike the alpine areas around Whistler (ie in Garibaldi Provincial Park) I wouldn't necessarily skip Mt Rainier. Whistler is a large scale resort development/town capable of sleeping 50,000 people, and not a national park, so I think they're apples and oranges. The biking/rafting/ziplining there isn't going to take you into the really beautiful areas near Whistler--ever seen a ski mountain in summer? I think the scenery/forests/meadows/etc is just much prettier at Rainier.

russp3762 Mar 15th, 2010 10:01 AM

Carmanah and Christy - thank you for your input! I have modified my itinerary a little based on some other feedback. On Day 3, instead of making my way to Vancouver, I am now planning on taking the Ferry out of Port Angeles to Victoria, and then ferry from Victoria to Horshoe Bay, and driving to Whistler. I would then spend the evening of Day 3, as well as Days 4 & 5 in Whistler. Leave the morning of Day 6 to drive to Vancouver and staying in Vancouver on Day 6 and Day 7, driving up to Seattle the morning of Day 8.

This only gives us the afternoon/evening of Day 8 to see the Seattle area, so most likely we won't be able to do Mt. Ranier on this trip. We wanted to maximize our time in Canada on this trip. Hopefully, we can return again and to the Portland area, and possibly visit Mt. Ranier at that time.

I think I have settled on the Blue Horizon in Vancouver because it did appear to have great views, as well as the proximity to Stanley Park. I also found a nice condo for the 3 days up in Whistler.

We will probably only spend a few hours in Victoria in transit up to Whistler - any suggestions for what to see while we are there or a good restaurant for lunch, maybe in a scenic part of town? Also, we will now have nearly two full days in Vancouver - any other "must do's" other then Stanley Park?

Thanks again for your suggestions!

NWWanderer Mar 15th, 2010 05:23 PM

Yikes, Day 3 will be a LOOOOONG day. The ferry doesn't go from Victoria to Horseshoe Bay, it goes from Nanaimo, a 2 hour drive north of Victoria. So you've got 2 1.5 hour ferry rides (plus the wait time for them; even with reservations, you need to get there at least 30 minutes early, longer for the PA ferry), plus 2 2 hour drives. I would overnight in Victoria that night rather than trying to go all the way to Whistler.

NorthwestMale Mar 15th, 2010 06:31 PM

(trying to shake the urge to cringe at some of this: )

Firstly, you are going from SeaTac airport to Port Angeles on day one, soon after arrival.

According to MSN Maps, this is a mere 124-mile DRIVE, around the long way, via Tacoma and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (exit #132 from I-5 southbound). There is no sense in complicating your trip with a ferry ride, downtown Seattle traffic, and a number of other unknowns/variables when you need only complete a 2-hour and 18-minute DRIVE through mostly rural settings to reach your destination (for only the cost of gas, and with far fewer time-related, traffic-related risks).

I mean, SAY your flight is late... it arrives at 1:15... then there are luggage delays, a rental car snafu, and you're a bit too pressured for your comfort... SAY it's 2:30pm when you finally get out of the airport in your rental car. You don't want to be going TOWARD the dead center of downtown Seattle pushing into rush hour.

So, just drive around.

Next, if I projected ahead like this with any 17yo and 14yo kids of mine... I'd let THEM select where to eat enroute to Port Angeles on that first day ("Bremerton"? "Sequim"? ... eh, I'd stop in Sequim just for the fun of listening to my teenagers say "Sequim").

Sunset in Seattle on July 27 is 8:50pm... and I'm guessing you could go to Hurricane Ridge within your time constraints.


The modification part is absurd. You are shoving way too much into a time period that needs to also be relaxing and refreshing for everyone (not to mention a celebrated anniversary).

I can slightly understand the obsession with the ferries given you're from the midwest, but you are over-doing it. As someone pointed out, moving around at all on the holiday weekend for Canadians is going to be an experience, particularly on days 4,5, and 7 of your trip. (though coming southbound to the U.S. on Monday (day 7) shouldn't be too bad RELATIVE to the ALWAYS-BAD it is in "early afternoon" any time.

You should sooooooooooooo SKIP Victoria and/or Vancouver ISLAND (the island on which Victoria sits). (I've suggested to lots of people here that they skip Victoria merely for it's inconvenience, but when you don't even have plans to see anything there is sounds really far-fetched)

If you want to give your family the best experience of the contrasts between the Pacific Northwest and Kansas City... take-in the full of the greenery, and the mountains and waters, but you don't need to put yourself on more than ONE boat during the trip, to share an awesome experience with them.

(that being the path from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island, as mentioned in your first post)

Also, you're probably pushing it in risking not having enough time in an awesome city like Vancouver, and clearly you're not getting enough "Seattle" either.

Pretend your kids won't be zooming back out here anytime in the next 10 years and let the trip represent more than travel aggravations and deadlines with so many never-ceasing choreographed activities that they can't remember where they are at the time, let alone where they were, in hindsight.


Let me chart this out: (the original schedule)

NIGHTS of:

(Tues) July 27 Port Angeles
July 28 Port Angeles
July 29 Vancouver, Canada (good, you're already IN town as the long weekend gears up)

(Fri) July 30 Whistler
(Sat) July 31 Whistler
(Sun) Aug 1 Vancouver
(Mon) Aug 2 Seattle
(Tue) Aug 3 Seattle


My vibe is that this would look much better if Whistler were merely a DAY TRIP from a central Vancouver base less than 2 hours away.

The kids would just be missing out on what is plainly the "most liveable city in North America" (year after year).

Also, somewhere in there might be the date of your actual anniversary. It might be worth ditching the kids and going out for a nice dinner with your wife. Most of central Vancouver is majorly safe, and there are 'normal' people walking around on the streets there all night long like in few other large cities on the continent (no, not the SAME 'normal' people walking all night).

I can appreciate that you have 3-ish ideas for Whistler activities... but I think you can schedule two of them, and just make it a day trip from Vancouver. Vancouver is so awesome, and when are you going to get back out this way again?

Just roaming around Vancouver together, as a family, at any time of the day or night, would be great fun. The candy counters at various stores alone, will afford your kids a sense of "foreignness" for $1 or $2 a shot. (I'm all about "Glossette Raisins" myself) (and the French labels on the other sides? - can't beat that in Kansas City)

IF you told me that the actual anniversary was on July 29,30,31 or Aug 1, I would be doubly confident you should be in Vancouver on that night. For heaven's sake, GROUSSE MOUNTAIN for anniversary dinner (even WITH the kids in that case) would be AWESOME!!

(In addition, with 4-ish consecutive nights in Vancouver, you could just about try Priceline for TWO rooms, at a $60-70 base rate, in Vancouver, for 3 or 4 consecutive nights, as an alternative) (the problem being the holiday weekend demand on those)

Another strategic move would be to just surrender to the border traffic, and delay your departure FROM Vancouver until late in the evening enroute to Seattle. You could spend an hour or more in the border line going into the states if you left at mid-day. (though again, the holiday is ONLY in Canada, so there won't be the added burden of U.S. people going home in the middle of a Monday. "Really early" or "really late" are still time-effective moves)


As to the Ferry details... it will cost $107 one-way for car and 4 people to go from Port Angeles to Victoria. Then I can't even tell from the website whether a ferry even goes from "Victoria" to "Horseshoe Bay". (it seems that "Nanaimo" - 90 minutes away - is the spot for a sailing to Horseshoe Bay)

THEN another $103 (Cdn) to travel from Nanaimo with car & four people, to Horseshoe Bay.


SO, by my count:

Time:

90 minutes Port Angeles to Victoria
90 minute drive Victoria to Nanaimo
95 minutes Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay

total 4 1/2 hours if everything goes perfectly.

This does NOT even allow for the relative ease with which one car and passengers goes through a land border, vs. scores of people lining up to cause a possible delay in terms of ferry riders arriving en masse.


Then roughly $200 in trip fees via Victoria ferries.


This vs. 35 minutes to Keystone/Whidbey Island from Port Townsend, and $17.10 total fares. (obviously you'd still have to drive north to Canada, via some nice water, greenery, and mountain scenery)

It just seems like this plan needs some further revision/consideration.


Perhaps I'll check back to see if you've considered these things more closely, and goodness, do research VANCOUVER, as it is surely going to be the jewel of your trip (other than the one on your wife's finger, I mean).

Sam_Salmon Mar 16th, 2010 10:10 PM

Some great sincere advice from NW as posted, a day trip to Whistler is lots.

Cycling rental bikes around the Stanley Park Seawall then onto False creek as far as your legs will take you-Granville Island then maybe the Beach-is a great way to pass an afternoon.

russp3762 Mar 17th, 2010 10:22 AM

NW Male - WOW - lot of great feedback for me to consider! Beleive me - it is not as if I am set on taking ferries (although I think at least one would be a fun experience for the family, plus a different view from out on the water) but I made those changes based on some feedback I received in the Washington forum.

They felt the Port Angeles to Victoria, Victoria to Horshoe Bay, and drive to Whistler was a more direct route then driving to Port Townsend, ferry to Whidbey Isl and then driving up through Vancouver - plus much of the "driving" would be done by the Ferry captains rather then me behind the wheel. However, I didn't realize the port leaving Vancouver Island to Horshoe Bay was an additional 90 minute drive from Victoria - of course, we have another 90 minute drive from Horshoe Bay to Whistler as well. I will definitely give this another thought (this is why I wanted to get your perspectives - it really does help!)

Forgive my ignorance - but what is the Canadian Holiday we will be up against - I was not even aware this was a holiday period. Just FYI - my wife and I's actual anniversary is on Sept. 1st, but both of the kids would be back in school at that time, and it was my wife's wish to take this family trip as our celebration - which I was also very much in favor of!

It is so difficult to decide how to divide up your days with so much to see and do in this area. The reason we have opted for the 3 days (2 days/3 nights) in Whistler is because the kids love outdoor activities. We are planning on doing some rock climbing (more scrambling), along with the zip lining, hiking and mountain biking while there. We will have nearly two full days in Vancouver - which I'm sure is not going to be nearly enough, but should let us explore Stanley Park and Granville Island, plus a day for walking around the various downtown areas.

Thanks again for all the great input!

NorthwestMale Mar 17th, 2010 02:02 PM

Hmmmmmmmmmph... well, now we have some added detail.

How about a day trip to Whistler for some of that, and then a family trip up Grouse Mountain for some of the rest. (the admission cost of which MIGHT offset the $200 ferry savings)

OR you could even lead them all up the Grouse Grind... (and then write them off for the rest of the day/evening/(weekend?) )


**************
The holiday is the first Monday in August, and it will be B.C. Day
**************

(contemplation: )

IF a random family were going to go up and EAT a nice meal on Grouse Mountain... (grousemountain.com) they'd make reservations earlier ("The Observatory"), and then not have to pay the staggering $40-per-adult (and $24 per teen) admission fee for the ride up. (the dinner prices are high, no doubt, but the dinner route may be a better way to go value-wise)


-------------------------------------

I'm still very much listening to your interests and preferences, and yet I think Vancouver is SO APPEALING on its own, that making Whistler a day trip (and of course still having chances to take another day trip somewhere, if so inclined) and then keeping your base in Vancouver would be plenty enjoyable and probably more convenient.

Vancouver is just such a contrast from the midwest, that I think it would be plenty enough of a grand experience, without making you pick-up roots and move your base two extra times.

Grouse Mountain alone is a place in which you drive 10 miles to a (Vancouver) suburb and then take a gondola car straight up the side of a mountain. You can do zipline up there, with views all around that they just don't have in Kansas City.

If you want to do the zipline on Grouse Mountain, there is a package deal which includes your trip up on the "Skyride" gondola car.

******************

Anyway, check out grousemountain.com and pay particular attention to the PRICES - if you were lured up there on two consecutive days (perhaps instead of going to Whistler) it might make economic sense to get the annual family plan (which conveniently covers two adults and two kids under 18).


The sad part is that you only get to manufacture this trip once... and who really knows for certain which would be best for you. Maybe just get input from all in your family once your many options are out on the table, and see what they think.


In the end, I could take it if you returned home and said: "I wish we could have gone mountain biking" (although I'd need Kansas City-perspective on that, to be fair) {forces self to look up "602.6" miles from KC to Denver... allowing a handful of added miles to the 'mountains'}...

but if you returned home and the kids said: "I wiiiiiiish we could have spent more time in Vancouver"... then I'd be sad.

(FYI - I live in Seattle, and I've not even given major testimony to my own town, or 'our' country in this... other than Driving via Tacoma to Port Angeles)

I love Vancouver a lot, and have already been there once this month. Hopefully the rates and things will persuade you to err on the side of more time in Vancouver.


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