2019 Road Trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver!

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Nov 12th, 2018, 06:35 AM
  #1
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2019 Road Trip from Los Angeles to Vancouver!

Hello everybody!
On 24th of July, my family and I will arrive to LAX airport. We will drive all the way up to Vancouver in Canada from Los Angeles. Thus, we want to do some sort of sightseeing and visit good cities and places in our way. We are staying 21 days and we will fly back home from Los Angeles on the 15th of August. Do you have any recommendations??
P.S/ In summer 2017, we drove from San Francisco to Vancouver passing through Reed Sport, Portland and Seattle. Then we stayed in Vancouver for 4 days then drove down to Chicago and had our flight back home from O'haire. It was fun!
Thank you in advance.
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Nov 12th, 2018, 06:56 AM
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Help us a little more...

How many of you and ages? I assume that you're returning to LA, thus this is for a return/round trip plan? (I know in previous posts you mentioned 4 children. Same this time?)

What did you enjoy the most in your last trip, and what least?
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Nov 12th, 2018, 07:06 AM
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Why did you choose LAX to fly into? I always enjoy driving the west coast routes (US 101 and California 1) southbound instead of northbound.
Northbound is better on I-5 IMO (YMMV).
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Nov 18th, 2018, 03:45 PM
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Thank you for your reply, Gardyloo!
Yes that's right! We are six persons; my wife and I plus 4 teen children. We will be having a round trip.
Last year, we enjoyed the most the wonderful sceneries on the pacific coast like trees, clouds, ...etc. Unfortunately though, we were stuck in a traffic jam in our way up to Portland due to the 2017 solar eclipse.
thank you once more. Do you have any suggestions?

Last edited by gohadoc; Nov 18th, 2018 at 03:51 PM.
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Nov 18th, 2018, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
Why did you choose LAX to fly into? I always enjoy driving the west coast routes (US 101 and California 1) southbound instead of northbound.
Northbound is better on I-5 IMO (YMMV).
Thank you for your reply, Tom!
​​​​​​​We chose LAX because it has relatively cheaper flights.
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Nov 18th, 2018, 07:13 PM
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Consider flying to Seattle and taking the Amtrak train or bus to Vancouver. Return to Seattle from Vancouver and then rent the car to drive south to Los Angeles. Plan on 4 days to drive from Los Angeles back to Seattle with a stop at Crater Lake National Park.
I would not take a US based rental car into Canada even if it is allowed. The rental cars from LAX are likely more expensive than cars in Seattle or Portland
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Nov 19th, 2018, 01:41 PM
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Sounds like fun! I kind of like Tomfuller's advice on flying to Seattle, then training to Vancouver. Flights on Southwest from LAX are super reasonable, with 2 bags per person. Can't beat that!

The train is also a lot of fun, but alternatively, you could rent a car once in Seattle and drive up to Vancouver, then back through the San Juan Islands (taking the car on the ferry). We did that one year and it was a blast. (And yes, you can take the rental car to Vancouver and back).

Crater Lake is drop dead gorgeous, and should be on everyone's bucket list. We were there in the summer of 2006 and keep talking about going back. We stayed at Crater Lake Lodge (you have to reserve practically a year in advance!). We all hiked down to the bottom of the lake (even me who HATES to hike), and hiked back up. It's actually an easy stroll, even though it's a mile down (and up), since the path has plenty of switch-backs. As stunning as the lake is, I think what really knocked us out was the nighttime when you can see a zillion stars, the milky way in all of its glory . . . of course, this is coming from star-starved Los Angeles residents, so it may not be all that to you if you live on some mountain away from city lights.

Yosemite, of course, if you haven't been, would be a place to visit on the way up or back. Being from California, and this being our every year trip, I've been well over 30 times, but if you loved Yellowstone, I think you'd love Yosemite. Can't compare the two, since both have really different awe-inspiring aspects to them.
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Nov 20th, 2018, 04:24 PM
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It appears you have taken 1-3 trips to the US already. For example, it looks like you may have gone to Yosemite, but for how long? It would be helpful to give a list of what you saw on those trips, including number of days.

My example:
*Arrive LAX
​​*Three nights Santa Monica:
--Getty Museum
--Beach
--Universal Studios
*Four nights Anaheim:
--2 days Disney.
--1 day San Juan Capistrano/shopping
*Leave LAX


Last edited by 5alive; Nov 20th, 2018 at 04:28 PM.
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Nov 21st, 2018, 07:04 AM
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Can we assume you have family to visit in Vancouver? How long would you be spending there?

People booking from overseas can sometimes rent cars for one-way trips and not pay the very high one-way supplements or "drop off" fees that the rental companies charge. If you can arrange this, then I'd give consideration to flying someplace domestically from LAX (or if it's not too late, just by tickets to a different destination in the first place.) One thought might be to fly into Portland (around US$75 one way from LAX) and get a vehicle there, then do a driving tour through the Pacific Northwest, to Vancouver, and then either back to Portland (then fly back to LAX) or drive the vehicle south to LAX.

Here are a couple of maps showing possible road trip routes to consider. Google the places on the maps if they're not familiar.

1. Portland to Portland - https://goo.gl/maps/YmoK6o9eECs . This route would include Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, and Mount Hood, then north through great "old west" scenery to Chelan, Washington, where you'd take the Lady of the Lake ferry up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. Lake Chelan is a fjord-like lake that penetrates the North Cascades wilderness; it's a unique experience. You'd then cross over into Canada and take beautiful BC Hwy 3 west through glorious mountain and orchard country to the trans-Canada Hwy, then into Vancouver.

After your time in Vancouver, you'd cross over to Vancouver Island, possibly stopping en route at one of the Canadian Gulf Islands (look at Salt Spring Island) then to Victoria. You'd then cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Peninsula and visit Olympic National Park. Visit stunning Hurricane Ridge, one or more of the fabulous beaches near the town of La Push, and the incomparable Hoh Valley rain forest. You'd then travel to Seattle, ideally back via Puget Sound, then back to Portland to finish the drive. I'd stop at the Johnston Ridge overlook of Mt. St. Helens on the way south from Seattle.

This would give you a fairly comprehensive tour of this part of North America, including such highlights as the Columbia Gorge, islands in the Salish Sea, alpine wilderness, wild rocky beaches, rain forests, and three of North America's most appealing cities.

2. Portland to LAX - https://goo.gl/maps/3YCJtzn8qbr . This would include flying to Portland and getting a vehicle there. Visit the Columbia Gorge and Mount Hood, then head north on US 97 through the Yakama Indian reservation to Yakima, then west through Mt. Rainier National Park to the Seattle area and north to Vancouver. After your Vancouver visit, head south (a couple of days' pleasant drive) to Crater Lake. Then continue south into California, diverting to the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. Visit the marvelous gold rush country along CA Hwy 49 (named for the 1849 gold rush) visiting a number of historic and picturesque towns like Sutter Creek, Murphys, and the wonderful museum town of Columbia. If you can book space very early, spend a day or two in the Yosemite Valley, but even if you can't get accommodations inside the national park (they book up very early) a day's visit into the valley and back, from some town outside the national park is still very worthwhile, if a bit inconvenient.

From Yosemite head west across California to the Monterey Bay area. The Monterey Bay area is amazing, from the redwoods in the hills north of Santa Cruz, to the cool old-time beachfront amusement park in Santa Cruz itself, then south to historic Monterey and picturesque Carmel with its pretty downtown area and beach, and old Spanish mission as highlights. Then just south of Carmel is Point Lobos State Park, some of the most beautiful coastal scenery anywhere (and a lot of wildlife too.) You'd continue south through Big Sur and down to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, passing a big elephant seal colony just before the castle visitor center.

From there it's a day's (or more) back to LA, stopping at Santa Barbara en route (another gorgeous town and fab Spanish mission.)

Actually, looking at your timing, I'd probably do option 2 in reverse, in order to avoid big crowds (and tight accommodation) in the Monterey area as there's an annual "car week" (more like 10 days) in August that makes accommodation very tight and pricey.

A final idea would be to break this into two separate road trip options. Drive one-way from LAX to San Francisco via Monterey, then fly to Portland, Seattle or Vancouver and do a second "loop" trip from there, including some of the points on my option no. 1, then drop the vehicle and fly back to LAX. This might be a more efficient way to see a lot without spending too many hours on the road.

Just some suggestions, anyway.
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Nov 25th, 2018, 11:49 PM
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Thank you for your advis.We had been to Yosemite but never to crater lake which seems to be our next destination.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 12:28 AM
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Gardyloo, thank you for your fruitful ideas we will study them to choose the best I am sure.
Thanks again for your advis and effort.
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Nov 26th, 2018, 01:05 AM
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If you have time for it and are in good physical condition to hike down to the shore, take the boat ride at Crater Lake, out to Wizard Island. Climb up the island and back to the boat. Really a nice trip but it will take a good bulk of a day.

https://www.travelcraterlake.com/thi...-island-tours/
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Nov 29th, 2018, 04:15 PM
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Thank you for your help and fruitful advise
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Jan 1st, 2019, 05:10 PM
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If you're making the trip to Vancouver, you might want to also consider Kelowna, Whistler, and Tofino on Vancouver Island.
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 11:53 AM
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3 weeks isn't all that long to drive from Los Angeles to Vancouver BC and all the way back again. Even if you only drove on the freeway (I-5) it's over 1200 miles each way, approx. 2,500 round trip even without adding more places or taking any scenic detours. But from the sounds of your previous road trips, I guess you are OK with that.
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 01:36 PM
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As someone who went on even longer road trips growing up, I am ignoring all of the comments telling you that it is too far, too much, etc.

As far as places to stop along the coast in Southern and Central California, I'd recommend the following heading north from Los Angeles, assuming the Pacific Coast Hwy is open in July.

Malibu Lagoon (across from Cross Creek). There are a number of restaurants and shops at the Cross Creek shopping Center . The Woolsey fire did not cross the highway there. Good stop for a few hours. You'll see a lot of the fire impact area between Malibu and Ventura County.

I don't know how much of Santa Barbara you saw, but I don't find it that interesting and the hotels are expensive. There are some nice beaches where you can stretch your legs just before SB, although they are all likely to be crowded. EG Lookout Park at Summerland , or Padaro Beach/Santa Claus Beach in Carpinteria (Exit 88) is easy to reach from the Freeway (no climbing up and down bluffs).

After you turn inland at Gaviota there are a few different routes you can take, try Hwy1 or 246 if you've not taken those before. They will meet just outside Lompoc which is near a Mission, and has some interesting murals in the town. Although there is a beach just west of town, it will probably be closed in July to protect some endangered birds (which you can also see at Malibu Lagoon). The beach is famous for some deadly shark attacks! I often stay in Lompoc since it's about half way up US1 and lodging is reasonable.

There is a better beach at Grover Beach/Pismo Beach. Personally I think Pismo is just too crowded in summer and prefer to stay in Morro Bay. There are some lovely walks around Morro Bay, including those at Montana de Oro and the Elfin Forest. Also a good range of lodgings. Bayside Cafe is very popular with locals, near the Marina.

Lunch Menu | Bayside Cafe

Farther up the coast, near Cambria , another good place to spend a night, are the famous spots including Hearst Castle and the Elephant Seal rookery which should still have a few molting males.
Piedras Blancas Friends of the Elephant Seal | San Simeon, Cambria California

North of Cambria is where the Big Sur Highway starts. If you are nervous about driving on the edge of the cliff, driving northbound is actually better.

I've only ever done Big Sur as a day trip, so can't recommend lodgings. The drive time from Cambria to Pacific Grove is about 4 hours, so you still have lots of time for stops. Some others might recommend where you can stay along the way.

I definitely recommend Point Lobos before Carmel, even if you have to backtrack to see it. My favorite town to stay on the Monterey Peninsula is actually Pacific Grove, which is near the beautiful Asilomar State Beach and famous Pebble Beach golf course.

July is a good season for humpback whale watching in Monterey, and of course there is the famous Aquarium. I'm sure the guidebooks cover that adequately.

Santa Cruz doesn't get as much attention as Monterey but it's a good place to stay or stop in to watch surfers. Follow US1 up the west side of the Peninsula to Golden Gate Park and you'll pass some nice beach and ocean views if it isn't foggy. If you have a car you may wish to carefully research the cost of parking if you intend to stay in The City. Perhaps just one night, then you can drive across the Golden Gate and stay again in Marin County.

I'll let those from NoCal, Oregon and Washington tell you about their regions, if they aren't too busy trying to dissuade you from your road trip!

Do know that often July is very foggy along the California Coast, if so you can look for places to stay slightly inland, such as San Luis Obispo.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 2nd, 2019 at 02:15 PM.
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Jan 6th, 2019, 05:13 PM
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We drove from seattle then went around BC area. You might want to checkout Spences Bridge sinceI seldom find this place as recommended. You can check my instagram account @wk.adventures to see photos from there. There is an offroad trail that you can follow that can give you a nice view point of the polace.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 12:49 AM
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I hope we can make it ,
​​​​​​​thank you
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Jan 7th, 2019, 02:27 AM
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Thank good ideas
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Jan 11th, 2019, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
As someone who went on even longer road trips growing up, I am ignoring all of the comments telling you that it is too far, too much, etc.
MLGB: The question isn't just how much he is driving. Obviously a family who is coming once ever to the USA may opt to do a whole lot of driving. But look at this quote:

Originally Posted by gohadoc View Post
Hello everybody!
In summer 2017, we drove from San Francisco to Vancouver passing through Reed Sport, Portland and Seattle. Then we stayed in Vancouver for 4 days then drove down to Chicago and had our flight back home from O'haire. It was fun!
Thank you in advance.
So basically last summer, he drove from San Francisco to Vancouver and then to Chicago. That's an awful lot of I-5 (although not LA last summer). This summer, he's driving much of the same route... again. Given that it's what he wants to do, I agree with you to advise him on his own best choices for his trip.

But many others read these posts besides the original posters. And I think it's fair to point out, as others have done, that there are better itineraries out there, that allow you to see and enjoy more of the places you're driving by. I think it's a valid question travelers should ask themselves: what percentage of your vacation do you want to be in transit, and what percentage do you want to actually do things?

And yes, his four teenagers will be fine. I kind of wonder if they all privately enjoy these marathon drives as much as he thinks. I have done road trips that long as a kid, and yes we survived them. But unlike my own upbringing (and probably yours), so many teens today spend their car time on their phones. This includes my own, so no judgment intended, just the reality.

Still, the OP has paid for 4 plane tickets for them so they can do the same thing they could do at home. Wouldn't getting out of the car, putting the phone away and doing something new be better?
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