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8 days in Seattle, San Juan Islands, Olympic National help with itinerary

8 days in Seattle, San Juan Islands, Olympic National help with itinerary

Old Mar 24th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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8 days in Seattle, San Juan Islands, Olympic National help with itinerary

Hello, My husband and I are headed out to Washington state from 7/6-7/14. We're thinking of visiting Seattle, San Juan Islands and Olympic National Park.

I was thinking of maybe the following itinerary:
Arrive in Seattle 7/6
7/6-7/8 in Seattle (I will have several days before this that I will be there myself to check things out)
7/9-7/11 in the San Juan Islands
7/12-7/13 in Olympic National Park
7/14 - fly out

I'd like to hear the thoughts of those from this area or who have been there if this itinerary is realistic.

A couple of items I'm having a hard time finding. Whats the best way to get from the San Juan Islands to Olympic National Park? How long should we plan for this to take?

Would you recommend San Juan Islands or Whidbey Island? We love scenery, nature, and small towns quaint towns with cute little local shops.

Anything else major that we're missing or that you think we should change?

Thanks a ton for your help!
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 09:42 AM
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Just my views...

The San Juans are quite different from one another. Orcas is the biggest, but IMO has the least interesting towns. San Juan is the most populous, with lots to do, some decent restaurants, and interesting towns in Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, but also summer crowds. Lopez is very low-key, great for bike rides etc. but very rural.

But to be frank, I honestly don't know if I'd spend half my "field time" (i.e. non-Seattle days) going there. Access to the islands is time consuming (in particular the return, owing to queues at the various docks) and inter-island transport especially so.

Getting from the San Juans to the Olympic Peninsula involves two different ferry trips - one from the islands to Anacortes, then driving down Whidbey Island to the Keystone (now called Coupeville) ferry to Port Townsend, then more driving to Port Angeles or beyond. The whole process can take half a day or more, and the Coupeville - PT ferry is notorious for delayed or canceled sailings if the tides are not just right.

In my view I'd split the two San Juan island days and allocate one of them to the Olympic Peninsula, and the other one for a Whidbey day trip from Seattle, which is very easy to do. Head north from Seattle to the Mukilteo ferry (passing the Boeing plant in the process - biggest building in the world) then drive up Whidbey, stopping at the very cute towns of Langley and Coupeville (both IMO more attractive than anything on the San Juan islands.) Then head over the Deception Pass bridge (well worth a stop and a gawk) and back to the mainland via SR 20 (bridge, no ferry.) Back on the mainland, if you still need more quaint, the very cute town of La Conner (a little south of SR 20) is easily accessed. You can do the whole trip in a (full but not arduous) day, and wouldn't have to break camp in Seattle in the process.

Then add the remaining day to the Olympic Peninsula. Visit Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles, some of the beaches out on the Olympic National Park coastal strip, the Hoh rain forest (a don't-miss) and Lake Crescent. Maybe walk out the Dungeness spit (north and a little east of Port Angeles) or drive over to Port Townsend with its fabulous Victorian architecture.

In all, I think redeploying the time, even if missing the San Juans, would make for a more relaxing trip, but one that touches all the bases.
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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Oh, meant to add, you'd probably be on the Olympic Peninsula right around the time the lavender is in flower - big business around Sequim and Dungeness. Provence it ain't, but it ain't bad anyway.

A couple of pics - one of the Dungeness Spit lighthouse (with eagle on the piling) and the other of some lavender with the Olympic mountains behind.

http://gardyloo.us/062406%20041b.jpg
http://gardyloo.us/062406%20047b.jpg
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 02:17 PM
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Thanks for the advice so far. The lavender sounds particularly wonderful to me. I'm a flower lover.

Can anyone answer for me routes that I could take to get from Port Angeles to the San Juan Islands and how much time to really plan for this? I've read quite a bit about both places and am considering reducing my time in Seattle and spending more time between ONP and San Juan.

My thoughts are that I have a couple of days in Seattle before my husband arrives. This would not allow him to see Seattle but its likely that work or some other adventure will take us back there some day and less likely that I'd have as good of a chance of hitting either of these other places on a trip like that.
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 02:34 PM
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Can anyone answer for me routes that I could take to get from Port Angeles to the San Juan Islands and how much time to really plan for this? I've read quite a bit about both places and am considering reducing my time in Seattle and spending more time between ONP and San Juan.

The answer is in the second paragraph of my response. San Juans by ferry to Anacortes, south on SR 20 to Coupeville/Port Townsend ferry, ferry to Port Townsend, drive from Port Townsend to Port Angeles.

If the timing is bang-bang (i.e. no wait for the ferries) you could do the whole thing in around 4 hours; however it can easily take 5 or more hours if you miss ferries or stop en route (which you should, especially at Deception Pass, Coupeville and Port Townsend.)
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Oops, once again too quick to post. Here's a wee map: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/info_desk/route-maps/
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Old Mar 27th, 2012, 09:58 AM
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Thanks a bunch. Will dig into this route further. I'm leaning towards the following itinerary:
hubby flies into Seattle 7/6 (he arrives late so we'll stay over there)
7/7-7/8 drive to ONP (likely to either Forks or Kalaloch Lodge and stay two nights) hit Hoh, Rialto, La Push, maybe Ruby Beach
7/9 - drive towards Port Angeles and check out Sol Duc, and Lake Crescent along the way, then to Hurricane Ridge and see waterfalls if time
7/10 - travel to San Juan Islands and stop along the way
7/10-7/13 - stay in Friday Harbor

We fly out at 1 pm on Saturday 7/14
Would you recommend we get back into Seattle 7/13 and stay overnight or just travel from Friday Harbor to airport on 7/14 in the am?

What do you think of my itinerary or how would you adjust it?
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Old Mar 27th, 2012, 05:10 PM
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I would try to get back into Seattle on 7/13...if for some reason you missed the ferry (high passenger volume in the summer) or ran into big traffic on the way to Sea-Tac, you would be in trouble. Much more relaxing to return to Seattle the day before your flight, especially a flight that early in the day.

I think you have enough time for everything in your itinerary now...just allow plenty of time for the transfers on the ferries.

Go to the Washington State Ferry system website to get an idea of departure frequency, because each route is different.
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Old Mar 27th, 2012, 05:22 PM
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I know you want to visit San Juans: however like GArdyloo, IMHO, you are doingto much.

Condier instead to visit Victoria on VAncouver Island (if you are a flower lover, Buchart Gardens is an all day event, well worth the trip).

This is easier to get to IMHO and puts your travels more on the same area...ferries will still be busy but it gets you to an island and to a more concentrated travel are of the PNW.
t PNW area..easier to handle for your timeframe. You would need passports.
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Old Apr 1st, 2012, 09:51 AM
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Yes I would come back to Seattle at least the night before your flight. I would not try to get from the San Juan Islands to SeaTac for a flight on the same day.
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Old Apr 1st, 2012, 10:39 AM
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Bookmarking. Jlbartley, I'm also beginning to plan a trip this summer and trying to not overdo it, so thank you for starting this thread.
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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I've done some more research and based on mapping things out I'm wondering if this itinerary is too much. It is a lot of driving and moving around but I tried to not back track to save time wherever I can to see the most that I can.

Could you give me more thoughts on this? Anything I really should remove or rearrange? The times I've listed next to each of the areas is drive time (according to google maps) from one location to the next. I know that this is not a "relaxing" vacation (maybe by the time we get to the San Juans it will be) but through ONP I'm interested in seeing everything that I can.

7/6 Husband arrives - stay near SeaTac

7/7 Drive from Airport to Kalaloch stop at Lake Quinault 2 hr 45 min driving
Lake Quinault to Ruby Beach 50 min
Ruby Beach to Kalaloch 15 min
Stay in Kalaloch
Total Driving Time 3 hr 46 min

7/8 Kalaloch to Hoh 55 min
Hoh to La Push 1 hr 20 min
La Push to Rialto 28 min
Rialto to Forks 34 min
Stay over in Forks
Total Drive Time 3 hr 15 min

7/9 Forks to Sol Duc 1 hr
Sol Duc to Lake Crescent 47 min
Lake Crescent to Port Angeles 21 min
Stay over in Port Angeles
Total Drive Time 2 hr 7 min

7/10 Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge 15 min
Hurricane Ridge to Port Townsend, Coupeville, and Deception Pass
Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands
Stay over in Friday Harbor
Driving time 4+ hours

7/11, 7/12
Check out Orcas Island - Town of Orcas, Eastsound, Crescent Beach Reserve, drive to the top of Moran State Park,Olga
Friday Harbor see Lime Kilm State Park and Roche Harbor
If time go to Lopez Island check out Lopez Village shops, Agate Beach County Park and Shark Reef Sanctuary,
Continue stay in Friday Harbor

7/13 Friday Harbor to Seattle 2hr 30 min
or Friday Harbor to SeaTac airport 2 hr 45 min
Stay over in Seattle or near SeaTac depending on what time we leave Friday Harbor.

7/14 fly home Leave at 1:05 Arrive at 11:00
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Wanted to post another item here. One reason that I'm not considering Victoria, BC instead of the San Juan Islands is that the week before this I am on an Alaskan Cruise that stops in Victoria so although my husband will not be there I will have already spent a day there.

Any thoughts on the revised itineraries? Am I planning out my time in ONP appropriately or does anyone have thoughts on how we could stay in the same place for 2 nights in ONP and still fit everything in? From what I could tell on maps we're best to move around these nights to take in the most scenery possible.
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Old Apr 19th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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On your 7/10 itinerary: it takes about 45 minutes of twisty mountain driving to reach Hurricane Ridge from PA; a little less coming back down. Also, go to the WSDOT website to check on making reservations for the ferries. Both the PT/Coupeville boat and the Anacortes/Friday Harbor boat will be very crowded in mid-summer.

With all the driving and ferries, you won't have much (if any) time to check out Port Townsend, Coupeville, and Deception Pass.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 05:27 PM
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<Friday Harbor to SeaTac airport 2 hr 45 min>

Really??? Where are you getting your drive time estimates from? That seems way overly optimistic to me.
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Old May 17th, 2012, 03:25 PM
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thanks for all this info and thanks Gardyloo for those amazing photos. My daughter and I will be traveling around Seattle in July so I'm starting my research.
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