Feedback on WA trip choices

Old May 5th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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Feedback on WA trip choices

I have gotten terrific assistance from many of you on a few day trip from Seattle in late June. We love unique, romantic places and fun and active things to do.

Here is what we have come up with. Would love feedback on hotel choices, itinerary or restaurant/activity options.

Tues afternoon: drive to Anacortes and take 6:35 or 7 pm ferry to Orcas Island

Tues-Thursday stay at Beach House, Spring Bay Inn or Turtleback Farm Inn on Orcas. Any guidance for which we should choose? Another contender is Friday Harbor House on San Juan Island. Would love thoughts on activities and dining. Interested in hiking, biking, kayaking, other?

Thursday noon: ferry to Anacortes and drive to Sun Mountain Lodge (I know this will be a long drive, any thoughts on route?)

Thursday-Saturday at Sun Mountain Lodge in Cascades. Would love thoughts on fun activities/restaurants. Interested in mountain biking, white water rafting, other?

Saturday afternoon: Drive to Seattle

Sun morning: flight back to DC

Sun Mountain Lodge looks great, but if there is another option that would give us something fun, different and perhaps less driving for the second half of the trip, that would be fine. Another option would be to spend the entire 5 days on Orcas or at Sun Mountain Lodge...
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Old May 5th, 2006, 01:42 PM
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I know there are some real experts out there on this area. Anyone have thoughts?
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Old May 5th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Wish I could help, I'm here in Seattle but haven't done a single one of those things!

All sound like nice options. San Juans to the Cascades is quite a distance, right? Do you have actual times for the ferry, all the driving, etc.? I suggest you run some numbers on your plan.

Because seems to me like: Tuesday taken up in getting to the island, (so only 1 day Wed to be there) then Thursday all day changing location (ferry + long drive), then Saturday half the day returning to Seattle (another long drive).

For me I think I'd pick one or the other direction and stay in one place for all 5 days.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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You've picked two of my favorite destinations so I think it's a great itinerary.

Turtleback Farm Inn is beautiful but it's not on the water, and public shoreline on Orcas is limited, so I'd pick one of the others that have waterfront access. As for Friday Harbor House, choose this is whales are your main interest. I like Orcas the best-I think it's the prettiest-but most whale watching leaves from San Juan Island. You can still kayak from Orcas and I'd highly recommend it. My favorite short hike on Orcas is from the summit of Mt Constitution to Little Summit. There is a signed trail from the top. You get great views along the way. You can also park at Little Summit (watch for the sign) then walk the 2 miles up to the summit, leaving the biggest views for last. I combine this with the trip down from the summit to Twin Lakes, for a longer hike. There are trail maps at the park. If you want a lesser known beach location to visit, ask your hosts for directions to Obstruction Pass. It's a half mile walk in to a park/campground mainly used by kayakers.

Here's a thread about Orcas dining. To these recommendations I would add Bilbo's Festivo. It's not the best Mexican you'll ever have, but they have a gorgeous little outdoor courtyard, and when the weather is nice it's just a lovely spot.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=51552

Sun Mt. is my favorite place in that area. The Methow is a very fun river to raft, and there should be trips in late June, if that interests you. It's a pretty fast paced river-almost continuous rapids up to class IV, just so you know. I'll bet the lodge can recommend bike routes. If you're up for a hike, Goat Mountain is nearby and not difficult (the lodge, or the Forest Service visitor's center in town, can give you details). There should be tons of wildflowers at that time. As for restaurants, the lodge restaurant has been pretty good when I've been there (it's been awhile since I've had anything but breakfast there, though). Winthrop doesn't have great dining choices, but I've heard the Topo Cafe is a good new addition to the town. The Duck Brand Inn has a nice deck but the Mexican food is pretty average.

As for a driving route, you would take the North Cascades Highway. It's a gorgeous drive and I don't think it's THAT long. You'll have a much better chance of sunny weather in late June on the east side of the Cascades, so I wouldn't try to find another destination in western Washington. Stop at the Cascadian Farm stand, near Rockport (you'll see the signs) for homemade ice cream, shakes, etc. Be sure and stop at the Washington Pass overlook/rest stop for the great view.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 02:06 PM
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I can help a bit on the Winthrop/Sun Mountain part. It's not that long a drive from Anacortes---should be about 4 hours, over the North Cascade Highway (Highway 20)---very scenic, expecially toward the pass. Sun Moountain Lodge is lovely and romantic, with a good restaurant and mountain bike trails (both singletrack and dirt roads) that start right there.

If you want to shorten the drive, there are nice places at the west end of the Methow Valley, in the area of Mazama. The nicest is the Freestone Inn:
http://www.freestoneinn.com/
Staying there instead of Sun Mountain would shave 30 to 40 minutes off the drive, but you wouldn't get the mountaintop views. This is in the valley, with mountain bike trails nearby too.

As for activities besides mountain biking, I've never seen any whitewater rafting in the Methow Valley itself; apparently they start a bit downriver, toward the Columbia for nice Class 3 and 4 rapids. Hot-air ballooning is very popular in Winthrop. And then there's some of the best hiking in the state up near Washington Pass, although in June there may still be lots of snow.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 06:11 PM
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Thanks for the great feedback.

Sounds like good advice to find lodging on the water on Orcas. I am trying to decide between Beach House and Spring Bay Inn. Both are on the water. Also considering Inn at Ship's Cove, although some tepid recomendations.

Any thoughts?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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I'm not familiar with the Beach house, or the accomodations at Ship Bay (the restaurant is good) so I can't comment.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 05:32 AM
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Christy1 - do you have other recommendations for lodging on Orcas? Thanks for all your input.
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Old May 7th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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I've heard nothing but great things about Spring Bay. I did look up Beach House and that looks quite nice too. We usually rent vbros and cabins that allow dogs, and I'm not sure I'd highly recommend any of the ones I've stayed in in the last couple years, so I don't really have any other recs that sound as nice as the ones you are considering.
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