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Help with 7 day Seattle and National Park itinerary for family with 2 year old.

Help with 7 day Seattle and National Park itinerary for family with 2 year old.

Jun 11th, 2019, 03:12 PM
  #1  
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Help with 7 day Seattle and National Park itinerary for family with 2 year old.

Hello,

My wife, 2 year old daughter, and I will be heading to Seattle in early September. We are interested in seeing the city of Seattle as well as Rainier National Park. I feel like 7 days is too much time for just those 2 places alone, but not enough time add in a third destination (either Olympic National Park, North Cascades, or San Juan Islands).

Here is my current itinerary:
  • Day 1: Land at noon and head to Seattle.
  • Day 2: Drive to Rainier
  • Day 3: Spend a full day in Rainier
  • Day 4: Drive to Lake Quinault
  • Day 5: Drive to Port Angeles
  • Day 6: Drive to Seattle
  • Day 7: Fly home at noon
I am worried this itinerary does not give us enough time to explore the city of Seattle. I also worry there is too much driving, and not enough time actually enjoying where we are at. Perhaps we would be better off eliminating the third destination all together and just take some easy day trips from Seattle? Any recommendations for that? And finally, out of the 3 what do you choose: ONP, North Cascades, or San Juan Islands?

Thanks!!
jconway2002 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2019, 03:50 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I love the North Cascades best of all but it's even further away from Seattle!! So definitely doesn't fit your timeframe.

San Juans are tricky because of course you need a ferry to get to them so time consuming.

You are correct in the way you are looking at your proposed plan... There IS a lot of driving. There's isn't enough time in ONP. And you don't have any time in Seattle

I mean you can do it, it is possible.

Easy day trips from Seattle... Whidbey Island, Snoqualmie Falls, Bainbridge Island.
suze is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 07:24 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for the reply suze. I am going to look into the day trip ideas you recommended, and maybe consider cutting out ONP.
jconway2002 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 08:03 AM
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Welcome to Fodor's!

I'd suggest making Mt. Rainier just a day trip, and NOT on a weekend day. It's around 2 1/2 hours from Seattle, so a long day with a toddler, but any overnight options would be expensive and you'd probably have a hard time finding any place decent at this point. Even on weekdays there are going to be a LOT of people at the visitor centers.

If you don't know by now, hotel prices in Seattle during the Alaska cruise season (roughly until Sept. 15) are nuts. You might think about staying someplace out of the city for a night or two (or more.) Even if you have to commute in and park, you'll probably end up saving money compared to staying in the city.

Suze mentioned Whidbey Island as a possible out-of-town destination. I'd heartily endorse that. Look at this route and google the places on the map. https://goo.gl/maps/xM2fknmzJJSzdy77A This would give you something of a mini tour of the Puget Sound country, including cute waterfront towns, beautiful scenery, beaches for toddler paddling, farmers markets... it's a terrific two-day (or longer) loop trip.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 12th, 2019, 03:12 PM
  #5  
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Thanks for the input Gardyloo

I really appreciate the Whidbey Island day trip itinerary you sent me. I will strongly consider working this into the trip. As far as areas to stay outside of the city, do you have any recommendations?

If I were only to do one national park, which should I choose for a 3-4 day trip? Olympic loop or North Cascades loop? I may skip Rainier altogether, or make it a day trip if I have time and feel ambitious on one of my Seattle days.

Thanks,

Jeff
jconway2002 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2019, 06:24 AM
  #6  
 
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Olympic loop or North Cascades loop

They are completely different kinds of scenery. I suggest looking at a guidebook or even just photos online to decide which is of more interest to you. Rain forest peninsula or high mountains.

I love North Cascades direction most and a 4 day trip would be enough time. Weather should be beautiful that time of year. The Methow River valley, Mazama, Winthrop, that general area is where I've spent time. The drive over from Seattle has dramatic scenery. I would drop both Rainier (hope you see it from Seattle on a clear day!) and ONP in favor of this option. Personal opinion only
suze is offline  
Jun 13th, 2019, 06:41 AM
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If Rainier is a priority then you might consider driving there straight from the airport (depending on when you land) because it is south of the city so starting from the airport would save you almost an hour. If you land at noon you could drive straight there, spend the night and then leave from Rainier to drive back to Seattle from there the next day late afternoon. Be sure to try and time your driving to be off the roads during rush house-Seattle traffic is rough, so if you left Rainier around 3PM you would miss the worst of it I think. Then I would base somewhere in or near Seattle and decide on day trips from there. I think with only 7 days total including the travel days-you really only have about 5 days, so being able to go to Rainier and then explore 1-2 of the island destinations would be pretty full already.

In terms of where to base in Seattle, the prices get better once you are out of the "core downtown" area. Are you thinking about a motel or hotel or more of a vacation home airbnb type rental? Where I would suggest might depend on what kind of place you are thinking about.
jpie is online now  
Jun 13th, 2019, 01:16 PM
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Thank you suze and jpie . I think my new plan will be to bookend my trip in Seattle, and spend the 4 days in the middle doing the North Cascades Loop. I am hoping I can find a good pre made itinerary for the loop drive that I can customize a little, because starting from scratch is a little daunting with how much there is to do and see.

As far as places to stay in Seattle, usually we go the airbnb route.
jconway2002 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2019, 01:48 PM
  #9  
mms
 
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If you decide on Rainier, there are lots of cabins in the Ashford area. The one we usually go to still has lots of availability in September, and it is called Almost Paradise lodging. She is a wonderful host and has cabin scattered around her property. Very close to the park entrance.

The Cascade Loop is a beautiful drive. Have you seen the website for it? www.cascadeloop.com and that will help with figuring out what all you want to see etc. We do a lot of hiking and backpacking in the North Cascades and September is a beautiful time as the larches are turning. We live along this loop, so if you have any questions, just ask.
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Jun 14th, 2019, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jconway2002 View Post
Thank you suze and jpie . I think my new plan will be to bookend my trip in Seattle, and spend the 4 days in the middle doing the North Cascades Loop. I am hoping I can find a good pre made itinerary for the loop drive that I can customize a little, because starting from scratch is a little daunting with how much there is to do and see.

As far as places to stay in Seattle, usually we go the airbnb route.
With a 2 year old, I would look for an airbnb near Woodland Park Zoo-the Phinney Ridge area or Greenlake since both will have great parks and play areas nearby. But there are many great neighborhoods that surround the downtown business/tourist core area-particularly to the north-the nicer neighborhoods to the south get interrupted by the stadiums and the more industrial areas.

Also I don't know if you are aware that Seattle recently opened a new airport to the north of the city at Paine field PAE is the airport code. I don't know if it will work for you from wherever you are coming from but it is supposed to be a great airport and much easier to get through. Here is an article about it

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/p...ate/index.html
jpie is online now  
Jun 14th, 2019, 03:11 PM
  #11  
mms
 
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Yes Paine Field is a fantastic airport! My husband has been flying out of there a lot. It is super easy to get to off of I5 and the airport itself is very small so everything is very fast.
mms is offline  
Jun 15th, 2019, 08:05 AM
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New airport? I flew out of PAE during private pilot training in 1962.
Bobmrg is online now  
Jun 15th, 2019, 08:24 AM
  #13  
mms
 
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Bobmrg—the commercial part is new, just a few months old. Yes, Paine Field has been around for many years but not useable for the general public to fly unless you have your own plane.
mms is offline  
Jun 17th, 2019, 05:02 PM
  #14  
 
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My daughter and I stayed at this airbnb which was very reasonable and loved it

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/plus/22...PyhwgC6yuLFrAL
odie1 is online now  
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