Pacific Northwest Dream Vacation

Sep 21st, 2005, 09:35 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 367
I agree you shld add Portland OR, just 3 hours S of Seattle. And you have plenty of time!
I loved Seattle until I visited Portland. Now I am planning to move there. On the drive down stop at Mt St Helens to hike and see the volcano. The city itself is great, but 20 minutes east is the beautiful Columbia River Gorge area, you can stay at some amazing places along there with waterfalls and hiking trails. Check out Hood River too.
For a slower pace, excellent Pinot Noirs and wineries are just about 25 minutes SE of Portland, I recommend Youngberg Hill winery & B&B, just amazing and they do book up ahead of time.
eroz is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 26
Most of the comments here have been aimed at the Western side of the Cascade Mountains. I would highly recommend crossing the Cascades, for a couple of reasons. First, the Cascades are really beautiful. Second, the east side is completely different! The climate is much drier, much sunnier, and it's a totally different kind of beautiful. Look at some photos of The Palouse, for instance at:

The North Cascades Highway is an excellent idea, also the town of Leavenworth (although a touristy "Bavarian" theme village). We really like the Enzian Hotel in Leavenworth.

Please don't go home thinking that all of Washington looks like Western Washington.

Love2Travel64 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 11:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,935
The article I mentioned above is from Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine May 2005 issue, page 77. It's a "Road Trip" thru the "Cascades Loop" and includes Seattle to Winthrop, Winthrop to Yakima, Yakima to Mt Rainier, Mt Rainier to Seattle suggested as a 4 day trip.
suze is offline  
Sep 21st, 2005, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,572
Without trying to micro-manage your itinerary (which is a tendency of mine) I would only add a couple of things to all the good advice already posted.

First, with the time you have there's absolutely no reason to skip the "east side" - not just Washington, but BC and the Columbia Gorge too.

For example, BC Hwy 3, which runs east-west from Hope all the way to the Rockies, is a gorgeous route, and in September-October it's even better - turning leaves at higher elevations, orchards with fruit stands, good mountain scenery...

A "grand loop" is best IMO. I would start in Seattle, go out to the coast (the later the wetter), then up to Victoria and Tofino, back to the mainland via the San Juans, then north to Vancouver and east on the BC side of the border to Osoyoos (or beyond); south on US 97 all the way to the Columbia; west through the Gorge to Portland, then north via Mt St Helens to Seattle.

Port Townsend and the Kitsap peninsula (as well as Whidbey Island) can be taken as side trips from Seattle (day-trips or short overnights); Mt Rainier can either be a day trip or combined with a southern "Casdcade Loop" - Mt. Rainier to Yakima via US 12, return to Seattle via I-82 and I-90, or US 2 if you have more time, all with minimal re-tracing of the north-south journey on US 97.

The east side of the hills is great "old west" country as well as the center of apple production, and, around the Yakima Valley, wine production (harvest time for both) and I would definitely find time in your schedule for these beautiful areas.

Don't forget the Maryhill Museum down along the eastern Gorge, and have a look at for lodgings in the Gorge/Portland area.
Gardyloo is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2005, 03:58 PM
Posts: n/a
Dear Folks. we live in the P. NW (seattle area) and never tire of it. Have lived all over the world, but always come back here. One trip that we take over and over is a slow waltz around the Olympic Penn. Try to book at Lake Quinalt Lodge---it is rustic and right in the heart of the forest. Lots of trails, rain forest, and beaches, and you can go up to Hurricane Ridge for a day hike...some parts of it are totally wild, need a horse to get in and out. Also, on the beach at Moclips is the Iron Springs Resort (little cabins nestled on the bluff above the sea.) ...need to book ahead. I'd skip Portland, (just another big city), but if you like cities, we have a great one, go to the Seattle ARt Museum, then have one of the most spectacular jade exhibits in the world, be sure to see Snoqualimie Falls and eat at their wonderful restaurant, go to Pike Street Market for a look at lots of good stuff. We also have a good opera, lots of parks, etc. Then take the Victoria Clipper for a few days in Victoria (you can go by ferry but long waits on weekends, and not so cheap anymore. Forget Mt. Rainer. You can see that from almost anywhere on a good day. Of course, go up in the Space Needle. If you like camping go up toward Roslyn to Salmon le Sac campground. You go thru Roslyn which is an old mining town, and where they filmed Northern Exposure.
For my money, I would get off the beaten track, take a salmon fishing vessell out of Westport and try your luck at a King salmon, camp on the ocean, visit some of the indian sights, etc. Some stuff needs to be booked, but being spontaneous is great.
Hope you have a great time. You can e-mail me if you have any questions.
Sep 22nd, 2005, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
Can you bump the trip up a couple of weeks? For most of your destinations (anything coastal or in the mountains), traveling until mid-October is pretty iffy. It's possible that the weather will be dry that late, but it's equally possible that the weather will be cool and dreary. If it's overcast or raining in the mountains, you will see zero scenery. This is not so much a concern on the eastern side of the Cascades as it is on the western side.

I would definitely add a trip over the North Cascades Highway to your agenda, staying in the Methow Valley towns of Winthrop, Twisp or Mazama. There's lots of great hiking in that area.

A kayak/whale watching trip in the San Juans is a must. There are lots of day trips from San Juan Island.

Someone mentioned the NW Best Places guidebook-I'll second that.
christy1 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2005, 05:28 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 46
Just got back from a wonderful 2 week trip of the area. A few days in Seattle was enough, a few nights in Port Angeles got us into the Olympic penn. for hiking and exploring. Ferry to Vancouver island.- Sooke Harbor was fabulous, great tidal pools at Botanical beach, etc. Spend more time on VI, we wish we had. Then on to the San Juan Islands, both San Juan and Orcas have so much to do, great restaurants, great B&B's, art galleries, kyaking, etc. Wonderful place, wish we could live there.

Then we did the North Cascade loop, took 3 days, could have spent more time. Such a varied topography and climate. Sun Mountain Lodge was worth the splurge. End back in Seattle. If more time, would have inserted a trip to Vancouver and possible Whistler. Otherwise, the trip was magical. People are so nice, they take care of the environment, treat each other with great respect and are very laid back. The scenery is jaw dropping, especially for us Floridians. Can't wait to go back. Lucky you.

As for places to stay and itineraries, we ususally follow Karen Brown advice and the advice of Fodorites.
Flaze is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 05:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 367
Even more great suggestions!! Thanks so much!! It's a good thing I'm starting to plan this early - so much to see and do.

To answer the question about changing the travel dates, yes, it is certainly possible. It's really possible to do this in the spring too, if that would be more ideal. What do you recommend for the travel dates?
mrkindallas is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
If you go in spring you won't get to hike in the mountains at all. Many of the trails are under snow until mid-July, and the mountain passes can open as late as June.

September is a very nice month to travel in the PNW. You don't have the almost guarenteed warm, dry weather of mid-summer, but the crowds are fewer, the weather is still nice enough on the West (and not scorching hot on the E. side of the Cascades), and you might see some fall color in the mountains.
christy1 is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,306
I agree with christy.
mms is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,041
you could add in all of oregon if you have that long. Are there reasons why you're centered on so far north?
bbqboy is offline  
Sep 24th, 2005, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,213
Lots of good ideas here.

But a strong pitch for Tacoma - or at any rate one bit of it that's very accessible from SEA-TAC.

Tacoma's Glass Museum probably offers poorer content for a higher admission fee than any attraction I've ever been to. But its "live action" glassmaking by the artists in residence is simply stunning. And although the collections you have to pay to see in the museum are pretty mediocre, the free-access Chihulis on the Glass Bridge and in the adjacent courthouse (ex-railway station) are spectacular.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 10:16 AM
Posts: n/a
Well, it's October 25 here in Seattle and it's drop dead gorgeous!!! Not too hot, or cold, no rain, and clear as a bell. I can see the lake from my home deck, and behind us is the forest, or what is left of it. Still, there are great green belts here. Mountains are getting their fall color. But all Septembers are not like this. For my money, I would come just after Labor are back in school and yet there is still good weather ahead. Anyway, we folks fromthe PN do not count the weather in our trip planing. I spent a weekend in the Rain forest near Quinalt last year, and we hiked and biked. The rain actually adds tot he mystic. We don't usually have the drenching downpour like someplaces, but a fine mist or drizzle. One thing to remember (and we have learned this the hard way as we travel a lot) is that you can wear yourself out totally rushing from place to place. Better to just see somewhere adequately, that to catch a glimse of it as you rush from piller to post.
enjoy yourselves for sure.
Sep 25th, 2005, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,935
hey cindyloo- you are absolutely right, the weather is *gorgeous* here now (but it's only September -LOL).
suze is offline  
Sep 25th, 2005, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
Actually, the weather matters a lot of many of us for trip planning...most of us keep a "plan B" in mind when planning a hiking trip or weekend in the mountains, since we don't want to spend all day wet, cold and miserable on the trail at high elevations, with no views beyond the 20 feet in front of us. Plan B usually means an alternate destination on the eastern side of the Cascades, and it's a good idea to have one when you are thinking about visiting Rainier or other mountain areas.
christy1 is offline  
Sep 26th, 2005, 03:48 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,472
When in Forks, hike down to Beach 2. Absolutely gorgeous.
kleeblatt is offline  
Oct 17th, 2005, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 17
You can't talk about the Pacific NW without talking about Oregon. Absolutely beautiful!!! And not many tourists--it often gets overlooked. If I were you, I'd start or end my trip in southern Oregon and work my way up or down the coast. Oregon has Crater Lake, which used to be a mountain that erupted and later filled with water--very blue and pristine. OR has more ghost towns than any other state too--Jacksonville is a popular old town and not so much ghost town anymore if it was ever one, but it's very quaint. There are many caves to visit too, lava and otherwise. In the Multnomah gorge area there is some of the world's best wind surfering, and on the coast Cannon Beach was rated among the top beaches in the US--including Hawaii. Mt Hood has the largest night skiing in the US as well. There's not a whole lot to do in Portland itself, you have to be an outdoors person to get a lot out of your visit to OR.

Of course you should definitely visit Mt St Helens--one of the coolest active volcanoes in the US and the closest visitor's center enables you to look into the crater. Neat! You can still see the devastation too. Anyway, just a thought!!
Noyes is offline  
Oct 19th, 2005, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,115
The only comment I can find that may be a little cloudy would be what Noyes said about Portland. " There's not a whole lot to do in Portland itself". I believe Ms. Scarlett would disagree! Let us know when you move there.
johnthedorf is offline  
Oct 19th, 2005, 01:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,299
They probably meant in terms of big tourist attractions (the kind of places I usually avoid). Those of us who prefer to visit parks, eat at good restaurants, walk around historic neighborhoods, etc, find much to do there.
christy1 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
topping for planning
starrsville is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:21 AM.