Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Old Jan 28th, 2024, 07:02 AM
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Pacific Northwest Road Trip

My wife and I are flying into Seattle on May 1st and will spend 10 days touring the surrounding areas by rental car and the occasional ferry. We know, it's still the rainy season, but wanted to avoid the peak travel times. Other than visiting friends in San Juan Island and Bellingham, we don't have a set itinerary, but want to make sure we take in the best coastal and forest views possible. We won't be based out of Seattle and plan to find lodging along our route, preferring quaint towns and villages. Any suggestions?
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Old Jan 28th, 2024, 08:38 AM
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I recommend Neah Bay for its Makah Museum (https://makahmuseum.com/) and the walk to Cape Flattery


The temperate rain forest is best seen on the western side of Olympic National Park


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Old Jan 31st, 2024, 09:15 AM
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Where do you want to go? Are you asking about National Parks? I can't really think of any "villages" to suggest. Maybe somewhere like Whidbey Island would pair well with Bellingham and the San Juans.

Welcome to Fodors! There is a very active Seattle/Washington State forum over on Trip Advisor that you might like to also read. You'll find itineraries already outlined and lots of different trip reports from people who've done road trips around the area.

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Old Jan 31st, 2024, 09:34 AM
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I suggest Port Townsend, a great place to hang out for a couple of days.

My visit here:
https://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/roa...end-washington

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Old Jan 31st, 2024, 10:30 AM
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I second Port Townsend. I liked Olympia when I visited there. It has a vibrant downtown and progressive Evergreen College makes the town have a "funky, indie" vibe. Also, go to Mt. Rainier National Park which features Mt. Rainier, a majestic snow-covered mt, jutting up from the valley floor to over 14,000 feet. Hike the Wonderland Trail and enjoy the beauty.
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Old Feb 1st, 2024, 08:53 AM
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Hike the Wonderland Trail and enjoy the beauty.
In May? What are the odds of scenery, 20%? Just trying to be realistic, seeing Mt Rainier is kind of like seeing the Northern Lights, well, it happens....
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 08:06 AM
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Driving along the coast of Olympic National Park and stopping at all the beaches is one way to spend. As other said Mt Rainier is another good option.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2024, 09:11 AM
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Indeed, welcome to Fodor's!

When you check back, could you mention how many days/nights you plan to spend with friends and on the San Juans? You indicated a total of 10 days, but presumably only a fraction of those will be available for touring.

A couple of logistical issues, however. First, the Pacific coast rain forest valleys in Olympic National Park - the Hoh and Quinault valleys - are arguably at their best in May. Of course they're not called rain forests for nothing - expect very wet conditions throughout the region.

You could combine a visit to the Hoh rain forest with a visit to one or more of the spectacular beaches on the Olympic NP coastal strip. If you're visiting the San Juans, you can access the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula via a ferry between two picturesque small towns, Coupeville on Whidbey Island, then (after the ferry) Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula.

From Port Townsend it's a day's drive (and not a terribly scenic one) to the Hoh valley rainforest OR to the marvelous Pacific beaches near the Native American village of La Push. You can overnight in the (not very picturesque) town of Forks for the night between the rain forest or coastal beaches, then your return to Seattle can be via the scenic Bainbridge Island ferry. Here's a map showing this plan; note that Google is notoriously optimistic on drive times.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/LxJFsgLHJaz5awrw8

Both the Anacortes - Friday Harbor and Coupeville - Port Townsend ferries accept vehicle reservations, and both are recommended, especially if travel is on the weekend. Washington State Ferries Vehicle Reservations System (WSF VRS)

Finally, any high elevation destinations - anywhere on Mount Rainier, or Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park - are going to be snowbound in May. In addition, the high likelihood of clouds and rain (or snow) in the mountains really inhibits much sightseeing then, unless you're quite lucky. Do you feel lucky?
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