Pacific NW Itinerary advice needed

Old Mar 30th, 2024, 12:42 PM
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Pacific NW Itinerary advice needed

We have two families with 4 adults and 6 teens on this trip in late June/early July. I'm looking for advice for the last part of the trip. So far we have already booked:
- flights (flying into and out of SeaTac)
- rental passenger van starting the morning we leave Seattle (already booked)
- hotel nights 1 and 2 in Seattle (already booked); going to Mariner's game first night; next day Space Needle, Pike Market, etc.
- rent passenger van; drive to Ashford; spend nights 3 and 4 in Airbnb house (already booked); explore Mount Rainier
- drive to Seaside, OR; spend nights 5, 6 and 7 there in Airbnb house (already booked); Day 6 is July 4th so it will mainly be spent at and near the house; it's close to the beach; we know it will be crowded; other days Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park; Tillamook if we have time; Astoria on way there or on way out
After this we want to explore Olympic NP. There are some accommodations still available, but they are limited and I know we need to book asap. We had also considered going to Victoria via the ferry in Port Angeles; the rental co. doesn't allow us to take the van to Canada. We have four nights to plan. Not including these four nights is our last night in a hotel near SeaTac. Where should we spend these four nights? Should we go to Victoria or save that for another vacation? 2 nights in Forks and 2 in Port Angeles or Port Townsend or Whidbey Island? Thank you for your advice.
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Old Mar 30th, 2024, 01:25 PM
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So, all 10 will have passports? I liked Victoria but IMO you need a vehicle. Maybe two nights in Victoria and two in Port Townsend, WA . It's a Victorian seaport and has a vibrant downtown. It's an artists community and sailing center. The Orcas Island ferry only takes 35 minutes.
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 07:35 AM
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I think it really depends on what you want. By the time you're done with Seaside and the northern Oregon coast, you'll have had time in the mountains (Mount Rainier, which might well still have some snow on the ground and/or cloudy conditions) and time along the coast, with the likes of Ecola State Park. Looping the Olympic peninsula from there is doable, but aside from a couple of spur roads, like out to the La Push area beaches, or into the Quinault or Hoh valleys for the rain forests (which will be VERY popular around the week of the 4th, maybe to the point of limited access, especially to the Hoh visitor center) US 101 around the peninsula is pretty unattractive, and frankly bleak in parts. Port Angeles is okay as a base for seeing Hurricane Ridge but otherwise isn't (IMO) that convenient a destination for much else.

Using the Coho ferry from PA, Victoria can easily be experienced as a day trip without taking the van. Leave it in PA, ride the ferry to the Inner Harbour, tour around, then back to PA that night; this is done by thousands of visitors. Again, this will be a very busy time.

But I had another thought given your itinerary and the makeup of your group. What if you postponed both Olympic NP and Victoria/Vancouver Island for another time, when you could include time visiting the Salish Sea islands - US San Juans, Canadian Gulf Islands, maybe other parts of Vancouver Island like Tofino, or the BC Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver (on the way to Whistler) etc.? You could then take the days following the Oregon coast to head inland to the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood areas before returning to Seattle.

The Gorge is famous for its waterfalls, which in early July will still be in high flow, but it's also an area with remarkable variety for other sights and activities. At Hood River there's windsurfing and kiteboarding on the Columbia, wineries and orchards to explore on the Hood River "fruit loop," hiking in the forests around the base of Mount Hood or into the Mount Adams wilderness; or ride the "Magic Mile" chairlift from iconic Timberline Lodge up to the permanent ice fields on the side of Mount Hood, where they'll still be skiing. Say hello to Herman the Sturgeon at the fascinating Bonneville Dam hatchery or go see all the remarkable artworks in the Maryhill Museum of Art - Rodin in the sagebrush - an hour east of Hood River (and a few minutes from the weird replica of Stonehenge on the clifftops overlooking the Columbia.)

It's a relatively compact area that really delivers on the scenery, food, activities and history fronts, and while it too will be popular in the days around the 4th, the area possesses more than adequate visitor infrastructure - lodging, etc. - to handle it. Google the places on this map to see what you think. https://maps.app.goo.gl/o4ZH2hPsYXtP3vx7A
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 09:32 AM
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I answered over on Trip Advisor. There are some amazing 'experts' who post on that forum especially about ONP (and a few who post on both forums like Gardyloo above).

I don't think you have time for both Victoria and ONP but I do think you could do one of the other of them. Also there is the Victoria Clipper that is a walk-on ferry that leaves from Seattle if you wanted to rearrange a bit.

You also asked about Whidbey Island which I love and would be easier and closer than either of the other options. I like Captain Whidbey Inn in Coupeville.

suze
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:12 AM
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Passports

Originally Posted by PrairieHikerI
So, all 10 will have passports? I liked Victoria but IMO you need a vehicle. Maybe two nights in Victoria and two in Port Townsend, WA . It's a Victorian seaport and has a vibrant downtown. It's an artists community and sailing center. The Orcas Island ferry only takes 35 minutes.
We would need to get passports which is costly for families of five. Maybe we should do two nights in Forks and two nights in or near Port Townsend? I see there are whale watching trips out of Port Townsend and we would like to do that. Is it worth it to go to Cape Flattery? We want to see ONP too. Thanks for your help.
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by michellemorantez7694
We would need to get passports which is costly for families of five. Maybe we should do two nights in Forks and two nights in or near Port Townsend? I see there are whale watching trips out of Port Townsend and we would like to do that. Is it worth it to go to Cape Flattery? We want to see ONP too. Thanks for your help.
Yes, new passports for 10 people would be $1,650. Sounds like a good idea to do two nights in Forks and Port Townsend. When in Forks you will be about 50 minutes from the Hoh Rainforest Visitors Center in the ONP.
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by PrairieHikerI
. . . When in Forks you will be about 50 minutes from the Hoh Rainforest Visitors Center in the ONP.
If you believe Google maps. But in real life and in a big van and near the 4th, count on close to 90 minutes. And I wouldn't be surprised if it took longer
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Old Mar 31st, 2024, 03:06 PM
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Passports: They are not strictly required to enter Canada, especially for minors. Here's the website

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-v...c-rnc-eng.html

But for sure children under 16 can cross with a birth certificate only.

https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...%20citizenship.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by tom_mn
Passports: They are not strictly required to enter Canada, especially for minors. Here's the website

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-v...c-rnc-eng.html

But for sure children under 16 can cross with a birth certificate only.

https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...%20citizenship.
I looked it up and someone with an Enhanced Driver's License can enter Canada and re-enter the US by land or water. Air travel requires a US passport. I thought they changed the law so a US passport was required to re-enter the US by land or water. I did read somewhere that a US citizen cannot be denied entry back into the US even if they have no documentation.

Last edited by PrairieHikerI; Apr 1st, 2024 at 06:37 AM.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 07:14 AM
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Canada

Only a few states administer Enhanced drivers licenses and Louisiana isnít one of them. I think the adults in our group would want to at least get Passport cards if we decide to go to Victoria. We canít bring our van to Victoria because of rental company policies for passenger vans. Itís considered a commercial vehicle. Is there enough to do for one or two nights without a vehicle? Iíd like to see Butchart Gardens, but Iím sure we can take a tour that includes transportation there.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 07:29 AM
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Remember that July 1 is Canada Day (national holiday). Check with your choice of hotel in Victoria about transportation from the ferry and getting to the Gardens. Many people get on the ferry as walk on passengers.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 07:53 AM
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Some notes on passports/Victoria/Butchart Gardens....

For new passports, the US State Department says a turnaround time of 6-8 weeks is standard; that can be expedited (2-3 weeks) with an extra $60 payment, but also with an in-person application. So for you that's probably doable, but it would be uncomfortably tight for me.

For most visitors, the main appeal of Victoria is the area right around the Inner Harbour, where the Coho ferry from Port Angeles docks. You can stroll around the BC Legislative Assembly building (aka "Parliament") and grounds, visit the Empress Hotel (for their - IMO - hugely overpriced afternoon tea) or (much better) visit the Royal BC Museum, a real treasure. You can walk through the old town, possibly up to Victoria's small Chinatown, or go on whale watching tours that also leave from the Inner Harbour.

There are several tour operators offering tours to Butchart Gardens, most costing around C$100 which includes admission to the gardens. They all seem to take around 3-4 hours, of which an hour is spent getting to and from the gardens. The gardens on their own cost C$25-C$45 for entry, less for teens, kids, and elders.

So in a day trip that leaves Port Angeles on an early boat, you could tour the Inner Harbour and take a tour of the gardens, and still be back in time for a late afternoon or early evening return ferry to PA. Counting the ferry and cost for Butchart Gardens, it would be a very expensive day for a family of 5.

Now if you postponed the Canadian experience on this trip and instead planned a longer visit that included Vancouver Island, Vancouver city and the area around the Salish Sea, you could rent a vehicle that you could take on the ferry, or maybe even substitute two of the marvelous gardens in the city of Vancouver for Butchart. Queen Elizabeth Park in central Vancouver has gardens which (IMO) rival Butchart Gardens, but cost... nothing. Inside the park is the Bloedel Conservatory (small admission fee) which is filled with tropical plants and free-flying tropical birds. Near QE Park is another treasure, the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, complete with a maze, tea room, etc. And of course, Vancouver's Stanley Park is acknowledged as one of the premier in-city parks in the world. If it was me, I'd save my money for this go-round. If you're desperate to see a world-class garden, visit the Bloedel Reserve (same family) on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle.

One last note on visiting the Hoh rain forest. The National Park Service says the wait to get into the visitor center can be up to 2 hours once they start daily metering of vehicles (one out, one in.) That would make the whole Hoh experience very long - a couple of hours to get to the park entrance, a couple hours' wait, 40 minutes to the visitor center, a couple of hours to walk around, then 40 min. out back to US 101 and an hour to Forks or two to Port Angeles... oy. I'd pick the Quinault Valley instead.
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Old Apr 1st, 2024, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by michellemorantez7694
Maybe we should do two nights in Forks and two nights in or near Port Townsend?.

First of all, does ANY of this have ANYthing to do with fans of the Twilight movies ????


IF SO, then (the adults) should make a TOP TIER PRIORITY of plotting the small town of St Helens, Oregon on the itinerary!

The movie set scenes in St. Helens, OR are plentiful, including Bella Swan's house at

184 S 6th St, in St Helens, OR


(where it is easiest to park in a church parking lot half a block away and walk into the dead end street where the now-private home is located) (they're used to the interest ) (but stay off their property)


Central St. Helens, OR is dotted with various spots used as movie backdrop in the beginning of Twilight.


Given all that you have scheduled, Canada seems a bit too ambitious for this trip... particularly Victoria, which is the biggest pain to get to.


With the four nights... you'd probably do best if maybe allocating one or two to the northern OP... and then wisely distributing the others into the middle of your trip so as to slow your roll a little bit, and pause to do kid stuff.

(worst case, you get back to Seattle with two more extra nights, and plenty to do for kids)



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Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 07:41 AM
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Decisions

We decided to book two ďtiny homesĒ in Forks/Beaver for 2 nights. I think after this we will stay in Sequim or Port Townsend for 2 nights. We want to take a whale watching trip. Does anyone have experience with Puget Sound Express out of Port Townsend? There are half day trips and an all day trip that includes a 2 hour stop in Friday Harbor.I like the idea of seeing San Juan Islands, but I worry the teenagers with us will get tired of being on the boat.
Also, when we leave the area on Wednesday I was considering taking the ferry to Whidbey Island, exploring Fort Casey and Deception Pass and then make our way to a hotel near SeaTac. Our flight is the next day. Does this sound like a good idea? What else should we see on Whidbey or on our way to SeaTac?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2024, 08:50 AM
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Lake Crescent is only 37 miles from Sequin and is beautiful. There is a beautiful lodge there- we stayed in the cabins. You can rent kayaks and go for a paddle on the lake. Have lunch at the lodge. There is also a nice hike to a waterfall on the property. It is Marymere Falls
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