Portland to Seattle and Back

Old Jun 16th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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Portland to Seattle and Back

I have to be in Portland on business for a day the end of June so we thought we would stay a few extra days and travel up to Seattle.
We fly in Monday, work Tuesday, Wednesday to Seattle for overnight, Thursday overnight in Seattle and Friday back to Portland overnight and fly out mid-day on Saturday.
Would love some suggestions for our drive from Portland to Seattle and the must-sees in both places. Generally with a trip this short we would probably rather be wandering around outdoors than visiting museums. I know it is a beautiful part of the country and we just want to make the most of our couple of days. Any suggestions, particularly for the drive would be great.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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The only practical way to drive between Portland and Seattle is I-5, which is not a particularly beautiful drive (not bad, just not all that memorable). On the way you can detour out to the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument fairly easily - weather permitting (if it's overcast, don't bother). Without the detour, it's about a 2:45 trip each way although traffic between Seattle and Olympia can be awful and add significantly to your travel time.

In Seattle there are some great parks and I'd say a ferry ride out to Bainbridge Island is almost mandatory. But if you value scenery over museums, I would probably be putting the Columbia River Gorge area east of Portland and the Oregon Coast higher on your list than Seattle. The Gorge is an easy half-day trip from Portland, but there are numerous trails and miles of beautiful woods and waterfalls; lots of hiking on the Oregon Coast, too.

Some people swing around Mt. Hood after the Gorge and head out to Bend, Oregon, something else you can do probably with one overnight in Bend.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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Yes, you could visit Mt. Rainier on your way to Seattle or on your way back to Portland. Problem is there's a lot of back-tracking due to washed out roads that are being replaced.

Otherwise the drive doesn't have much to offer. We like to stop in Centralia for lunch at The Olympic Club--a place where time has stood still for 80 or 90 years. If we're there too early for lunch, we go on to Olympia and have lunch on the deck at Budd Bay Cafe--casual and good.

In Seattle the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Seattle Center, new Olympic Sculpture Park and Waterfront provide good opportunities for walking in the downtown area.

Other must sees are our new museum and library.

A ferry ride to Bainbridge Island offers great views of the Seattle skyline, and, on a clear day, Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and the Cascades.

On Bainbridge Island, walk to Cafe Nola in downtown Winslow for a good lunch.

Drive out to Green Lake and do what the locals do--take the 3-mile walk around it. Have a meal at Bluwater Bistro or Tacos Guaymas.

Drive to the Magnolia Bluff and the Ballard Locks. Have a meal at Chinook's at Fisherman's Terminal.

We have a great zoo not far from the locks and a newly enhanced acquarium on the waterfront.

Seattle is a beautiful city.
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Old Jun 16th, 2007, 08:27 PM
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If you want to make a longer day of it (like, double the normal 3 1/2 hours) you can head east up the Columbia River Gorge from Portland, taking the Historic highway to Cascade Locks, then the Washington side, then travel to the junction with US 97, through beautiful old west scenery north, over Satus Pass and through the Yakama Indian reservation and the Yakima Valley, then junction with I-82 and I-90 over the Cascades into Seattle. It's a beautiful ride, far nicer than I-5, but will take several more hours.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 09:05 AM
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We like the route suggested by Gardyloo, but we usually take it from Seattle to Hood River.

It's a great drive--one of our favorite stretches being WA-14 from Maryhill to the bridge to Hood River.

If you take it Seattle-Portland you will get great views of Mt. Hood (if it's a clear day) and a chance to visit some of the OR waterfalls, pop into Edgefield Inn at Troutdale, and more.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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I just have to say, if you've not been to this part of the country before, you won't be doing either Portland or Seattle justice with the short time you've allowed.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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I'll keep taking more suggestions but the ones here are a great help. My husband wanted to travel to Seattle because he was there when he was a kid and I've never been. There is never enough time but the side routes and stop-offs suggested will be great.

I noticed no-one included must-sees in Portland. I printed something from the Internet and it seems The Pearl, The waterfront and maybe The Max.

Always appreciate suggestions. You Fodorites have really "made" a lot of trips for us. Thanks so much.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 10:07 AM
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True, you can't see everything in a short trip; however, you can see a great deal, and the trip you plan will give you and your husband many happy memories. Enjoy.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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The International Rose Test Garden (aka Rose Garden) in Washington Park in the west hills above downtown Portland is a MUST SEE in the summer in Portland - definitely a highlight. If you're into walking, it's even possible walk up there from downtown depending on where you are staying. Washington Park itself is huge and full of great trails, which are accessible from near the Rose Garden. Also, the adjacent Japanese Garden is well worth a visit. You could easily spend an entire day in the gardens and on the miles of trails in the park.

If you want a great view of Portland, you can check out the Portland City Grill on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp tower downtown (SW 5th and Burnside). You can see everything. (Don't eat dinner there - just get drinks or appetizers at happy hour). Or if you want outdoor views, check out the view from Pittock Mansion or high up at Council Crest (highest point in Portland). The views from Washington Park are good too.

The MAX is Portland's light rail train. If you like trains, check it out. You might use it anyway to get around. There's also the Portland Streetcar (not quite the same as the MAX but same transit system), which gets you between NW Portland and the South Waterfront/Riverplace, taking you through the Pearl and downtown Portland. That's probably a more scenic tour of Portland than the MAX.

(And you MUST stop at the enourmous Powell's Books in the Pearl if you like books at all! This is one of the greatest bookstores in the world.)

A loop walk around the Portland waterfront might be fun - you can cross at the south end of the waterfront on the Hawthorne Bridge to the east side, walk north along the Eastside Esplanade (great views of downtown skyline), then cross west again to the downtown size over the Steel Bridge, then back through the waterfront park.
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Old Jun 17th, 2007, 01:38 PM
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As always, I agree with Andrew's suggestions.

The MAX has a farless area downtown which makes it easy and inexpensive to get around.

I also agree that you won't be doing Portland justice. It sounds like you won't really have a full day even for Portland unless you leave portland really late on your way to Seattle or leave Seattle very early on your way back to Portland.

If you MUST go to Seattle I recommend visiting Pike Place Market downtown. this is a must see if in the area.

It would also be worthwhile for you to drive out to some of the great neighborhoods such as Freemont and Ballard to check out all the fun restaurants, bars, used book stores, boutiques, etc. Great neighborhoods and I think more exciting that downtown Seattle.

Traffic is terrible in Seattle almost all day but even worse during rush hours. Try to avoid the rush hour traffic at all cost. it will be slightly helpful that you can use the POV lanes (car pool lanes used by vehicles with more than one person) but even that lane is busy.

What hotel will you be staying at in Portland?
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Old Jun 24th, 2007, 08:27 AM
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Sorry to be so slow in answering. We are actually staying at The Residence Inn, N.E. Parkway Drive in Vancouver as it is only a couple of minutes from my work.
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Old Jun 24th, 2007, 09:09 AM
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I'd spend the time in Portland, then in Seattle, and just make the drive a quick one (usually comes out to exactly 3 hrs. on I-5 when I drive it).

You could have Wed noon thru Fri noon in Seattle.
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