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Seattle & Vancouver

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Apr 18th, 2012, 07:50 PM
  #1
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Seattle & Vancouver

We will have 2 wks in September to travel this itinerary. Will fly into Seattle and would like to know which direction would be the most practical to begin, Seattle to Vancouver, Victoria (public trans) or to ONP, San Juan Islands (rental car).
Will be flying in from the East coast so we are not familiar with driving conditions, etc. Would like to rent car for ONP portion of itinerary only (but would be flexible on this). We would appreciate advise on trip planning and recommended means of transportation to Vancouver and Victoria from Seattle.
4 women traveling companions 68-71 in age. Decent health who look forward to hiking, biking and kayaking as well as enjoying walking the cities and gardens tours.
Suggested local daily tours from above itinerary would also be appreciated.
Thank you.
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Apr 19th, 2012, 02:19 AM
  #2
 
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Here's what I would suggest as a "schematic" for the trip - fill in the details later.

Fly into Seattle, visit the city (no car) then rent a car from one of the downtown agencies and travel to the Olympic Peninsula (ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, then 90 min. drive to Port Angeles.)

Visit Olympic National Park (Hurricane Ridge, Hoh rain forest and Ruby or Rialto Beaches as a minimum.) One day, leave the car in Port Angeles and travel on the Coho ferry from PA to Victoria as foot passengers; visit downtown Victoria and Butchart Gardens (numerous buses and tours available from the Inner Harbour out to the gardens.) Then back to PA.

If you must go to the San Juans, then keep the car and drive from Port Angeles to Port Townsend and take the short ferry to Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Then drive north over Deception Pass to Fidalgo Island and up to Anacortes for the San Juan Islands ferry.

Pick an island (given your interests I suppose San Juan - kayaking, whale chasing, etc.) and spend a couple of days there.

From there, two choices: either return to Seattle via Anacortes and I-5, or return to the mainland and continue north to Vancouver, dropping the car. Fly out of Vancouver (i.e. an "open jaw" itinerary.)

By returning to Seattle you'll save money on the car rental, but will then have to pay for the train or bus up to Vancouver. The one-way car rental (Seattle - Vancouver) will be more expensive, but probably will be cheaper on a per-person basis all things considered.

A couple of notes: You might consider dropping the San Juans (I would, given your timeframe) and re-allocate those days to Seattle or Vancouver. The islands are very nice, but it's always a trade-off as to whether the time and expense required to get there would be better spent doing other things. There are many hiking, kayaking and biking alternatives in this region that don't require so much logistical planning. Kayak around the houseboats or the nature reserve in the shadow of the University of Washington on Portage Bay in Seattle, for example, or do a day trip to Mount Rainier. Or kayak around False Creek or hike through Stanley Park in Vancouver, or up to Whistler for a day or visit Lynn Canyon (the low-cost high-reward alternative to the $$$ Capilano Bridge). Both Seattle and Vancouver have so much to offer inside the city limits - parks, water everywhere, lively arts, great restaurants - while being so close to nature - canyons, waterfalls, mountains, forests... that you don't need to spend so much time getting places.

You could visit some of the other marvelous gardens in the region - for example the relatively unknown but absolutely fabulous Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island - http://www.bloedelreserve.org/ - or some of Vancouver city's remarkable botanical gardens - Queen Elizabeth Park and the Bloedel Conservatory (same Bloedel) - which, IMO, really give Butchart Gardens a run for their money, but which require much less money to visit - or the nearby Van Dusen Gardens in Vancouver, or for that matter the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese garden in Vancouver's Chinatown - one of National Geographic's best urban gardens in the world. http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/queenelizabeth/
http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/vandusen/index.htm
http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/index.htm
Gardyloo is online now  
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Apr 19th, 2012, 06:20 AM
  #3
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Gardylou,
THANK YOU..THANK YOU!!!!! All of your suggestions make sense to me. I have been reading and checking out resources for accommodations and transportation and can easily see you are well informed about practical plans for our itinerary. I appreciate the time you gave to answering my request.
Sherry
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Apr 19th, 2012, 06:35 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I also thank you Gardyloo. I've been trying to put a similar trip together for my family and this really helps.

Just to clarify are you suggesting that Victoria can be done as a day trip? I thought we would need to spend the night but if I understood correctly I like your plan.
wtm003 is online now  
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Apr 19th, 2012, 08:08 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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wtm003, you can do Victoria as a day trip out of Seattle if you take the Victoria Clipper both ways. Even then, you will feel hurried and have the nagging feeling that you have missed something (you will have). An overnight is recommended.
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