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Seattle and Vancouver - Quick logistical question

Seattle and Vancouver - Quick logistical question

Old Jul 21st, 2010, 10:25 AM
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Seattle and Vancouver - Quick logistical question

Hi all -- My friend and I would like to go to Seattle and Vancouver for 5-6 days nights in mid-August (flying from NY). We're trying to figure out how we should plan our flights and whether we should rent a car to get around. In Vancouver, we'd like to see the city and go to Vancouver Island for the day. In Seattle, we just want to see the city and enjoy the food/night scene. We're in our late 20's and are just looking for a quick/fun girls getaway. Our options are:

1) Fly into one city and out of the other. If we do this, should we rent a car to cross the border OR take the train and not rent a car at all? Should we just rent a car for Vancouver? We don't have a preference on which city we do first, if we do the multi-city flight.
2) Fly into and out of Seattle. If we do this, upon landing in Seattle from NY, we would get a rental car and drive straight to Vancouver, spend time there and then drive back to Seattle to spend a few days there before flying back to NY.

What's more efficient for our time frame? Thanks in advance!
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 11:19 AM
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Given these options and desires, I would:

fly into Vancouver,
rent a car to visit Vancouver Island,
travel to Seattle via public transport,
and fly home from Seattle.

Check the Amtrak schedule for the day you will travel to Seattle. Some days departures are infrequent and some Amtrak trips are made on a bus.

HTTY
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 12:25 PM
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I recommend something a little different. Fly in/out of SEA and to leave Seattle take the Victoria Clipper to Victoria, rent a car there to tour Vancouver Island (go at least as far as Nanaimo) When done there take the ferry from Sidney into Vancouver and then Amtrack back to Seattle.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 01:29 PM
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With 5 or 6 days to cover all three of these spots you can't hope to have any time to relax AND be able to maximize your opportunity to see the sights.

As mentioned (unconfirmed) on another thread at Fodors it takes upward of 3 hours to get from Vancouver to Victoria one-way.

I think your trip would be far better 'packaged' if you simply opted for just the Seattle and Vancouver parts, each of which would provide you picturesque settings and enough time to take-in both places.

You'd fly into Seattle (likely for lowest airfares given the alternatives), rent a car round-trip with a weekly rate, and do the Vancouver leg in the middle of your journey.

Try to avoid having to travel when everyone else is on the roads and in the border lines. For not being AS rushed as you were intending to be, you can afford to be flexible and maximize your fun time while minimizing your border time.

In truth, Vancouver is probably going to be more "fun" on the weekend, and there is nothing wrong with BEing there on the weekend - just don't travel to and fro when everyone else is doing so.

SAY, for example, you would fly into Seattle on a Wednesday:

leave Seattle by midday Friday for Vancouver, hitting the border well before rush hour and getting settled at your (downtown) Vancouver hotel in time for night life in what is an amazing city.

Upon returning to Washington State, either come back LATE Sunday night (maybe hitting the border no earlier than 8pm, but 10pm is better yet for minimizing the wait and then zipping the 110 miles back to central Seattle {freeway all the way}) or even early on Monday.

Then you fly out of Seattle on Tuesday afternoon.

Trying to shove Victoria into all that adds time and money expense that just drain your chance to enjoy where you are.

(*** I admit that if someone picked me up by the scruff of the neck and put me 75 miles away in Victoria, that I'd be thrilled to explore the whole city and much of the lower island area, but I'd want a week or more do do it. As Vancouver Island is more than 8 times the size of Long Island (and far more remote), it can't be done properly on one trip, particularly when at the expense of time utilized in Vancouver)
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 01:38 PM
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Second the Victoria Clipper suggestion. No trip to Puget Sound is complete without a trip through the islands.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 02:11 PM
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No comment.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 02:52 PM
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The San Juans are good, but: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/farryn..._b_651010.html
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 03:05 PM
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I toyed with all kinds of combinations for this trip, and ended up flying in and out of Seattle and renting a car for the whole trip. It seemed less hassle, less time than making all the various transportation connections, and just didn't tie me down so much. I did rent the car in Downtown Seattle however after spending a couple nights there and saved a bundle compared to picking it up at the airport, even though I returned it to the airport.
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Old Jul 21st, 2010, 05:30 PM
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If you're going to Victoria definitely do it from Seattle and not Vancouver. I didn't know that would be better and it's a three hour bus/ferry/bus transfer from Vancouver whereas from Seattle the ferry leaves from downtown and arrives in downtown Victoria. But we had 6 days in Vancouver/Victoria and that still felt rushed. No way I'd add Victoria to your itinerary. Oh, and we loved the Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver.
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 01:36 PM
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Thank you all. This was very, very helpful. I will let you know what we book. Thanks again!
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 10:20 PM
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Hey Suzy Q, I commute between those three cities biweekly and am always pressed for time when I go, so I think I can help.

To maximize your time on land, look into JFK-SEA direct flights on Jetblue. 7:14pm flight gets you in around 10:35pm. On your return flight take the 9:50pm red eye from SEA, gets you into JFK at 6am. Some other airline routes could take you all day.

If you are only spending a couple days in Seattle and mainly want food and bar scene, you don't need a car. You will waste time finding parking. Take the Sound Transit from the airport to downtown Seattle, it gets off right beside Nordstrom on Pine, takes about 25 mins and costs $2.50 I think. There will be plenty of good restaurants and bars to occupy you in downtown/Belltown/Capitol Hill areas for 3 days.

Driving from Seattle to Vancouver takes 2.5hr if there is absolutely no traffic, which is rare on I5. Also renting cars are cheaper in Vancouver than in Seattle, and some car rental companies may not let you or may charge extra if you take the car cross border. So consider taking Amtrak or the Quick Shuttle Bus to Vancouver, then rent a car there.

Once you get to Vancouver, you don't need a car downtown for shopping and good restaurants. Consider biking as a mode of transportation. It's a great way to go around the city and especially to go to places like Stanley Park. There are lots of places to rent bikes. Maybe on last day in Vancouver rent a car (about $40/day for mid-size) if you really want to go to Victoria. But I think that's really tight to do that. If all you're going for in Victoria is scenery, you will get a good taste of that from inside the cities in Seattle and Vancouver. Sure, it won't compare to going to the islands, but for a 5-6 day trips, it will be a nice compromise.

Enjoy!
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Old Jul 29th, 2010, 06:27 PM
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I'm not sure what you are wanting to do on Vancouver Island. Seeing anything other than Victoria or the Buchardt Gdns would be very difficult in this time-frame. Victoria is another city. Cute, though it is, it is packed with tourists in the summer. The Buchardt Gdns are great, but not sure if this is what you are looking for in going to Vancouver Is. You could take the Clipper to Victoria from Seattle - go in the morning and return the same night or the next night.

If, however, you want to experience an island feel, you could simply take the ferry from W. Seattle to Vashon Island and picnic at the beach at Pt Roberts lighthouse or even take the Argosy Cruise to Blake Island for the salmon bake and spend some time walking the trails there, time permitting. Even Golden Gardens Park, in Seattle, has a very island-like beach and is a lovely spot.

Good things to do in Seattle - rent a bike at Alki (can go on the water taxi from downtown and rent a bike close to where it goes in W. Seattle); go kayaking at the Aqua Verde and see the houseboats on L. Union (Sleepless in Seattle), then have lunch at Aqua Verde; see the salmon ladders at the Crittendan locks; and see the troll in Fremont.
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