Seattle to Vancouver

Mar 1st, 2009, 12:07 PM
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Seattle to Vancouver

We are planning to stay a few days in Seattle with our two boys ages 16 and 12. We will be going to a Mariners game and would like to take in the sights. What are the must sees in the area. Also, would then like to drive to Vancouver. We will have a car. What will be the best way for us to get there. I understand Vancouver City one area and Vancouver Island is another. What is there in both places and is Vancouver Island easily accessible from Vancouver City. One last thing, I've heard that Victoria is absolutely beautiful too. How would that fit into our plans, is it easily accessible also?
triptime is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 12:34 PM
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Vancouver is a straight-shot up I-5 freeway from Seattle. Approximately a 3 hour drive plus the border crossing.

Highlights in Seattle I'd include the Space Needle, Smith Tower observation deck, Pioneer Square. Depending on the interests of your boys the EMP, Ride the Duck, ferry ride, Seattle Streetcar, and Monorail are all fun things to do.

If the weather's nice going to Snoqualmie Falls and or Mt Rainier are great drives outside the city.
suze is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 01:21 PM
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Please look at a map. How much time do you have for Vancouver and/or Vancouver Island? If you have only one day, you need to choose which you want to do.

Vancouver is only about 140 miles from Seattle, which is about 2 hours 15 min plus border crossing. Time at the border depends on time of day, day of week, holiday, etc.

Victoria is located on Vancouver Island. You have to go by ferry. You can go from Vancouver by BC Ferries (Tsawwassen- Swartz Bay 1 hr 35 min, plus you are landing in Swartz Bay which is another 30 min drive to Victoria, plus ferry wait times and getting to Tsawwassen from Vancouver)

from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula by the Coho Ferry (ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Is plus 1 1/2 hr drive, plus 90 min crossing)

or from Anacortes WA by State of Washington Ferries (currently not running but will be up soon. Drive to Anacortes from Seattle or Victoria about an hour, Crossing may be at least 2 hours, maybe more, and is to Swartz Bay with further drive to Victoria).

You can also go on a passenger only ferry, the Victoria Clipper, directly from Seattle directly to Victoria. There are internet special, at least off-season, which are very reasonable. The Clipper goes up in the morning and back in the evening and takes about 3 hrs. You do not need a car in Victoria.

Compare times, costs and length of voyage to decide which you would like to do.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 01:49 PM
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I'm from will find plenty to do here..especically with your boys. Save the island for another time.
CaptCanuck is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 06:56 AM
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For boys that age top sites are EMP and Pike Place Market. Given your time, just drive up to Vancouver on I-5. The Aquarium in Vancouver is probably the best in the region. They also have a good hands on science place (can't think of the name right now)
rosetravels is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 07:07 AM
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Also, you can rent bikes in Vancouver and go around Stanley Park, which is a wonderful experience. The aquarium is in the park.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 07:10 AM
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You probably will opt for driving to Vancouver and back, but just for the record - the bus is very inexpensive and will get you through the border quicker than if you are in your own car. The train's more expensive and only goes once a day in each direction - but it's scenic and reasonably quick through the border.
soccr is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 07:27 AM
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I agree with "CaptCanuck" Be aware that the Border crossing can be really backed--delays 1/2 hr. to 2 hrs.on weekends.
Vancouver is a beautiful City--
Cannot remember details--water taxi to island in bay that has shops, places to eat and Farmers Market --I hope it is still functioning....
Now, Seattle--that is a jewel--take a
ferry to Bainbridge Island (just for the ride), buses in the core of the city are free,
hundred shops, restaurants,flowers, crafts, portable food, artists, ===all in Pikes Place market.
I wish I were there now...
Good Luck
traveler24 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 08:02 AM
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After doing some research, we are thinking about returning the car in Seattle and go to Vancouver and fly home to Newark from Vancouver. Would it be easier to go by boat to Vancouver or take the train and once there, will it be easy to get around without a car. We would like to go to Vancouver City, Island and Victoria.
triptime is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 10:00 AM
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If you drop the car in Seattle you can take a passenger ferry to Victoria ( or - a huge treat for your boys - fly on a float plane ( You could also fly on floats from Victoria to downtown Vancouver (

However I'd recommend taking the car, and traveling to Victoria/Vancouver Island via Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, which would give you the opportunity to take your boys up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, just outside Port Angeles. Having a car to go from Victoria back across to the mainland (Vancouver city) will be much easier than trying to use public transportation. Doing this "loop" - Seattle - Victoria - Vancouver - will also help avoid the mainland border crossings.

In Seattle, I'd definitely add the Museum of Flight - - to your list of priorities for your boys (and yourselves) - a very fine museum. It's located a mile or so south of Safeco Field (Mariners.)
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 10:33 AM
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Don't forget your passports if you are going to Vancouver.

I'd also agree with keeping the car. There are places in Vancouver that you would want to go where a car would be more convenient.
easytraveler is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:35 AM
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So if you recommend taking the car to Vancouver instead of dropping it in Seattle. We can drive to Vancouver, that would be the city, and then how would we get to Vancouver Island and Victoria. Is that doable as a day trip and would be have time to see Victoria and Vancouver Island? Just a little confused. Then we would have to go back to Vancouver to fly home, is that correct?
triptime is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:36 AM
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The Vancouver aquarium is a must - really an amazing place (lots of great exhibits and beluga whales).

As for Seattle - Pike place market is great, especially the fish throwers at the southern end and the orriginal Starbucks. The Pioneer Square Underground Tour is beyond entertaining and gives a great history of the city. I also think the Fremont area is very cool because it is so unique and quirky (there is a statue of Lenin and a giant troll squashing a VW Beatle. Alki beach is beautiful as is Discovery Park. Both have wonderful views of the islands and the city. Another one-of-a-kind Seattle things is the Ballard Locks where you can watch huge boats go through. They also have a fish ladder there where, if the timing is right, you can watch the Salmon.

What time of year will you be there you might luck out and be there when the orcas are swimming around. If so, a whale watching trip could be fun. I would also recommend Snoqualmie Falls (less than 45min drive outside the city) and on the way back you can stop at Tweeds Caf in North Bend, made famous by the show Twin Peaks, for pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.
bubblywine is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 11:53 AM
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So if you recommend taking the car to Vancouver instead of dropping it in Seattle. We can drive to Vancouver, that would be the city, and then how would we get to Vancouver Island and Victoria. Is that doable as a day trip and would be have time to see Victoria and Vancouver Island? Just a little confused. Then we would have to go back to Vancouver to fly home, is that correct?

I recommend driving from Seattle to Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, then taking the car on the ferry to Victoria/Vancouver Island, then taking the car on the Canadian ferry from (near) Victoria to Tsawwassen on the mainland, around 20 mi. from Vancouver city, then dropping the car and flying out of Vancouver.

Getting from the mainland (Seattle or Vancouver) to Victoria and back on the same day is not really feasible unless you take the high-speed ferry from Seattle (Victoria Clipper) round trip, or fly one or both directions.

I think you need to refer to a map to see where places are located and means of access. Look here:
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 12:38 PM
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That really makes a lot of sense. We can stay on Victoria for a couple nights and make Vancouver City our last stop before we fly home. Now so I understand correctly, Victoria is on Vancouver Island? Can we do both in a day, or should we use one day for each? And what to do in the city?
triptime is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 01:02 PM
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OK Triptime, I'm getting frustrated here. In post #2, I stated, "Victoria is located on Vancouver Island." That was true when I wrote it yesterday and it is still true today.

Even if you are not going to do any homework before you post, the least you can do is look at what we have posted. And DO look at a map before posting again. Otherwise we are wasting our time responding.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 01:08 PM
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Plus I posted all ferry information. No it is not a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria, unless you want to spend most of your day on the ferry.

How much time do you have? I asked this originally and you did not respond. It is relevant. Also, how much money? Are you willing to rent a car in Seattle and drop it off in Canada? Also, the air cost of an open jaws ticket rt to Seattle and returning from Vancouver as opposed to flying rt Seattle?

You don't need a car outside of Seattle if you take the Clipper to Victoria and a bus to Vancouver.

We need more info on your parameters and you need to, as I said, actually read what we are giving you and do some thinking about how you want to spend your time and money.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 02:21 PM
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Orcas I'm sorry if I am frustrating you. If it is that frustrating, please do not answer my requests. It is just a lot that I am trying to plan in an area that I do not know anything about. I did not mean is Vancouver City and Victoria a day trip. I meant can we do Vancouver Island and Victoria in a day. There are no time constraints and as for how much money it will cost, I rather have the most convienent way than to worry about the cost. I am reading everything that people are writing, taking notes and appreciating all of it. I have been sitting here for two days trying to get more of a handle on planning this vacation. I've planned numerous multicity vacations for my family, but this one, at this time right now, seems just a bit confusing. But I am sure with more research it will turn out great. Thanks for your help.
triptime is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 04:14 PM
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Vancouver Island is about the same size as the State of Maryland, but with way fewer roads and lots of mountains and sea inlets. No way it can be "seen" in less than a period of months, not days or hours. Victoria is well worth a visit, but unless you want to invest numerous days and get into the outback, I think you'll be better off focusing your attention to the mainland.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 04:33 PM
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Vancouver Island is the 11th largest island in the world. It is 285 miles long and 50 miles wide. It has major parks in it and mountains and coastline. Victoria is the provincial capital and is located at the southeastern tip of the island. the island has three major tourist attractions, I'd say: Victoria, Buchardt Gdns and Tofino (with Pacific Rim Nat. Pk).

Victoria is a lovely small city with some major attractions. Your boys might like the Museum of British Columbia, where you learn about the people of the First Nations (Northwest coast Indians). The stores are really fun in Victoria. If you go, I'll tell you the good ones. However, your boys would not be thrilled. In summer, there are street performers along the harbor and on the main streets and many are quite, quite good and entertaining. Everyone would enjoy these. There is a great bike trail along the sea wall and it goes to this other little part of town with a very English Feel. You can rent bikes and do this. Your boys would like this. There are other tourist attractions in Victoria, Craidderoch castle (spelling is wrong but I'm not going to look it up), Emily Carr House. Not sure your boys would be into them.

You would like Buchardt Gdns, which is near Victoria and an incredibly beautiful garden. You should drag your boys there. They would be amazed, even if they might not admit it. I'd think you'd need to stay the night to see both Victoria and Buchardt Gdns.

You could spend just a day in Victoria, and that would be by taking the Clipper up from Seattle in the morning and returning to Seattle at night, or going by plane. I would think you would want to spend more time, however.

Tofino is a fair distance from Victoria and Buchardt Gdns. (a few hours drive) It has rain forests, broad beaches with lots of driftwood, kayaking, bear watching trips. It would take a few days to throw Tofino into the mix.

Unless you fly, it will take several hours to go from Vancouver to Vancouver Is. It is a nice ferry ride and is part of the trip, if you have the time and interest.

Lots of us know a lot about this area, but it is helpful to know your interests and how much time you have before we can help.

Offhand, I'd say: Seattle by Clipper to Victoria, 1 night Victoria and see Buchardt Gdns, too. Bus to Vancouver, which means you go on the ferry with the bus. Vancouver 3 nights - rent bikes and ride around the city and through Stanley Pk. Go to Aquarium. Go to Granville Is and taste at the Market and visit the arts shops. Go to the the comedy club at night on Granville Is (boys would love, love, love it and so would you). Go to the Art Museum, planetarium/science museum. If your kids like Native Amer Art/totem poles go to the Musuem of UBC. Go swimming in Stanley Pk. Visit Yale Town for a burger. What else?

I noticed on another post you are driving up from SF. If you are going to Mt. Rainier, skip Mt. Hood. You need to figure out the segments, but also get a post out there on the whole trip. You should not miss Mt. Rainier. Give it a night, as well.

Just random thoughts. It really helps to look at a big map. Maybe you could look at and zero in. You can see the roads, the geography. It may clarify distances somewhat. Some things may look close, but they really are not.
Orcas is offline  

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