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Seattle to Vancouver side trip

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Apr 29th, 2013, 10:44 AM
  #1
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Seattle to Vancouver side trip

We'll be traveling to Seattle in mid August and were considering a side trip to Vancouver, BC or possibly Victoria Island. For Vancouver, we thought Amtrak looked like a good option, leaving on Thursday morning at around 7:00am and returning on Friday evening, leaving Vancouver at around 6:30pm and arriving back in Serattle at around 10:30pm. This wouldn't give us a whole lot of time there (Thursday afternoon and all day Friday). Any suggestions on what we could do or see with this short time frame? Also any suggestions on a convenient hotel once we arrive at the Vancouver Amtrak station?
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Apr 29th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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A lot of those who post her seem to love taking the train between Seattle and Vancouver. I'm not one of them, and I don't like to be bothered with what to do with my luggage as I wander around Vancouver all day waiting for the 6:30 p.m. train to depart.



Were I you, I would look into cruises that include whale watching in the San Juan Islands with overnight in Victoria--home of Buchart Gardens. One way to find information about such trips is to Google "victoria clipper whale watching."

HTTY
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Apr 29th, 2013, 11:26 AM
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Common error...Victoria Island is inside the Arctic Circle; The city of Victoria is on Vancouver Island. I would suggest the Victoria Clipper boat ride into Victoria's Inner Harbor or a Kenmore Airways float plane, which also lands in the inner harbor. No car required in Victoria. Better than Vancouver for a quick visit.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Thanks, that sounds like a good plan!
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Apr 29th, 2013, 11:33 AM
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Victoria via the Clipper is a great day trip from Seattle. The city is very walkable with a lot of stuff near the harbor.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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Keep the luggage to a minimum. Maybe a backpack for each of you including your passports. There are 2 HI Hostels in Vancouver which have luggage storage rooms.
By all means take a good long walk through Stanley Park. There is a HOHO bus option that goes through the park.
Ive never driven a rental car into Canada. I always take the Amtrak bus from Seattle.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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The float plane option is very fun- leave from Lake Union and land in Victoria in the Inner Harbor.

Look for online specials on Kenmore Air website
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Apr 29th, 2013, 12:52 PM
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Another vote for the floatplane! If you don't go that route for getting to Victoria, you can still do a floatplane ride once there. We did Butchart Gardens in the morning, then the floatplane in the afternoon and it was wonderful. We flew over all the gardens so it was fun to see them from a different angle.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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The train would be $58 to $90 round trip compared to $305 round trip on the float plane.

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Apr 29th, 2013, 01:55 PM
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You could always do the float plane one direction and the Victoria Clipper the other direction.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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Different strokes...

If you rent a car in Seattle and leave at the same time you would to catch the train (oh dark thirty) you can be in Vancouver long before the train pulls in.

With a car your luggage and indeed your accommodations can be sorted out. You don't have to stay at downtown hotels, you can visit places that aren't convenient with public transit, e.g. the Grouse Mountain gondola, or the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, or the Punjabi market on S. Main. Drive to Granville Island (big public market and numerous artisans etc.) or out to the beach at the Spanish Banks; cruise around Stanley Park or even (if you're feeling ambitious) drive 90 min. up the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, one of the world's most beautiful highways.

By returning the car to Seattle you'll avoid big one-way drop fees or inflated daily rental rates, and you won't be subject to anybody's clock. Yes, there will be congestion at the border heading back to the US, but even if you wait for an hour the total travel time will be comparable - or less - than riding the train. And, if you're interested, there are variations on the route back to Seattle that will add a lot of scenery and local interest.
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Apr 29th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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I would love to drive across BC and down the Okanagan Valley, but the last two times we crossed the border when driving it was such a long and annoying process that I won't be ready to drive into Canada until those unpleasant memories have faded. It will be a long time.

HTtY
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Apr 30th, 2013, 07:52 AM
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sunbum1944, it doesn't work that way. Unlike an airline that can count on a passenger load on the return trip, an air taxi must make money both ways, and the price you pay will be a round-trip price...the pilots fly the empty airplane back to Seattle no matter what.

(I spent a large portion of my aviation career flying air taxi.)
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Apr 30th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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Kenmore air is both a scheduled carrier and an air taxi. The Victoria flights are scheduled. Kenmore offers plenty of one-way fly/Clipper packages.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 08:45 AM
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I have taken Kenmore Air one direction- Victoria to Seattle

Its been a few years ago but don't think things have changed with them
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Apr 30th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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Gardyloo and sunbum, I defer to your better knowledge. I never flew for a scheduled carrier. My guess is that Kenmore Air, which is a savvy bunch of people, figure the coming-back-empty costs into their rates.
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Apr 30th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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...figure the coming-back-empty costs into their rates.

Sure it does, which is why it's so expensive.

I learned today that Kenmore has discontinued its partnership with Alaska Airlines so now one can no longer use Alaska miles for flights on Kenmore. Pity, as that was a good deal.
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May 2nd, 2013, 03:03 PM
  #18
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We may start off by spending one night in Bellevue (Sheraton), checking out Snoqualmie Falls, then heading 45 minutes south to the Chilully Glass Museum in Tacoma, and then visit a friend in SE Rainier. Still deciding on a centrally located downtown Seattle hotel, maybe one of these: Sheraton, Mayflower, Alexis, Maxwell, or Sorrento. Were thinking of either a Seattle city tour or a hop on/off tour to get oriented. Also maybe one of the Argosy water tours like Tillicum Village. We have a total of five+ days to work with. We're still deciding whether to take the Clipper (ferry) over to Victoria for an overnight with the combo city/Buchart Gardens tour, or possibly another Clipper package which would be to Vancouver with an overnight with a city trolley tour (includes roundtrip Amtrak leaving early on day 1 and departing dinner time on day two.)
Any comments or suggestions would be helpful, and thanks for all your input so far!
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May 2nd, 2013, 03:13 PM
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Mayflower, Sheraton, Alexis are all more "centrally located" than Maxwell or Sorrento, both which are a bit outside the downtown core (Maxwell to the north, Sorrento to the east).

That said, of that list Mayflower Park and the Sorrento are my favorites just as far as the hotel itself.
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May 2nd, 2013, 03:14 PM
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no advice for the hotels but I did enjoy the Tillicum Village trip- great salmon feed. Have also done the bay cruise with Argosy which I enjoyed too.

The Clipper package sounds good - Victoria and Vancouver are both great cities. I was recently in both cities - in Victoria I would recommend the Lure Restaurant in the Delta Hotel - beautiful views of the inner harbor.
In Vancouver I ate at the Flying Pig in Yaletown which I also enjoyed very much!
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