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Seattle: when/where/how long to go, day trips, etc.

Seattle: when/where/how long to go, day trips, etc.

Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 05:08 PM
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Seattle: when/where/how long to go, day trips, etc.

I'm just beginning the planning for my first trip to Seattle.

I have some questions for some of the more experienced travelers of the Pacific Northwest.

My first question is when is the best time to go?? I'm free any time, and we'll be doing a lot of outdoor activities so I guess that should be taken into account. Also, I'd like to attend a Mariners game if possible.

Next, how long is needed to really enjoy Seattle and possibly a secondary spot?? My early short list includes Pike Place Market, Bainbridge Island, Mt. Ranier and Pioneer Square.

Finally, what is a good secondary destination to pair with Seattle?? I've always wanted to visit Portland, Ore., and we'd probably be renting a car anyway. Vancouver would be nice, but I think I'd rather hit Portland. Any other suggestions??

Any insight on any of these questions, plus any other tips on must sees, reasonable hotels, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!
kelston827 is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 05:28 PM
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August/September is probably the best time to visit the PNW weather-wise, but it is a popular time to visit, so hotels may be crowded and not cheap.

Portland is a neat city - it is *not* just a littler Seattle. Vancouver, BC is also a terrific city, and given the choice between Vancouver and Portland (after Seattle), I probably would choose Vancouver. If you have time, see all three.

If I were you, I'd pick up a PNW guidebook, maybe one on Portland, Seattle, and/or Vancouver, and see what seems interesting, what doesn't, then ask for feedback on specific items.

Andrew is online now  
Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 06:28 PM
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I agree with Andrew in comparing Portland and Vancouver, but from Portland you can easily vist two fabulous places: the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast. On the way to Portland you can check out Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens. Portland is the way to go--not for Portland especially, but for everything else.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 09:06 PM
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If you'd like to visit the Portland area, then get there the long way. Over the mountains from Seattle and down to Yakima, visiting the wineries a little south of Yakima en route. Then (backtrack if necessary) go from Toppenish south on US 97 across the Yakama Indian reservation (stop for a buffalo burger at the tribal HQ and museum) and through some very scenic old west country down to Goldendale and the Columbia River. Visit the Maryhill Museum, then follow the Columbia River Gorge west, on the Washington side as far as Hood River, then on the Oregon side, past Bonneville Dam and Multnomah Falls, then via the "historic" Columbia Gorge Highway the rest of the way into Troutdale and eventually Portland.

In addition to the attractions of Seattle and Puget Sound, this loop across the mountains and down the river will expose you to the "other side" of Washington and Oregon - through sagebrush and canyon country, orchards and great rivers (if you make the trip in September you'll probably be there during the wine grape and apple harvests - really a lovely time) - a grand journey.

Start in Seattle over the Labor Day weekend if you can - it's the time for the Bumbershoot arts and music festival at Seattle Center - hundreds of top name acts, really a blast. www.bumbershoot.org. Go ogle the best-of-the-year produce and flowers at the Pike Market, ride a ferry, take a day trip to Whidbey Island or out to the Olympic National Park Pacific Coastal strip. Join us at Safeco for what is almost certainly going to be a pennant run for the M's (I always say that - the Red Sox of the West? The Curse of the Kid?) or even the Hawks or the Dawgs in their footie stadia. Labor Day is the best weather of the year, promise.

Stay at McMenamins places in Oregon, www.mcmenamins.com, at the Flying L Ranch at the foot of Mt. Adams near the Columbia Gorge, www.mt-adams.com, and try for a Priceline place in Seattle.

Happy Planning!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2004, 09:20 PM
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When in Seattle I've found there is actually very little to do. I was able to see just about all teh major attractions in under two days. Pioneer Square is pretty boring and run down, but Pike Place arket is fun and its definately worthwhile to visit the Space Needle/Seattle Center area. Take a boat ride out into the Sound as well. The Boeing museum is alsy pretty cool.

As far as Portland or Vancouver - I'd have to recommend Vancouver hands down. For natural beauty it can't be beat. Stanley Park right in teh city offers great hiking and jogging areas just minutes from most hotels. For even more spectacular siteseeing and hiking take the Sea-to-Sky Highway up to Whistler. Its amazing how the mountains literally rise out of the sea on the ride up and there are tons of hiking trails and lakes in Whistler. You can even ski at the glacier at the top of Whistler all year round. Vancouver propper is a much more cosmopolitan city than Portland, tons of great restaurants, shopping, etc. You can take a sea plane or ferry to nearby Vancouver island and maybe go whale watching.

Overall, while Portland and the oregon coasts are lovely, if you absolutely have to choose go with Vancouver - you won't be sorry. I can't wait to go back myself after having skiied Whistler a year ago.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 07:58 AM
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I agree witha lot of Gardyloos advice...however I personally avoid the Yakima/Toppenish area. Lived in both and do not even care to drive through. Just my opinion, but I never found it be scenic.

The Gorge is beautiful, and Mt. St. Helens is a must as well. You could also hit the Olympic Rainforest area.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:01 AM
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We went to Seattle in August 2003. I strongly suggest paying the extra money for a downtown hotel and either walking to your destinations or taking a tourist shuttle. The traffic in Seattle in really bad. We spent the majority of our three days sitting in a rental car in traffic and missed out on several things that we really wanted to do.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 09:09 AM
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that is funny that magellan98 was able to see everything we have in Seattle in two days. I've lived here for over 15 years and am still finding great things!!

The info you have is great. Anytime after July 1st is good to visit.

Unlike the others I'd go to Portland. The drive is shorter, you don't have to worry about the border crossing which can take up to 2 hours in the summer. It is beautiful! There are amazing wineries just 30 mins west. The museum is top notch. Great for hiking, etc. etc.

You can't go wrong with either though. Flip a coin!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 09:15 AM
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How about Seattle and the San Juan Islands?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 10:50 AM
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MAJOR Attractions can be done in two days - all attractions and things to do in Seatlle may very well take a lifetime to find and experience Wendy.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2004, 11:35 AM
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Very little to do!! LOL Too much to do! We had four days and only hit major attractions. From what I have been reading, there is still so much to explore in Seattle.

I would go to Portland, it's a beautiful city. The Gorge and the Coast are also both worth exploring

Stay at the RiverPlace Hotel, it's gorgeous and right on the waterfront. Have a great time in the PNW!! ***kim***
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Old Jan 29th, 2004, 03:14 PM
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Must correct Wendy on the drive from Seattle to either Portland or Vancouver. Portland midtown is at least 171 miles south of Seattle midtown while the Cdn. border is 109 miles and then roughly 30 miles into midtown Vanc. and unless you go at the height of weekend traffic the borders aren't as hairy as Wendy mentions. (Put simply - do NOT come back from Vanc. to Seattle anytime between Sunday noon and 10pm and do not hit the I-5 border into Canada anytime on Friday PM)

If you want to save time, take exit 275 going north on I-5 and hit the border at "truck customs" (cars are allowed too) and then turn left at the first light on the Canadian side to get back to the main Hwy 99 into downtown Vanc..

FYI - the border crossings are more swift today than they were in the aftermath of Sept. 11th

I have toured Vanc. and Portland many times each and would recommend Vancouver as the preference, especially if you're someone from a part of the U.S. who seldom gets across the borders. Vancouver is "foreign" but without any culture-related stumbling blocks. (save for GRAVY on french fries on occasion)
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Old Jan 29th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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along the same line as Austin, how 'bout seattle paired with vancouver island.
Old Jan 29th, 2004, 10:20 PM
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I'll agree with Gardyloo on early fall being a wonderful time (usually) to visit and not as crowded because most of our schools are back in session right after Labor Day Weekend. Speaking of crowds, yes Bumbershoot can be great but have plenty of patience and time and an open mind as it's become so much more "famous" and crowded the past few years.

Allow plenty of time for Seattle traffic.

The North Cascade Highway from Burlington (north of Seattle) over to Winthrop is a truly spectacular "thru the mountains" road but I don't know if a couple days doing that would fit your itinerary.

Of Portland/Vancouver I'd choose Vancouver.

Time needed? You could spend a lifetime just exploring the Mt. Rainier area , let alone all of Seattle!
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Old Jan 29th, 2004, 11:53 PM
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See if you like the options available with the Seattle City Pass:


If you do three of the things in the pass, it will probably pay for itself, but work it out by comparing admission prices to the cost of the pass.

My daughter always likes laser light shows (set to various types of rock music) at the IMAX theater in the Pacific Science Center in Seattle Center.

We are planning to go to the Japanese Cherry Blossom festival, which I think is held April 16-18 this year, but you can double-check that. We went last year, and had a good time - my daughter particularly being as she is into many things Japanese.

We went to Bumbershoot last year - again she had a great time.

Could you do everything in two days - not really - but you would certainly have no problem finding interesting things to do. Personally, I would like about five days at least, preferably seven, but we go for 2-or-3 day visits.
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Old Jan 30th, 2004, 09:12 AM
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Our annual trips to the Pacific NW are in September-October(always after Labor Day). I would emphasize after Labor Day as one then reduces greatly the wait for the ferries. We've been going to Seattle and its surrounds each year for 10 years and have never run out of things to see! BTW, we always go to Pike Market and make certain to visit out favorite vendors each time. For great fresh fish you can take home, stop at Pure Fish. Try lunch at Matt's at the Market. Regarding the Vancouver/Portland debate, I like them both but I love Vancouver. Vancouver has a much more cosmpopolitan feel, imo. Stanley Park is beautiful and a walkl along all or some of the sewall is a must. The anthropology museum at UBC is a definite must see. The Van Deusen Botancial Garden will be in bloom even in early Fall. The diversity of foods you can sample in Vancouver offers something for everyone. I personally think the dim sum at Kirin is among the best I've ever had. If you do decide on Portland follow the advice to visit the Gorge and even try a driving loop through the Hood River Valley.
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