Sept Washington Trip Help

Old May 15th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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Sept Washington Trip Help

Well the airline tickets are bought so there is no turning back...my hubby and I will be arriving Sept 21 in Seattle (return flight early AM on the 27). My hubby's only wish during the trip is that he see the ocean. I'm in the beginning stages of planning but before I go any further I want to know if it will be worth our time taking a ferry (we'll have a rental car) to any of the San Juan Islands or to Victoria, B.C. I've read some posts that make it sound like ferry rides with a car could require reservations and/or long waits. What about Vancouver, B.C.? Is the drive up and back doable in a day or 2? Right now my only itinerary is ONP, maybe drive the coast a little, and Vancouver...I can't see us spending any time in Seattle itself only b/c we'd much rather do non-city related things. Any help would be appreciated!
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Old May 15th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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I think you had better look at a map. Seattle is not on the ocean, but on Puget Sound. To drive to the Pacific ocean at Ocean City, would take over 2.5 hours and is about 140 miles. To get to La Push on the Olympic Peninsula, would take close to four hours.

You could also drive to Anacortes, and take the ferry through the San Juan Islands to Vancouver Island, and then through Victoria out to the open ocean on Vancouver Island.

To answer your question about Vancouver, it is about a three hour drive from Seattle. You could then take ferries from there to Vancouver Island and Victoria.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure you will enjoy our neck of the woods.

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Old May 15th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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If you're going out to ONP anyway (which you'd need to do to see the actual Pacific Ocean, as the PP noted), then taking the Coho ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria would make sense. Yes, you need to make reservations, but that's pretty easy.

Then you could either come back to Seattle via the San Juan islands or go over to Vancouver.

I'd go right out to the peninsula assuming your flight arrives early enough in the day, spend 2 nights there, 1 night in Victoria, 2 nights Vancouver then the last night in Seattle since your flight is early on the 26th. But that is a fairly city focused trip with the exception of ONP so you might want to skip Victoria or Vancouver in favor of spending time in the San Juans.

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Old May 15th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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Buffy,
As long as you avoid taking San Juan Island Ferries on Friday thru Sunday, you should be OK. I would check into reservations for the Victoria BC trip. The San Juan Island Ferry Terminal is in Anacortes, about 90 minutes north of Seattle (not allowing for rush hour traffic!). Take the ferry in the morning to avoid some of the crowds. You might also consider renting bikes and leaving your car in the parking lot in Anacortes. Lopez Island is the best island for biking. Once you've ridden up the hill from the ferry terminal the rest of the island is pretty flat. You could do this in one day, but I would check out one of the many B&B's to stay the night. There are a few really good restaurants on Lopez and one great bakery. San Juan and Orcas Islands are spectacular as well, but not for biking. This is a beautiful adventure, no matter which island you visit, and you'll love it!
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Old May 15th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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For coastal scenery, I'd take the Bainbridge ferry and Hood Canal bridge to Port Townsend and Port Angeles, visit Hurricane Ridge in Olympic NP, then take the Coho over to Victoria. After visiting the city, drive north along the Pacific coastal side of Vancouver Island, up to Jordan River or Port Renfrew at the bottom of the Pacific Rim National Park. You're pretty much on open ocean by that point, and it's a lovely drive. Return to Victoria and take the ferry either through the San Juans (Washington ferry) or through the Gulf Islands (the "Canadian San Juans") which in late September can be having lovely autumn or "Indian summer" weather.

Allow a couple of hours at the border returning to the US - it might be less but play it safe.
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Old May 16th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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Thanks so much for all your responses! I really appreciate it. You have all given me some great ideas to think about and good thing I have several months to plan - it might take me awhile to figure out all we want to see in the 5 days we're there!
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Old May 17th, 2008, 12:35 PM
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I like Gardyloo's suggestion but I must add, I wouldn't skip Vancouver. I'd take Vancouver over Victoria any day and I'm Canadian. It does depend on what you want to do but Vancouver to me, is one of the nicest cities on the West Coast, offering pretty much everything from beach, mountains, excellent dining, shopping and culture. The parks alone are worth a visit. Visiting the San Juan's is a nice thing to do and I think by Sept. 21 you'll be fine with ferries. The drive to the border is fast and negotiating through to Vancouver is what takes time. Yes, three hours is right and easy to do in a morning. I've gone up and back to Seattle in a day but I don't love to do it that way. Sound or Pacific Ocean, you'll like it, it's all beautiful.
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Old May 21st, 2008, 10:33 AM
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lenlu, thanks for the advice! I watched a program on Vancouver on the Travel Channel the other day and was blown away -- I was thinking I would take it over Victoria any day. Would you recommend driving there or taking a ferry? Is one faster over the other?
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Old May 21st, 2008, 11:59 AM
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If you're going to the Peninsula, IMO it makes sense to make a circle via Victoria as has been suggested, rather than coming back to I-5 and going up that route then returning the same way from Vancouver.

I personally prefer to the ocean beaches on the Peninsula to the ones up from Sooke on Van Island but both sets are beautiful. The ones on the peninsula have a wilder, more rugged feeling to me.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 08:27 AM
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NWWanderer - so is this doable or am I completely insane....arrive Seattle Sunday am, somehow make our way to Pt. Angeles (either drive through Tacoma/Olympia as someone posted it takes the same amount of time as using the ferries to Pt. Townsend) & use Monday/Tuesday to explore ONP and the coast, Wednesday take ferry from Pt. Angeles to Victoria. I'm not hugely interested in the city of Victoria, but using it as a stepping stone to get to Vancouver. Try to arrive Vancouver Wednesday or Thursday and spend the rest of my time there until driving back to Seattle late Friday. We have an early flight out of Seattle Saturday morning so as long as I make it back to Seattle Friday night to stay in a hotel near the airport, I should be good. Any changes you would make?
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Old May 29th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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I'm bumping my post up -- any thoughts on my last post/plan for my trip in September? I'm on the fence now about spending any time traveling to Victoria or Vancouver because of time constraints. I might be better off just sticking to ONP and maybe making a day trip to Mt. Rainier too? I have to keep reminding myself that Washington isn't going anywhere and I can always visit again in the future. haha Thanks everyone!
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Old May 29th, 2008, 06:48 AM
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Sorry, I was out of town and didn't see your last post so I'm glad you bumped it up.

So you'd have Sun/Mon/Tues nights out on the Peninsula? I think that's a nice amount of time out there. Then Wed AM take the ferry to Victoria and on to Vancouver (with a stop at Butchart Gardens on the way to the Vancouver ferry if you like), with Wed and Thursday nights there and back to Seattle Friday evening. I think that works.

Of course, you could substitute Mt Rainier for Vancouver--it just really depends on what you're looking for.

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Old May 29th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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We're definitely play-it-by-ear people, so I'm having trouble sticking to a reservation if I make one for us and the car on a ferry. What happens if you don't show and have a reservation? Anyone know? Also, I'm assuming we won't have any problem finding lodging spur of the moment in any areas, will we? I figured late September was off season?
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Old Jun 1st, 2008, 05:16 PM
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I think given your time, and to avoid the reservations, fassles, and cost of the ferries, I’d skip Victoria and Vancouver Island.

One itinerary you might consider:

Day 1: drive from Seattle down I-5 to Olympia, thence across to the beaches at SW of Olympics to the ocean beaches (Ocean Shores area is low sandy peninsula, pretty built up, more akin to mid-Atlantic coast beaches – or north of that, nearer Moclips, are nice beaches with forested headlands, but not as much choices to stay at … our favorite is Ocean Crest just south of Moclips)

Day 2: Drive along west side of Olympics to Port Angeles, stopping along the west side for some side trips into the rainforest

Day 3: Drive from Port Angeles to nearby Hurricane Ridge (Alpine terrain in the Olympics), walk a few hours, back to the highway and continue east to Port Townsend – a delightful Victorian town. On the way, stop by Dungeness Spit for some more time at the beach

Dave 4: Take ferry from Port Townsend to Keystone on Whidby Island, then drive via Deception Pass thence to I-5 and north to Vancouver BC.
Warning: the Port Townsend to Keystone ferry requires reservations. See website:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Days 5: Vancouver

Day 6 Vancouver in the morning, then depending how late you want to leave, drive Vancouver to Seattle via I5 (3 hrs driving time, 1 to 2 hrs at border) or by leaving early - take roads along edge of Puget Sound instead of freeway.

Vancouver is one of my favorite cities – here’s a collage:
A tremendous number of options in the city, in the mountains, and on the beaches. Mountains with true wilderness are on North Shore within ½ hr. of downtown.
For sure: rent bikes and ride the seawall from downtown around Stanley Park and around the entirety of False Creek to Granville Island – lots of stops and sightseeing … a great and full day … leave lots of time for Granville Island … en route there is a tremendous variety incl. views, nice beaches, parks, busy shopping and residential areas, its great .. then take bike on mini-ferry back across False Creek (5 minute trip) to downtown.
Lots of walks possible in Stanley Park
Go to North Shore: lots of ½ day hikes (get a guide book to show you); 3 examples:
drive or city bus to top of Seymour … lots of subalpine hikes while overlooking Vancouver;
drive or bus to Lighthouse Park in West Vancoucer … natural area on the shore of Burrard Inlet, nice hikes, nice views;
Drive or bus to West Vancouver and hike the Capilano Canyon from the waters edge to Capilano dam (about 2,000 ft elev. gain)
Being young and active don’t bother with over-rated tourist traps of Grouse Mtn or Capillano Canyon Suspension Bridge. In North Vancouver Lynn Canyon Park has lots of hiking and a similar suspension bridge – for free.
Vancouver is a very cosmoplolitan city … lots of cuisine from all over the world including especially Chinese and East Indian.
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Old Jun 1st, 2008, 05:42 PM
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My hubby's only wish during the trip is that he see the ocean.

The closest town on the Pacific is Ocean Shores--118 miles and 2 1/2 hours from SeaTac airport.

Do you want hotel suggestions?

You want to go to Victoria and Vancouver but you would rather do non-city related things. Please explain.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 07:38 PM
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Yeah, I think I've scrapped the Victoria/Vancouver plans and I'm just going to stick with ONP and possibly Mt. Rainer. I don't want to pack too much into this vacation that we don't actually get to relax. I'm assuming 3-4 days in ONP is not too much? This is my very tentative itinerary: Arrive Sunday, drive to Mt. Rainer, find a place to stay nearby, get up Monday and visit Mt. Rainer, drive to ONP Monday afternoon/evening and spend the rest of the trip in ONP (or surrounding area) and arrive back near SeaTac Friday night, as our flight leaves very early Saturday morning. I have not done too much research on ONP but what I have done, there is a lot we can see, plus my hubby will see the ocean.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 08:10 PM
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I presume you've looked at other posts re the area too ... lots of ideas .. don't want to reinvent the wheel
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Old Jun 5th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Only one caution: When you are in Port Angeles, look to the South to see if Hurricane Ridge is socked in, before you commit to the drive. We have lived in the area (Anacortes)for more than 20 years, and have never been able to make it up there. Every damned time we take a trip to the Olympic Peninsula, the top of Mt. Olympus is covered in clouds.

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Old Jun 5th, 2008, 01:30 PM
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elgebewa - yes, I've been reading all the posts on the forums and have been taking notes. What I'm looking for right now from people who live in the area or who have visited is more of a timeline suggestion - how long I'll need in each area. Also wondering if I can 'wing it' when I get there as far as hotel accommodations, rather than making them in advance.

nukesafe - thank you so much for your suggestion...so no to Hurricane Ridge if it's cloudy?!
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Old Jun 5th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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nukesafe, I live on the Olympic Peninsula and have been up to Hurricane Ridge many times. Cloud cover in the lowlands does not necessarily mean that Hurricane Ridge will be socked in. There is a ranger station just south of town (PA)on the Hurricane Ridge road that has a a webcam; they can tell you what conditions are like at the top.
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