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Where to go near Seattle?

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Apr 7th, 2012, 07:35 AM
  #1
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Where to go near Seattle?

I am planning a trip to Seattle in late September and would like to also spend a couple of days outside of the city. Considering Mount Rainier, Olympic Peninsula (Hoh Rain Forest and surrounding area) or San Juan Islands.
Not sure if the San Juans would work because of effort getting to them and also am very prone to sea sickness, but perhaps ferry ride is fairly calm.
Looked into a place near Forks, called Huckleberry Lodge that sounded interesting and is not too far from Hoh forest.
We like to hike and see nature, not really into shopping. Would consider fishing for my husband and adult son also.
So, any suggestions on what might be a good place to go for a couple of days, preferably within 3 hours or so of Seattle, would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Annie
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Apr 7th, 2012, 07:47 AM
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Forks is one of the wettest towns in the continental US.
If you want to visit Mt. Rainier, check out Packwood.
http://www.packwoodwa.com/
For the next trip, consider coming to Portland.
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Apr 7th, 2012, 07:50 AM
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To visit Mt Rainier on a clear day is a hard-to-beat experience.
Ferry rides to the San Juan Island don't usually induce sea sickness.
My favorite island to visit is San Juan; others prefer Orcas.
Here are a few more ideas: http://www.seattle-side-trips.com

HTTY
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Apr 7th, 2012, 09:13 AM
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By late September you might be getting into a little wet weather on the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula. (IMO it doesn't matter where the Hoh valley is concerned - it's glorious all the time.) If you stuck to the Olympic Peninsula you could visit some of the beaches on the west side, the rain forest valleys (Hoh and Quinault) and also get a good mountain fix (probably some autumn color too) around Hurricane Ridge. Walk out the Dungeness spit, visit Port Townsend... lots to do.

Which isn't to say that Mount Rainier and/or the San Juans are bad ideas. With just 3 days you might find the logistics for the San Juans a bit tricky - long drives, ferry waits, etc. In my view too much of your time would be spent getting to and from...

But also late September is a also a good time for the Cascade Loop or something like it - good color in the mountains, lots of apples on the trees around Wenatchee, quite a lovely time. Have a look at Lake Chelan, and the "Lady of the Lake" boat that travels up the lake (more like a fjord) right into the middle of North Cascades National Park. In the autumn it's pretty magic, and it would definitely give you a sense of the amazing variety the region offers. http://www.ladyofthelake.com/
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Apr 7th, 2012, 10:21 AM
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If you delayed your trip for a few days, you could catch the first weekend of Oktoberfest in Leavenworth Washington.
http://www.leavenworthoktoberfest.com/
Leavenworth is worth visiting any day of the year.
The Forest Service road (25) from Carson to Randle will be open about July 4. This road is the main road on the east side of Mt. St. Helens.
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Apr 7th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Thanks everyone, if we were to pick Mount Rainier area, does anyone have a suggestion of where to stay? If the weather is not good, would it even be worth going there?
If we stick to the Olympic Peninsula are the Hoh Forest, Hurricane Ridge and Dungeness in the same general area??
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Apr 7th, 2012, 02:08 PM
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The problem with Olympic NP is that there are no "through" roads. You drive to the end of the road and drive back out to get to the next place.
If you want to see Mt. Rainier and/or Mt. St. Helens, Packwood which I mentioned in the first post is a good place to stay on US 12. If you go south from Randle, go all the way to Carson on the Columbia and see the waterfalls on the Oregon side of the river.
Rainy, foggy weather is the chance you take when you come to the Pacific Northwet.
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Apr 7th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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Go to http://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm. Scroll down until you see Park Map on the left.
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Apr 8th, 2012, 06:00 AM
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Thanks again. I checked out Packwood and the website said it was close to Mount Rainier, but when I checked the google directions, it looks to be over an hour away. Same for Three bears Lodge in Ashford. Do you know if they are really that far, or is this as close as you can get for lodging in the Mount Rainier area?
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Apr 8th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Have you seen this website? http://www.visitrainier.com/
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Apr 8th, 2012, 03:36 PM
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I want to throw in a vote for The "North Cascades Highway".


I traveled it round trip from Seattle last summer and it remains as remarkable as ever.

If an out-of-towner wanted to opt for some diversion he/she could take the North Cascades to Winthrop, WA... and then keep circling around to return via Highway #2 (between Wenatchee, WA and Monroe, WA) instead of returning the same way.

Mount Rainier makes for a great day trip from Seattle or Tacoma, but if you have more time, you might do well to put it to more distant use.

(You could even spend two nights in/near Winthrop, WA and go nearby to hike to the top of an 8000+ foot mountain {which is relatively eaaaaaasy hiking, in this case} {except for the effects of the semi-steep incline} ) (you can hike it in tennis shoes or the like - no equipment needed - at the summit, you're at the highest point for about 18 miles around)

Just another thought.
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Apr 8th, 2012, 04:41 PM
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Ok, thanks. I will have to research the North Cascade Loop. Don't know much about it, so any other suggestions on this would be appreciated.
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Apr 8th, 2012, 04:47 PM
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For what you request, I would either go out over the North Cascades highway to the Winthrop, Mazama, Methow Valley river area or different direction head to Whidbey Island.

Mt. Rainier looks spectacular from the city, but honestly where you are ON it doesn't really float my boat. I feel the same about my limited experiences at ONP, it's spectacular and huge and a rain forest, but takes time to really appreciate. It's a lot of driving for a couple days stay, I'd want a week to do it, same for getting to the San Juans. More time and complications (ferries) involved getting there.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 06:11 AM
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If I went to Whidbey Island, is it possible to drive there from Seattle rather than take a ferry?
Do you think this would be a good choice? We do like the beach, fishing and hiking. Perhaps I could get that all there...
We are from Upstate New York not far from the Adirondacks, so I am wondering if the Cascade Loop would be a little like home.
If I choose Whidbey and take the Cascade Loop in that direction would there be other areas worth stopping at?
Also, any idea of where to stay in Whidbey? We prefer something a little upscale but not exhorbitant.
Thanks again for your help.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 08:32 AM
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Whidbey Island is kinda-sorta "connected" to the mainland at its north end, so yes, you can drive there. Up the freeway to highway 20, turn west.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 08:33 AM
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Doing Mount Ranier as a day trip from Seattle is a long day, but still enjoyable. You will need to confirm weather as snowfall will begin in September, just a question as to what elevation.

I am reluctant to change hotels on a trip, if I can avoid.

We have stopped at Whole Foods and packed a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the many rest areas inside the park. The hike from Paradise can be as challenging as you decide.

The visit includes excellent waterfalls, scenic vistas, and several hiking options.

Do some research before you visit.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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Be sure you catch milliebeast's excellent trip report: Seattle and Victoria currently in the first 25.

Victoria is also a super destination but definitely an over night from Seattle
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Apr 9th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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If I went to Whidbey Island, is it possible to drive there from Seattle rather than take a ferry?

Yes, as mentioned above. You drive north on I-5 to Highway 20, then turn west. That will put you on Fidalgo Island, which is connected to Whidbey by the Deception Pass bridge, which itself is quite spectacular. However, using the Mukilteo ferry at the south end of Whidbey (just a 15 min. ride) makes the whole trip into a very enjoyable loop, saving around 2 hours of drive time in that one direction.

Do you think this would be a good choice? We do like the beach, fishing and hiking. Perhaps I could get that all there...

There are some good beaches on Whidbey (like all Puget Sound beaches, gravel and shingle rather than sand) and some decent hikes. However the island isn't particularly hilly. For the best combination of beaches, fishing opportunities, hikes and various types of scenery, I think the Olympic Peninsula would offer more than Whidbey.

We are from Upstate New York not far from the Adirondacks, so I am wondering if the Cascade Loop would be a little like home.

Well certainly the autumn colors in the Cascades are nothing like what you'll get in the east, and late September is probably a bit early for snow-capped peaks (some glaciers on the highest mountains, but nothing fresh.) And you've got apples in Upstate NY too, so maybe the Cascade Loop is not the optimal route.

If I choose Whidbey and take the Cascade Loop in that direction would there be other areas worth stopping at?
Also, any idea of where to stay in Whidbey? We prefer something a little upscale but not exhorbitant.
Thanks again for your help.


Heading east on SR20 from the freeway (opposite direction from Fidalgo/Whidbey) will take you over the mountains through North Cascades National Park. It's incredibly scenic ("America's Alps") but with minimal tourist facilities. On the east side of the mountains are some attractive towns, then on the return part of the loop, if you take US 2 (which is also very scenic) there are a couple of interesting towns - Cashmere, a nice traditional town, and Leavenworth, a town in the mountains that received a "Bavarian" makeover decades ago, with lots of faux Alpine architecture, flower boxes in the windows, and as much yodel-ay-hee-hoo as you can take. More, even.

For Whidbey accommodation, look at the Inn at Langley - http://www.innatlangley.com/ - or various B&Bs around Coupeville or Langley, the two most attractive towns on the island.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 11:11 AM
  #19
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I wonder if it would make more sense to keep our hotel in downtown Seattle and make day trips to Rainier and Whidbey. If we take the ferry to Whidbey, would it be best to bring the car or wouldn't we need a vehicle once we are there? It looks like if we take a ferry we could be there in under 2 hours total travel time. Same for Rainier. We have been to Victoria and Vancouver on our last trip so not interested in these areas.
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Apr 9th, 2012, 11:37 AM
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You definitely need a car on Whidbey.

From downtown Seattle it takes around half an hour to get to the Mukilteo ferry. You'll go past the Boeing widebody plant off SR 526 (the "Boeing Freeway" that connects I-5 to Mukilteo) and in fact if you're interested in seeing the factory (biggest building in the world, by the way) you could easily do the factory tour in the morning, then get to the Mukilteo ferry before lunchtime. http://www.futureofflight.org/

Once on the island (15 min. ferry from Mukilteo, plus of course any wait time for the boat - usually 20 min. max on a weekday) the town of Langley is about 10 min. from the ferry dock. From Langley it's an hour or so up to Deception Pass, then from Deception Pass to I-5 via SR 20 is another 30 min. or so, then an hour back to Seattle from the SR 20/I-5 junction at Burlington. In all, the Seattle - Mukilteo - Whidbey - Deception Pass - Burlington - Seattle loop is a very easy day trip, one that gives a real introduction to the Puget Sound region.

Another day trip is to head to Whidbey as above, but then take the Coupeville - Port Townsend ferry over to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. Port Townsend is a very attractive town with some superb Victorian buildings and a great historic downtown core on the waterfront.

Then drive back over the Hood Canal floating bridge to the Bainbridge Island - Seattle ferry (40 min.) for the marvelous return trip into Seattle - ideally at sunset, when it can look like this: http://gardyloo.us/20091226_71c2.JPG. Quite a ferry-intensive day (a really fun one) that is also easily done as a loop out of Seattle. No need to break camp.

As for downtown Seattle for hotels v. other parts of town, note that the hotels will whack you for parking, so you could either stay someplace where parking is free/cheap, or else only rent a car for the days you want to do day trips to Whidbey or Rainier, etc.
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