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  1. Default Pacific Northwest Scenic Drives

    Hey all,

    I am planning a trip early September, beginning in Vancouver, through Seattle and eventually to Portland. Aside from seeing these cities, though, I was really hoping to stretch out the drive a bit and see the natural scenery. Any suggestions you could offer would be great; it is challenging to plan such a trip knowing nothing at all about the area.

    And just so you know, our dates are flexible but I was thinking about only spending two full days on the driving (of course, spread out in between the cities) and the rest of the time in the cities.

    Thanks so much.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Scenery we got!

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forum!

    For the Vancouver BC to Seattle leg, I would suggest taking Chuckanut Drive beginning in the old Fairhaven area of Bellingham. We just did it a few weeks ago for the first time in a long time. Lovely.

    When you hit Bellingham, I encourage you to go downtown and explore. The downtown is very nice with some unique and interesting shops. And the waterfront is lovely. Drive along the waterfront to Old Fairhaven. This is a beautifully restored area and worth a visit, too. Then hit Chuckanut Drive.

    When you get to Edison Station, you can either veer east and meet up with I-5 or, if you have time, go west and continue along the water and head to LaConner. One of the most charming towns around!

    We didn't take time to stop as we were just there a couple years ago so my photos don't show how the major downtown businesses are along the water and all have views of the water. You can walk from most businesses along the water via porches and boardwalks. And there's no better place to grab a bite to eat than one of the restaurants or pubs along the water on a sunny day!

    After LaConner, continue along the water until Everett, cross over I-5, and visit the lovely town of Snohomish (another restored city and, if you like antiques at all, this is the place to shop for 'em).

    This would be a very long day if you stop and explore all the lovely things to see. But it would sure be a pretty one. And it's only about 140 miles from the Canadian border into Seattle so it's not the driving that will make a long day but all the interesting places to stop. (See map)

    If you run out of time, just meet up with I-5 at Everett and go south on I-5 into Seattle from there.

    Another alternative would be to go west after LaConner and head onto Whidbey Island via the beautiful Deception Pass Bridge.

    Drive to the south-end of Whidbey Island to take the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry over to, well, Mukilteo just north of Seattle. (see this map)

    While the miles are almost identical, you will need to allow a bit more time for this route in order to board the ferry, do the lovely 20-minute crossing, and deboard.

    If you had more time, you could explore more of the islands in Puget Sound. But either of these would make a terrific one-day trip into Seattle.

    For the Seattle to Portland leg, would you prefer to go through mountain areas or enjoy more of the water?
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 07-15-2008 at 09:56 PM. Reason: added a question

  3. Default

    Thank you so much, Judy. That all sounds terrific and I can't wait to start mapping it all out. As for the Seattle to Portland leg of the trip, I would take your recommendation--if you have one. Though we were thinking, if we can find the time, of checking out some of the vineyards around the WA/OR border. If that is more convenient to get to along the coast or through the mountains, then it may make our decision for us.

  4. Default A couple of comments.

    For my money, the best scenery around on the drive is in two locations which offer radically different scenery options. But if you want to go through Seattle, this can be a bit challenging. So offered for consideration among other options

    The first would be to spend some time in the San Juans or Salt Spring Islands. (These are the islands you see from Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham) One way of doing this is to take the ferry from near Vancouver to Victoria, and then down from Victoria to Port Angeles. Unfortunately this may be too time consuming -- but has some absolutely beautiful scenery if you like rocky forested islands in a dark blue sea. Another way of doing this is to take the smaller passenger ferry from Bellingham to Friday Harbor, or the whale watching boat out of Bellingham which goes around the islands. But again, this is a multi-hour excursion.

    The other place I would recommend is the Olympic National park, particularly Hurricane Ridge (which is accessible via car from Port Angeles). This is a moderately short (30-60 minute) drive from Port Angeles which takes you up to a ridge in the Apline country of the Olympic Pennisula, which gives you a panoramic view of snow capped mountains and glaciers. Totally different than the seascapes in the islands.

    There are other places with absolutely beautiful scenery in the area, but these two are for me, the most opposite set and actually within view of each other.

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