I am in the preliminary planning stages of a road trip from Seattle to Vancouver then down the Washington/Oregon coats and over to Portland. We would fly into Seattle from Dallas and then rent a car, so I am thinking that we will drive back to Seattle from Portland to return the car to avoid extra fees.
I was planning on taking about 10 days (do you think this is sufficient time?) for the trip in May and would appreciate any suggestions/tips on things to do/see. Also, I would like to stop and stay overnight at 1 or 2 places on the coast on would like some suggestions on the best places to stay overnight.
Thanks so much!
I live in Seattle. The Pike Place Market is always fun, although catch it on a weekday to avoid crowds. It is somewhat touristy, but locals like it for fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. If you're bringing kids there are plenty of things they will like including the guys who throw the fish at the fish market directly under the big clock. One request--please find a nearby parking garage and walk (there are plenty), rather than drive through the main street. It's inexplicably legal but not well appreciated.
The International District (called Chinatown in other cities) is south of downtown and has great places to eat. And the best place to get a picture of the city, Space Needle and all, is Kerry Park on Queen Anne. I've never failed in 12 years living here to find a nearby parking spot. My own neighborhood, Capitol Hill, is a fun place to explore, but it may not be to everyone's taste. A good guidebook to Seattle can explain.
Moving on, Vancouver is a wonderful city. Don't forget your passport to get into Canada. Gastown is touristy, full of seemingly identical gift shops. Chinatown, however, is more authentic than any US city I have seen with the possible exception of San Francisco. But avoid the area in between, particularly East Hastings Street. While in BC you should also see Victoria. It's British reputation is a bit overblown in my opinion but it's still worth seeing. The Royal BC Museum has some great First Nations exhibits.
As for the Washington/Oregon coast, Astoria OR near the mouth of the Columbia River is a nice town. Don't miss the Astoria tower which you can find very easily.
Hope you enjoy your trip.
Make sure that you are allowed to take the rental car into Canada. It should not be a problem but you have to tell the agency that you will be doing it.
Have you ever done the tour at the Boeing Factory or been to the Museum of Flight? My husband loves airplanes, so I thought these might be a good idea but I am wondering if either are worth the time.
Also, do you think staying overnight in Victoria is a good idea or would it be better just to spend a couple hours there? I'm not sure how much there is to do/see.
Well, I loved it!
Yeah, it's very cool -- It's been a while since I was there, but I think it's still a pretty amazing tour.
Originally Posted by lauramas
Considering the only way to get to Victoria by car is on a ferry, I'd probably plan on an overnight.
Welcome to the PNW
First thing you need to know is that May can be on the rainy side. It's usually not cold unless you're near the coast but you will want to carry a lightweight rain jacket with you. Umbrellas will usually identify you as a tourist. :) And are often worthless anyway as the wind can make the rain blow sideways.
In Seattle: I agree with Pike Place Market and the International District. Also, Pioneer Square...especially The Underground Tour that starts at Doc Maynard's in the center of Pioneer Square. Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe on the waterfront. Experience Music Project and the Space Needle at Seattle Center. Fremont neighborhood for trolls, Lenin, and other oddities. Ballard neighborhood for Scandinavian stuff.
The Museum of Flight and the Boeing tour are both really cool, imho. If your husband likes airplanes, he should love them.
In Vancouver: Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge (although a bit pricey), and the drive up to Whistler (simply stunning).
10 days should be enough time to enjoy the area. You might consider a loop starting in Seattle, drive north to Vancouver BC via Chuckanut Drive, take the ferry from Vancouver over to Vancouver Island, then take the ferry to Port Angeles, drive down the west side of the Olympic Peninsula enjoying the rainforest and beaches, continue along the coast to the Long Beach Peninsula and the Astoria area (there is a lot of cool Lewis & Clark stuff in this area), then head east to Portland. On the way back up to Seattle, stop at Mt. St. Helen's (definitely a must-see!). You could also swing through Mt. Rainier to Paradise and/or Sunrise before returning to Seattle.
Anyway, that's the way I'd probably do it. There are plenty of good posts here on these areas to check out but feel free to ask specific questions.
Thanks for the tips! What town(s) do you recommend for an overnight stay on the coast?
What part of the coast?
If you're talking about the coast on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula, your choices are rather limited. There are hotels in Forks (nothing fancy) and the Lake Quinault area (ranging from reasonable and simple, to more expensive lodges). In between Forks and Lake Quinault, about the only place to stay in a hotel is at the Kalaloch Lodge.
Once you get farther south, hotels are easy to find. Both the Long Beach area and Astoria have plenty of good choices.
Don't miss the tram
My favourite building in Seattle is the library. You gotta go and see that. They run tours through there (free) and explain how and why the building was built the way it is.... i.e. on the plan of a parking garage. It really is great. And they have more than 100 computers for the public to use, at least they did in 2004.
Would have to agree that the Pike St Market is a must... you can't miss it. Great food and lotsa fun. And while on the waterfront, take a ride on a Melbourne Tram... although they call it a trolley car.
Lifey could cope with living in Seattle
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