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Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

Sydney
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Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

Hi,

We are in the very early stages (year in advance) of planning a holiday in the PNW region, loosely as follows...

Fly from Sydney to Vancouver - end September - spend a couple of days in the city

We eventually want to get to Seattle and my main question is - should we go in the "wrong" direction up to Whistler to take in the sights there and then head back down to Seattle, OR is the North Cascades NP as good / similar to Whistler scenery-wise?

If we don't go to Whistler and instead head straight for Cascades and meander our way down to Seattle we'll save time and do less driving, but is it as scenic, or is it in fact better? Whistler has a big reputation to Australians because so many people ski there - I know we won't be doing that in October, but it has always been a place on our "bucket list".

Would really value your opinion on our options there.

We are heading to Seattle because my husband is a private pilot and keen aviator and No.1 on his bucket list is the Boeing factory! Other than that, how long should we spend in Seattle? We enjoy vibrant cities and have two girls aged 10 & 12 who like good shopping, cafes etc (normal stuff for pre-teens).

Our next question is whether we fly or drive down to San Francisco. The Oregon and northern California coastlines look beautiful but it is a loooong drive (coastal) and we'd have 5-6 days to do it - is it too far? We'd rather do 2-3 longish drives and spend 2 nights at a couple of places along the way (Eureka), than be packing up and moving on every single day - that gets very old very quickly.

Once we've done the Fleet Week airshow in SF (yep, those planes again), we're heading into Yosemite, Sequoia and down to LA (driving) to finish with Disney before we fly home (only need 2 days in Disney as we were there Jan 2012 - we're just going for the Halloween party really)!

Our time frame for the whole trip incl. flying time is about 22 days.

Any advice would be really welcome - clearly as we're planning so far ahead our itinerary is completely open to suggestion...

Eugene, Oregon
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for Eugene, Springfield
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1. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

Whistler is super developed. Hotels, restaurants, sports venues, etc. My New York cousin called it "Alice in Wonderland." It concentrates a lot of upscale accommodations and amenities in a comparatively tight group of villages. For the most part, the North Cascades cover a huge area which is mostly undeveloped natural forest and mountains.

In my opinion, I think you might prefer the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park, if you can allocate the amount of time it requires. This could be done after your time in Seattle and, then, on down the coast. Five or six days to SF can be done...I'd suggest 2-night stops in Yachats and Eureka (or nearby Trinidad). This route would also take you through the fantastic redwoods.

You'll need to tighten your itinerary a lot if you want to also work Yosemite and Sequoia into your schedule. It's easy to underestimate your driving times, both because of distances and the congestion you'll encounter in urban areas.

When you've done a little research and refined your timeline and itinerary, we can be a lot more helpful with details, recommendations and budget considerations.

Sydney
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2. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

Thanks for your quick answer OrgeonPoppa. Looking again at MapQuest I can see that our itinerary is quite tight and will need some re-organising (already)! I suppose my main query is whether the LONG stretch between Seattle and San Francisco is worth the drive (in 5-6 days), or should we give ourselves a break and fly between the two? I can see that it is a beautiful part of the world BUT if it means too much driving just to get from one place to another, perhaps it is better left for another trip when we have more time (and fewer kids)... ;-)

Perhaps we could do just under a week in Vancouver/Whistler, then get the train down to Seattle, hire a car and do Olympic Nat Park (looks fab), then fly down to SF for the air-show (Fleet Week) and grab a car and head down to Anaheim via Yosemite etc... Should be do-able in 3 weeks without having to drag the kids too far in the car.

Love to hear your thoughts on that idea. Thanks!

Eugene, Oregon
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3. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

It'll be hard to find anyone on the Oregon Forum who would advise you to skip the Oregon Coast!

A lot depends on your personal interests and comfort zones regarding how much driving you'll want to do. I think you should post a few questions on the Washington Forum

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28968-i73-Washing…

particularly about Olympic National Park. Check out

http://kaleberg.com/ In addition to the information on his website, kaleberg can answer any question you have about ONP. It's a vast area with no single center or entrance...so you have to understand its dimensions and make some decisions.

Certainly, flying from Seattle to SF will reduce your driving, but getting around to all the California destinations may make you wish you had done the Oregon Coast instead. Just getting through the metro Los Angeles area will be exhausting.

Renton, WA
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4. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

When we travel to the Bay area from the Seattle area via the coast we usually have two overnights enroute...but we tend to drag our feet. With 5-6 days you should have plenty of time.

Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

As much as I'd like to recommend driving down the coast, and you do have time to do the drive, if you have the luxury of flying it might make sense to do so-particularly if the kids are are not super excited about spending lots of time in the car. The only big interest you will miss by flying is Redwoods national Park, but there are a few groves near San Francisco, which arent nearly as impressive, but still quite large.

It sounds like you've been to southern california and are aware of the traffic and distances involved traveling in California.

It will just depend on how your family likes to travel. There is a lot of distance between Vancouver and Disneyland :)

Troutdale, Oregon
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for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

SydneyJenn,

Have you posted this on the other state/province websites? That might help you make an informed decision..

If you look at Whistler, it's 6 hours driving time to Seattle. I would consider driving the hour back to Vancouver (airport YVR) and flying to Seattle or Portland. If you flew to Portland, you would save a good day. Have you seen Seattle before? It takes me 3 hours to drive straight through. But traffic does get congested.

Would the girls like waterfalls? The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is full of them and it's just east of Portland on I-84. You could drive on down to the coast from there. You get two kinds of pretty that way. It's a different way to drive.

Good luck with your trip.

Mrs O

Edited: 01 November 2012, 17:30
Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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7. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

With your husband's interests and two pre-teen girls, you simply cannot miss the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and Waterpark near Portland!

http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/

The Museum of Flight in Seattle is excellent as well (minus the waterpark).

Hmmm, have you thought about:

http://www.airshipventures.com/

Whether or not you fly south or drive depends a lot on what you want to see and do. There is beautiful scenery along the coast, but not a whole lot to "do" other than the jet boat rides... http://www.roguejets.com/ Yes of course there are lighthouses, empty beaches, fantastic redwoods and more!

I think that adding in the driving to Yosemite / SEKI you may get tired of it.

By the way, if you do intend to visit Yosemite, book early. In fact, start getting serious about booking now. It is terrifically crowded with *very* limited accomodations. The waterfalls will be very small and thin in late summer so you won't see the famous "gushers".

Eugene, Oregon
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for Eugene, Springfield
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8. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

The girls will love Whistler, with its youthful, outdoor sports vibe and its abundance of both formal and street entertainment. And I'd visit Whistler before going to Seattle. It'll take a couple hours to drive there, but it's a beautiful ride. You might consider stopping in the town of Squamish on the way up or back for breakfast or lunch at Chef Big D's. Local favorite, interesting menu and good food.

I also think your idea of taking the train from Vancouver to Seattle is a great idea. Not only will it be relaxing and economical, it will give you downtown to downtown connections, thereby totally eliminating the drive to either the airport or the border (and it's time-consuming delays and aggravation).

9. Re: Early thoughts on Pacific Northwest itinerary...

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