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West Coast Round Trip

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Derby Uk
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West Coast Round Trip

We are a 60 year old couple from England. We have travelled in the US by car in the past.

This August we fly in/out of Portland,OR and have hired a car for 14 days and have the first and last nights booked in Portland.

We intend looking at the Cascades, Portland, Seattle and the Pacific Coast.

Does anyone have a suggested itinerary with perhaps some 2 night stops en route?

Is Olympia NP and the Pacific Coast wet and misty in August? We found this in San Francisco a couple of years ago.

We are looking for reasonably priced lodging, preferably non chain motel.

Any local activities such as County Fairs etc ?

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1. Re: West Coast Round Trip

pretty broad question. I worked for Jetsave which is a tour company in the UK. Look at their itinerary for SF to Las Vegas. That will give you a sample itinerary. Also look at Globus as they do a trip from Seattle to SF and almost everyone does SF to LA. I'd head to Astoria and start driving the coast from there. End in SF and drive back to Portland area. Go to Columbia River Gorge and Mt. St. Helens. Olympic NP is at the far tip of Washington and not sure your going to have that much time to do all that. Better to stick to Mt. Rainier and the parks along the coast. Look at roomsavers.com for cheap hotels. They have coupon books at major hiway rest areas and they are a good source for less expensive lodging.

Longview, Washington
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2. Re: West Coast Round Trip

August is a great time to visit the Pacific NW. The weather is usually nice. (even along the coast and in the Olympics)

Suggest you spend the first day driving up the Columbia River Gorge. Take the Historic Scenic Hiway from Troutdale to Hood River. Then return to Portland via I-84 or cross the river at Hood River and return on the Washington side of the river to Vancouver and Portland. You can do this in a half day, but a full day is better.

Go north on I-5 toward Seattle, drive up to Mt. Helens, about a 2/1/2 hour drive from Portland to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center. Return to I-5 go north to Hwy 12 to Mt. Rainier Natl Park. Be advised however, that the park sustained a great deal of damage in the winter floods and storms and some roads and trails are still being repaired.

Drive on north to Seattle and then go to the Olympic National Park. Be sure to see Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rain Forest. There are many motels in the Port Angeles area which is a good place to base your trips into the park. Go south on Hwy 101 to Aberdeen/Hoquiam. From here you can either continue down 101 to Astoria, OR or go west to Olympia, WA and back to I-5. The drive to Mt. Rainier or St. Helens could be made on the return trip this way. Exit I-5 at Longview/Kelso to Rainier, OR and west on Hwy 30 to Astoria and down the Oregon Coast at least as far as Lincoln City. Return to Portland via Hwy 18. You could also do the whole trip starting along the Oregon Coast, but it is really best viewed traveling north to south.

Many county fairs in Oregon and Washington August. Check the state websites for dates --www. experiencewashington.com and www. visitoregon.com

Also check www.StayinWashington.com for lodging info.

Derby Uk
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3. Re: West Coast Round Trip

Thanks Kitters. Most helpful.

Sorry for the delay.

Everett, Washington
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4. Re: West Coast Round Trip

Another thought....up the Gorge on Oregon side then cross at Biggs to the Maryhill Fine Arts Museum (Google and check hours) along with the Stonehenge recreation & war memorial. Take 14 on Washington side to I-82 then north through wine country to Yakama. A good chance to note the incredible climate difference on each side of the Cascades. Either take 12 at that point past Mt. Rainier or head up to I-90 for Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle....or for a longer loop take 97 north from Ellensburg to Wenatchee and use 153 o connect to the North Cascades Highway (20). This comes out at Burlington on I-5 and almost perfect for Anacortes and visit to San Juan Is. (if desired) Or stay on 20 down Whidbey Is. Drop into Seatle area for those sights and then loop around Olympic Penninsula on 101 all the way to Astoria, OR. The US 30 down to Portland or down OR coast aways to Tillamook (great cheese) or Hwy 18 then up to Portland. Two weeks could do this nicely. A two night stay in Yakima could allow a day trip to Rainier. Two nights in Portland before the Gorge could allow a day trip to St. Helens...also a ligher day to adjust to time.

August should be dry. San Francisco is an odd case due to heat in the interior causing air there to rise and suck cold Pacific air into the Bay Area. As Mark Twain is reputed to have said...."the coldest winter I ever saw as summer in San Francisco."

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: West Coast Round Trip

Cascades, Portland, Seattle & Pacific Coast - 14 days

I read this as you basically want to see the highlights of Oregon & Washington in 2 weeks. Excellent! I have lived all of my 30+ years in these 2 states and love them both. Here's some suggestions for day stops & some nice places to visit. The one part where my suggestions will far short is hotel recommendations, since I live in the area I don't usually stay in hotels around here. :) The other thing to take into consideration, is these are big states with lots of land, so you will be doing quite a bit of driving. You could do more 2 nighters in one location than listed below, but IMO that would increase your driving time. I would rather spend a bit more time dealing with checkin/checkout than drive an extra hour per day, so that's how I've listed the itin.

Day 3 - Portland to Tillamook via Hwy 26, then Route 6.

Travel time approx. 2 hours

Tillamook Cheese Factory - great open factory, stroll at your own pace, cheese samples galore. Also great jerky & ice cream.

Afternoon checkout Cape Lookout State Park. 30 mins from Tillamook, awesome beach scenes, natural features.

Overnight - Tillamook

If you took another day in Tillamook, you could spend a relaxing day at the beach, weather in August is great. Rockaway & Manzanita have gorgeous beaches.

Day 4 - Tillamook to Seaside via Hwy 101

Travel time approx. 2 hours

Seaside is a tourist town but quaint & pretty. Kitschy shopping.

Cannon Beach in the afternoon. A upscale version of Seaside & a little less touristy.

Eat at Moe's for lunch. Clam chowder is the specialty & is delish.

Overnight - Seaside area

Day 5 - Seaside to Astoria via Hwy 101, less than an hour travel

Astoria has a good maritime museum & a famous lighthouse, plus more boardwalk/small town curios shopping.

Overnight - Astoria

The beaches in WA are far less stunning than OR, and some are downright ugly w/ black sand, strange seaweed & delta like swampy conditions. So, head for the Cascades & Seattle.

Day 5 - Astoria to Mt. St. Helens via Hwy 30 to I-5, then 504

2.5 hrs travel

Mount St. Helens is a beautiful park & quite memorable.

I doubt many visitors are disappointed.

Overnight - Castle Rock or Silverlake

Stop & get the room on the drive to the Mtn

Day 6 & 7 - Castle Rock to Seattle via I-5, about 2 hours

Options on what to visit listed in order of impact:

Pikes Market, downtown Seattle

Woodland Park Zoo, Greenlake area of Seattle

Spirit of Washington dinner train, Renton to Woodinville RT

Discovery Park for great high up ocean views

Lots to do in Seattle, good place for a 2 night stop. From here I would decide between the following 2 options. Either heard north to the San Juan Islands for couple of days or head east to wine country.

Day 8 & 9 - Seattle to San Juan Islands, less than 2 hours travel

Stay in Rosario on Orcas

Great small town shopping (but a bit pricey)

Beautiful surrondings, relaxing, restful

Good restaurants, whale watching, day trips


Day 8 - Seattle to Ellensburg via I-90, 1.5 hrs travel

Quiant cowboy town, cowboy museums

Stay in Ellensburg

Day 9 - Ellensburg to Wapato

Lots of wineries in this area. August is a good time for early harvest tastings.

Also, a real gem off the beaten path is Fort Simcoe State Park.

Buildings from the 1800's, which in the US is old! :)

Toppenish has a good Native American Cultural Center w/ a museum

Zillah has a neat tortilla factory w/ a restaurant

Stay in Wapato or Zillah

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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6. Re: West Coast Round Trip

Several posters have provided good information already, so at risk of repeating, perhaps complementing their posts, I offer the following.

From Portland, I'd go to the OR coast, Cannon Beach, then southbound as far as you feel comfortable. In any case, I'd strongly suggest seeing the incredible coastlines around Yachats and Cape Perpetua, then either return north via the coast route or cut over to I-5, head north to Portland. If you like "kitschy", kids, noise, traffic, Seaside is for you. Not for me.

Cannon Beach, a few miles south, is much more refined, hardly, IMO, an "upscale version" of Seaside. Plus, it has Haystack Rock just off shore (and if tide is way out, on shore), and beautiful Ecola State Park at the north end of Cannon Beach.

If you like Shakespeare, then you could drive to Ashland for the various theater presentations, though not all productions are Shakespearean.

Portland Area - whatever else you do in Portland, do drive the Columbia River Gorge scenic highway eastbound; very scenic, waterfalls, lovely. Cross the Columbia and go to I-5.

See Mt. St. Helens either going to or returning from Seattle. Allow two to three hours there, and do drive to the top, well worth it.

Seattle - see the tab marked Seattle Attractions and make some choices; plan on at least two full days in Seattle.

From Seattle, consider the Bainbridge Island ferry and continue north to Pt. Angeles. From here, drive to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park (an easy 17 mile drive to a scenic wonderland and easy ridge walks). Hurricane Ridge will, hopefully, be clear and fairly warm. The rain forest, see following para, might be wet - consistent with, and an attraction for, the rain forest.

From Pt. Angeles, you could continue driving the northern perimeter of Olympic National Park and see Marymere Falls, Lake Crescent and, if you are willing to continue driving, the Hoh Rain Forest, west side of ONP.

From Pt. Angeles, you could also drive or walk onto the Coho Ferry to Victoria, our little bit of England - the Victoria Attractions tab will list the various things to see and to do. We suggest visitors see, especially, the Buchart Gardens and the Royal Museum plus walks around the "downtown" and Inner Harbour areas.

We don't have San Francisco weather, as noted well by a previous poster.

If you go to the San Juan Islands, here is information posted earlier by myself or others that I hope will be useful.


Just a few random things to get this started...

There is a farmers market every Saturday near the courthouse.

There is often live music at the Madrona Bar at Roche Harbor and a couple of the pubs in Friday Harbor.

Beautiful Gardens at Roche Harbor.

Some farms: Bountiful Farms Herb Gardens, and Pelindaba Lavender Farm, featured in Better Homes & Gardens (www.pelindaba.com). Heritage Farm (Farm Tours).

Westcott Bay Art Preserve, 19 acres of nature and sculpture park with free admission. (www.wbay.org)

Two National Histroic Parks on the island. Here is the link to the National Park Service website for American & British Camp. (www.nps.gov/sajh/) NIce sandy beaches below bluffs at American Camp (South Beach) with lots of rabbits, red foxes and raptors. Many sea birds including the beautiful Harlequin Ducks. See the lighthouse. See Eagle's nest above road, just before Visitors Center parking lot. Walk trails to shore at British Camp; see historic sites, watch for wild turkeys and an osprey nest at British Camp (facing the water at shoreline, look behind you for a pole shaped tree, at the top). Hike to the top of Mount Young at British Camp on a clear day for great view.

Get fresh Oysters at Westcott Bay Oyster farm, then have a picnic somewhere with wine from the San Juan Vineyard. Stop at the tasting room to select your favorite. If still there, see the camel (!) across street from the vineyard.

Lime Kiln Point State Park has a lighthouse built in 1909, tours to the top a couple of days during the week in the summer(usually Thursday and Saturday) Great place to watch whales, porposises, other sealife, or whatch people watching for whales. Bring a picnic. One more lighthouse at Cattle Point.

Nice County Park in small bay, west side, great for camping and sunset watching.

Alpaca Ranch with lots of cute alpacas, on road to Roche Harbor. Small store, Alpaca products.

County Fair in August. Lots of fun.

What to Bring:

The weather can get cool, so plan to dress in layers. It could (even) rain. Don't forget your binoculars, scope or your camera.

Inside San Juan Islands: Only in San Juan Islands

San Juan Island is the most diverse. Using it as a base, you can take the inter-island ferry to explore Lopez, Orcas and Shaw Islands . Each has features worth at least reading about on the web. See this: http://www.guidetosanjuans.com/

Check also the Overview and Attractions tabs for San Juan Islands for details.

SJI because it has the most accessible waterfront, two national parks - very different from each other, Lime Kiln Point State Park with lovely views of the Straits and possible/probable marine mammal sightings. Friday Harbor is the town, and offers a Whale Museum , galleries, shops, large marina and more. Roche Harbor offers a marina, an historic hotel, and nearby, the outdoor Westcott Bay Preserve - an outdoor sculpture park. Everywhere you drive, scenery including foxes, rabbits, deer, raptors, especially at American Camp.

Orcas offers Mt. Constitution ; you can drive or hike it (quite steep) and from the top, and a tower too, have a terrific view.

Lopez is a well known biking island, gentle roads, scenic locations, people always wave from their vehicles when you pass each other. You can rent bikes on the island.

Shaw offers much less, and you will fill your time with the first one if not Orcas and Lopez.

Lonesome Cove Resort on SJI is a dream; no TV, no phones, on the water, lovely grounds. Suggest checking the accommodations/lodging section of the website I provided to see what appeals to you or meets your needs.

You will have to check the Washington State Ferry schedule and time yourselves accordingly. See this, but get updates near your trip: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/sched...

If It's tourist season, you will want to be at the Anacortes ferry dock, I'd suggest, at least an hour before boarding. Call the ferry folks when you arrive and inquire. For your return, it is critical that you check with the ferry dock folks and inquire when you should leave your car in the assigned lanes so you can catch the return ferry to Anacortes. While the car sits, you can walk around Friday Harbor , have a decent meal, kill time. Trust the writer on this point.

Lastly, Spring and Summer have long days up here, so you will have plenty of time to see a lot.


Many people have complained recently about Rosario Resort services and food on Orcas Island. Besides, Orcas offers less than San Juan Island. See preceding notes.

Not many tourists see the "eastside" of the Cascades in WA or OR, but if you are inclined and have the time, you might consider suggestions provided by other posters.

If the weather turns sour west of the Cascades, it typically will be sunnier, warmer, drier, on the east side.

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7. Re: West Coast Round Trip

well. probably do not need much more help from here, many good ideas from other posters

One thing though. Often drive east from Portland past Mary Hill and for years said one day we will go see Stonehenge. and we finally did, but not til after we saw the real one in England. depending on your interest in Stonehenge may well be good visit. though a replica it is fairly complete as opposed to one in England.

Oregon Coast
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8. Re: West Coast Round Trip

As there are a number of very good itinerary suggesions here, I'll just add some thoughts.....

You will be doing a fair bit of driving, and the coastal roads will be busy. They are mostly two-lane, with limited overtaking zones, so expect to be stuck behind recreational vehicles from time to time. And if you've driven here previously, you know Americans do not drive as fast as the British! This might be important when figuring up your timing of your daily driving.

That's also quite a bit to see in a fortnight, but nirvania's schedule IMO fits most things in quite well. If you arrange your schedule to go a little farther south, be sure to stay at least a night in Yachats.

Try www.oregonfairs.org to check for county fair schedules in Oregon. The big State Fair in Salem, Oregon runs from Aug 24 to Sept 3rd. That is quite an experience! If you are planning to visit Tillamook, their fair is Aug 8th to Aug 11th. Try to see a rodeo, if possible. That is something uniquely American, and many British enjoy the experience!

RE: Reasonably priced lodging .... In a chain, the Phoenix Inns & Suites are a reliable bet, also Oxford Suites. Every town everywhere has a number of small, family owned places, but they probably do not have websites. Try googling a town name, together with the word lodging. Sometimes that will give you a list of everything in that town.

On the coast, August is very, very busy. If you know which towns you want to stay in, try to book ahead if you are able. This is particularly true if you desire ocean front accomodations. However, be aware that ocean front rooms will cost approx. $160 USD and up for two. Motels which are not located on the ocean front are less expensive.

There are some B&B's in Oregon and Washington. Prices are not as reasonable as Britain. You should expect to pay at least $130 USD for two people, per night, as an approximate number. I think you can do a google search for something such as "Oregon B&B", "Washington B&B", etc. Often the same general search for a town's lodging will contain B&B's in that area.

I hope you enjoy your holiday in the northwest.

9. Re: West Coast Round Trip

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