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Help! Please help save our family vacation!

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Lawrenceburg, TN
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Help! Please help save our family vacation!

We are flying into Seattle on June 30 and fly out on July 10. We will have a rental car for most of that time. My husband wants to spend the time driving to Glacier National Park and Yosemite. The rest of our family would like to spend less time driving and more time seeing & doing. Can anyone help us save our vacation with possible itinerary ideas that don't involve so much time in a car, but that are still "must see?" (Our oldest child is 16 & my husband is feeling pressure to fit in as much as possible before the kids are grown.). We don't have passports, so a trip to Canada, while appealing, won't work for us.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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1. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

I understand both of your wants. Reality intrudes, you all have to realize the enormity of the PNW geographic area and how much driving is involved.

First, use Google Maps to plot a route from Seattle to both Glacier and Yosemite National Parks, round trip, then add the days needed to experience each. You have about ten days. Then, forget it.

Two, you could land here and drive to GNP; you'd use up to 4 days round trip. You'd want at least two days there; its a beautiful park, best seen by hiking its many trails. There are some sights en route. You would then have some days to explore the Seattle region. It could be very difficult to get reservations at this late date.

Three, you'd fly into SF to see Yosemite. Ditto re: reservations.

Four, the Seattle region will fill your ten or so days nicely with, or without, lots of intensive driving.

If you settle on sticking to the Pacific NW, we can help plot a wonderful, incredibly scenic, itinerary including the national parks, Columbia R. Gorge, San Juan Islands and more, including the uniquely Seattle sights..

There are several fascinating National Parks in WA state.

Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/ http://www.nps.gov/olym/

Mount Rainier National Park http://www.nps.gov/mora/

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/

North Cascades National Park (It's a hikers park; choose the others.)

Lawrenceburg, TN
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2. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

Thank you so much, Voyaging! I have been looking at some of these places this weekend & you gave me a few more to look at. Thanks! (The reason for planning so late is that we didn't think we would be able to do the trip & found out a week ago that we could. So hard when we are coming at it from different angles...kind of overwhelming...).

Washington
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for Seattle, Family Travel
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3. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

Hi bigmomma213116,

Voyaging has given you good advice. And, while I know it is stressful, some of the best trips are planned last minute - so forge on! As voyaging, has indicated, I think your greatest challenge will be finding accommodations, particularly as your trip dates incorporate the July 4 holiday. Compromise is key! From there, it is really about spending time, and organizing activities that your family will enjoy.

If your husband is committed to Glacier, see what kind of reservations you can secure, and build the trip from there. Northern Montana, Idaho and Washington have much to offer.

If your husband is open to other options, then take a look at the San Juan Islands (much to see and do). Are you open to a 5 day or week-long rental? That may open some options in areas were accommodations are limited and help you on a holiday week.

Or, one of my favorite trips for families with teens is Seattle to Portland with a stop at Mt. St. Helens and/or Rainier along the way, then off to the upper Oregon coast (Cannon Beach/Seaside). That gives you a bit of city touring, some wilderness experiences, and beach, when the kids just want to veg. Of course you can adapt it multiple ways, to become a loop tour.

Or visit Seattle then to the east with stop/stay in the Methow Valley with a stay perhaps at Suncadia Lodge or Lake Chelan, then loop back through Mt. Rainier. Or Seattle, to the Olympic Peninsula (if you can get accommodations), then out to the Washington coast, looping back through Portland/Southern Washington state.

Poulsbo, Washington
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for Olympic National Park
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4. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

I guess I would ask why your husband wants to fly into Seattle if he wants to visit Glacier? As everyone has said the PNW has so many fantastic things to see and do with far less driving. No one can predict the weather, so be prepared for I told you so if you are unlucky with grey weather in early Summer here. Up until the last couple of days we have had terrific weather.

If you decide on visiting Olympic give me your dates and I can give you an idea of what is available if you also let me know what you want to spend per night.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

The only way to save this vacation is to not do what your husband is asking. You could look into Amtrak to Glacier, and go that way. Come back on Amtrak to Seattle, spend the remaining days in this area. But Yosemite?? No where near here? Did he mean Yellowstone?

Either way, there is a TON to do in the area that will keep out out of the car for that long. Consider taking a train to Vancouver or Ferry to Victoria for a few days (if you have Passports and no DUIs or other felonies). People on this board often say Mt Rainier is really unique, but I think Mt. St. Helen is more unique, when else do you get to see the damage and regrowth from a volcano?

I recommend visitors with kids the age of your oldest spend at least half a day walking around the University of Washington and the area surrounding and talking about college admissions and aspirations. Otherwise, others have given good advice!

Dublin, California
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6. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

my husband is feeling pressure to fit in as much as possible before the kids are grown.

-----------

Remember the most important thing is time spent with your kids, not specific places to see. I also want to know why you are flying to Seattle if your husband wants to see Glacier or Yosemite. I'd would suggest, as others do, spend your time in the Seattle area. There are plenty of great outdoor sites, including some great national parks.

Seattle
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7. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

My favorite place in the area is the North Cascades. It is just gorgeous over that way. And within 4 hours drive from Seattle.

Next favorite is the Pacific coastline of both Washington and Oregon.

Whidbey Island and the San Juans are lovely.

While not my own personal favorites Olympic National Park is closer to Seattle and spectacular in its own way. And of course Mt Rainier and Mt St Helen.

I've lived here for decades and never gone to Glacier National Park and Yosemite. I'm not sure why your husband would prioritize those over all the magnificent sights/sites that are so much closer to Seattle.

good luck, Suze

Edited: 16 June 2014, 22:50
Lawrenceburg, TN
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8. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

Thank you all for making attempts to help! My son, who is 14, said that I was way too vague in my post & that there would be no way for anyone to know how to help, but I believe you have. I will be armed with expert opinions to also stick closer to Seattle. Thank you to each of you! We are going to Seattle for a work conference for my husband & just added days on for the whole family to go. The Seattle portion of the trip will actually be at the end & we hope to see most of the best in Seattle - that part has been easy to plan. That will be from July 8 - 10. The hard part is June 30 - July 7 because it all looks so good. Thank you to those of you who named some favorites nearby. I am excited to research all of them!

Lawrenceburg, TN
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9. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

Whoops! I did mean Yellowstone.

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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10. Re: Help! Please help save our family vacation!

Yellowstone, not Yosemite, I thought so.

Yellowstone National Park warrants at least 3 full days, Grand Teton National Park, 2 full days. You'd want to fly into Salt Lake City/Denver or any airport nearer these parks (e.g., Jackson Hole). The drive, RT, from Seattle, takes up to 4 days, one overnight each way. I'd plan another trip focusing on those parks.

After you have researched the "non-Seattle" locations, post your questions about the ones you most like and ask about an itinerary, especially if those locations require use of the ferry system.

Here are some Seattle "Must Sees", excluding the regional sights already mentioned. You'll fill your time well.

Ballard/Chittenden Locks www.myballard.com/ballard-locks-seattle/

Pike Place Market www.pikeplacemarket.org/frameset.asp…

Ferry Ride to/from Bainbridge Island (short and scenic, then walk the little town of BI)

Pioneer Square http://www.pioneersquare.org/ http://goo.gl/maps/wflb

Museum of Flight A world class museum, for all ages. http://www.museumofflight.org/

Seattle Center (site of the 1962 World's Fair) and Space Needle

Argosy Cruises (Tillicum Village) argosycruises.com/publiccruises/tillicum.cfm

Chihuly Garden and Glass http://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/

Future of Flight and Boeing Plant Tour, Everett, WA

Woodland Park Zoo http://www.zoo.org/

Seattle Aquarium http://www.seattleaquarium.org/ Seen on the waterfront walk, a fine way to spend time.

And see the website if not visit the store: Archie McPhee Store http://www.mcphee.com/shop/

Edited: 17 June 2014, 15:10