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Yes! We are heading back next summer.

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Newtown, PA
posts: 2,005
reviews: 265
Yes! We are heading back next summer.

We loved the state of Washington this past August. Our highlights were Olympic NP, Whidbey Island, Mt Baker, North Cascades NP and Mt Rainier.

We will once again have 2 full weeks (14 nights) in early August, but want to branch out into British Columbia. How would you divide the time between the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, Whistler, Vancouver and Seattle? We don't need a lot of time in the cities, just a taste of each. We fly in and out of Sea-Tac and will rent a car for the duration. We arrive in the morning so I was hoping to reach the San Juans that same day.

We enjoy outdoor activities, moderate hiking, neat towns with good local restaurants.

19 replies to this topic
Oregon/Washington
Destination Expert
for Portland, Sunriver
posts: 8,768
reviews: 70
1. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

Somehow I knew you were not done visiting out here:)

Yes, arriving at SEA in the morning will easily allow you to reach the San Juans that same day.

Have fun planning:)

western WA
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Family Travel
posts: 8,642
reviews: 14
2. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

If you're starting in the San Juans, ferry from there to Victoria. Ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, followed by the drive to Whistler.

If you can, avoid arriving on a Friday! That's the worst day for the island ferries.

If you want, you can take the scenic route to Anacortes through Whidbey Island using the ferry at Mukilteo.

Friday Harbor...
Destination Expert
for San Juan Islands
posts: 805
reviews: 8
3. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

Each of the 3 major ferry serviced islands (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez) in the San Juans have numerous sights of interest to people interested in the outdoors and activities such as hiking, kayaking, taking whale watch boat tours and biking. The WA state ferry ride out to the San Juan’s is beautiful and you pass right by many rural, heavily wooded islands on the way. Here is information in detail about the Anacortes ferry terminal and how to get to the ferry landing in Anacortes if you have a car as well as webcams showing you the current car holding lot …wa.gov/ferries/…

Here is a detailed general article on the Islands tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju… and also you can find out a lot about the islands including all there is to do here at the many parks and check for lodging vacancies on the dates you will be coming at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ And here is a calendar of events for San Juan: http://www.sanjuancalendar.com/

Here on San Juan island there are many hiking trails available, both in the best know spots like American and English camp (national parks) and Limekiln State Park and in numerous Land Bank properties and other public lands that don't get mentioned much online. Your best chance of seeing orca whales in season (which is considered May through mid Sept.) would be to take a motorized whale watch trip as the whales are more often seen off the west side of SJ Island and into the Canadian Gulf islands.

The WA state ferry to Sidney on Vancouver island BC leaves right from the town of Friday Harbor so its convenient to stay on San Juan island if you want to catch the morning ferry to Sidney as they require you to be there a minimum of an hour in advance for customs and immigration purposes. Here is a link to the summer 2013 ferry schedule (often the next years summer schedule is similar to the previous year): www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/2013Summer.pdf When you look there you will see the Anacortes to Sidney (near Victoria BC) ferry schedule and the boat that stops at Friday Harbor here on San Juan island (the ferries only stop on this run). Vehicle reservations are recommended on the BC run and may be made online or by phone and fare info is at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/fares/. Call from out of state to WSDOT Seattle: 206-464-6400 or toll free in state: 888-808-7977 or online at wsfinfo@wsdot.wa.gov Do make advance reservations for that as it is possible it would fill in the summer.The WSDOT bulletin page at wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/schedule/bulletin.aspx carries special notices of cancellations and changes to the posted sailings. Webcams at the Anacortes, Friday Harbor and Orcas Island ferry terminals give you a chance to size up the ferry lines. Keep in mind the situation can change quickly. One can set up an email alert account with WSF: https://secure1.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/account/ Fare rates are at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/pdf/CurrentFares.pdf

Of the two BC Canada cities that would be on your route Victoria is smaller and more geared to tourists. It’s also as much easier to get there from here on SJ. And outside of Victoria there are some more rural parts of southern Vancouver island which have some pleasant hiking. Vancouver is a *very* big city and seems even more so every time we visit (which is only every few years). Personally I don’t care for the very large amount of tall glass business and residential buildings they have crowded there and I find their skyline view such as you can see from parts of Stanley Park to be one of the coldest, least human looking city vista’s I’ve seen worldwide IMO. There certainly is far more cultural and food choices there than in Victoria though. Oh and it’s far easier and faster to cross the border by ferry to Sidney near Victoria than the mainland crossings which we hate because sometimes the wait has been hours for us because of the long lines and more thorough inspections. Crossing the border at Peace Arch or the truck entrance on the mainland sometimes involves waits of over an hour each way and we've had it go much longer than that too.

western WA
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Family Travel
posts: 8,642
reviews: 14
4. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

<<one of the coldest, least human looking city vista’s I’ve seen worldwide IMO>>

Ouch!

I always thought it was pretty! I also like how the city approaches the water on the other side (Granville Island side). There is much more integration between the water and the city than most places.

Be sure to go to Richmond BC -- and don't eat first! This area is home to some of the best Pacific Rim cuisine anywhere. No way to even try to touch all the best places in one trip, but it is hard to go wrong. There are a lot of food blogs for recommendations. One I like is Chow Times, but they are less active now so another might be better.

Edited: 4:36 pm, November 16, 2013
Friday Harbor...
Destination Expert
for San Juan Islands
posts: 805
reviews: 8
5. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

I don't have my own photos online of the Vancouver skyline from the area of Stanley Park I was speaking o,f but I did a quick look on Google images of the skyline to see if I see ones that sort of show it the way I speak of....check out these which give one an idea: theodora.com/wfb/photos/canada/skyline_vanco… or …wordpress.com/2008/07/vancouver-skyline.jpg or …buzzbuzzhome.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10… or

from above amma.org/sites/…

vancouver
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 2,592
6. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

Ya I find that kind of hilarious I think its one of the the most stunning (and i have quite a bit of travelling) especially while crossing the Cambie or even Granville bridge btw I think your photos only make my point and the aerial one isn't what your going to see driving in anyways

Edited: 4:57 pm, November 16, 2013
western WA
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Family Travel
posts: 8,642
reviews: 14
7. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

The picture I looked at had a lot of small boats in the foreground, which are quite human in scale. The picture omits the stunning waterfront just to the left, with the large white sailed building (Pacific Place? Can't remember the name). The picture is very gray, which is kind of to be expected in the Pacific NW -- gray sky reflected in gray water. The particular buildings shown in the photo are not too spectacular, I'll agree, but there are lots of great views. How about the one from the other side of the park, at the Lion's Gate Bridge?

But to each his or her own. In summary, I quite like visiting Vancouver.

Edited: 5:28 pm, November 16, 2013
vancouver
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
posts: 2,592
8. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

The White sails is Canada , Place and actually your right the best vista is crossing the Lions Gate from Stanley Park into West Van and ya I agree at the end of the day: to each their own I guess

Edited: 5:54 pm, November 16, 2013
Spokane, Washington
Destination Expert
for Spokane, Chelan
posts: 7,414
reviews: 39
9. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

relayer, I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to WA but you've only seen a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the state, sometime come visit the rest of the state, there are lots of other things to see in the other 3/4's we'd love to have you.

Collie

Newtown, PA
posts: 2,005
reviews: 265
10. Re: Yes! We are heading back next summer.

Thanks for getting me started. We arrive on a Wednesday and plan to head straight to Anacortes. We spent a night and full day on Whidbey Island this past summer, so the goal is getting to the San Juans as quickly as possible.

The hard part is determining how to divide the time. A rough draft might look like 3 nights in the San Juans, 6 nights on Vancouver Island (Victoria and Tofino for sure), a night in Whistler, a couple nights in Vancouver and a night in Seattle. We have 14 nights.

In regards to the San Juans I want to check out the Moran State Park area, although most seem to favor San Juan Island, not Orcas. How about 1 night on Orcas and 2 nights on SJI? I realize that's a lot of ferries with a rental car. Is it doable to spend 3 nights on SJI and take a day trip to Orcas?

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