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Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

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Saint Louis...
posts: 38
reviews: 55
Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

We are planning on a 10 or 11 night trip to Seattle/surrounding area in the summer. Ideally, we will spend 3 or 4 nights in Seattle seeing the sights, visiting with family and attending a Sounders game. Originally, was thinking we'd spend 3 nights in Port Angeles to explore the national park, and 3 nights in Whistler. Is this silly? Too much driving? Is Whistler worth seeing in the summer? The kids and I like hiking - to a point. They love the outdoors, mountains, horse back riding, fun "activities", and I like cute villages, good shopping and restaurants, with some outdoor activities mixed in. Nervous if we spend the entire time in park, I will get sick of hikes/etc., and start craving a city or town again. Nervous to go to Whistler, and bypass one of our country's greatest national parks. Am I OK in thinking we can do all 3 in 11 nights?

Seattle, Wa
posts: 2,442
reviews: 29
1. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

Well, 3 nights in PA is only 2 days in the park, which isn't much. But it sounds like you would like Whistler rather than the limited lodging/food/shopping options you'd find near a national park. So maybe this is a good compromise for your family. You'd lose the better part of a day getting from PA to Whistler, but it would be a scenic journey if you went via ferry to Victoria and then mainland BC.

Unless you are stuck on mountains (which I understand), what about the San Juan Islands? You have plenty of outdoor activities, but also cute villages, restaurants, etc, but slightly more accessible than Whistler.

posts: 8,009
reviews: 24
2. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

Can't talk about Whistler, that's in Canada. However, looking at a map and the mileages, I know I could fit Seattle, ONP and Whistler in with 11 days. It's just up to you to decide if you want to do all that driving and less time at each location or less driving and more time at each location. Decisions. Chuck.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 6,481
reviews: 6
3. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

ONP will not suit you. With the possible exception of Port Townsend, our towns are the antithesis of cute; there is no good shopping, and the few good restaurants are far apart from one another. You might consider spending a night or two in Victoria and combining that with Whistler. There are gorgeous hikes on Vancouver Island as well as the other things you are interested in.

Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 15,635
reviews: 84
4. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

There are multiple 'cute' island around Vancouver Island and a few nites in Whistler may suit you fine. Whistler actually gets more summer visitors than summer so activities abound. It would make a good choice. Be aware that border crossing can add significantly to travel times however not so much from Victoria.

Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 1,808
reviews: 109
5. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

I think you should see ONP. You don't have to do over the top hiking. In the coastal unit of the park just spend a couple days seeing the beaches, the Hoh rainforest and the some of the large trees with an easy hike at Lake Quinault. There are other attractions but those are highlights people want to see. This will be roughing it a bit for you in terms of luxuries but I don't think three days will be too much. I would also recommend a drive up to Hurricane Ridge on the north edge of the park closest to Port Angeles. If you crave a bit more charming small town time "rough it" a bit by basing at Forks or at Lake Quinault Lodge for the coastal portion of the trip and then spend a night or two in Port Townsend, a handsome Victorian town on the Straight Juan de Fuca. I would not sacrifice the ONP for Whistler. Whistler has an upscale village of condos and shops and there are things to do there during the summer but with the time you have I would stay in Washington. There are many many options. I would actually highly recommend Mt. Raininer for a day trip or an overnight at the historic inn at Paradise in the heart of the park. Keep in mind though that a trip to Mt. Rainier is best planned for early August when the wildflower subalpine meadows are in bloom and the Paradise trails are all melted out. The lodge accommodations are somewhat rustic and the dining room fine-good (they try to do local seasonal focused meals, Washington beer, wine, cocktails etc.) but not a destination meal. But the beauty of Mt. Rainer is spectacular and in our dry clear summers the stargazing is pretty solid. I would also endorse the idea of a couple days in the San Juans (San Juan Island is a good option because it has fully featured Friday Harbor plus historic sites, biking/walking, kayaking, whale watching and more) and the ferry ride itself through the islands is memorable. Whidbey Island is another really good option. Whidbey has the combo of charming towns, a few good restaurants, wineries, shellfish, arts etc., and active pursuits (like hiking and kayaking). Take a look on the web at Deception Pass, Langley and Coupeville. You can actually take a ferry from Port Townsend on the Olympic Penninsula to near Coupeville. This would save you some driving.

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
posts: 4,927
reviews: 5
6. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

I have to agree Olympic NP does not seem like a fit for you. It is my favorite National Park, but surrounding the Park is logging country. I think considering what you are looking for you will get bored. With that much time why not include Mt. Rainier for a couple of days. It is a gorgeous National Park and much easier to visit than Olympic. Also consider the San Juan or Gulf Islands.

Saint Louis...
posts: 38
reviews: 55
7. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

Thank you for all of the quick feedback. I really appreciate it. We have decisions to make ... Wish we could do it all, though leaning towards an all Washington vaca, with a return trip to Canada someday. We travel 2-3 times per year, and are all over the board with our individual interests. The good news is that I have a good jump on planning. I'm a TA junkee, and go through this process with any trip to new places. One thing is for sure - we will most definitely appreciate escaping the heat of a St Louis summer with time in beautiful WA.

Kingston, Washington
posts: 152
reviews: 23
8. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

I am not shooting down ONP (which I adore) but I know you would love Whistler.

Looking at the list of your favorite things to do, Whistler would be a really good choice. We have stayed there many times in the summer (usually late July) and love it. Hiking, biking (including many levels of mountain bike trails), shopping, golf, kayaking/canoeing, bungee jumping, zip lines, etc... Whistler seems to have more to do in the summer even though it is a world class ski resort. Don't forget passports!

... Go Cardinals!

Edited: 9:29 am, October 25, 2013
Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
posts: 38,752
reviews: 831
9. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

>> Don't forget passports! <<

Exactly what I was going to add ;-)

posts: 1
reviews: 68
10. Re: Whistler or Olympia National Park from Seattle in summer?

We have done all of the above on our many trips to Washington. Coming from the Midwest, I believe the water in the PNW will be one of the highlights of your trip. So I would recommend ONP over Whistler. You could spend some time out on the western side on the ocean, like Kalaloch, and then go toward the interior of the park (Lake Quinalt Lodge is a great place to stay). But what you won't want to miss on your trip is a ferry ride to the San Juan Islands. This is the crown jewel of Washington (ok, maybe secondary to Mt. Rainier) and is by and large still unexploited by tourism. On San Juan Island you can hike, bike, boat, fish, watch Orcas, star gaze, eat well and relax. We do different things on our trips to Washington,including sometimes head to BC, but we never miss a chance to do the San Juan's. Enjoy your trip.