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7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

New South Wales...
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7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Hi all - we are considering basing ourselves in Seattle for around a week before/after a cruise to Alaska. Have been doing a little research and I've read the suggested itineraries in your TQ's but am finding it difficult to assess what's viable timewise or if you have other suggestions for our time? We are a family with 9yo and can tour pre or post cruise. Pre would be early May. Post would be early June. We have driven in USA before and are happy to self-drive.

Initially we considered doing the full SFO to Seattle trip but thought we may be pushing for time.

What we'd like to see:

Redwood NP

Crater Lake

Oregon Coast

Mt Rainier/Mt St Helens

Doable or ridiculous? Love to get your feedback......

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1. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Hi Tez, with that itinerary you would be spending most of your time outside Seattle. Except for Rainier, the places you mentioned are too far for day trips. Crater Lake = 10 hr drive, Redwood = 11-12 hrs.

I would say if set on Seattle as a base to pick other sites to explore.

If set on those sites, then pick another base farther south.

-Karl

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2. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Thanks Karl - we were looking at doing a road trip not just using Seattle as a base. Just wondering if it's too much over this time period or not?

Green Valley...
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3. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Because folks often ask similar questions, I created two Google Maps for them, i.e., you, to play with. The maps are hardly all inclusive, but they do show ideas re: some major sightseeing routes and locations.

http://tinyurl.com/oxwqr7k

http://tinyurl.com/nucx6yx

You have only seven days (unsure how many actual days on the ground), so you'll have to do some homework re: your priorities.

Crater Lake and the Redwoods are quite far and I'd delete them. Modify your route to include more of Olympic National Park from Port Angeles.

You could go to Cannon Beach (as time permits) to see some of the OR coast (more information available upon request), but you'll see some of that coastline on the Olympic Peninsula. But you won't see the "cute" town of CB or historic Astoria.

I'd do a post cruise tour in hopes of even better weather.

Edited: 10:46 am, September 01, 2013
Green Valley...
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4. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

I don't understand how this sentence fits in: "Initially we considered doing the full SFO to Seattle trip but thought we may be pushing for time."

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5. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

This would be more manageable. http://goo.gl/maps/VPF1z

You'll need to consider at least 3 - 4 hours for each mountain, on site, plus driving time to and from.

I added the Columbia River Gorge for your consideration, not too far from Mt. St. Helens.

You'll have many daylight hours for this trip.

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6. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

You'll be seeing plenty of coast and mountains on your cruise, and May/June is very early for Mount Rainier - there is often 10 feet - 3m - or more of snow on the ground at Paradise Inn on the first of July. Similarly, the rim road at Crater Lake will almost certainly still be closed.

To be completely frank, given you'll be spending a week cruising in SE Alaska I'm wondering if some sun might not be in order. May and June are not our sunniest times in the Puget Sound region, but just over the Cascade mountains things are very different. The mountains stop the rain, the fields are crazy green, and the waterfalls are full of water from melting snow.

My suggestion, for a few days (4 or 5) prior to your cruise: http://goo.gl/maps/EdTpt

Cross the Cascades from Seattle and travel into the sagebrush "old west" country toward Palouse Falls, a remarkable waterfall in the middle of nowhere - http://gardyloo.us/20130409_300a.JPG . Continue through the green, rolling hills of the Palouse country - http://gardyloo.us/20130409_279a.JPG - (from whence Appaloosa horses) to Walla Walla, then west following the Columbia River to Hood River, Oregon, in the heart of the Columbia Gorge. (Follow the north shore of the river as far as Hood River, rather than the I-84 freeway on the Oregon side.)

In May the orchards in the Hood River Valley will still be in bloom, with Mount Hood looming above - an easy "trip to the snow" can be done to wonderful old Timberline Lodge, an hour from Hood River. http://gardyloo.us/20100509_85a.JPG

Visit the Columbia Gorge with its many waterfalls - http://gardyloo.us/20100509_5a.JPG - then - if the weather's cooperating - head to the coast at Cannon Beach. Cross the (awesome) mouth of the Columbia and spend a few hours at Cape Disappointment - some excellent rock/wave scenery, a couple of nice lighthouses - then follow the north shore of the Columbia River back to Interstate 5 at Longview. Visit the Johnston Ridge visitors' center at Mt. St. Helens (there will still be snow on the ground, but accessible) before returning to Seattle.

Note the loop out to the coast and back is optional - play it by ear with regard to your time availability and the weather. (If you want to see what you're missing, a couple of hours on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria will substitute nicely.)

This is a good mix of Pacific NW environments that will offer a lot of scenic (and weather) alternatives. It's a great drive at that time of year.

Edited: 11:32 am, September 01, 2013
New South Wales...
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7. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

You guys are amazing - what fabulous resources you have put together. I'm going to take a hint for some of my destinations........

Voyaging - we have the option to either fly into SFO or SeaTac so hence the mention of the coast road(Nothing booked yet) but with the likelihood of snow still around, it solves the issue of wanting to get up into the mountains too much. We live in the Australian Alps so snow is not that exciting for us....... We've been to Alaska before and done 2 weeks driving around + an inside passage cruise so this is more about exploring a little bit of another corner of the US in addition to more of wonderful Alaska. I always want to do more than time allows so I'm trying to rein it in a little - particularly with our son joining us as he won't appreciate days on end in the car.......

This is EXACTLY the kind of info I was after ibgardyloo re: weather/suitability at this time of year which I understand is early but our only other option for this particular cruise itinerary is late August which creates its own issues in Alaska. I had initially looked at heading east from Seattle but all the "tourist info" only points you to Yellowstone which I though would be WAY to far. I love the idea of getting out into the country (we are country kids ourselves & don't go much on the city visits). Besides the natural attractions, is there anything that may be particularly interesting for kids? I like the idea of getting back to the coast too. I presume you wouldn't have to pre-book too much at that time of year? Just cruise around & get accommodation where you land at night? Really appreciate your insights. Thanks, Tez.

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8. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

The only issue with timing is that the last Monday in May is a national holiday, Memorial Day, and many people use the long weekend to get away as a "head start" on summer. So if your timing would involve that weekend on the road, some pre-planning wouldn't be a bad idea. Otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about it, noting that small towns aren't exactly over-supplied with places to stay.

I wanted to say, too, that the SF - to - Seattle option is also very enjoyable. I've taken a number of overseas visitors on that drive, and to a soul the California redwoods were proclaimed the highlight of their trip(s) to the US.

In seven days you could easily do a route like this - http://goo.gl/maps/qd0dX - which would include the beautiful northern California coastline, the redwoods, and the spectacular southern Oregon coastline, then the Columbia Gorge and some wonderful "old west" country through the Yakama Indian reservation. A stop at the Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge reproduction would be interesting for your family as well. http://maryhillmuseum.org

It might (or might not) be drippy in the redwoods and on the coast, but that's why the trees grow so tall.

I'd also mention that over Memorial Day weekend there's a "folk life" festival in Seattle that can be enjoyable, particularly if you like traditional (or strange) music (or stranger people.)

Didgeridoobie brother - http://gardyloo.us/folklife2009%20016asm.JPG

At the fountain - http://gardyloo.us/folklife2009%20038asm.JPG

Food stands - http://gardyloo.us/folklife2009%20013asm.JPG

Bring your wings - http://gardyloo.us/folklife2009%20046asm.JPG

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9. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Thanks again ibgardyloo - so it's not unrealistic to do the drive from SFO in a week - how many days would you suggest for the trip you mapped out?

The cruise departs Seattle 18th May so would return Sun 1st June. Is that Memorial Day weekend? We could stay 2 nights in Seattle (which would give us 2 full days to explore the city) before hitting the road for SFO and would probably need at least one night in SFO prior to flying out so would 4 nights on the road sufficient? Also, Virgin Australia flys codeshare with Delta out of Sacramento rather than SFO. Is there any advantage to this?

Thanks, Tez

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10. Re: 7 Days in Seattle Region - Driving Tour or???

Memorial Day weekend will be 24th to 26th of May, so June 1 will be clear.

The drive to SF from Seattle can easily be done with four nights, thus -

1. Seattle to Hood River OR via I-90 and US 97. This will cross the Cascades, take you through the Yakama Indian Reservation over "old west" Satus Pass, then down to the Columbia River at Maryhill. With a morning start you can spend an hour at the Maryhill Museum, then make it easily to Hood River for the evening - about 4 1/2 hours.

2. Hood River to Yachats (Ya-hots.) Take the morning to explore the Columbia Gorge, then head to the beautiful central Oregon coast.

3. Yachats to Crescent City - the whole day on the Oregon coast - stunning vistas, sand dunes...

4. Crescent City to Mendocino - the Redwoods, then the beautiful northern California coast. Mendocino is a picture-postcard village, featured in several movies.

5. Mendocino to SF - more lovely coast, then the Golden Gate Bridge.

Map - http://goo.gl/maps/UVyE4