Hiking at Mt. Rainier National Park is another great experience. My husband and I visited there in July of 2011 and were fortunate to have beautiful sunny weather!
After a yummy breakfast at Rocky Bay Cafe, we boarded the ferry at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island for the 1 hour ferry trip back to Anacortes. We picked up our car and drove a couple of hours to Vancouver. We only had a 5 minute wait at the border crossing. Since it was too early to check-in, we drove on to Squamish…about an hours drive North of Vancouver…towards Whistler, on the lovely Sea-to-Sky Hwy.
We ate lunch in Squamish…notice the reflection of the mountains in the glass.
….then drove to our condo in Vancouver. The owner of the VRBO in Seattle recommended this place to us and it was in a superb location…on Beach Street…across from Granville Island. It was a bit noisy for sleeping because they don’t have air conditioning and when you leave a window open…
I recommend dining at The Sandbar, where we had dinner. This is the view from the restaurant.
It was cool to lie in bed at night and gaze out at the City lights through the floor to ceiling windows!
We drove 1 1/2 hours from Seattle to the Anacortes ferry, where we parked our car and walked onto the ferry for the hour-long ride over to the San Juan Island. I had reserved a room at the Earthbox Hotel for 1 night after our whale watching adventure. The ferry arrived in Friday Harbor…
where we disembarked and walked 2 blocks to the hotel. We explored the town after having lunch at the Downrigger restaurant on the water.
I chose the Western Prince for the whale watching and decided to book the 14 person expedition on a Zodiac boat. It was amazing. At one point, the whale named “Mike” came within 20 feet of our boat.
The feeling it invokes is one of wondrous excitement. Our guide said we had good whale “karma”.
My photos didn’t come out as good as I had hoped, because I decided not to take my good camera, for fear it may get splashed.
Today was our lay low…chill at the house…do laundry…drink Pina Coladas and watch boat traffic day. While walking on the beach at low tide, I was able to get within 50 feet from this eagle.
The house is the one above the beach house on stilts.
This was the sitting area below the house.
Another wonderful day!
Although we hadn’t planned on going to Olympic National Park, it turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip for me. It was another 13 hour day. We drove 40 minutes from Seattle to catch the Edmonds/Kingston ferry, where we drove our car on. The ferry ride over took about 20 minutes. After driving a couple of hours, our first stop was the beautiful Crescent Lake, where we had lunch at the Lodge. The blues are so brilliant!
From there we made our way to the Hurricane Ridge Road entrance to Olympic National Park. It was a windy road with scary cliff drop offs, but so worth it! We hiked the 3 mile round trip, Hurricane Hill trail. I have hiked at some amazing places, but this is my favorite hike.
I felt like I was in the Alps. The fresh pine scent intermingled with the fragrant wild flowers, along with the truly spectacular views was amazing!
Today was a 13 hr. day. I decided to drive the full loop (rather than just drive to Paradise…by way of the Nisqually entrance) around Mt. Rainier. Some of the drive was on windy roads with steep drop-offs. Our first stop was Sunrise, on the Northern side of the mountain. It was in your face rugged beauty.
Next we drove to Silver Falls, a short hike to a beautiful water fall.
We ate our packed lunch and stopped at Reflection Lake next.
From there it was a short drive to Paradise, where we wanted to hike. The trails were shut down due to late snowfall, so we drove to Longmire and hiked the 5 mile Rampart Ridge trail, which took about 2 1/2 hrs.
Notice the bee on the flower…
We didn’t see any bears…but some cute deer!
Just outside of the National Park we found the Copper Creek Inn for dinner. The food was good and the yuppy rustic ambiance was cool!
If you want to keep costs down and get some exercise when visiting downtown Seattle, park at Amgen Co. There is a free public lot right next to the sea wall. It’s about a 40 minute walk to Pike Place Market. We got an early start and arrived to the market around 8:15am, as the vendors were setting up.
I got a photo of the “famous” fish throwing guys! The guy next to me threw the fish to the guy on the right.
This is a large art piece near the bottom of the Space Needle.
On the walk back to the car…I took photos at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
This is a metal tree…
It ended up being a $7.50 day…purchase of donuts at the market and the monorail charge!
We grilled steaks back at the house for lunch and took a nap. Discovery Park is only a 10 minute drive from the house, so we took a nice 2 mile walk on the trails.
I was told this is a weather Doppler radar.
Have you ever gone on a vacation and everything was perfect…the weather, the train pulls up just as you walk to the platform, the locations you chose to stay in, the traffic is light, the whale comes within 20 feet of your whale watching boat! This was one of those trips. I fell in love with the VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in Seattle. As you can see from the photos, the views were spectacular.
You could walk down to the beach…
The location is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Seattle and situated on the Puget Sound, in a neighborhood called Magnolia. The first day was a little cloudy, so I was very surprised and in awe the morning of Day 2, when I looked to the South from the picture windows and rising, like an apparition, was Mt. Rainier, in all of its glory. I had no idea it would be so dramatic and spiritual in nature.
We had dinner at Palisades Restaurant, which also has a lovely view. If you have reservations for 5pm seating, it’s only $29 for a 3 course meal. The food was good…not great.
If you arrange your own travel plans, a Travel Itinerary is a key component of staying organized and being able to maximize your vacation time. Below is my itinerary for an upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest. I like to research most details ahead of time, so I don’t use valuable vacation time.
You can determine how many sights and/or activities you can squeeze in comfortably.
I use Bing or Google Maps and plan out my driving route. My driving time is minimized because I plan my order of activities based on the driving route. Sometimes I use it to plan my walking route if I need to see a lot in one day.
For ideas, I usually look at Frommer’s suggested itineraries and Trip Advisor, and talk to the owner of the VRBO or friends that have been there. I also Google “itinerary” for the area and look at other people’s blogs for inspiration. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide which places to visit because they’re all wonderful!
Spontaneity is nice, that’s why I always leave 1 or 2 days open. Some people might prefer to plan a lot less and take it day by day, but I feel when you’re spending a lot of money, you should get to see and do as much as you can.
You’ll notice on my itinerary that we take the light rail from the airport to a car rental place downtown. You can save hundreds of dollars by not renting the car from the airport…just another tip!
6:30 am – Leave house
9:20am – Delta Flight leaves Cincinnati
11:10am – Arrive Seattle
(Take light rail 10 stops (36 mins) to University St. Station
BAY A then walk to 6th street to the Hilton & p/u rental car)
Stop at grocery – arrive to VRBO unit approx. 2:00pm
5:00pm – Dinner at Palisade – 1st seating $29pp
7:00am – Drive to AMGEN Co.
Walk 40 min. to Pike Place Market
Walk to Olympic Sculpture Park
Walk to Space Needle – take monorail to Seattle Center – take Monorail back to Space Needle
Walk to Edgewater Hotel for Happy Hr.
Walk to Discovery Park
7:00am – Drive loop around Mt. Rainier
Hike Rampart Ridge trail (4.6 miles)
6:00am – Drive 1 ½ hrs. to Anacortes
9:00am – Board ferry
10:00am – Arrive San Juan Islands
Drop luggage at hotel – explore Friday Harbor / eat lunch / bicycle
Have lunch at Market Chef or Duck Soup Inn
3:00pm – Whale watching tour with Western Prince (3 hrs.)
OVERNIGHT: SAN JUAN ISLAND
(They have indoor pool/sauna/hot tub/free bikes)
9:00am – Take ferry from San Juan
10:00am – Arrive Anacortes
Drive 2 hrs. to Vancouver – arrive 1pm (with customs wait) – Eat lunch
Keep driving to Squamish towards Whistler…then drive back
8:00am – HAVE breakfast with Mahara & Ken (friends)
Explore Granville Island – go to the sandbar restaurant under
the Granville bridge (go to The Lobster Man booth also)
1:00pm – Take 15 mile (4 1/2 hr.) bicycle tour with CycleVancouver
Cont’l Brft Included
10:00am – Drive 2.75 hrs. to Seattle (go thru Customs)
2:00pm – Arrive back at condo
9:00am – Leave rental
12:45pm – Flight leaves
8:05pm – Arrives Cincinnati
Grocery list: juice; bananas (6); fruit; muffins, eggs; butter & jam; coffee; cream; chips; beer; wine;
water; trail mix; lunchmeat/bread/cheese/mayo
$1225 – $1150 for 9 nights – $75 cleaning fee (tax included)
$320 – Vancouver lodging (includes parking 2 nights) =
$216 – San Juan Island lodging
$200 – Whale Watching tour
$23 – Ferry Fee to San Juan Islands for 2 pp round trip
$15 – Nat’l Park Entrance Fee
$423 – Rental Car
$100 – Gas (approx.)
$ 12 – Light Rail round trip for 2
$170 – Guided Bicycle tour Vancouver for 2
$ 20 – Parking Lot fee at Anacortes for 2 days
$300 – Restaurants (approx.)
$100 – Grocery (approx.)
$3133 – TOTAL
- Stuck waiting for a San Juans ferry? Take a lovely waterfront walk (blogs.seattletimes.com)
- Beautiful Travel Itineraries (daydreamexcursions.com)
- How to avoid the travel snarls after I-5 bridge collapse (blogs.seattletimes.com)
- Day 45- San Juan Island (mywildliferehabadventures.wordpress.com)
- 3 Family Travel Itineraries from Conde Naste & JW Marriott (momfluential.net)