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Pacific Northwest itinerary

Hi everyone. Was planning a trip to the Jackson WY area but may now be swinging over to the PNW. We would have 7-8 days including fly time from the east coast. Not much big city people so not necessary to spend a lot of time in Seattle or Portland (don't mind a night though - maybe fly into one and fly out the other?). Any suggestions for an itinerary that would cover off on parks and lakes/beaches - maybe a winery. Interested in hiking (nothing too challenging and maybe in ONP?), horseback riding, some boating for relaxation - San Juan Islands maybe? I have seen some other posts saying not to do BOTH Wash and Oregon in the same trip. Open to that I guess. If at all possible, we don't want to move around too much from hotel to hotel OK basing ourselves out of two places and doing day trips. All fairly overwhelming. Open to all suggestions. If this fails, I may find myself at Disneyworld :-)

Posted by
6872 posts

Ok, it sounds like you have 6 full days on the ground only. Consider driving over to Olympic National Park if you are landing in Seattle. If you're interested in seeing some of BC, you can take a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, or split your time in San Juan Islands (I've never been so cannot comment). You can easily formulate a trip around a round-trip ticket to Seattle without needing to drive to Portland. Both are nice but there's plenty to do around Seattle itself.

Posted by
3380 posts

As a lifetime native of Western WA. you might consider a night in Seattle to enjoy some of the highlights.
Speaking of wine, I would recommend "wine country" in Woodinville WA. It's a 30 min. drive from Seattle. Tasting rooms from hundreds of WA State Wines.

Our favorite San Juan Is. is Orcas Island. Hiking, beach time, etc. Nice place to spend 2-3 nights. You could also island hop as a day trip or head to Victoria BC for a night or two?

You didn't mention what time of year?

Posted by
33 posts

Having lived in the PNW most of my life, I'd say it depends on what part you're heading for. If you're staying on the coastal areas, I'd recommend flying into Portland, see their very nice zoo, the local wineries, the beautiful Willamette valley, and/or then head out to the coast beaches, ride horses on the beach and see the aquarium at Seaside, see Astoria and Fort Clatsop where Lewis and Clark spend a winter, shop at Cannon Beach and Manzanita, visit the cheese factory at Tillamook, go to Rockaway bay for crabbing. I could spend 5 days just on the Oregon coast easily.

In Seattle, there used to be a really cool winery-train-dinner trip you could take (and there's one south of Seaside, OR too, maybe at Rockaway but I can't recall), I think it was from the St Michelle winery (but I'm not a wine person so I probably have the name wrong). Also a very nice zoo, and of course tons of hiking (but I'm not a hiker).

If you like driving, a trip up the Columbia river gorge to beautiful Multnomah Falls and Hood River is nice.

If you're coming UP from Wyoming, I'd drive up to Glacier, MT, then up/over through the Idaho Palouse, Coeur d'Alene and Spokane (TONS of lakes/hiking/etc here), and then on to fly home from Portland or Seattle, but that's a LOT of driving. Lots. Lots and lots. Maybe don't do that, haha.

Tons to see and do all over. If you end up in Seattle, head over to Leavenworth for the coolest Bavarian town west of Bavaria.

Hope that all helps some.

Posted by
1464 posts

With six days on the ground and a desire to base in just two places, I'd fly in and out of Portland. Spend a few nights in the Willamette Valley (McMenamins Hotel in McMinville would be a great choice). Hit the wineries (but don't drink and drive). Then head to Cannon Beach and spend a few nights there. In addition to the great suggestions from sgsmith, there's some nice and not too challenging hiking in Ecola State Park.

I live in Seattle, but although I love it here and would easily recommend visiting here, for a six day getaway of the type you're describing, I'd do the Oregon coast.

This is all time-of-year dependent of course, but based on your previous posts, it looks like you're thinking about doing this in the summer. So it's a perfect blend.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks all for the great suggestions - yes, a July trip is what we are thinking. Will start going through some of the places you are all reco'ing!

Posted by
31471 posts


"lakes/beaches - maybe a winery. Interested in hiking"

With such a short time frame, I'd suggest limiting your trip to one location with side trips. You might also have a look at the scenic Okanagan Valley in B.C. as it ticks some of the boxes on your list. There are numerous wineries in the valley such as this one - , several scenic lakes for boating, some outstanding hotels, great hiking possibilities such as this - and I believe horseback riding is also available. If you'd like to stay near two award winning golf courses in a luxury European style spa hotel, have a look at this - . Here's another website with some information on the area - .

As others have suggested, you could also consider Victoria where you could take a whale watching trip, enjoy some great restaurants or take a day trip to Vancouver via Harbour Air. If your budget will allow, there's also Whistler - .

EDIT: One further advantage of holidaying on this side of the 49th is that your dollar will buy you about a 30-35% more.

Posted by
133 posts

Are you driving from and back to the PNW to Jackson, Wyoming? That's a minimum of two days of driving each way (800 miles each way from Portland).

Posted by
38 posts

Hey 2002leonard - nooooooo! Not doing Jackson any longer! That was our original thinking but that has now changed.

Posted by
5262 posts

A bunch of good ideas above. I'd suggest a trip "around the loop" on the Olympic Peninsula. Seattle is worth a day or two if you want, at either the start or the end of your trip. Rent a car and get across Puget Sound -- either the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge (if you start the drive in Seattle) or the bridge from Tacoma to the Kitsap Peninsula (if you start the drive at the airport, going south on I-5 then west on 16).

Drive across the Hood Canal Bridge to Port Townsend, a beautiful historic town on a bay, then on to Port Angeles, a bigger city (relatively). You can do a whale watch from either place. If you want to see Victoria, the capital of British Columbia with a beautiful harbor and great museum, take the "Coho" ferry from Port Angeles (leave the car behind, you won't need it and the ferry docks right in Victoria's harbor). Victoria would be better as an overnight than a day trip.

Just south of Port Angeles is Hurricane Ridge, a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains if the weather is good, as it probably will be in July (if not, skip this). Going west to Port Angeles you come to glacier-carved Lake Crescent. Turning north, you can drive west on 112 all the way out to Cape Flattery, the NW corner of the continental US, with great coastal scenery and a very good tribal museum in Neah Bay -- artifacts that were buried in a mudslide hundreds of years ago.

Returning to 101 takes you to Forks (where the "Twilight" books and movies are set) and a short drive to LaPush, another coastal town on a reservation with great rocks and beach hikes. Further south of Forks is the Hoh River valley with its lush rain forest and a good hike up the river from the ranger station. Continuing south on 101 takes you to a stretch of coastline with several good beaches, like Ruby Beach and Kalaloch.

Further along 101 you reach Lake Quinault, with more hikes along the south shore and up the river past the lake. Then you come to Hoquiam and Aberdeen, pretty forgettable, and head east on 8 toward Olympia (where I'll give you a tour of the state Capitol if you come on a Friday morning). I-5 will take you back north to SeaTac and/or Seattle, or south to Portland (with an optional detour to Mt. St. Helens).

You can't really do all this in the time you have, at least if you want to stop and look around as you go. There are good accommodations in Port Angeles and Victoria, and National Park lodges at Lake Crescent, Kalaloch, and Lake Quinault. Olympia also has good accommodations. And of course you can do this drive in the other (clockwise) direction if you'd rather.

Posted by
72 posts

Oh my, SO MUCH TO SEE in Oregon! Beaches are phenomenal ( but no swimming! too cold!) High desert in the Bend area ( a lovely drive over Mt Hood) my favorite is Black Butte Ranch in Sisters ( you can get your horseback riding in, as well as golf, swimming and biking and hiking… ) A drive from Portland to at least The Dalles to see the breathtaking Columbia Gorge, there’s nothing like it. With of course a stop at Multnomah Falls along the way ( some great hiking in this area as well) and it’s fun to stop in Hood River as well to poke around. The Willamette Valley has some awesome wineries and the end of July is lovely. All of this is 1-2+ hours from Portland!

Posted by
797 posts

You have some good replies already, but here's my $.02 worth. Base out of Port Angeles, WA. With just 6 days you can easy land at Seatac, drive over to Port Angeles (either the long way via Olympia, or by ferry), spend 3-4 nights there and then ferry over to Victoria, BC (bring your passport) spend 1-2 night there and then ferry back to Seattle. That's a longer version of a trip I do every couple years on a long weekend.

There are a number of small wineries along the Hood Canal (between Olympia and Port Angeles) and I've often spent a day driving that route just to drink a little wine and eat shellfish. In July it's peak clam and oyster season, so that area will be great for those.

The previous mention of Forks and La Push is good too, excellent scenery, wild beaches, and small towns. Make sure you walk the path from Second Beach to Third Beach. (Google it)

An overnight into Victoria is another great idea. It's a easy town to get around in and the ferry ride is worth doing on it's own.

If you don't do that then I'll make these alternate suggestions; 1. wine country on Oregon (not as scenic and traffic is terrible), or wine country around Kenniwick, WA (which is hot and dry in July).

Posted by
8641 posts

For the time you have, pick Washington OR Oregon

July is prime tourist season so get reservations made SOON

Posted by
1277 posts

Everything sgsmith says plus....we have done a loop drive to mt hood. Stopping at timberline lodge and back to Portland at nightfall

Posted by
14919 posts

Oregon!!! (as I said on your last thread :-)

It has everything you've listed plus more . . . except for swimming - expect the Pacific waters to be icy.

Southern Oregon: Crater Lake, Rogue River, stalagtite caves in Grant's Pass, for a cultural break, take in a play or two in Ashland at the Shakespeare Festival (only about half the plays are Shakespeare), and chocolates in nearby Medford at the Harry & David's flagship store (grazing encouraged)

Northern Oregon: Astoria, Columbia River, Multnomah Falles, Fort Clatsop, Portland, Mt. Hood

All along the coast there are opportunities for good easy hikes, seeing wildlife, visiting lighthouses (no two are similar). Oregon has a wonderful, scenic ocean coastline, mountains, forests, lakes, high desert country, rivers, culture, and lots of wineries, especially in the Willamette Valley, south of Portland.

The only problem with a trip to Oregon is planning for ONLY one week - you could easily spend 3.

Posted by
1662 posts

Native Oregonian chiming in here - you've received good advice so far. Pick one state, too much to do in each, and otherwise you'll be driving a lot. Speaking of driving, you will have to do some to see the sights. Note that July is high season on the Oregon coast and highway 101 is not a freeway - can be slow going and very crowded, especially the northern part with easy access to Portland. Also, though the temperatures in the Willamette Valley start edging to the 90s in July, the coast can be socked in with clouds and in the 60s, so don't pack just shorts and t-shirts.

If it was me, I'd fly in and out of Portland. See the city. Do a day trip up the Columbia River Gorge, to Hood River then drive the fruit loop up to Mt. Hood, and back (plenty of nice hikes along the way). Day trip out to some wineries (hundreds). Head to the coast for a few days - personally, I'd pick Astoria (which is on the Columbia but near the coast) or go farther south than Cannon Beach (too touristy).

And as has been mentioned, make hotel reservations immediately. Happy to answer other questions, feel free to PM me.

Posted by
38 posts

WOW!!!! Thank you EVERYONE for all these wonderful ideas. Hopefully we will make some decisions soon. Lots to think about. Happy traveling to all!

Posted by
1277 posts

I think it's Astoria where you can climb the Lewis and Clark monument and fly balsa wood planes down....and ate the best ever basket of fried clams there

Posted by
851 posts

First time to the States? Seattle or Portland from, say, JFK is a five-six hour flight each way. So your seven days is really only five. If you must make weird connections with your trans-Atlantic flights, your stay in the west might be only four days.

I say, stay on the Eastern Seaboard. See Washington DC, Boston, New York, Philadelphia. If, as you say, your’e not interested in the big cities, you can rent a car and see rural New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island. You can spend six days on the east coast and never see a big city with just a bit of planning.

Posted by
4637 posts

By choosing Pacific Northwest you already won. There is no prettier region in the US (some parts of Alaska could compete). No matter where you choose to go you won't be disappointed. But you got only 7 to 8 days. So here is where I take people who visit me. Seattle - about two days: Pioneer Square, waterfront, Pike's Place Market, Westlake Center, Ballard Locks, Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle Center - get there by Monorail from Westlake Center. Among others - Space Needle is there. Visit Chateau St.Michelle winery in Woodinville close to Seattle. The winery is beautiful, in French style in a large park. You will get a tour through the winery plus free tasting. On the waterfront take Argosy ship to Tillicum village on Blake island. There is a long house there, Pacific Northwest Indians have folklore performance and you will eat salmon made on alder wood fire. Then go for a loop trip: north on I 5, in Burlington turn on road 20 east. It goes through North Cascades National Park. Washington state has 3 national parks: Mount Rainier N.P., Olympic N.P. and N.C.N.P. All three are of extraordinary beauty but North Cascade is an absolute gem and also is the least visited. In Marblemount (if you want to hike) take Cascade Road 23 miles to the end and you are on Cascade Pass Trailhead. The views are stunning already from there. You can do an easy hike to Cascade Pass for even more views and then you can continue to Sahalee Arm. One of the most beautiful views anywhere. For this hike you would need all day to get there and back. Back to Marblemount and continue on road 20 to the east. I recommend to stop at Visitor Center in Newhalem. After that you can stop at Diablo Lake, take a tour boat and tour the Powerhouse. For that you probably will need reservation. Google Diablo Lake. Right next to it there is Ross Lake. You can stay overnight there. Besides other options they have floating cabins. Google Ross Lake accommodation. Continue on Rd 20 across Rainy Pass and Washington Pass. Scenery is fantastic. You will arrive to the dry part of Washington state. Little town of Winthrop. Saloons, wooden sidewalk and all that. Hollywood can film western movies there. If you did not stay overnight at Ross Lake, do it here. I like the most Sun Mountain Lodge. In winter cross-country skiing, in summer horseback riding. From there you drive through semidesert countryside to Chelan. It's a small town on the lower end of the same name lake. There are wineries around. Stay overnight and next morning take a boat Lady of the Lake to Stehekin - the settlement on the other end of 55 miles long Lake Chelan. About 4 hours. Or much faster by seaplane. Stehekin is not connected by road to the outside world. You can get there only by boat, seaplane or hike across the mountains. You can stay overnight at North Cascade Lodge right at the landing. Rent a bicycle and pedal 9 miles up to the ranch where you can have cowboy lunch or dinner. There is plenty to do and see in Stehekin. Google. After you get back to Chelan (by boat or seaplane), drive to Leavenworth. If you don't know you would think you are in Bavaria. Houses look like in Bavaria, food is like in Bavaria, even music. It is a nice place to stay overnight. And then drive across Stevens Pass back to Seattle.

Posted by
166 posts

Lots of great suggestions already. I'd only echo the advice to choose either WA or OR. You won't have enough time to do justice to both on this trip.

If you do choose WA, make sure you account for the "ferry factor" for any plans you have to cross water on a boat with your car. In July, it's not uncommon to spend many hours and watch 2 or 3 boats come and go before your spot in line finally gets loaded on to the ferry. Yes, there's an online reservation system, but if you're still in the planning stages, chances are that's not going to be much help.

If you choose to park the car and walk or ride a bike on to the ferry, the ferry becomes a much better option from an efficiency/time standpoint. Getting around on the islands might still be challenging, but if you're just going over for the day or simply want to stay in the town where the ferry lands, it can still be fun.

Finally, July is usually pretty nice weather around here, but the temperature can be as much as 20-30 degrees warmer on the east side of the Cascades as it will be nearer to the Salish Sea (the body of salt water that encompasses Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, Deception Pass, etc.). So if you really want sun and warmth, that's where you'll want to spend your time. It can be warm on the west side of the mountains that time of year too, but the chance of it being cooler, possibly cloudy, and potentially wetter is greater than on the east side of the passes.

Posted by
5262 posts

But Pike Place (and nearby Pike Street) named for a different Pike.

Ilja's itinerary would also be great.

I tell people visiting Seattle, in good weather, to take the ferry from the downtown waterfront to either Bainbridge (1/2 hour each way) or Bremerton (1 hour each way), just walk on without a car (so no need to wait) and enjoy the water and the views -- Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, etc. Then come right back (you have to get off and on again, but it's free coming back). Great way to appreciate the surroundings.

Re-reading the original post I see you're thinking about a base instead of moving around a lot. I'd suggest Port Angeles for that purpose, on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula. Day trips up into the mountains, across to Victoria, east to Port Townsend, west to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay, a whale watch (soon likely to be very restricted if not prohibited).

Posted by
313 posts

Native Oregonian here, and as much as I would like to recommend you come to Oregon, I think Dick's last suggestion is great. You could spend a day or so in Seattle and then base yourselves out of Port Angeles. Easy walk-on ferry to Victoria as the ferry goes into the Inner Harbour. Easily accessible without a car.

Lots to do around Port Angeles which cover the things you are interested in. You could easily fill your remaining days. Do make a trip to Port Townsend - cute little town and a couple of wineries in the area.

Please don't settle for Disneyworld. And bring a rain jacket!