Please sign in to post.

Pacific Northwest Vacation

My husband & I are celebrating our 40th Anniversary by exploring this area for 2weeks. We are flying in to SeaTac 7/23 & taking light rail to our hotel. We will explore Seattle for 2 days on foot & on 7/25 we hope to rent a car & drive to the Olympic National Park. We are staying at Lake Quinault on 7/25, Port Angeles 7/26 & Port Townsend 7/27. On 7/28 we need to get to Vancouver so that we can embark on a Rocky Mountaineer train journey the following early am. We stay overnight in Kamloops, BC 7/29, Banff 7/30 &7/31, Lake Louise 8/1 & 8/2 and finally Calgary 8/4 7 8/5. THE Rocky Mountaineer Company has arranged an Avis rental car for us after we arrive in Banff.
The 1st car rental is presenting a major challenge because we would be on a one way journey & we are traveling to Canada. The prices are exorbitant - the cheapest 4 day rental is for $710! That would necessitate us returning the car after 3 days & then renting it again for a separate one day journey to Canada which saves us >$500.

I am wondering about other options - mass transit or shuttle or UBER?

I see that there is a "Quick Shuttle" bus that we could get on at the Bellingham Airport & take to vancouver. We could turn in our rental there as well. Thoughts?
Also any Can't miss sights or meals along our journey?
Thank you In advance
Kathy

Posted by
97 posts

Kathy, you are covering a lot of territory in a short time. We live north of Bellingham and have traveled in the area you describe over the years. The roads are good, but can be frustratingly slow during summer travel, especially if there is construction as there is now near Tacoma on I-5. Expect the drive from Seattle to Lake Quinault to be 3-4 hours, on a good day. There are some lovely hikes near Lake Quinault, and Port Townsend is a fun, quirky, scenic town. Lots of cute shops, bars, boats, and beaches. As you say, the leg from Port Townsend to Vancouver is tricky, especially with a rental car. There are few if any public transportation options, and driving includes both a ferry ride and an international border crossing, which itself can take more than an hour on weekends.

If you are in Port Townsend on 7/27 and need to be in Vancouver on 7/28, I think you are right to leave your rental in the US. You can take a Washington State Ferry from Port Townsend (30-45 min.), a lovely experience on a sunny day. (Make reservations online, for sure, or you might not get aboard in time to make your connections. Summer weekends are really, really busy.) Drive about an hour and a half north to Bellingham Airport. If you can take the time, and it's a clear day, drive along Chuckanut Drive for the amazing views. I'm not familiar with the Quick Shuttle, but it does look like your best option. Crossing the border on public transportation will be somewhat quicker and you will avoid the international drop-off fee for your rental. There are several rental car agencies at Bellingham Airport. With your itinerary, I think that is the winning choice.

Enjoy your anniversary trip! The train in Canada sounds terrific and the scenery will be stunning! - Polly

Posted by
191 posts

I've only been to Seattle a few times but loved it. We took the train from California to Seattle, then a ferry to Victoria. I'm sure many locals will chime in, but maybe in the meantime look into taking Amtrak to Vancouver? It looks like there is an Amtrak Cascades train that leaves Seattle at 7:45am and arrives in Vancouver BC at 11:45am. I know there are buses and ferries, also. Glorious scenery.

Edit: yay, a local has already posted. I will follow this thread b/c I know we will visit again. And oops, I misread where you will be leaving from on your way to Canada.

Posted by
378 posts

Have you looked into the Victoria Clipper which runs from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC? https://www.cohoferry.com/The-Route. Perhaps you can return the US-based rental car in Port Angeles (which I assume would be cheaper than trying to return it in Canada), then make your way from Port Angeles to Victoria and from Victoria to Vancouver. It would probably be a long travel day but could be quite beautiful. Alternatively, skip the night in Port Townsend and spend the night in Victoria instead.

Posted by
6135 posts

Given the itinerary you have, I think the best solution for turn in is your proposal to drop it at Bellingham and taking the Quick Shuttle to Vancouver.

Take the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville ( aka Keystone) and drive north to Bellingham.

If not already included in your "Olympic National Park", visit, Hurricane Ridge is in the "Can't miss" category

Posted by
20 posts

I live in Port Townsend. Lake Quinault is on the west side of the peninsula. There is major road construction along Lake Crescent with delays of hours. I would recommend not going to Lake Quinault and staying in Port Townsend for the duration. You can catch the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry in town (must have reservations). Have a leisurely drive up Whidbey Island and drop the car in Bellingham. From there catch a flight to Vancouver. At the time of the year that you will be up here, is HEAVY tourist time. Traffic is horrible. Allow for more time than what the maps or the chamber of commerce recommend. You will also be crossing the Hood Canal Bridge that opens when needed, and can delay you for up to 1 hour.

Posted by
158 posts

As others mentioned, getting from Port Townsend to Vancouver is gonna be your biggest challenge. I think pollyhrae has it right. Get yourself across from Port Townsend as early as you can on 7/27, and get to the I-5 corridor to return your car. Bellingham could be a good choice. You also might want to look into whether dropping the car at one of the stops the train makes along the way and hopping on the train could be an option, as it drops you off right downtown Vancouver, with no traffic.

Posted by
6147 posts

Bolt Bus is another option from getting from Seattle to Vancouver very inexpensively (more so than Amtrak). I take that bus from DC to NYC all the time, and they have service on the West Coast as well.

I have heard many times how expensive rental cars are out of SEATAC airport (due to high airport fees). Any possibility to rent in an off-airport location?

Posted by
5487 posts

Check out returning the rental to SEA then flying SEA to YVR. A quick Travelocity check indicates that Delta has some early morning or late evening $100 USD pp one-way fares and WestJet at $113. Checked bags extra.

July 27:
DL 3212: 10:49pm to 11:50pm

Delta 5792: 7:15am to 8:19am

WestJet 7140 operated by Delta: 10:49pm to 11:50pm (Take the Delta and save $13)

Posted by
2941 posts

Okay, I have to admit that I don't see getting from Port Townsend to Vancouver as that difficult of a challenge. I've made that drive several times. Your real challenge is deciding where to turn in your rental car and I agree with the others that Bellingham makes a great deal of sense.

First make a ferry reservation for the Port Townsend Coupeville Ferry on this website:
https://secureapps.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Reservations/Vehicle/default.aspx

The crossing is approximately 30 minutes. You will then turn left when you get off of the ferry. Ignore the signs that tell you to turn right- that is the long way round. Follow the road until you reach the stoplight which is the main highway. Turn left and follow the highway north. You will probably want to stop and look at Deception Pass. At Anacortes you turn right and go over to Interstate 5 and north to Bellingham. I usually plan for 2 hours between Port Townsend and Bellingham. If you are wanting to catch a shuttle after turning in your rental car I would definitely add a hour or more cushion.

The major traffic delays (the 4 hour kind) have been postponed until after Labor Day at Lake Crescent. There are still possible 30 minute delays but nothing that should keep you from enjoying the Olympic Peninsula.

Posted by
97 posts

The Coho Ferry is a good option if you are going just from Port Angeles to Victoria. But the getting to Vancouver part would be very tricky without private transportation. It's roughly 20 miles from Victoria to the ferry at Swartz Bay (hour or more on the bus), then the 90 min. ferry crossing to Tsawwassen, then bus and light rail to get to downtown. Possible, but pretty complicated with lots of moving parts.

Posted by
4207 posts

This must all be pretty confusing to you. You're trying to cover a lot of ground, some of it actually water, in a short time.

Lake Quinault and the west side of the Olympic Peninsula are beautiful but it's a very long drive, some of it not very attractive. From Seattle to Quinault I'd put at about five hours, including some of the worst traffic in the US between Seattle and Olympia. If you can do without Lake Quinault, you'll have a much easier trip from Seattle across Puget Sound to Port Angeles and/or Port Townsend, by ferry or bridge. Ferries run from downtown Seattle to Bremerton and Bainbridge, also from Edmonds (north of Seattle) to Kingston. If you rent the car in Bremerton or Bainbridge you could cross as a ferry passenger, cheaper and without risking having to wait for a later boat. The driving option would be taking the light rail back to SeaTac, renting the car there, and driving south on I-5 to Tacoma then west on route 16 over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Skipping Lake Quinault would give you an extra day for either more of Seattle or the north Olympic Peninsula, maybe another night in Port Angeles. A day trip from PA could be a drive out route 112 along the north shore all the way to Neah Bay, with an outstanding tribal museum, and Cape Flattery, the NW corner of the continental US, with spectacular coastal and ocean views. Or spend more time exploring closer to PA. Or a day trip to Victoria (without car) on the Coho ferry (not the Victoria Clipper, that's a high-speed ferry from Seattle).

As for going from Port Townsend to Vancouver, I'll defer to others. I don't know about Quick Shuttle from Bellingham but that would be a good choice if it lets you drop the car in Bellingham. Another choice might be driving back to SeaTac, returning the car there (avoiding dropoff charge), and flying to Vancouver. With no research, I have a feeling that second choice would cost more overall and I'm sure it would be less fun.

Sorry this is so confusing. If you were going to Kansas everything would be in straight lines on land. ;-)

Posted by
6135 posts

You do NOT need to go to the airport to get a rental car. Picking it up in town will save a bunch of airport fees/taxes.( ~ $20 per day)

As you are staying in downtown Seattle you can get a car there from any of the major companies and drop it at BLI ( Bellingham airport) and take the bus from there.

If you are a Costco member, check their rates

Posted by
30932 posts

First of all, congratulations on your 40th anniversary! What a milestone.

It's a bit late and I'm not focusing too well, but it would seem that if you could return the car in Bellingham, it's relatively easy to get to Vancouver from there either via Amtrak or Boltbus. I would not advise flying from Bellingham to Vancouver as all the flights have at least one layover (SEA?), and that method will take far longer than using the bus or train, especially when security, check-in and all the other rubbish is included.

I'll try and look at this in more detail tomorrow.

Posted by
158 posts

Okay, I have to admit that I don't see getting from Port Townsend to Vancouver as that difficult of a challenge.

Carol, I perhaps should have worded my comment more clearly. That specific DAY of the itinerary will be her most challenging (compared to the other days where it's simply point A to point B), as she's on the peninsula, needs to deal with a crowded ferry system in the heart of the summer tourist season, has a rental car she needs to return before she crosses an international border, and still needs to get to her destination in a large, unfamiliar city. Not insurmountable by any means, but there are a few moving parts that someone who's not familiar with this area might want to be aware of... : )

Posted by
4207 posts

Joe's point is well taken, no reason to rent the car at SeaTac unless you're flying from there to Vancouver, and no reason to do that if you can get to Bellingham by car as others have suggested (PT to Whidbey to Anacortes to I-5 and north). It's true that that's a complicated day but certainly doable and quite scenic the whole way. Be sure to reserve your ferry ride though, that's a busy run in summer and the boats aren't that big.

You asked about "can't miss meals." Our favorite place in Port Angeles is Bella Italia on 1st St. downtown. Another good choice would be C'Est Si Bon just east of town. In Port Townsend, the Silverwater Cafe is one of several good restaurants in the old downtown. Another suggestion, not for the food so much as the view, is the upstairs deck behind Siren's Pub looking over the bay. Get there early, have a drink, and watch the ferries come and go.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful advice. I have the rental car now scheduled to pick up in Seattle as we are leave for the ONP. We will drop the car at the Bellingham airport & take the "quick shuttle" to our hotel in Vancouver - thus saving a lot of money on the rental car! We will be checking out all of your sightseeing & culinary suggestions! Thanks Again, Kathy

Posted by
234 posts

You are packing in a lot, but you should have a great time. We did the Rocky Mountaineer about 4 years ago--they did a good job with our arrangements before and after the train.