Please sign in to post.

Suggestions on outdoorsy mother/teen daughter trip?

Hello everyone. This is my first post here and I am hoping that you all might have a few suggestions as to where I could take my daughter next Summer. We would be traveling sometime between mid-June to mid-July, although we will only have 5 full days to vacation while my younger children are at camp. She will be 17 and I will be 40, we are both healthy and in shape. I would love to take her someplace with amazing scenery where there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy - hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, etc AND where we can take a whale watching day trip. We are coming from the DFW area of Texas so our preference would be to escape the heat if at all possible (or at least have a bit cooler temps.) I am open to any ideas anywhere, although with only 5 full days I know we might be limited. I appreciate any and all input!

Posted by
6872 posts

California, Seattle, San Juan Islands, Vancouver (basically somewhere along the west coast).
The "whale watching" piece definitely narrowed down the list of possibilities - I was initially going to say the Rocky Mountains of Colorado or Canada.

Given how short of time you have, you should consider minimizing transit time to get to your chosen place as much as possible...that will depend on availability of flights and schedules from your airport. You'll probably really only have 4.5 days, with 4 hours or more time in transit (getting to the airport, flight time, etc).

Posted by
1310 posts

Acadia NP in Maine!
It ticks all your boxes and is just about my favorite place in the world. You would probably fly into Portland ME.

Posted by
116 posts

I am sure you will get lots of suggestions - here is mine.

Consider flying to Seattle, renting a car and driving up to Anacortes ( maybe 2hours) and taking ferry to the San Juan Islands (recommend Friday Harbor). It is a beautiful ferry ride trip (make ferry reservations on the web). San Juan Island offers biking, hiking and whale watching as well as boating and kayaking rentals and tours and definitely cooler temps than Texas. Lots of "crafty" shops all over the island. Many interesting restaurants. Option to take the ferry to Victoria BC for a day but really plenty to do on the island. Lots of B&B's and short term rentals but book ahead as this is high season for the islands.

Enjoy whatever you do, Robbie

Posted by
5591 posts

Turn on your TV and take a look at what all these places look like right now. I'm sitting in my house in Seattle, and there's so much smoke in the air from forest fires that I literally can't see to the end of the block. Everyone's walking around with breathing masks on. You go out to a shop and everyone is coughing and coughing. Our air quality is currently rated as "unhealthy" (worse than Beijing), in some areas around the region it's rated as "hazardous" and residents are being urged to evacuate.

Hiking and kayaking? Not without a respirator or an oxygen tank.

I used to not want to travel during the summers here because the weather was so pleasant. Not anymore - summers in this region are quite different now. Iceland is starting to look very good to me (no trees to burn there and far away from anyplace that does).

Posted by
10062 posts

The Oregon Coast offers everything you crave. After July 4 becomes high tourist season, but it really isn’t too bad until mid-July and later. (Don’t come in August!)

It is cool but usually dry. Depoe Bay is the whale watching capital of Oregon. You can see them from shore (Cape Foulweather is awesome) or take a cruise. We have hiking and kayaking as well and in my town, Lincoln City, also a great lake for paddling. PM me if you want some links or more detail.

Posted by
116 posts

David is right about the current problem with forest fire smoke here in the Northwest.

However. this is an unusual condition and furthermore, it's mid August. Fire and smoke issues, if they occur at all, are very unlikely (actually never happened) in mid June to mid July which is what the OP is planning. By the way, smoke in California and Oregon is bad right now, too. It's a tough year all over the west.

Don't let that issue deter you.

Posted by
914 posts

Another vote for Maine and New England coastal area. Cape Breton area of Novia Scotia also gets a vote.

Posted by
313 posts

Seconding Laurel's suggestion for the Oregon coast. As you have limited time, there are lots of non-stop flights from Dallas to Portland reducing your time spent traveling.

Posted by
2188 posts

I like both the San Juan Island and Oregon coast suggestions, but also have another one. Glacier Bay, Alaska! Ticks all the boxes and best whale watching in Icy Strait. Fly to Juneau, take the ferry or fly to Gustavus. Stay at Glacier Bay Lodge and take a glacier cruise.
I have done this twice and highly recommend!

Posted by
1666 posts

Ditto Laurel's suggestions for the Oregon coast - it will not be hot there (it rarely is in summer). Here's a good site about grey whales on Oregon coast - mid July is a little late for the main migration, but we have year round residents. Unfortunately, the parts of the Oregon coast best to visit (in my opinion) are going to eat up some time to get there (flying DFW to PDX or Eugene, then renting a car and driving at least a couple of hours, or a little more). With your limited time, Seattle may be a more efficient option. As noted by others, this year we are having substantial wildfires and smoke and air quality issues, which are earlier this year than past years. Cross fingers next year will be better.

Posted by
3336 posts

How about Iceland! Airfares are pretty good...I went there for 5 nights in April and got a great deal.
You can hike your brains out with some of the most amazing scenery anywhere and there are many wildlife and whale watching tours. I cannot overstate how beautiful it is there...I had no idea about the vast spaces, glaciers, mountains, black sand beaches with icebergs, etc. that are there. You can even take an overnight trip into the backcountry with Icelandic ponies. It's worth the effort that it takes to get there.

Posted by
1172 posts

I had a great time with my daughter the summer when we went to Vancouver/Squamish/Whistler. As many have noted , I think it meets a lot of your requirements.

Posted by
14930 posts

Debbie Downer checking in . . . sorry but mid-June to mid-July is not a good time for whale-watching.

For such a short trip, my first choice would be Seattle. There's Olympic National Park and Mt. Rainier. Maybe rent a car, spend a couple of days in Olympic NP, then take the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria for a couple of days (lots to enjoy in the city or head to the southwest part of Vancouver Island for the hiking, etc. Then take the ferry to Bellingham WA through the San Juans and back to the airport. If you have a day left, spend it on Mt. Rainier.

Edit: Not Bellingham WA, maybe Port Townsend? I got the Victoria ferry confused with the Alaska State Ferry that leaves from Bellingham. Another great trip, but no hiking or biking :-)

Posted by
5262 posts

Chani has a good plan, so does Robbie, and there are many others for this area. However, re Chani's plan, I'm not sure you can drive a US-rented car into Canada even if you're driving it back into the US.

Washington's Olympic Peninsula has everything you're looking for and it's an easy (mostly) scenic drive around it. Whale watch boats leave from Port Townsend and Port Angeles. June and July should be fine for seeing them in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I saw a humpback and two minkes last month. Our declining resident orca population may mean more restrictions on these boats in the future.

Today the heat and haze broke with a wind shift to the west, and it may rain a little this weekend -- enough to help the gardens and fight the forest fires east of here without putting much of a damper on recreation. Mid-June to mid-July isn't a high-risk period for fires, at least until climate change gets worse.

Posted by
797 posts

Fly into San Francisco and out of Portland. Drive Highway 1 north. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world, period. The weather is wonderful in JUN/JUL. You'll have the ocean, the Redwoods, mountains, etc all in one trip that can easily be done in 5-6 days with time off for hiking or whatever.

If you'd rather not drive, come to Seattle. Bike Mt Si, take a whale watching cruise, hike Mt Rainier or Mt St Helens. Walk around downtown, show her UW (and then expect she'll want to go there). Kayak the marsh at Lake Union. Check out the local "foodie" places. Take a ferry to the San Juan's. Watch some of the best sunsets anywhere (and at that time of year they start around 9:30pm).

Posted by
13107 posts

Bike Mt. Si? I think you must mean hike Mt. Si. At 3600 feet of gain and a grade of 1000!feet a mile, that would be a tough bike ride! But it is a nice hike, IF you can get a spot in the parking lot.

Mid-June to July is early for hiking Mt. Rainier. The famous flower fields at Paradise are often snow-covered well into July. And the road to Sunrise may not open until July as well.

But the Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands, and Port Townsend are all good to visit in June. As for whale-watching, there are trips from all three places, but only to see orcas (which are not true whales but still wonderful to see). If there are grey whales or humpbacks to be seen in Puget Sound, they got lost on their way to Alaska.

I will go out on a limb and recommend something that looks expensive, but is worth every cent for the quality of the experience, and all that is included, especially kayaking ( safely) among icebergs at the face of a calving glacier.

https://www.kenaifjordsglacierlodge.com

This is a remote wilderness lodge in the national park, and the price includes boat transport to and from, 4 hours each way. The boat captain seeks out whales and other wildlife to see, as well as glaciers. On the trips in and out we saw grey whales and a pod of feeding orcas; the captain stopped the boat for 10-15 minutes each time to observe. On the return trip we had 10-15 dolphins playing in the bow wake. It was hilarious.

If you stay two nights you can do the full day kayak trip to the face of Aialik Glacier. You get as close as is safe, kayaking among icebergs, and then raft up to watch the Glacier calve. There are stops on beaches along the way and a chance to see puffins. On the day of departure, you have the morning to explore and several choices, including hiking or a canoe paddle. We chose the large canoe and were treated to the sight of a black bear grazing on the shore. We spent 15 minutes in his presence very close but quiet enough to avoid disturbing him. There is a population of 16 bears in this area (isolated by the Glacier) and they are often seen from the de is of the cabins, or while walking on the beach.

The cabins are comfortable and the food there is excellent. I cannot say enough good things about this place. You will not find scenery to equal this anywhere around Seattle. Just look at the photos on the website. They are accurate.

So for your 5 days I would suggest this:

Day one fly from Texas to Anchorage. Depending on your arrival time, you could spend the night there, but if you arrive by mid-afternoon, you could pick up a rental car and drive to Girdwood, a ski resort about 30 minutes south. It is a scenic drive along Cook Inlet. Great hiking at Girdwood (we like to hike to the top of the Alyeska tram and then ride down) or rent mountain bikes and ride the Winner Creek trail to the hand-pulled tram across the creek. There is also guided white-water rafting here.. Next day (day 2), after your activities, drive to Seward (about 2-3 hours) and spend the night. In the morning you meet the boat to go to the lodge. Spend two nights there. They return you to Seward by 5 pm, and you drive back to Anchorage for your flight home.

Posted by
6872 posts

It takes all day to fly from DFW to Anchorage and another day to fly back (the shortest flight takes a bit less than 7 hours because it's the only nonstop one via American Airlines)....is that the best use of only 5 days vacation time? Yikes! That only leaves 3 days on the ground. And the non-stop flight is pretty pricey compared to those with 1 to 2 stops.

Posted by
13107 posts

Maybe they could leave the night before and fly as far as Seattle. Then on Day 1 fly to Anchorage ( a 3-hour flight), arriving early enough in the day to drive to Seward. Then days 2,3 and 4 for the Glacier Lodge, boat trips there and back, and full day kayak with the icebergs. Day 5 fly home.

It may indeed be more expensive or more travel time than they want, but it is the most gorgeous scenery, and most exciting outdoor experience, that I could come up with for their short time. Nothing they could do around Seattle in that time period ( late June-early July) comes close.

Posted by
5591 posts

Reality check here...

It takes all day to fly from DFW to Anchorage and another day to fly back...

That is true. It's also true that it takes all day to fly from DFW to, well, pretty much anyplace "out west" or "back east" or "up north." As so many of us are so quick to point out when someone proposes a 5 day trip to Europe: your travel days are pretty much consumed with travel, and they don't leave much usable time after arrival.

So if the OP really has no more than 5 days total, including travel time, that means this is effectively a 3 day trip - just 3 full days at the destination. So essentially, a long weekend.

Posted by
327 posts

Lynsey, with just 5 days, I would be looking for an early morning non-stop flight from DFW to somewhere in the Pacific Northwest (4 hours or so) and an afternoon non-stop return flight. For example you could likely do this with Air Canada from DFW to Vancouver, BC, Canada, and return. If you try to cover too many destinations on the ground in 3-4 days, you will spend most of your time travelling leaving no time for the outdoor activities.

You could do all of the activities listed if you plan very carefully, including possibly whale watching in Vancouver. Although I haven't done this myself, Tourism British Columbia has this article on their website with more details:
https://www.hellobc.com/stories/how-to-go-whale-watching-from-vancouver/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9dLA2NKJ3QIVCIN-Ch24QQflEAAYAyAAEgIw4PD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Posted by
10062 posts

Chani we have whales off the Oregon Coast all summer. They go south with the winter migration in December but we see them again as early as late February, though small in number. I see them all summer off Depoe Bay and Cape Foulweather. Locals know...and I am a local Whale Watching volunteer for the Oregon Dept. of Parks.

Posted by
2833 posts

Seeing migrating whales go by from shore is fun, but mostly all you see is spouts, once in a while with a back or maybe a tail flip. And you might wait a long time to see those.
It is not as exciting as seeing Orcas feeding from the deck of a boat parked a safe distance away, or better yet humpback whales doing bubble-net feeding.

https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/ngexpeditions/humpback-bubble-net

Best place for that is Southeast Alaska (Juneau area).

You could fly to Juneau and do just about everything you want there.

Whale watching with Harv and Marv:

https://www.harvandmarvs-alaska-whale-watching.com

Sea kayaking on Mendenhall Lake, in view of the glacier:

https://juneaushoretours.com/tour/mendenhall-lake-kayak-adventure/

Hiking to Mendenhall Glacier, or fromthe Mt. Robert Tram. Watch out for bears!

Dunno about biking, but the road out of Juneau goes quite a few miles, and is not heavy with traffic. You could look into bike rentals.

Posted by
2833 posts

P.S. I will bet the people who have posted suggestions would like some feedback on what you are currently thinking. . . .

Posted by
3304 posts

We would be traveling sometime between mid-June to mid-July, although
we will only have 5 full days to vacation while my younger children
are at camp. She will be 17 and I will be 40, we are both healthy and
in shape. I would love to take her someplace with amazing scenery
where there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy - hiking,
biking, kayaking, boating, etc AND where we can take a whale watching
day trip. We are coming from the DFW area of Texas so our preference
would be to escape the heat if at all possible

Acadia National Park!

Much of it is on Mt Desert Island abutting Bar Harbor in Maine. It's got everything you listed above and more so!

Posted by
111 posts

No whales, but Lake Tahoe is a spectacular place to hike, bike, kayak!

Posted by
111 posts

No whales, but Lake Tahoe is a spectacular place to hike, bike, kayak! Oregon also a great choice. Have fun - love those mother daughter adventures!!!