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Victoria-Vancouver-Seattle Itinerary

Hi, this community was so helpful for planning my recent European family vacations, so thought I would come back for our upcoming vacation to Rick Steves' backyard ... this time without kids!

My wife and I have about one week to see these three cities. I know that's too rushed, but the tickets are bought so we'll make the best of it. We like to spend our time shopping / eating in neighborhoods, visiting the park on a nice day, and seeing any exceptional museums / sights. The attractions that sound most interesting (to us) are listed below. I'm thinking of the following itinerary and would love your input.

June 21: Fly into Victoria very late; sleep in town

June 22: Full day and night in Victoria; walk around town/harbour; bike ride; maybe Butchart or whale tour

June 23: Morning ferry to Vancouver (or lunchtime seaplane); afternoon / evening in Vancouver

June 24-25 (plus above): Stanley Park, Granville Island, one of the gardens (if we don't do Butchart), and waterfront / neighborhoods ... and maybe a hike at Lynn Canyon (less likely to do Capilano / Grouse Mountain)

June 26: Morning Amtrak to Seattle; afternoon / evening in Seattle

June 27-28 (plus above): Pike Place + Downtown, Seattle Center sights, waterfront, Bainbridge Island, Ballard Locks, and neighborhoods (incl. Ballard or Fremont Farmers Market)

June 29: Fly out of Seattle extremely early

This gives us about 1.25 days in Victoria, 2.75 days in Vancouver and 2.75 days in Seattle. We'll be going to the Colorado Rockies after this, so I'm OK missing side-trips like Whistler or Rainier. But I'd consider rebalancing our time for something that's truly unique and doable (maybe Sea to Sky without Whistler, or Steveston?). And like I said, I'm considering a seaplane instead of ferry to earn a few more hours (and thrills!).

Posted by
11400 posts

The ferry ride from Swartz Bay ( island ) to Twasssen ( mainland ) is very scenic and normally I would totally recommend it - however this takes at least 4 hours of your day door to door - can be more - so just take seaplane - which is also very scenic but is only 20-30 minutes !

Posted by
194 posts

Hi. As a lifetime Seattle area resident, I am going to comment on that segment of your trip. Note that these days I live in Olympia, so I am not quite as familiar with the Seattle scene as I once was, and haven't done many of these things myself for several years. Things may have changed since I was there.

I would focus one day at the Pike Place Market and the waterfront. It has a nice aquarium. There are harbor cruises that depart from the waterfront. Or, you could take a ferry across the Sound (but I would stay on the ferry for the return trip). There is a nice restaurant on the waterfront, the name of which escapes me, where they simply dump a bucket of seafood and corn on the cob in front of you. Or Ivars, which is a staid family restaurant but also a Seattle institution. Or multiple other excellent restaurants. You could also take in a Mariner's game (if they are playing at home). The Seattle Art Museum is downtown, if that interests you. Or the Underground Seattle tour out of Pioneer Square.

I would focus on the Seattle Center the second day. I would try to see what might be going on that day. There is the current iteration of the Experience Music Project, the Space Needle, and the Chihuly glass museum there. There is also a Ride the Ducks opportunity if you have never done that.

I am not sure why you would go to Bainbridge Island. Half the interest of the Ballard Locks is seeing the salmon; I don't believe (but am not absolutely sure) that the salmon will be running through the locks in June.

You could think about visiting Capitol Hill. That's a trendy area, with lots of interesting shops and restaurants.

I would try to catch at least one good seafood meal, and also try some variety of Asian food, while here.

Just tossing my two cents in off the top of my head.

Posted by
6096 posts

You could also take in a Mariner's game (if they are playing at home).

Matt, OP is from Atlanta. The Braves finished 1st in the NL east last year. Other than comic relief why would they want to to see the sorry mess known as the Mariners? AA talent at MLB prices. UGH

Posted by
245 posts

Since June weather in the PNW is rather unlike June weather in Atlanta, I'd suggest that you make up 2 plans for each town: 1 for sun and 1 for rain. That way if it happens to be too cool/rainy for your taste to do Butchart Gardens, you have a backup plan to see the very fine Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Ditto for the other towns. I'd also suggest you take a very close look at the time needed to accomplish some of the adventures you mention.

Posted by
30929 posts

Jake,

That's a very rushed Itinerary but it should be feasible. A few thoughts....

  • The Royal B.C. Museum would definitely be a good place to visit for a few hours.
  • Definitely take a Harbour Air flight from downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver. Even with a rental car, taking the ferry is going to be a grueling waste of time. You could also take the HeliJet if your budget allows.
  • For one of your days in Vancouver, Granville Island, Stanley Park and Gastown should fill the day nicely. I'm not sure how many "gardens" there are, except for the Bloedel Conservatory. If exploring Gastown be sure not to go too far or you'll end up in the downtown eastside (which is not recommended, especially Oppenheimer Park).
  • For your second day in Vancouver and assuming the weather is nice, you might consider a day trip to the Sea To Sky Gondola, which is on the way to Whistler but considerably closer to Vancouver. I believe there are some hiking opportunities there, as well as incredible views. They have shuttles available, as explained here - https://www.seatoskygondola.com/getting-here/ .
  • You may get some other good ideas on touring on this website - https://www.tourismvancouver.com/ .

There are lots of great restaurants in Vancouver, so you won't have any trouble getting some exceptional food. If you like Italian or Greek food, there are two neighborhoods of the city that specialize in those.

Posted by
13927 posts

I have been to many gardens, none as big or beautiful as Butchart. The first was in early May, tulip season; the second, not quite as good, in the fall. June should be roses, roses, and lots more. Splurge a little and have a real afternoon English tea there.

Posted by
4113 posts

We spent a week in Vancouver (did a day trip to Victoria) and enjoyed every day there. There is much to see and do there.

Do go to Butchert Gardens, it is wonderful. You need 2-3 hours there.

Do go to Grouse Mountain. Also, we did a day trip to the site of the Winter Olympics, which was great.
Stanley Park is great.

You need more time in Vancouver.

Also, we did a wonderful 4 day bus tour of the Canadian Rockies with Key West Tours. It was great, visited Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise. Fantastic.
We later did two days in Seattle, loved the Boeing Factory, largest building in the World.

Posted by
661 posts

You're about 50% overbooked on what you expect to see/do. As someone who "does" all three of these cities on a regular basis I'll point out some basic issues.

  1. Victoria is a very easy city to walk around. I usually spend a long weekend there every couple years (last visit was Thanksgiving 2019) and 2-3 nights is a good basic amount of time to take in the the town. Buchart Gardens are nice, and June's a great time to see them. But that's an easy 3-4 hours in the day. If you want to go out to the west coast you won't have time to do both.

  2. If you can afford it, fly. Others have pointed out the length of the ferry ride, I'll add that you need to buy tickets for either the ferry or the plane, 2-3 months early or plan on staying on the island. They sell out, and you may not get the time you want. Hate to see you stuck, but you're traveling at high tourist season. there's only so many seats. (For example the ferry I took in November sold out 2 weeks before my trip and it was not a normal holiday in Canada.)

  3. If you can fit Granville Island and Stanley Park into one day you'll be doing good. I usually do Granville together with the Anthropology Museum at UBC and that's a full day. Walking Gastown or the path along the water, going out to Capilano, those are 3-4 hours each, not counting crowds.

  4. You can easily do Pike Street Market and Seattle Center together in a day, provided you don't intend to visit any museums, ride the Space Needle, or the Aquarium. Because all of those are timed tickets, and you need to get them ahead of time or plan on hanging around just to get in. I just took family around for the tourist stuff at Christmas and the Space Needle with Dale Chuily's glass garden (with a quick lunch) took most of the day. Crowds will be much heavier come summer. Pikes Market, and walking along the waterfront to Pioneer Square was another whole day and we didn't hit the Art Museum or Aquarium or do any shopping. There's just a lot to see, and lot's of people. (The line for the Starbucks at Pikes Market was 2 blocks long, so you get an idea of what the crowds can be like.) The wait for the Ferris Wheel was 2 hours, and it was not a good clear day.

  5. There's usually a 1-2 hours wait for the ferry to Bainbridge come summer, both ways. That's an entire day of travel. Unless you really have to go there I can't recommend it. As for Rainier, that's a whole days trip from the city. 2-3 hours drive each way depending on traffic.

  6. If you can do the Locks and Fremont's Saturday Market in less than 4 hours you will be running the whole time. And if you hike up to the Troll (there's no close parking) that's another 1 hours easy. If you want a really nice hike in that area go over to Daybreak Star and walk down to the lighthouse. 2-3 hours round trip.

Now some basics: June is high tourist season. Enjoy. It's also when the sun comes up at 5am and gets dark around 10pm, so the days are long. Traffic here is no joke, it sucks. If you rent a car expect to pay $30-$50/ day to park it, provided you can find a place. If you use taxi/Lyft/Uber expect to wait for a ride and then crawl around. If you can use the monorail I recommend it. Seattle is a city of hills, much more so that Vancouver or Victoria, be prepared. City streets have considerable grades so you'll get a work out walking around all day. Have good shoes. It's going to rain; be prepared.

If you're flying out of Seatac early you want to stay in a place right near the airport, not downtown, that night. Unless it's Sunday it can take an hour to get from downtown in the mornings, and you want to get there with time to catch your flight. TSA Pre-Check at Seatac can easy take 1/2 hour, and that's fast.

Last, Seattle is ground zero for the homeless and drugged. They've pretty much ruined what used to be a pretty nice city.

Posted by
3314 posts

If you enjoy gardens, definitely go to Butchert Gardens and plan to spend several hours there. We've been to many gardens in North America, South America, and Europe and it is one of the best. If Butchert doesn't fit your schedule and you still want to check out a garden, Seattle has one that is really impressive also.

Posted by
157 posts

The Braves finished 1st in the NL east last year. Other than comic relief why would they want to to see the sorry mess known as the Mariners? AA talent at MLB prices.

Some people enjoy the pleasure of seeing different teams in different teams, particularly in they are in a National League city, such as Atlanta or Pittsburgh (trust me, we have it way worse than Mariners fans).

I have heard nice things about Safeco Field (I refuse to call it T-Mobile Park, which sounds ridiculous) and plan on seeing a Mariners game there when I visit...though that is partially because the Angels are visiting and I will finally get to see Mike Trout play.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks for all of the great advice so far. Again, totally understand this itinerary is rushed, but since we are flying into Victoria and out of Seattle, I'd hate to miss Vancouver. We've done some of Europe's greatest cities in 3-4 days each, so I'm sure we'll manage. We can always go back (I hope). Here are some questions / comments on your input so far.

Victoria

  • Can anyone compare Butchart to Keukenhof? We went there last April and loved it, even though we only had two days in Amsterdam. I'd give up a half-day in Victoria if it's comparable.

Vancouver

  • I've read a lot of advice that QE Park Gardens is a decent substitute for Butchart. True story?
  • I like gondolas, but the town we go to in Colorado (Telluride) has an amazing free one. That said, it does seem like an easy way to get outside of the city without a car. Sea to Sky sounds more scenic than Grouse, but obviously farther away. Will think about it.

Seattle

  • I read that June is a good time to see the salmon at the locks. If that's true, definitely want to see that.
  • Sounds like I can scratch Bainbridge Island. Thanks ... making progress!
Posted by
13927 posts

I haven't been to Keukenhof. What is special at the Butchart Gardens is the landscaping. Each of the gardens is different and feels apart from the others.

Posted by
1507 posts

Just a quick chime in re: salmon runs in Seattle. Though it is true the salmon start coming in June-ish, the big runs really don't start until July - you could spend a lot of time waiting for fish. Check reports closer to your trip, but as you have minimal time, I'd focus on other Seattle activities.

Also, I recently stayed at Country Inn and Suites near Seatac - great staff, nice rooms, decent breakfast, and free shuttle to airport. Found a decent rate on Booking.com. Prior poster's comment about getting to airport extra early is spot on - I have TSA pre check and it took 15 minutes to get through - the "regular" security line was utter mayhem. Even my shuttle driver commented on the chaos. As you're leaving on a Monday morning during peak visitor season, don't cut it close.

Posted by
6135 posts

I've read a lot of advice that QE Park Gardens is a decent substitute
for Butchart. True story?

True story, it's a beautiful and (probably a bit) underrated park - just look at some photos online (Tripadvisor, Google images, etc). They also have a cool conservatory in the park with wild birds and tropical plants, which is unique. I got there from downtown using the bus.

PS. Van Dusen Botanical Garden is nearby QE Park Gardens, and is also very lovely. In downtown Vancouver, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is very interesting and unique.

Posted by
4113 posts

It is hard to compare Butchart to Keukenhof. Do you like vanilla or chocolate ice cream? They are different enough that if you have been to one, you would still want to go to the other.

For example, if you visited Rome and all the Ancient Roman ruins, would you not want to go to Athens, Greece and see the Acropolis with the incomparable Parthenon?

Posted by
5019 posts

Lots of good advice above. I'll add one more bit:

If you think it's good advice to fly from Victoria to Vancouver (and I agree it is), the same advice holds for getting from Vancounver down to Seattle. Don't waste your time on I-5 (there's usually delays at the border, and always bad traffic anywhere near Seattle). So do the same thing: Fly. The flight between Vancouver and Seattle is quick (too quick, actually, because...) it's also very scenic. One hour by seaplane, from harbor-to-harbor, skip all the hassles of driving and of using overcrowded, stress-filled major airports like Seatac. Kenmore Air Seaplane Service.

Last, Seattle is ground zero for the homeless and drugged. They've pretty much ruined what used to be a pretty nice city.

This Seattle resident could not agree more. When my extended family comes to visit now, we avoid downtown Seattle like, well, like the plague, and intentionally head away from and stay away from the urban center. My relatives don't want their young kids in our parks, playgrounds and libraries nowadays, nor downtown (they used to), and I can't say I disagree.

Posted by
41 posts

If you think it's good advice to fly from Victoria to Vancouver (and I agree it is), the same advice holds for getting from Vancounver down to Seattle.

That's an interesting idea, although budget becomes a concern. It's about $100 more per person by seaplane than by train. I'm assuming that Victoria > Seaplane > Vancouver > Train > Seattle is a better combo than Victoria > Ferry > Vancouver > Seaplane > Seattle. I actually like train rides, whereas the ferry sounds beautiful but more involved.

Posted by
6135 posts

Sadly, there are a few really negative comments about Seattle - but blaming really down-and-out people for "ruining the city" does nothing to solve a very difficult homeless and mental illness problem in a place where the rent increases have been astronomical (no different than SF or LA, although the most shocking was an multi-block area of Vancouver on the drive over from Seattle). I didn't experience this negativity likely because I stayed in a different neighborhood that wasn't saturated with tourists (like Pike Market area). Consider Queen Anne, Ballard, Capitol Hill, or Belltown if you're too put off. Unfortunately, reality can't be escaped and sometimes you have to see truth right in the face - that's probably the only way to get people to care and to advocate for real solutions. Regardless, Seattle is still an amazing city with interesting sights.

On another topic, I remember taking the seaplane on my first trip to Vancouver with my parents. The memory still stays with me. It was a remarkable experience to see such a beautiful city from the air.

Posted by
6096 posts

Last, Seattle is ground zero for the homeless and drugged. They've pretty much ruined what used to be a pretty nice city.

Another "Amen" to that statement.

Semi rhetorical question-- What sort of propaganda is out there that induces someone to want to be a 'tourist' in Seattle?

Posted by
5019 posts

blaming really down-and-out people for "ruining the city" does nothing to solve a very difficult homeless and mental illness problem in a place where the rent increases have been astronomical (no different than SF or LA, although the most shocking was an multi-block area of Vancouver on the drive over from Seattle).

Seattle's increase in cost of living has little to do with the linked problems of homelessness and drug addiction, despite efforts to promote a false narrative that lays responsibility for homelessness and addiction to tech company salaries driving up housing costs. I wouldn't deign to lecture someone on the root causes of problems in the Other Washington, but as a longtime Seattle resident I can assure you that those people shooting up in the parks and erecting tent-cities on Seattle's sidewalks are not workers who have been displaced by too-high Amazon salaries pushing up local rents.

I didn't experience this negativity likely because I stayed in a different neighborhood that wasn't saturated with tourists (like Pike Market area). Consider Queen Anne, Ballard, Capitol Hill, or Belltown if you're too put off.

I live in one of the neighborhoods you suggest above, and it's not the kind of place I would seek out on any vacation, but tastes and perceptions vary. Visitors are probably perfectly safe here (notwithstanding one high-profile street gunfight last week in the core of Seattle's downtown tourist areas). Visitors should just do like the locals and be careful where you step (lots of human feces and needles on the streets).

This is not the place to push a political agenda, so lets leave the hand-waving and finger-pointing out of it and hope the OP has a nice trip.

Posted by
5019 posts

I'm assuming that Victoria > Seaplane > Vancouver > Train > Seattle is a better combo than Victoria > Ferry > Vancouver > Seaplane > Seattle. I actually like train rides, whereas the ferry sounds beautiful but more involved.

The train from Vancouver to Seattle would be better than the same drive (you will pass through Edmonds, a couple blocks from HQ, so keep an eye out for Rick Steves). Driving would involve a potential delay at the border (in peak summer season, can be non-trivial), and significant traffic. Believe me, the last thing you want in Seattle is a car.

However, the train is not particularly scenic. The seaplane flight from Vancouver to Seattle would be spectacular. (So would the seaplane flight from Victoria to Vancouver, for that matter...both would be fun and memorable.)

Posted by
30929 posts

Jake,

Unfortunately Vancouver and Victoria also have problems with homeless population and druggies, so don't be surprised to see people in sleeping bags outside posh Malls and stores. There's a large homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park (which is why I mentioned it in my previous reply) and police are called there on a regular basis to deal with violent incidents. Not a good area for tourists to venture into.

Many cities in B.C. (including the one I live in) are also dealing with homeless problems.

Posted by
6 posts

I would do something outdoors in the evening either in Vancouver or Seattle to take advantage of the long days. If you are a golfer, bring your shoes and rent some clubs. There is something surreal about teeing off at 5:15PM and being able to get a full 18 holes in before it gets dark. You wanted unique! There are plenty of great courses just north of Vancouver and good ones in the Seattle area too (mid range to luxury). Then you can play in Colorado too and hit it 300 yards with a 4 iron :)

This doesn't fit your schedule but for others that may read this. If you are a foodie, the Richmond Night Market (right by the Vancouver Airport) is a no miss. It is only open during the summer Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus Canadian holidays. It is the largest Night Market in North America. The "market" itself is crap but the food is to die for. I do not know how may stalls but its easily 40-50. Most of the booths are Asian food but there is definitely a wide range of cuisine. It can be a madhouse, often takes an hour just to get in if you are not in line by 6:00 (it opens at 7:00PM). But as long as your patient its a great time and you are basically walking around, getting in line, eating awesome food then repeating for 4-5 hours. Servings are usually perfect for two people to share. Two caveats: cash only-so bring about $60 per person if you don't want to pay high ATM fees and no alcohol is sold.

Posted by
43 posts

I also recommend Capitol Hill-there's the (free) Frye Art Museum, Cal Anderson Park, Elliott Bay Books and the newly remodeled Seattle Asian Art Museum-inside Volunteer Park. There are a ton of great restaurants (Seattle Central College and Seattle University are close by) and fun shops. You will NOT want a car for that area.

Posted by
11677 posts

Just a note on the Bainbridge ferry: that 1-2 hour wait mentioned above is for boarding with a car. Walk-on passengers just show up and walk on. The only waiting is the time between ticket purchase and boarding. It is a nice 30-minute ride with fantastic views of the Seattle waterfront and (usually) Mt. Rainier.

Take a mid-afternoon ferry, walk around the little village area, rent a kayak from Exotic Aquatics for an hour to paddle around Eagle Harbor (note hours below) and have an early dinner or a pint of brew on the deck at the Harbour House pub, listening to the music of the sailboat masts.

https://harbourpub.com/

https://www.exoticaquaticsscuba.com/kayaking/rentals/

I would recommend riding a return ferry at sunset, but that is very late in June!!!

Posted by
4113 posts

Seattle was a beautiful city, but we were amazed at the hordes of unwashed homeless people camped out right in the middle of downtown. We were told that it wasn't illegal for this to happen! Didn't see any of that in Victoria or Vancouver.

Posted by
4192 posts

I'm just going to ignore that prevous post.

Keukenhof vs. Butchart -- Very different experiences. Keukenhof is primarily tulips in the spring, Butchart is a wide variety of flowers and other plants throughout the growing season. Also, as I recall, much bigger than Keukenhof.

Flying vs. train vs. ferry -- I agree that the ferry isn't a good idea between Victoria and Vancouver because it takes too long. The seaplane options would be best if affordable. Otherwise, Amtrak between Vancouver and Seattle has a number of scenic stretches along the shoreline and would definitely be faster than driving. Plus I don't see any part of your plan that would require a car. If your incoming and homegoing flights are still flexible, Joe from Edmonds has a good idea about the Victoria Clipper, fast and scenic.

Posted by
102 posts

Jake:

Seattleite with a slightly different take here. (I work downtown, and play downtown. Live in north Seattle.) Yes we have problems, any city does. However, there are a lot of folks here trying to convince you not to visit. Just be aware. Odds are you'll have a lovely time.

It does get dark late in June (10pmish) Don't know where you are staying, but your first afternoon, evening time could be the trip on the water, with dinner downtown somewhere (pop in for cocktails at Zig Zag Cafe on the steps from the Market to the waterfront)

The Market (Pike PLACE Market, not Pike's). You can do a quick tour, or spend the day poking around all of the levels. Mornings are best, before it gets too crowded. Especially if you want to go to the pokey little original SBUXs - although many better places to get coffee. (Note that the one on the corner on 1st & Pike is NOT the original. Have breakfast at Lowells. Go down to the waterfront for a stroll. Don't discount the Olympic Sculpture Park, although it is a bit of a walk. If you opt for Bainbridge (see below) - this would fit in nicely here as well.

Boats - If you walk on to the Bainbridge Ferry, you'll have no problem. They run at least every 50 minutes or so, takes about 35 to cross. Short walk up the hill from the dock to the main drag, where shops, bookstores and restaurants await. Consider the Water Taxi to West Seattle (Alki) the original Seattle. https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/travel-options/water-taxi.aspx Argosy does harbor cruises, one of which goes through the Ballard Locks (Officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks) to Lake Union.

Seattle Center. No festivals on that weekend, but there is always something going on. The former EMP - is now "MoPop" - The Museum of Popular Culture. Take a ride on the Monorail to get to the Center from downtown. You can go up in the Space Needle, but the other alternatives in town are The Smith Tower, and the Columbia Tower. The Columbia tower is taller than the Space Needle, the Smith Tower isn't very tall, but really beautiful.

I always recommend 2 things to out of towners. One is the Bainbridge Ferry - shortish frequent trips, fun shops, and a killer view of Seattle on the return. The second is the Underground Tour. Unique to Seattle. http://www.undergroundtour.com/ Haven't had a complaint yet.

Both the Fremont and Ballard Markets are on Sunday. I generally go to the Ballard Market, as it's more convenient by bus for me. But, the for sheer funkiness, Fremont is the place to go. Too bad you'l miss the Solstice Parade - because that is lit!

The Mariners will be out of town.

Also, if it's your thing, the Seattle Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill is reopened.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
625 posts

Will confirm that for this Texan from where it’s dry, taking the seaplane back from Victoria to Vancouver was completely worth it. I took a whale watching trip from Vancouver to Victoria. I also loved the QE Park Gardens - I wound up there as an escape from Granville Island, which was full of people and shops (neither of which are at the top of my list of fun). In Victoria I enjoyed the short free tour of the B.C. Legislative Assembly.

Posted by
345 posts

As a life-long Seattle resident since 2007, I am well versed on the many fine attractions the Emerald City has to offer -- especially, how shall we say, the "wetter" ones. If you're anything like me, and if you are I apologize, you'll want to relax and just take a moment to drink in the city. And by that, I literally mean DRINK in the city. Seattle takes drinking seriously. For nine months of the year, we endure claustrophobic gray skies and the only thing standing between most of us and a brief stroll off the Colman ferry dock into the Salish Sea is booze.

"But Mike," you say, "I am currently sober; wherefor shall I cure this wretched condition?"

Glad you asked! Come, take my hand, and let us travel unsteadily to some of the many fine establishments that make life in Seattle tolerable for a few hours at a time:

FREMONT:

Called "The Center of the Universe" by the Tourist Board and "The place to make bad life choices" by the locals, Fremont offers scores of fun attractions, all of which you'll want to walk quickly past on your way to BROUWER'S. Oh sure, there's other places to pull up a stool: Red Star Tacos offers a selection of tasty and cheap tacos and enough mezcal and tequila to qualify as a displaced Mexican state; Nectar is fun for a show and a dozen cheap tallboys of Rainier; Fremont Brewery is always packed full of people who don't understand that the IPA craze ended in 2016 -- there's plenty of locales to get stumbly in Fremont, but none of them are Brouwer's. Brouwer's likes good beer, and they like people who like good beer, and to that end they do not screw around. They bring the quality and you bring the cash. It's a fair exchange. A choice of 64 amazing brews awaits you and your delicious money. They specialize in Belgian beer and amazing Belgian food; the Manikin Pis is right inside their enormous front door. Settle into a booth, stare with awe and amazement at the beer list, then get to work. If you're "lucky", you'll arrive during the Hard Liver festival, a celebration of Barley Wine that leaves many a seasoned drinker whimpering in the corner. It's not for the weak of mild-tempered, but we in Seattle LIKE it that way. nb: according to Brouwer's website, "Feats of Strength" are forbidden, but I've never seen that rule actually enforced.

BALLARD:

Labeled "Hip" and "Trendy" and other nausea-inducing things, Ballard is a little like a version of Fremont that's full of itself. Lots of places to eat, but the highlight of any visit to the 'lard is a stop in at Macleod's. What Brouwer's is to Belgium, Macleod's is to Scotland. By now, I'm sure you're tired of being weighed down by all that excess money you're carrying. Fret not, because Macleaod's is going to ease your burden. A wee dram here and a wee dram there and suddenly the three-figure bar bill won't seem so shocking. Cheaper than a flight to Aberdeen, at any rate.

QUEEN ANNE:

This used to be the Gay Capital of Seattle, then people like me moved in and screwed it up for everyone. Atop twee Queen Anne Hill (QAH), you'll find the oddly-named How to Cook a Wolf, which would be more aptly named How To Empty Your Wallet. There's also the friendly pub called 'Hilltop Ale House', which you're going to walk directly passed to arrive at Oaxaca. Grab a seat in the back. Order the goat and the carne asada tacos. Make sure to get some chips and guac, too. Order a Mezcalrita. Order a mezcal flight. Order a few of their authentic Oaxacan cocktails. Order an Uber to get back to your hotel if you can still remember where it is. Better than going to Mexico because the worst thing that can happen to you on QAH is almost getting run over in the crosswalk by some techie driving an Audi Entitlement Wagon.

CAP HILL:

The Land That Parking Forgot. Seriously, don't even try to drive a car there.

BELLTOWN:

BAHAHAHAAHAHAAH! Yeah, no chance.

And there you have it: a free tour of Seattle's finest booze-a-toriums. That'll be $20, please.

Posted by
6135 posts

Last time I was in Seattle a few years ago, I came off the Clipper Ferry from Victoria. I first stopped at the Olympic Sculpture Park which was a very quick walk from the pier. Then I hoofed it with a carryon up the hill to my hotel, which I would highly recommend - it was the MarQueen Hotel in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Great calf exercise walking uphill. An even more uphill and rewarding walk north of the hotel was to the Kerry Park, which had a fantastic view of Seattle (highly recommended, but it is a very steep hill).

Around the corner from the MarQueen Hotel, there was a bus stop for the Line D Rapid Transit Bus to Ballard, and the buses came every 10 minutes. So it was super easy to get to Ballard from there, as well as the Space Needle and Chihuly Glass Museum (10-15 minutes by foot). Also easy to access to the (short) monorail and them light rail back to the airport from that location. I never made it to downtown, Pike Place, etc.

There is a great visitor guide to Seattle online, so check it out: https://visitseattle.org/visitor-information/visitors-packet/
I still get their e-newsletters every month or so, and I always feel like I want to go back to Seattle. I had a great time, not to mention the amazing food and coffee (and of course alcoholic refreshments).

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks again for all the great advice. I'm still processing it. This weekend, I plan to book my inter-city travel plans. That will at least give me some structure. Based on my continued research, it feels like I'll shift a bit of my Seattle time to Vancouver.

By the way, is anyone aware of Google Maps "walking tours" for any of the cities? This was really helpful for my Europe trips, and seems like it would come in handy for the neighborhoods in Vancouver and Seattle . Here's a Seattle one someone shared on another forum, suggesting how to combine Pike Place / Pioneer Square / Ferry. Not sure if they created it on the fly, or had seen it posted elsewhere.

Posted by
102 posts

Here's a Seattle one someone shared on another forum, suggesting how to combine Pike Place / Pioneer Square / Ferry.

It's fine for the waterfront part, and for part of 1st Avenue, but when you get to 1st & Cherry, after you see the Pergola, and Doc Maynards (Where the Undergound Tour Starts), walk one more block, cross the street, then turn up Washington and go through Occidental Square to up to Jackson. There are lots of gallerys, shops and restaurants on Occidental. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is in the area, Caffe Umbria (very good coffee). Then you can go down Jackson, to 1st, and turn back up to Yesler and get back on the waterfront track.

Posted by
6096 posts

Not sure I would bother going on 1st Ave, but otherwise seems OK.

Just stick to Alaskan Way

Posted by
327 posts

Was in Victoria and Vancouver last September for a few days. First time, we loved it. Just a couple of observations to add to the points made above. Really enjoyed Grouse Mountain trip, and Capilano - so glad we included these. We enjoyed Butchart, we went there en route to catch the ferry to Vancouver, but don't know if I'd have made it a must see if we were short of time.

Was surprised by Victoria, didn't know much about it, but lovely to walk around - and some terrific restaurants in the evenings. We did an afternoon whale watching trip, great fun. Went into the Royal BC Museum in the morning, they have an IMAX cinema which showed some terrific wildlife films.

While in Vancouver we went to the Fly Over Canada attraction at Canada Place - which was a huge highlight for us - so much so we went again the next morning …..

Katy

Posted by
18 posts

I go into Seattle on business at least once a month, and up to Vancouver several times a year. I see a lot of good advice here already. Here's what I'd add:
Victoria: downtown is fairly small and very walkable. The Royal BC Museum was a must-see, and my fiancee loved Miniature World. We both liked Craigdarroch Castle, although it is a bit out of the way. Butchart Gardens are far better than anything comparable in Vancouver. I've developed a taste for Rogers' Chocolates and highly recommend you give them a try.
Vancouver: I know Lynn Canyon is free and Capilano is like $50+, but it is much nicer and well-developed. It doesn't seem like you'll have a car in Vancouver, so I'd factor in the cost of an Uber (Lyft won't go there) to Lynn Canyon with the free Capilano shuttle from downtown. too. Stanley Park is much bigger than it appears, and the shoreline is long: you may want to cherry-pick a few spots (I'd say the totem poles, Lions Gate bridge view, and down near English Bay Park). Granville Island is much smaller than it appears, besides the Public Market, a lot of the outer buildings are somewhat tacky tourist-trap shops, and take the water taxi there. Robson St is the commercial center, but I like Kitsilano if you can get there. Gastown is touristy, Chinatown is very authentic, but don't head too far east. The corner of Main and Hastings can be shocking and sad. Steveston is nice but not unforgettable, and certainly not worth diverting a lot of your time for.
Friday morning border crossing for cars isn't usually that bad. If you stick with the train, the view near Chuckanut Bay is great (sit on the right side).
Seattle: I always liked Pike Place more in the morning, and if it's not overcast, go ahead and take a trip on the Great Wheel. If you like to shop/eat in neighborhoods, then Mike Beebe's list above has the primary Seattle 'hoods, all away from downtown. I suppose if you're at the Ballard Market, you can look at the locks, but they're really not that impressive. I find the view from Montlake on the east side far nicer. I don't think the homeless problem here is that much worse than downtown Atlanta, although it's worth being careful when you combine it with late-night drunks near Pioneer Square.
People are up early here. Monday from Seattle to the airport can be slow and dicey, even extremely early.
Enjoy your stay here!