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Washington State in Summer 2020?

Hello, our elaborately planned vacation for the last week of June, described here, went up in flames.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/beyond-europe/victoria-vancouver-seattle-itinerary

But since we bought separate one-way tickets (i.e., not round-trip), we still have homebound flights from Seattle. Now, we're trying to decide if it's worth buying one-way tickets to Seattle, or maybe Portland, and salvaging what we can (since getting airline credit looks iffy).

I found some great discussion about ONP here, and am also curious about other parts of the state.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/beyond-europe/olympic-national-park

I realize that Washington may be one of the slowest states to re-open, and have gotten serious "please don't come here" vibes from other travel forums (especially re: the OP and San Juan Islands). And if that's the truth, I respect that. We don't want to vacation where we're not welcome.

But if anyone can offer suggestions for enjoying your beautiful state while socially distancing, I'm all ears. We'd also consider flying into a different airport and then home from SEA. Spending more than a day in Seattle seems stressful, but we have a very open mind--whether it's driving a big loop around the area, or staying put in a rural area. I'd say the only thing off the table is camping out--but otherwise, we'll take whatever we can get!

Posted by
8155 posts

I think that tourists that act responsibly will be welcomed on the Olympic Peninsula. This means doing social distancing and wearing masks when in a crowd or inside a store or building. Our usual biggest headache from tourists is the way that they drive, with little or no common sense about 2 lane highways. This year, it will simply be that they act in a responsible manner when in public.

I think you can have a great vacation in Washington State as long as you are willing to accept that not everything will be open or there may be some limits. You may want to have a list of activities for each day and then some alternates in case you find something closed.

Another factor will be your comfort level with being out and about. I hope you are able to salvage some of your trip!!

Posted by
10876 posts

With the stringent measures imposed by the governor, Seattle and the surrounding counties are unlikely to have anything but take out food and grocery stores open until at least August. Tourist amenities ....? Minimal at best.

The border to Canada will be closed through June.

Using SEA as your return departure point should work well. Passenger traffic is 10-15% of normal
Spending time on the Oregon coast may be the best of the few options you may have.

Good Luck

Posted by
119 posts

Washington is reopening in phases. Permission to move to the next phase is made on a county by county basis and permission is based on meeting several criteria (infection rate, testing etc.). King County (Seattle) and the neighboring counties will likely be the last to reopen. Here is a link that might help.

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start

Posted by
99 posts

My brother and his family live on the OP. I have a 2nd home there that I usually spend 3-4 weeks every summer enjoying. Brother keeps telling me “please don’t come” (as recently as yesterday) whenever I’ve broached the subject of flying out there next month. In his county/area, they’re still in phase 1. Seems there was an outbreak of infections at a nearby retirement home which delayed moving to phase 2. If you do visit, be aware that each area you travel into might be in different phases of opening so services will be inconsistent.

Posted by
302 posts

You could even consider flying into northern or southern CA ( not sure how long you have) and drive up the coast along 101, avoiding the larger cities altogether. A question is hotel availability along the way and, do you 'trust' staying in hotels, yet? Reopening in OR and WA is county by county with 3 weeks in between the phases. Should there be an uptick in Covid19 cases somewhere that county might have to revert to the previous phase- maybe in the middle of your trip. The gorgeous coastline will be there regardless, but services ( rest areas, hotels, park access) might be limited or even closed.
The " not being welcome" is an interesting new twist on the usual "how can I avoid looking like an American tourist overseas"! How would "we" know where you are from?! Anyway, nothing is the same, including the regional differences in reopening. My daughter and SIL are in Atlanta, masked and sequestered since March. I don't know when we can see each other again...

Posted by
5835 posts

If you choose to travel to the west coast in June, things will still be far from normal. If you could reschedule your June flight consider a fall trip to the west coast.

The west coast states are "reopening" in phases. Oregon's Multnomah County which includes Portland has not applied for reopening and the Portland metro area Washington County just applied for Phase 1 reopening last week. Phase 1 in Oregon includes a number of restrictions including:

Restaurants and bars for sit-down service: Requirements include 6 feet
of social distancing; a limit of groups to parties of 10 or fewer;
food and drink consumption must end by 10 p.m.; and workers are
required to wear masks. See more details on the requirements

In-person gatherings: Up to 25 people, no travel

Other standalone retail businesses across the state, such as furniture
stores, art galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques, will be allowed to
open beginning May 15, if they follow specific guidelines.

Counties approved for Phase 1 must remain in that phase for a minimum
of 21 days before they’re eligible to begin Phase 2. In addition, if
any counties, once they’ve entered Phase 1, begin to show significant
increases in COVID-19 cases or community spread, they may have to move
from Phase 1 back to a stay-home order.

Posted by
3134 posts

Edgar, the OP did not ask for covid information. I do wish people would not post covid information unless it is asked for. Even the webmaster says we need to focus on the OP’s question. The forum is no fun when people keep referring to covid information. I for one would like to come here for travel information, not virus information.

Posted by
8155 posts

Tammy, I completely understand why Edgar shared what he did. Each part of our country seems to have a different way of loosening restrictions. I think he was wanting to make sure that the OP had a clear idea of what some of the limits might be on his travel experience. Since the OP is looking at traveling soon, information like this could be quite useful.

I agree that Covid-19 should not be the focus of this forum, but it has become an element of any travel that we plan. That is reality.

Posted by
70 posts

We've decided that WA is not a viable option (except to depart from SEA, if even that). Thanks for everyone's advice.

We're now looking into OR instead. Perhaps we'll stay coastal, flying into Medford or Eugene out of SEA. Or, maybe we'll fly into PDX, do a loop within OR, and then fly out of SEA (if we can't change our return ticket to PDX).

We'll have 7 days, not including our travel days.

Posted by
850 posts

WA is opening up, and 30 days from now I expect things will be a lot more "back to normal". Certainly a lot of the trails and rural attractions seem to be open. Friends have, in the past couple weeks, told me of their hikes along the coast in the Hoa Rainforest, Cresent Lake, and Nisqually Wildlife Preserve. Visitor centers are closed though. If you do go to Portland and out via SEATAC I'd look very closely at visiting Mt St Helens.

Posted by
8329 posts

Is the Oregon coast open? Beaches? Can non-residents fly into PDX if you don't stay in Portland? I've had a difficult time finding good info on this.

Posted by
5835 posts

While I would love to have you visit Medford and Southern Oregon, be aware that airlines and air travel has been drastically impacted by the coronavirus. It's a fact of life that is changing by the week. Medford (MFR) flight schedules have been drastically reduced.
https://mailtribune.com/news/top-stories/medford-airport-passengers-down-by-half

Medford airport passengers down by half by Tony Boom for the Mail
Tribune Tuesday, April 14th 2020

Nationally the five carriers that serve Medford have reduced their
flights by about 80%, so Medford is doing better than a lot of
markets, said Smith.

The Portland International Airport is among those that have seen total
flights slashed by 80%, the Oregonian reported this week.

At the Medford airport, United Express, Alaska, Delta, American Eagle
and Allegiant provide flights to and from nine destinations. In March,
prior to the reductions, the airport was hitting 171 weekly
departures. The first week of April saw 92 departures, Smith said.

Our tourist businesses are starting to open and welcome visitors with the Phase 1 reopening limitations. The good news is our rural southern coastal areas have experienced very few COVID-19 cases. But attractions like Oregon's national park, Crater Lake, is still closed as of today. See: https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/mayjune.htm

And normally Crater Lake Park roads are not completely plowed with limited access to to the rim

If you do decide to travel to Oregon, I'm sure that you would be a welcome.

Posted by
759 posts

Edgar- thank you for your posts- they are very appropriate! While this is not a “Covid” forum Covid information that directly impacts travel in a region is critical travel information just as strike information for Paris was last fall.

The key for the OP is to advance plan and CALL. I have a friend with property near the Oregon coast. He thought of driving up from Southern California. He called his usual 1/2 way there hotel and was told “sorry” they are only taking truckers and medical personnel. Do not assume that “open” means open. You need to have a specific plan and call ahead to confirm a reservation and room availability.

Posted by
5835 posts

onefastbob,

Yes, even if a forum poster does not ask for coronavirus information, travelers in today's travel environment are affected by the pandemic.

A case in point was the May 23rd Eurowings flight that departed Düsseldorf to Sardinia, Italy without checking the status of the Italian airport. Eurowings made a mistake in not checking to see if the Italian airport was open to passenger flights. It wasn't and after circling, returned their passengers back to Germany. The Eurowings flight to Italy was a new definition of "nonstop".

So yes, check ahead before traveling and be aware that the situation is still fluid.

Posted by
8155 posts

The decisions about where and when to travel have now become decisions about risk. How much perceived health risk is there in going to a location and what is the risk that the tourist experience will be lower due to closures.

One location may have a lower perceived health risk and fewer tourists options. Another location may have more tourist options but a higher perceived health risk. Each individual will need to do a risk assessment and decide for him/herself.

Posted by
302 posts

I think all the Covid info is an essential part of the new reality for planning and if you do go, know it might not be as planned whether you
1. plan for your trip to a destination that is literally business as usual and your risk tolerance for your health allows that, with the potential that by the time you arrive restrictions have been again put in place with a spike in active cases or
2. plan for your trip to a destination with phased reopening, first carefully checking that you can access what you want to see and do- with the understanding that by the time of your arrival one or more of the destinations might be back to a previous phase.
The new normal is that we can't plan as we once did. I can tell you everything is open now, but 3 weeks from now? Who knows...

Posted by
19 posts

If you’re still looking for info about the OP, we’re in Phase 2 and hoping to be in Phase 3 by the end of the month. That means restaurants are opening up, as are hotels, all with limited capacity. Most businesses request you wear a face covering. The state is opening up trails for day use, so you could go hiking, and the waterfalls are really spectacular just now. The coast is always beautiful, and social distancing is a cinch in the parks. Hope you enjoy your visit!

Posted by
1892 posts

KGC--the Hoh just reopened about 4 days ago.

Anyway, while we are reopening here, it is still very much a time to be cautious, IMO. There are still a lot of places on the Olympic Peninsula that are closed. Cape Flattery, Shi Shi etc. The Makah Tribe owns a lot of the land and they are not open to nontribal members.

I have heard local radio ads from the San Juans specifically asking people to not come.

We love to hike, but are not out as much as normal because many trailheads are absolutely mobbed. We have been going to lesser known places to avoid any crowds.

I personally think this summer it is best to stay close to home.

Posted by
40 posts

Hi from the Olympic Peninsula. I just heard that the governor is not granting any "phase increases" to any county in the state of Washington. Yes, Jefferson and Clallam counties applied for Phase 3. They were denied due to the increase of Covid 19 cases that are now increasing in our counties. So, for all you travelers who are wanting to visit the Olympic Peninsula, Please stay home. Wait until we have a vaccine.

Posted by
1321 posts

I'm with Becky - especially if you are visiting from a RED HOT CV19 state like GA...please stay home