Itinerary Help

Old Mar 28th, 2022, 06:49 AM
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Itinerary Help

Starting to plan a September trip (likely 6 full days) to Washington and would love help on how to route an itinerary to cover the things we'd like to see:

1. Seattle

2. A wine-focused area (top choice is Leavenworth)

3. San Juan Islands

4. Olympic NP or Rainer (top choice is Olympic)

I'm confusing myself trying to decide what route would make the most sense, any initial advice is appreciated!

alternatively, if the proposed itinerary is too much to cover in 6 full days, we are open to Rainier vs ONP since it’s closer, or cutting the wine stop. Possibly trying a day trip to Woodinville vs staying in Leavenworth for a night? In that case I’d be curious to know how you would route Seattle/San Juan/Rainer or Olympic if those are the three we stick with?
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 02:40 PM
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You have pm on TA about this
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 05:25 PM
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How long are you going to stay in Seattle?
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by aliceiii View Post
How long are you going to stay in Seattle?
hi, right now here’s what I’m considering so you can see how it’s broken up. Decided to keep it to just Rainier NP and San Juan Islands due to time.


Fly in to Seattle in evening, overnight by airport
Day 1 - pick up rental early, drive 2 hours to Anacortes, hour ferry to San Juan islands, half day + overnight SJI
Day 2 - full day SJI, overnight
Day 3 - depart SJI, afternoon + overnight in Seattle
Day 4 - depart Seattle early, head to Rainier NP, half day + overnight
Day 5 - full day RNP, overnight
Day 6 - full day RNP, overnight
Day 7 - Seattle day + overnight

Considering just Sunrise or Paradise in RNP, not sure I have time for both? Also thinking of flipping it to RNP first, break in Seattle, off to SJI, back to Seattle. So we can do the hiking stuff first then end with nicer food and drink at the end of the trip!


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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 06:20 PM
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As I just noted on the 'other travel forum' to me it seems a bit odd staying in Seattle 3 different times. The way you have it set up now you will need reservations at 5 different hotels/lodges for a 7 day trip.
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
As I just noted on the 'other travel forum' to me it seems a bit odd staying in Seattle 3 different times. The way you have it set up now you will need reservations at 5 different hotels/lodges for a 7 day trip.
that’s b/c two of the nights are simply to arrive late and fly out early from the airport, this really isn’t that unusual when you’re taking road trip but have to fly in and out of a major airport. we’ve done it countless times, it actually makes the road trip part much more relaxing b/c you’re not hopping in a car for hours after flying for hours.

like I said on TA, I think we’ll just bail on this trip for now and wait until we have unlimited vacation days when we’re retired



Last edited by sarahwitt3; Mar 28th, 2022 at 06:55 PM.
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 07:10 PM
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You hardly need "unlimited vacation days". No one has suggested anything like that. You just need a few more days or a few less places.

You could easily see Seattle and the San Juans in a week. Or Seattle and Mt Rainier. Or Seattle and ONP. It's trying to do so much, especialy when you don't want too long of a drive on any one day and need to use ferries for the islands, things just take a bit more time than you are allowing... to try and see all of them.

No one was trying to discourage you from coming, just trying to be realistic.

suze, in seattle
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 07:27 PM
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"Like I said on TA, I think we’ll just bail on this trip for now and wait until we have unlimited vacation days when we’re retired "

"No one was trying to discourage you from coming, just trying to be realistic."

Ditto what suze said. Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, why not plan an itinerary that actually fits into 7 days.
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Old Mar 28th, 2022, 07:35 PM
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There was was one of your earlier itineraries that used seaplane up to SJI after one night at an airport hotel. Then after a few nights on the islands, ferry back to Anacortes and get a rental car to drive to Mt Rainier. Back to the airport at the end. What happened to that idea?
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
There was was one of your earlier itineraries that used seaplane up to SJI after one night at an airport hotel. Then after a few nights on the islands, ferry back to Anacortes and get a rental car to drive to Mt Rainier. Back to the airport at the end. What happened to that idea?
was also told that car was absolutely needed on SJI to enjoy it over several days so didn’t think seaplane would work. Lots of conflicting information hence the confusion! Thanks everyone, we’ll come again another time when we have it!
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
"Like I said on TA, I think we’ll just bail on this trip for now and wait until we have unlimited vacation days when we’re retired "

"No one was trying to discourage you from coming, just trying to be realistic."

Ditto what suze said. Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, why not plan an itinerary that actually fits into 7 days.
thanks, that’s exactly why I was writing in here! You wouldn’t believe the itineraries I’ve seen saying you can day trip to SJI and Rainier in one day, here are tons! So we thought giving three to each place was good, hence the confusion. Also thousands of sample itirarirsxthat say covering all three national parks in 7 days is doable. Which I know is ridiculous! But you have to understand that as an unfamiliar traveler it’s hard to discern what’s realistic and what’s not after researching and seeing sooooo many sample itineraries online that say otherwise. That’s why I came to y’all asking for help We will have to throw it out for now and come back when we have more time - PNW is a long way for us just to do SJI *or* one national park.

I will admit that I still don’t quite get why both are only 2.5 hours from Seattle…and we’re spending 2.5 full (not travel) days in each location which to me seems like enough time to get a taste of each area…but y’all keep telling me it’s still not enough time so I’m taking your advice and certainly appreciated you sharing it! We’ll come back when we’re retired and not held hostage by limited vacation days. Thanks again!
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 08:32 AM
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I'm late to the party but would offer some comments, only if it's for future reference as you (re) plan your visit.

I think most of the comments you've reacted to, namely the "not enough time" ones really have to do with people's own tolerance for time on the road. Saying some place is "2 1/2 hours" from Seattle is very general and can be very circumstantial, or situational. Paradise on Mount Rainier can be 2 1/2 hours from town, but - on weekend especially - it can also be 3+ hours, or even more if there are big queues at the park entry booths, or you hit commuter traffic leaving the city.

Given the state ferry system has suffered from major staff shortages and equipment difficulties (mainly due to the pandemic) reduced services on runs like the San Juans service have taken what normally might be a 3-hour trip from Seattle (assuming things go badda-bing at the ferry terminal, with no long waits) into something that can be much longer.

So having these facts turn a "best case" scenario into a "worst case" or even a "likely case" one might make some travelers feel like the whole thing is too risky and that rescheduling the trip to a date when more time is available is a good idea. I can't argue with that at all.

Other factors have to do with the time of year. September is increasingly becoming a time when forest fires and wildfires can play havoc in the mountains, limiting access and casting a smoky pall over everything. The San Juans, always lovely, nevertheless can run short of fresh water in the late summer and early autumn, and normally green landscapes can (and do) turn brown surprisingly early.

Obviously, you can't control these factors, so one idea is to move away from a rigid plan to one that's more flexible, or at least to have various "plan B" options in mind. For example, in lieu of the San Juans you could choose Whidbey Island, which offers many of the same attractions as the San Juans but is accessible by car thus not vulnerable to glitches in the ferry system. And while Olympic NP does indeed merit more than a couple of days to experience, mainly because the main visitor targets are far from one another, with longish boring drives between them, if you pick Whidbey instead of the San Juans, you can easily gain half a day that could be allocated to Olympic NP.

For example, with six full days, something like this could easily be accomplished -

Day 1 - Seattle to Port Angeles, visit Hurricane Ridge, overnight PA. Use the Bainbridge Island ferry from Seattle - not bookable but frequent service.
Day 2 - PA to Hoh rain forest, overnight Forks
Day 3 - Forks to Rialto Beach, then to Port Townsend, overnight Port Townsend
Day 4 - Port Townsend to Whidbey Island via bookable ferry; balance of day in Coupeville area.
Day 5 - Whidbey Island, explore Langley, Fort Casey, etc., overnight back in Coupeville.
Day 6 - Coupeville to Seattle via Deception Pass

Map - https://goo.gl/maps/JjTZL64AjTbbfE4V8

Or, for a completely different part of the Pacific Northwest, but one that also meets most of your apparent goals, think about flying into Portland, Oregon, and spending your six days along the Columbia River, including a visit to Mount Hood and one to the coast near the (awesome) mouth of the great river. This would give you wonderful mountain and coastal scenery, the Hood River Valley in harvest mode, including wineries galore, the "fruit loop..." and tremendous variety. Google the places on the map.

Day 1 - Portland airport to Hood River, base Hood River for 3 nights.
Days 2-3 - Columbia River Gorge, Hood River Valley, Timberline Lodge (on Mount Hood,) Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge, etc. Include "waterfall zone" at some point.
Day 4 - Hood River to Ilwaco/Astoria/Cannon Beach via Columbia River north shore route (WA 4.) Tour Cape Disappointment en route
Day 5 - Coast area - Cape Disappointment, Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park (if open) and other coastal attractions
Day 6 - Coast back to Portland pre-departure.

Map - https://goo.gl/maps/zSLAnYT5FM2Yhr329

Again, just some thoughts.
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 08:38 AM
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=Gardyloo, this is an incredibly thoughtful and kind response, thank you so much for taking the time to offering up two reasonable itineraries for us to explore. It is greatly appreciated!
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 09:05 AM
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I was sad to see you removed your thread entirely from Trip Advisor Quite a few people there were working really hard yesterday to help you figure out how you could make this trip work in your given time frame.

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