Help me plan an awesome summer vacation
March 27, 2011 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan an amazing vacation to either Seattle/PNW or the Southwest?

My wife and are I trying to plan our early summer vacation. We are thinking of going to Seattle or exploring the Southwest. We are torn between both options. We will have about 5-7 days and a modest budget.

We like active vacations, dont mind driving and dont require posh lodging. We aren't the sit on the beach at a resort type, but we probably wouldnt want to spend 10 days backpacking either.

Some ideas so far include flying into Seattle, spending some time exploring the islands, and the city then take Amtrak's Empire builder east to Chicago. * Disclaimer - We went to Seattle/BC/Vancouver Island last yr. We loved it, but we only got to spend about 3 days in Seattle, but spent most of our time in the city.

For the Southwest, we were going to fly into Phoenix and drive northish, and go to Grand Canyon, Zion, and maybe SLC.
posted by burlsube to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Rent a car in Seattle and drive around the Olympic Mountains. Hiking, wild gorgeous coast, native cultures, and TWILIGHT. Break up the camping with some cheap motels so you don't get mossy.
posted by LarryC at 7:15 PM on March 27, 2011

If you're thinking the Pacific Northwest, I definitely recommend the San Juan Islands- they're very beautiful. I'd also recommend looking into Sol Duc hot springs, which has a "resort" with hot springs-fed pools, cabins and a restaurant, and hiking/sight seeing trails. And since it's in the Olympic National park, you can definitely see some really beautiful areas, including rainforests, mountains, and the ocean. If you're looking for more outside the city but less naturey, there's always the port towns, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and so on, which are more historical.

This is definitely not in the city of Seattle though-- it's a ferry and a drive from the city. In the city there are the typical touristy locations-- Space Needle, Pike St. Market, etc, which are fun but definitely not the insider way to go. A really fun way to see the Seattle culture is the Sunday markets, especially in the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods.

Are you looking for more outside the city, or more in Seattle? It sounds as though you've seen Seattle a little, so I wondered if you were thinking more along the lines of adventure outside Seattle itself.
posted by lockstitch at 7:16 PM on March 27, 2011

We went to Seattle/BC/Vancouver Island last yr.

Try going to Banff. It's so beautiful, it hurts to look at.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:32 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: @Lockstitch - We are would be interested in things outside of Seattle....
posted by burlsube at 7:33 PM on March 27, 2011

Consider that it will be hot in Phx and southern Utah. Maybe start in SLC and stay north.
posted by allelopath at 8:02 PM on March 27, 2011

Fly into Seattle, rent a car, head north. To Anacortes, where you catch the ferry to the San Juans. To Sedro Woolley, where you can head into the mountains. But go to Bellingham first. The key words in your question are "active vacation." Bellingham's what you're looking for.

Head up to Mt. Baker, home of snowboarding. Rent a couple of mountain bikes and head to Galbraith Mountain. Rent street bikes and ride into some of the most astonishing beautiful country anywhere. Rent canoes, kayaks, sailboats. The place is in the middle of more hiking trails than ... well, actually I can't think of an amusing simile. Lots of hiking trails, of all lengths and difficulties. When you're tired of the Outdoor Life, Bellingham as more coffee shop per capita than anywhere else (true). Plus we're littered with handcrafted breweries and wineries are springing up everywhere. It has a vibrant live music scene, and it's small enough that you can go to several places in one night. It's a college town, there's lots of cheap motels around the campus.

Early summer is the BEST time to come to the Pacific Northwest. The Southwest can heat up early (as I sweatily remember) but summer in the PNW is usually magnificent. And even if it isn't, it's only damp and gray. And we are the Raspberry Capital of the World. (also true) Ripe raspberries, everywhere, cheap and plentiful.

You can't swim in the ocean, and even lakes are dicey until later in the summer. Don't go looking for much in the way of art or theatre or fantastic bookstores or movie theaters. If you need a shot of that sort of thing, it's 20 minutes to the border and another 30 to Vancouver.

And the twilight lasts forever, light until after 10:30 -- magic.

Man, if I didn't live here I'd at least come and visit! (contact me if you want more details)
posted by kestralwing at 8:57 PM on March 27, 2011

I agree, the San Juan Islands are beautiful. While it's something of a drive, the Grove of the Patriarchs is also worth a visit: (really) old growth forest.

And if you are a Twin Peaks Fan, the series was filmed near Snoqualmie Pass and you could visit the locales (R&R Cafe, the Police Station, etc.) -- this is probably something for the very dedicated fan, but I loved it.
posted by Bearded Dave at 5:15 AM on March 28, 2011

That time of year in the Southwest is HOT, dusty and crowded. The national parks are all crowded and it is actually stressful to visit (for me at least). The lodging is usually pretty pricy as it is crowded. If you go I would do a high country tour, start in Albuquerque and see northen New Mexico/Southern Colorado. Or just enjoy the best time of year in the Pacific Northwest, and visit the Southwest in the monsoon season(august) or early winter/late fall (november).
posted by bartonlong at 12:02 PM on March 28, 2011

In Olympic National Park, you can visit "One Square Inch of Silence," the quietest place in the United States.

And don't leave the NW without eating as many huckleberries as possible.
posted by jardinier at 7:50 AM on March 29, 2011

« Older Windows machine with a Mac feature?   |   How to film my own Truman Show? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.