Two adults, two dogs, two weeks, one car in the PNW:what destination(s)?
May 17, 2024 3:55 PM   Subscribe

If you had less than two months to plan a two-week roadtrip departing from Portland, what would you do? Help two bad planners make a plan!

We have the first two weeks of July marked off for vacation and have managed to make it to May 17 with zero plan. Original idea was western Montana: Missoula/Flathead/maybe as far as Glacier. Also talked about going north to the Sunshine Coast, or maybe Vancouver Island for the second time. Idaho? Eastern Washington/Oregon? Open to all sorts of suggestions; The main issue is we’re waaaaay late planning and stuff is booked up due to it being a major vacation time in the U.S.! Where would you go?

-dog-friendly or at least -tolerant; we can leave the dogs in a (cooled, safe) vehicle to do national park attractions, or crated in a rental/motel, but tend to take them
with us.
-Beautiful scenery!
-Accessible outdoorsy stuff (moderate hikes, flat water kayaking, gentle bike rides, nothing intense or death-defying).
-I need a night in a bed with access to a shower for every two nights of camping.
-I love a cute little shopping area, vintage/antique stores, fun local restaurants, etc. Partner loves boats, trains, mountain vistas. Both of us are down for museum visits and roadside attractions.

Know of any less-crowded western destinations that might still have some campsites/rentals open? Secret magical cabin that just happens to be available? Dude ranch? Farm stay? Treehouse?
posted by adastra to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We have gone to Gabriola Island (near Vancouver Island, take the ferry over from Nanaimo) a couple of times and loved it. It’s gorgeous, not overly crowded, laid-back but there’s plenty to do and some really tasty restaurants. You can rent kayaks and kayak around the island, highly recommend doing that. We were able to take our dog on the kayak with us.

Some places we have stayed with our dog:
Surf Lodge (cabins are pet friendly)
Page’s Inn on Silva Bay, not to be confused with the Silva Bay Resort down the road (owned by the same people I think, but closed indefinitely for renovations)

Remember Canada Day is July 1 so the ferries will be nuts that weekend. But come July 2 it should be fine. So you might want to do the US part of your trip first and then the Canada trip, which helps you avoid the national holiday long weekend crowds in each place.

I can see the prices have gone up since we were there, but you’ve got the strength of the American dollar on your side so it might not be that bad for you.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:46 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Hmm, I said July 2 should be fine but forgot everyone’s going to be going home on July 2. July 3 should be OK though.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:57 AM on May 18

If you're coming up from Portland, I would go up the west side of the Sound towards Port Townsend, with stops perhaps along the Hood Canal (Hamma Hamma has great fresh oysters and other stuff), in some of the neat little towns in those parts, and maybe going west towards Port Angeles or Sequim, where you can go out on Dungeness. Just inland of all these places are countless hikes and lakes in the Olympic National Park.

Then you can go from PT (stay a night or two - very cute, go to the Siren and the antique mall, and there's a great breakfast place on the north pier) to Whidbey Island and drive north to Anacortes, where you can catch a ferry to the San Juans - check ahead but there is probably still plenty of walk-up camping there, and lots of little inns and bnbs. I'm only really familiar with Orcas, but Cascade lake and Mt Constitution are a great base. Good food in East Sound. You can reserve car spots on the ferries 2 days in advance but it's pretty competitive - check into that too. There are drive-up spots but you should arrive early.

From there you can head back east through the north or central Cascades, depending on what you feel like, I like Index but it's very tiny, there are larger towns you can stop over in on your way past Mt Baker. Then you can loop back south, either above or below Mt Rainier, maybe stop by Sunrise or Paradise on your way back west, there are tons of camping sites along there and lodges/cabins. I love Wellspring resort, just west of Paradise, but it may be booked up - there are more around there though.

That would make for a very full week or a relaxed two weeks I would say. You get the sound, the ocean, the mountains, and even a taste of the east side, and it's beautiful the whole way.

Have fun! I love all these places.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:53 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

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