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San Francisco to Vancouver Road Trip
Old 12-11-2012, 12:57 PM   #1
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San Francisco to Vancouver Road Trip

DW and I are thinking about taking our first real vacation in about 12 years - a vacation just for the two of us with no attached business or family obligation.

We would like to take a 2-week road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver with stops in Portland and Seattle.

We are looking for suggestions regarding possible points of interests along the way as well as the ideal time of year for such a trip.

Also, I would like to keep driving days pretty short. Any interesting places to overnight between SF and Portland?
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:46 PM   #2
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We came into Portland from the east so I can't advise on any side trips from SF, but Portland to Seattle is quite short so we took a trip to Mt St Helen's which was well worth it. There is a visitor and interpretive center close to the main north/south highway plus a board-walk short walk you can take to get some excellent views of the mountain. We were there too early in the season for the road up the mountain to be open otherwise we would have gone up.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mounts...telprdb5160336
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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Also, I would like to keep driving days pretty short. Any interesting places to overnight between SF and Portland?
Ashland is best, I'd say. But the Siskyous can be a real pain that time of year. Some of those passes can be very snowly and unpleasant. Actually to go north out of SF in mid to late December seems like it may not be your best plan for pleasure.

If I were hell bent on making this trip, I'd fly to Portland, check into tour buses to Seattle and Vancouver, and plan on a cozy mainly indoor vacation.

I've lived right out on the WA coast, and had lots of fun outdoors, but you need gear and the right mindset. Even the roads can be quite challenging.

pm me if you have specific questions

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Old 12-11-2012, 01:55 PM   #4
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Ashland is best, I'd say. But the Siskyous can be a real pain that time of year. Some of those passes can be very snowly and unpleasant. Actually to go north out of SF in mid to late December seems like it may not be your best plan for pleasure.

If I were hell bent on making this trip, I'd fly to Portland, check into tour buses to Seattle and Vancouver, and plan on a cozy mainly indoor vacation.

I've lived right out on the WA coast, and had lots of fun outdoors, but you need gear and the right mindset. Even the roads can be quite challenging.

pm me if you have specific questions

Ha
Thanks Ha. We were thinking about going in May-June 2013 or later actually - I should have been more precise in my OP. Hopefully snow won't be a problem anymore.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:55 PM   #5
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DW and I are thinking about taking our first real vacation in about 12 years - a vacation just for the two of us with no attached business or family obligation.

We would like to take a 2-week road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver with stops in Portland and Seattle.

We are looking for suggestions regarding possible points of interests along the way as well as the ideal time of year for such a trip.

Also, I would like to keep driving days pretty short. Any interesting places to overnight between SF and Portland?

First night at Manka's in Inverness. Keep an eye out for Ewoks. <G>

For me it depends a lot on whether dirt roads are acceptable. Late spring on the 2 lane northern coastal roads is stunning.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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We drove from Seattle to Napa, CA. Left Seattle, headed out to the Olympic Peninsula. Drove along the coast, about 1/2 way down Oregon. If you have never seen the Oregon coast it is well worth it. We then headed over to Crater Lake, it was great. This year we flew into Seattle, headed south and visited Mt. Rainer and Mt. St Helens. They are close together and worth the time. We also stayed in Portland, took the city tour and had a doughnut at VooDoo doughnuts. Portland was alright.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:41 PM   #7
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If you like wine, both northern CA and eastern WA (a bit of a detour but very interesting scenery) have outstanding wineries. I personally prefer Sonoma to Napa.

Concur on the Oregon coast. We stayed in Cannon Beach in mid-May and enjoyed it very much. Very nice state park just north of town also.

Ditto for Mt. St. Helens. The road was open in mid-May but the visitor center wasn't opening for a few days yet so we missed that. I think early June would be better for that visit.

We also went to Vancouver (on a separate trip) and it's a wonderful city.

Don't miss the Voodoo donuts in Portland :-)

Have fun planning the trip - that's half the fun anyway!
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:44 PM   #8
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First on the weather. I like to look at the annual rainfall and temps on weather.com. You can access it by going to monthly for the city, then click on Averages. Here is a link for Seattle: Average Weather for Seattle, WA - Temperature and Precipitation

Ashland and Cannon Beach, we liked them too. In Ashland there is a very nice park called Lethia Park (I think) and I seem to recall it has nice displays of rhododendrons in the spring. We liked the Black Swan which serves very reasonable British style pub grub. It's right on the edge of the park and near all the theaters for live performances. There is also a nice backstage tour that is well worth taking of the Shakespeare theaters.

There is lots to do in Portland. I'd check out a tour book such as Fodor's which you can probably get at the library.

Tacoma has a neat glass museum with a discussion of how they do the stuff. You could cross over on the ferry with your car to Vancouver Island and see the neat museums in Victoria. Victoria is a nice tourist destination and there are also the huge Buchart Gardens (worth a day at least IMO).

Lots to do in Seattle and I'd again consult a tour book. Last time we were in Vancouver we found it very crowded. Maybe things have gotten better, hope so.

We live in Sonoma County and there are plenty of things here but if you are coming from SF, I'd skip it and do that some weekend from SF.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:00 PM   #9
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A long time age, but I enjoyed the Seattle - Bremerton Ferry ride. and a visit to Boeing... can't remember which plant.

I was in Bellevue for 10 days setting up a new operation. Can remember rain 24/7 except for sun on last day. 1984?
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
DW and I are thinking about taking our first real vacation in about 12 years - a vacation just for the two of us with no attached business or family obligation.

We would like to take a 2-week road trip from San Francisco to Vancouver with stops in Portland and Seattle.

We are looking for suggestions regarding possible points of interests along the way as well as the ideal time of year for such a trip.

Also, I would like to keep driving days pretty short. Any interesting places to overnight between SF and Portland?
Mount St. Helens observatory is worth a day trip from I-5. It's worth the drive out there.

We really enjoyed the Japanese Garden in Portland.

If you brave downtown Seattle, don't miss Elliot's Oyster House on the waterfront (if you like oysters).

If you are going up 101 from SF, I loved the Trinidad area and the Redwoods north of Eureka, CA, and Oregon has tons of cool towns along the coast - hard to miss in Oregon - super scenic driving.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:04 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I am starting to see a few recurring recommendations! Ashland, Mt. St. Helen, Oregon coast / Cannon Beach, Voodoo donuts...

I've heard that Portland has a lot of microbreweries. Any recommendation?
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #12
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I've heard that Portland has a lot of microbreweries. Any recommendation?
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:10 PM   #13
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If you are going up 101 from SF, I loved the Trinidad area and the Redwoods north of Eureka, CA, and Oregon has tons of cool towns along the coast - hard to miss in Oregon - super scenic driving.
Ideally, I would like to take the 101 one way and I-5 the other way. But the coastal highway can get pretty twisty and DW enjoys that only in moderation.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:37 PM   #14
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In Vancouver, the False Creek area is quite dramatic as it has been developed over about 20yrs on the old Exposition site. Lots of urban waterfront walks, a passenger ferry across the creek to Granville island gets you to craft and boutique stores [& beer]. also nearby is the Yaletown [like Portland's Pearl district], lots of good restarants, etc.

Stanley Park is beautiful and big, and shows that unique Canadian wisdom of setting aside things for the future.

Floatplane services can take you into the Gulf Islands for a day or two, etc.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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Ideally, I would like to take the 101 one way and I-5 the other way. But the coastal highway can get pretty twisty and DW enjoys that only in moderation.
You likely are already very familiar with California 1 between SF and the junction with 101 in Mendocino county. Coming south toward SF your passenger really gets some looks down on the Pacific. IMO, it's tied with California 1 south from San Francisco as America's most scenic roads.

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Old 12-11-2012, 04:44 PM   #16
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Ideally, I would like to take the 101 one way and I-5 the other way. But the coastal highway can get pretty twisty and DW enjoys that only in moderation.
Well, I drove it in a motorhome, and it wasn't that bad - most of the curves were gradual. Not nearly as bad as driving through the mountains between I5 and 101.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:46 PM   #17
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Not sure how long you will be in Seattle but I lived there for a long time and have a list I used to send visitors. If you Private email me, I will send to you.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:46 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I am starting to see a few recurring recommendations! Ashland, Mt. St. Helen, Oregon coast / Cannon Beach, Voodoo donuts...

I've heard that Portland has a lot of microbreweries. Any recommendation?
Well, I headed straight for the restaurant operated by Deschutes Brewery, even thought the Brewery itself is in Bend Oregon. But I bet you can't miss. There are brewpubs all over Oregon.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:15 PM   #19
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Just off the top of my head, Newport Oregon is a really nice little coastal town. Also the home of Rogue Brewery, one of the best anywhere. Visit the brewery (they have a nice little restaurant inside), and also the original brewpub in town. Last time I was there they had 24 different Rogue brews on tap (some of which have never been available elsewhere). A couple of very interesting lighthouses to visit in Newport as well. I like the town because I've done a couple of marathons there.

+1 on the Deschutes location in Portland. One of my favorite breweries, and not a bad place to eat. I could go on about good beer places in the region for a long time, but if you have any interest in that, just take a look at The Beer Mapping Project for a good way to find them.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:20 PM   #20
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If you brave downtown Seattle, don't miss Elliot's Oyster House on the waterfront (if you like oysters).
Even if you don't, they do a really fantastic Cioppino.
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