As our official transition into empty nester status draws near, my husband and I find our time with our kids ever more precious. The most special time is when all 5 of us can be together. This past week we were able to squeeze in a 9-day trip to the Pacific Northwest. This was no easy feat, with 3 different departure cities and 5 sometimes-conflicting schedules. However, it was so worth the planning to be able to have a “grown-up” adventure with our own now-adult children. Here are some pictures and descriptions of our itinerary, along with some additional tips for what to do if you have more time in any or all of these locations.
We started and ended our trip in the Emerald City, with a total of 2.5 days to explore. We hit the highlights – Pike Place Market, the Space Needle (although we didn’t go up), Olympic Sculpture Park, Pioneer Square, University of Washington, Lake Union, and Chihuly Glassworks and Gardens. Sarah and I also enjoyed the tasting room of the Browne Family Vineyards. If we had had more time, I would have liked to try more restaurants and museums and maybe revisit the aquarium that we haven’t seen in 25 years. We also wish we could have ventured out on the ferry to see Whidbey or Bainbridge Island and taken a day trip to Mt. Ranier.
We did a round-trip car rental, with our first stop after Seattle being Vancouver, BC. Although it felt like a bit of a throwback to be driving around in a minivan, the convenience could not be beat, and we had plenty of passenger and cargo space for 5 adults.
Our 2 nights in Vancouver allowed us to explore the city using various modes of transportation – water taxi, bikes, buses, and of course foot power. We experienced the annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival at a Beatles-themed production of “As You Like It,” set in 1960s Vancouver. We had Japanese dinner in Gastown, explored Granville Island, and biked along the Seawall in Stanley Park. We also ventured north on Canada Hwy 101 to Squamish and rode the Sea to Sky Gondola up to the suspension bridge and overlook. The highlight at the top of the gondola was a via ferrata experience, where we clipped in to the side of the mountain and climbed up and across iron ladders and bridges. If you’re adventurous, this is not to be missed!
With more time in Vancouver, we would have liked to explore:
We took an evening ferry from Vancouver to Victoria (Vancouver Island), stopping along the way at Country Vines winery in Richmond. In Victoria, we stayed close to the city, enjoying a whale watching sunset cruise (very different from our sunset cruise last year at this time in Santorini!), a seaplane ride over the harbor and the east part of the island, a tour of the “Government House,” the residence of British Columbia’s Lieutenant-Governor (representative to the Crown), and a visit to a small vineyard and winery in nearby Saanich. With more time on Vancouver Island, we would have liked to:
We satisfied our national parks wanderlust by spending a few nights on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. We took the ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA and enjoyed a stay in a home just outside of Olympic National Park. We visited Sol Duc and Lake Crescent, hiking through rainforests to beautiful waterfalls, and hiked up Hurricane Ridge for a beautiful view over the Strait of San Juan on one side and Mt. Olympus on the other. We could have spent several more days in ONP, where we would have loved to make our way to the west side of the peninsula to Hoh Rainforest and the beaches along the west and south coasts.
Overall, this trip was a great combination of nature experiences and exploring big cities. We got the best of both worlds in our circuit around the PNW, and can’t wait to return for more!
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