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Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Washington DC...
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Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Hi there,

We are an adventurous couple in our late 20s living on the East Coast and love spending our vacations doing road trips out west. We've always wanted to visit Washington state and figure our upcoming honeymoon the last week of August/first week of September is a great opportunity to see the state. We'll be there for 12 days, so we have a lot of time and don't want to spend it rushing around trying to cram too much in. For an itinerary, below is what I have so far, and I welcome any input. Again, we prefer choosing a few destinations over the course of those 10 days rather than trying to do to much, given that it's our honeymoon and we want it to be relaxing (which for us means fun hikes, whale watching, wine tastings, scenic drives, good restaurants, etc.)

Day 1: fly to seattle, stay overnight

Day 2: drive to mount rainier, stay for two nights

Day 4: drive to Leavenworth, stay for three nights (Labor Day Weekend)

Day 7 (Labor Day) drive to Olympic, stay near Olympic for 5 nights, do a day trip to Victoria and see other sites in and around Olympic

Last day: fly home

Leavenworth and Olympic are definite musts, but Rainier is debatable. We chose Rainier over the North Cascades because we haven't been able to find great accommodations near the North Cascades area, at least anything that would be romantic and nice for a honeymoon trip. The second week we will definitely be staying in Olympic, but the first week of our trip is up for debate in terms of the order of things. I'm worried about labor day weekend traffic and I'm not sure which would be a better area to stay that weekend - Leavenworth or Rainier, keeping in mind that we are driving towards Olympic afterward.

Any thoughts/recommendations? Any must-sees that I have left off? We are looking to do hiking, whale watching tours, kayaking, wine tastings, and any other fun activities!

Edited: 08 March 2012, 00:30
Seattle
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1. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Wow, where to start?

First, unless you are going to do some serious backbacking (as in up the rain forest valleys from the Pacific side) you don't need 5 days on the Olympic Peninsula. (BUT, if you are seasoned backpackers, you cannot beat the rain forest valleys - Queets, Quinalt, Hoh, etc.)

One night in Leavenworth is enough. Frankly, I'd plan to do it on your next visit. You are talking about a long drive there and back.

Do not drive anywhere you don't have to on the long weekend. Ditto the ferrys!

Strongly recommend you catch the short 20 min ferry ride (a-f-t-e-r the long weekend) from Mukilteo, a little north of Seattle, to Whidney Island. Spend a night or two at Langley. It will be gorgeous!

Visit the Whidbey Island Winery. Then drive up the island. Cross at Deception Pass, and stay a night or two in Anacortes. Visit Mount Erie and Washington Park. - Wonderful views and good hiking.

Then catch the ferry to the San Juans. Mount Constitution on Orcas will offer breathtaking views.

Skip Canada - on this trip. Just too much.

Ahhh heck, just pick me up in Seattle and I'll be your personal guide. All I ask is food, libations, and an aero bed. Tee Hee.

Good luck~~~~~~~~~~

Edited: 08 March 2012, 02:38
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2. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Sorry, that would be "Whidbey Island", not "Whidney Island"!

Green Valley...
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3. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Here's a plan, either direction. It provides very scenic drives and "ports of call" that you'll enjoy.

You'll have to read it carefully and plot it on Google Maps (or hard copy) to get a sense of this fairly complex region.

Options for self drive itineraries in the Seattle region, with websites.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60878-c112037/Seattl…

WA State Ferries Beautiful views, ride at least one, perhaps Bainbridge Island.

For routes, schedules, fares and more - http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

I'm not a fan of Leavenworth; for us, two hours is sufficient but, for part of a honeymoon event, and it apparently is a must, it becomes very personal.

Whidbey Island, very different story... beautiful on land and shore with much to do and to see. The WI website is in the article posted above. It would be a nice honeymoon location.

Mt. Rainier NP should not be debatable, it is a must see, and glad you have included it.

San Juan Islands - After reading the article above and following, and if you wonder more about a visit to the San Juan Islands, post again. You'll need to know about ferry travel, where to base, and more. The following might help you to decide. Terrific change of pace, very scenic and more.

San Juan Islands (Specific information on the several major islands, with key websites.) tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

San Juan Island Rental Houses http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Vacation+Doorways+on+San+Juan+Island

Hiking in the San Juan Islands, WA

thesanjuans.com/…20Anacortes.htm

Whale Watching Information - We can help further if needed.

www.island-adventures.com/about/contact.php See the table on this page for each whale species.

www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html#map

gonorthwest.com/Washington/Activities/whales…

Edited: 08 March 2012, 10:24
Poulsbo, Washington
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4. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

For starters, I would hands down choose Mt. Rainier over Leavenworth. Beautiful National Park! For a honeymoon maybe you would like it. The area is pretty, but I personally am not a big fan of the town. I think Whidbey would be a nice place to spend a couple of nites for your honeymoon. I have spent 35 years backpacking Olympic National Park. Backpacking is deffinately the best way to explore the Park, but there are still lots of good day hikes and plenty to see and do if you like the outdoors. You just have to realize there are not a lot of good choices for restaurants and places to stay. It is a big Park and a lot of visitors do not understand what makes this place special. For some people 5 days would be too much, but in Summer for some it would not be enough. You want. Labor Day weekend will be busy no matter where you go, the one thing you want to avoid in your schedule taking ferries on Friday and most of Saturday.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Thanks for all of the help. I will take all of this into consideration and re-post an updated itinerary over the next day or so.

Regarding Olympic, we typically bring our camping gear on trips out west and would be all about exploring Olympic that way, but given that this is our honeymoon, we are not bringing any gear on our trip and looking for hotels or rentals everywhere we go. I want to devote a good chunk of the trip to staying in one spot and then exploring nearby attractions at a relaxing, leisurely pace. I thought Olympic would be ideal for this given there seems to be a lot to do in the area, and I found a rental near the park that requires a 5-night minimum, which is why I allotted that many nights to this leg of the trip. Nothing is booked yet, but we think a place like this would be ideal on the second half of our trip, beginning the day after Labor Day.

For the first half, beginning Tues Aug 28 and ending Monday (Labor Day), it is still up in the air as I said, with options including Leavenworth, Rainier, or anything really. Leavenworth looked charming, romantic, and in a really scenic location with access to Lake Wenatchee and hiking trails. That was my reasoning for going there. Rainier sounds like it should be a definite.

I will look at all of these suggestions in more depth and get back to you all. These islands sound really appealing. I just want to make sure I am not cramming too much in, because we know we can always go back at some point in the future.

Thanks!!!!

Poulsbo, Washington
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6. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Where is the 5 day rental. and what is your budget. If you really want to experience Olympic two locations are better than one. Remeber only short portions of driving around the park are scenic.

Seattle, Wa
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7. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

Ditto on what everyone has said. Don't skip Rainier, unless you want to miss the most spectacular mt scenery on your trip, and 5 days is a lot of time at Olympic (esp. if, as it sounds like, charming towns and good lodging are important to you. Olympic NP is great, the surrounding area is not).

I have a bit different perspective on Leavenworth. I do agree the town itself is an over the top, somewhat tacky tourist town. But, you want outdoor activities, and it IS a great location for that. And there's good lodging in the area, as I'm sure you saw. There is absolutely stellar hiking in that area, especially down the Icicle Creek Road (ie Colchuck Lake; if you want to drive further, do Spider Meadow. off of the Chiwawa River Road. Lake Wenatchee itself isn't that exciting). The area will, however, be mobbed Labor Day weekend. There are just so many campgrounds, hotels, rental cabins, etc that I think it will be even more crowded than Rainier.

Just to create additional confusion, I'll throw out a couple more ideas. You said you couldn't find good lodging in the North Cascades--look outside the eastern side of the park, in the Methow Valley (ie Mazama and Winthrop). There are great hotels like Sun Mountain Lodge, and lots of private rentals. It's going to be less crowded than Leavenworth or Olympic (still busy, though, on LD Weekend), and the hiking in the area is top notch (you have access to hikes not only on the eastern side of NC NP, but in the Okanogan National Forest. There are good restaurants in the area, too. I'm biased because I love the area, but too me, it says "outdoorsy honeymoon" more than any other place you've thought about, due to both the outdoor activities and the quality of food and lodging. (Okay, except for also the San Juan Islands, particularly Orcas. That REALLY says honeymoon, and there are very good inns and restaurants there too).

Edited: 08 March 2012, 16:50
Port Angeles, WA
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8. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

I think you are right to do the 5 day rental in Olympic National Park, but I, too, would be interested in knowing which one you chose. I don't think you should do either Whidbey Island or the San Juans on this trip for the following reasons. First, the San Juans will still be in high season, which means crowded ferries and possible delays in getting there. Prices will be higher, and lodgings will be scarcer. Save the San Juans for another trip. Whidbey Island is great if you have limited time and don't want to travel too far from Seattle. You, however, will be spending a lot of time in ONP as well as at other destinations whose wild natural beauty makes WI look tame.

Contact Adventures through Kayaking (888) 900-3015 to set up a sea kayaking tour and possibly an adventure biking tour in Olympic National Park. They are wonderful guides, and they also own Harbinger Winery, which you will enjoy visiting.

Look at www.kaleberg.com for information about day hikes in ONP. We have directions, trail descriptions, tide tables, and also information about local agritourism, including wineries. Please check out the Lillian Ridge hike off Obstruction Point Road and the Cape Alava/Sand Point loop in particular. Don't worry; in late August there are so many hikes open to you that you could spend far longer than 5 days and never get bored.

Now about Leavenworth and the North Cascades. Like Voyaging, I am not a fan of Leavenworth. It has its fake Bavarian charms, but I don't think the local hikes are a patch on those in the North Cascades such as Maple Pass. You say you had trouble finding a suitably romantic place to stay in the North Cascade region. Did you check out Sun Mountain Lodge? They are extraordinary, with luxurious rooms and a great restaurant. They have a spa, too. They are located in Winthrop, which is within a reasonable drive of magnificent North Cascade hiking. I would hate for you to miss the North Cascades, and they are gorgeous in early September. This is really spectacular alpine hiking, and judging by your post, you would love it.

Please keep posting as your itinerary firms up. You are so wise in concentrating on fewer destinations. Give yourself time to enjoy this glorious part of the PNW.

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9. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

5-day rental we are thinking about for Olympic is located on Lake Sutherland in Maple Grove. Maybe I should rethink Olympic given the comments thus far...

How many days are needed to really enjoy Rainier, given we are not looking to go backpacking but are looking for scenic drives and short/long day hikes?

I don't mind dealing with crowds on Labor Day weekend, but out of all destinations mentioned thus far, or others not mentioned yet, what would be the least crowded? I want to avoid traffic jams/crowded hikes if possible living on the East I am used to the crowds and traffic.

Poulsbo, Washington
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10. Re: Washington honeymoon in late August - need help w/ itinerary

You gave up on Olympic very fast. Not sure why. There are rentals just outside the Park. After the holliday weekend I do not think you would find it all that crowded! Kaleberg has a place very close to Lake Sutherland and can tell you his thoughts. The only place that will be bad traffic wise on the holiday weekend would be Rainier, since it is reasonably close to Seattle and Tacoma. After that weekend it will not be that bad. Do not think traffic like on the Eastcoast. Durring the week after the holiday Rainier would not be that crowded. Same goes for Olympic. Traffic is a problem just getting there on the ferries. Lake Sutherland is not a bad location. It is a liitle far from places on the westside of the Park. You would be mostly eating in. Rainier is the easiest to visit. Olympic offers the most variety. the North Cascades are the least visited, but in my opinion a little harder to visit than Rainier and Olympic. The beauty of Olympic that on top of Rainforests you have alpine peaks, rainforests and the wild ocean beaches. Tell us why you were discouraged and what you are thinking. Your original plan is not a bad one.