From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

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From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Go on an adventure along the United States and Canadian coasts, from Vancouver to Seattle. Between two city stopovers, admire the striking Pacific coastline of the national parks.

From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Explore Vancouver by bike

Your superb North American getaway begins in Vancouver. Check into the Loden, opposite Coal Harbour Marina. You have chosen this designer boutique hotel for its 1970s-style vintage decor, and its rooms with a panoramic view of Stanley Park, lapped by the waters of the Pacific. Nature is everywhere in the “city of glass”.

The hotel provides bikes for your use. Make the most of the opportunity and go for a spin along the cycle paths of this ecologically minded city. You begin your urban exploration around Main Street, where you find a string of independent boutiques, trendy barbershops and restaurants from all over the world. To absorb the atmosphere of this area, you enjoy a grand cru coffee on the open-air terrace of 49th Parallel Coffee, an exceptional and very popular coffee roaster. At Hill's Native Art Gallery, one of Vancouver's oldest native art galleries, you discover the artistic talent of the First Nations who live in the region. At lunchtime, a queue has formed in front of Toshi Sushi. You quickly make a reservation and take a stroll around the neighbourhood, while waiting for a table to become free in this small Japanese restaurant. Their eel sushis and caramelised aubergines were really worth the wait.

After this feast, cycle off to the port and head along the coast to the unspoiled beaches which edge Stanley Park. Sitting on a tree trunk carried there by the sea, you admire the view of the city centre's skyscrapers. You lose yourself amidst the centuries-old trees of this gigantic leisure area, the remains of the primary forest which used to cover the entire region. You park your bicycle and climb aboard the Aquabus. This mini ferry tours the inlet of False Creek and then drops you off on Granville Island. This place is famous for its busy market at the weekend and during the summer. Street artists and musicians perform as you wander between the stalls of fresh produce, jewellery and locally made wooden items. You enjoy an artisan lager at the Granville Island Brewing micro-brewery, where the atmosphere is in full swing, before finding a table at the Sandbar restaurant, hidden under Granville Street Bridge. The stunning view of Vancouver makes your seafood platter particularly memorable.

Only 20 minutes from the city centre, a thrilling adventure awaits you on the edge of the Capilano River Regional Park. Launch yourself unhesitatingly onto the narrow suspension bridge 70 m above the flowing river, then venture along the dizzyingly high Treetop Adventure trail, constructed between thuja trees and towering Douglas firs. This enchanted forest gives you a glimpse of the beauty of nature, which will continue to amaze you throughout your stay.

The Loden Hotel
1177 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 0A3
Canada
+1 877 225 6336
../../common/travel-guide/the-loden-a-contemporary-stylish-and-eco-friendly-retreat.htm

49th Parallel Coffee
2902 Main Street
Vancouver, BC V5T 3G3
Canada
+1 604 872 4901
https://49thcoffee.com/

Hill's Native Art
120 East Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5T 1V9
Canada
+1 604 685 4249
hills.ca/

Toshi Sushi
181 East 16th Ave
Vancouver, BC V5T 4R2
Canada
+1 604 874 5173
https://m.facebook.com/Toshi-Sushi-133112986718262/

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From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Admire the rainforest and the wildlife on Vancouver Island

Make your way next to Vancouver Island. A ferry from the Horseshoe Bay terminal takes you to this magnificent location. In the city of Campbell River, you meet a representative of the Homalco Native American community. If you are visiting in the summer, this nature guide will invite you in small groups to explore the fascinating world of the grizzly bear. Your trip begins by crossing the Salish Sea which is home to incredible marine life. Pay attention: humpback whales, orcas and dolphins can surface at any moment! You reach dry land and walk to the raised observation platform in the middle of the forest. Even though the presence of wild animals cannot be guaranteed, you have a good chance of seeing a majestic bear as well as wapitis and bald eagles.

Following this intense experience, you arrive after a three-hour journey in the quiet town of Ucluelet, on the west coast of the island. You check into the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, in the heart of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Perched on a promontory overlooking the waves of the Pacific, this luxury hotel offers direct access to the Wild Pacific Trail. You follow one of the paths which winds along an unspoiled, windblown coastline, before crossing a mysterious rainforest. Then you venture onto the Schooner Trail. At the end of this forest path, you are enraptured by the beauty of Long Beach. Engrossed by the antics of the surfers, you stay until sunset to make the most of this beach with its air of a hidden paradise.

After a short walk, you arrive at the seafront of Tofino, a charming village and a temple of Canadian surfing, where you hire a kayak to go to Meares Island, visible through the haze. On your return to dry land, the Big Tree Trail leads you deep into the middle of the forest. This walk features an important meeting with a 1,500-year-old giant! You feel very small at the foot of the tallest red cedar recorded on the West Coast.

Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours
1218 Bute Crescent
Campbell River, BC V9H 1G5
Canada
+1 250 923 0602
https://homalcotours.com/

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort
596 Marine Drive
Ucluelet, BC V0R 3A0
Canada
+1 250 726 4800
https://blackrockresort.com/

To discover other special places in Vancouver, see our guide.

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From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Crossing the American border

A halt in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia on the shores of the Pacific, at the southern end of Vancouver Island, gives you time to admire the neoclassical architecture of its Parliament Buildings and stroll through its picturesque Chinatown neighbourhood. You will soon cross the border to the United States: Washington State is on the opposite bank. After the usual customs formalities, you and your vehicle board the ferry bound for Port Angeles. In a short time, you arrive in the main metropolitan area of the Olympic Peninsula. Set in the city heights, Olympic Lodge promises you a pleasant stay in a stylish rustic decor. You relax in your room looking towards the Peninsula golf course and the mountains which you are soon going to explore. In the city, you enjoy savouring a few oysters and wild prawns at Michael's Fresh Northwest Seafood and Steakhouse, an acclaimed local restaurant. After these tastes of the sea, you discover as you stroll through the streets 12 wall paintings which recount the history of this maritime city and the influence of its Native American culture. Next, you make your way to Webster's Woods Art Park. In this open-air sculpture park, join in the fun and set off to find the hundred or so artworks hidden amongst the trees.

Olympic Lodge
140 Del Guzzi Drive
Port Angeles, WA 98362
United States
+1 360 452 2993
www.olympiclodge.com

Michael's Fresh Northwest Seafood and Steakhouse
117B East 1st Street
Port Angeles, WA 98362
United States
+1 360 417 6929
https://michaelsdining.com

Webster's Woods Art Park
Port Angeles Fine Arts Center
1203 E. Lauridsen Bd
Port Angeles, WA 98362
United States
+1 360 457 3532
www.pafac.org/

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From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Immerse yourself in the majestic landscapes of the Olympic National Park.

You are eager to explore the famous Olympic National Park, classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. You can appreciate this sensational site from the Hurricane Ridge mountain road. On your arrival, you admire the spectacular view of the snowy peaks, overlooked by Mount Olympus from its height of 2,432 m.

Next, you head downhill to the banks of Crescent Lake, a beautiful stretch of glacial water nestled among wooded hills, before making for the valleys in the west of the peninsula. One hour to the east of the city of Forks, take the Hoh Upper Road to reach the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, where the trails start from. Get ready to explore a conifer wood unlike any you may have seen before. A short, looped trail, the Hall of Mosses, winds between the centennial pine trees, covered in lichen and moss. The ambient humidity gives you the impression of exploring a tropical forest, the heat less so. An icy watercourse runs through the middle of this magical ecosystem. If you creep forward, you might spy some deer, some raccoons and maybe even some bobcats.

Other wonders of nature can be found on the park's coastline. A few kilometres before the city of Forks, a road leads to Rialto Beach. You head for the Lake Quinault Forest Ranger station to buy your admission ticket for the site. This uncannily beautiful beach reminds you of the dramatic settings of the Twilight saga. Venture at low tide along these wild shorelines edged with virgin forest. Impressive rocks emerge from the turbulent ocean and enormous beached tree trunks, bleached by time, litter the black sand. You observe the colourful starfish and anemones at the bottom of the puddles left by the tide. Listen. The strident cries of birds of prey break the silence. Your walk ends in front of a majestic rock which forms an arch at the end of the beach.

Reinvigorated by the sea air, you set off again in the direction of the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. This complex is open on a seasonal basis, from the beginning of spring to autumn. Luxuriate in the 38°C heated pools of this aquatic complex, before toning your muscles in its cold-water pool. Just the thing for relaxing after this energetic day.

Olympic National Park Visitor Center
3002 Mount Angeles Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362
United States
www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center
(Closed from January to the beginning of March, open Friday to Sunday in spring and autumn and every day in the summer)
18113 Upper Hoh Road
Forks, WA 98331
United States
https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

Hall of Mosses
Hoh Valley Road
Forks, WA 98331
United States
+1 360 565 2985
www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort
(Open from 20 March to 25 October in 2020)
12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Road
Port Angeles, WA 98363
United States
+1 888 896 3818
www.olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/sol-duc-hot-springs-resort

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From Vancouver to Seattle: a road trip amidst nature in the heart of the Pacific Northwest

Bustling Seattle will astonish you, with a mix of culinary and cultural discoveries

After recharging your batteries amidst nature, you are ready to dive into the hustle and bustle of Seattle, a two and a half hour journey away. The largest city in Washington State appears in its wooded setting, amidst lakes, mountains and the inlets of Puget Sound.

You choose the Thompson Seattle luxury hotel, a light-filled glass structure, with a slick, design-style interior... You will be charmed immediately by this modern 4-star establishment. In the Conservation restaurant, you are tempted by one of the signature dishes: clams with chilli, lime, lemon grass and coconut milk. Then you go up to the Nest bar, perched on the roof terrace, to enjoy the stunning view of Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains.

You decide to begin your visit to this high quality of life city with one of its historic neighbourhoods: Pioneer Square district offers the chance of a pleasant stroll between its central square, with its Native American totem poles, and its back streets with their splendid neo-Romanesque red brick buildings. Amongst the area's innumerable organic restaurants, art galleries and trendy boutiques, you choose to have a drink at The London Plane café. In this beautiful, multipurpose space, the trendy clientele stroll between the wine bar, the bakery and the splendid flower market. Nearby stands the Smith Tower, the oldest skyscraper in the city. Its museum will help you relive the era of prohibition, while its golden elevator will take you to the observatory. You admire the city stretched out at your feet while sipping a house-special cocktail in the speakeasy-inspired bar.

A change of ambience. Behind the ultra-modern architecture of the MoPOP, a museum of pop culture designed by the illustrious Frank Gehry, you can enjoy a superb rock & roll and science fiction experience. You will be fascinated by the life of Jimi Hendrix, a local figure, and the development of the “grunge” movement, then learn to play the drums, the piano and mix like a DJ. The second part of the museum will transport you into the world of cult sagas like Star Wars and Star Trek.

You will not know where to start with this cultural, cosmopolitan city. Do not leave Seattle without visiting Pike Place Market, one of the oldest markets in the country. In its main indoor market, you mingle with the crowd which wanders between the stalls of local produce, second hand book sellers and antique dealers. Stop for a moment to observe an amusing ritual: with each purchase, the fishmongers fling the customers' orders to each other across the market, with remarkable dexterity. You sample a few local specialities presented on low metal tables, called Farm Tables. In a nearby street, you are amazed as you see the immense queue which has formed at the first Starbucks to open in the United States.

Far from the busy streets, Alki Beach offers a peaceful setting for a walk by the water. At sunset, the sight of the sparkling city centre skyline of Seattle becomes magical. Your mind wanders between the mountains on the horizon and the images of your fabulous road trip in the American North-West... You feel a slight tug at your heart at the idea of having to soon leave the captivating emerald city.

Thomson Seattle
110 Stewart Street
Seattle, WA 98101
United States
+1 206 623 4600
../../common/travel-guide/thompson-bold-contemporary-architecture.htm

The London Plane
300 Occidental Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
United States
+1 206 624 1374
www.thelondonplaneseattle.com/

Museum of Pop Culture
325 5th Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
United States
+1 206 770 2700
../../common/travel-guide/discover-the-mopop-museum.htm

Pike Place Market
85 Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98101
United States
+1 206 682 7453
../../common/travel-guide/discover-the-wealth-of-pike-place-market.htm

To make sure you do not miss out on anything in Seattle, see our guide.