The Ultimate Pacific Northwest Road-Trip

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

My boyfriend and I were asked similar questions during and after our

Summer of 2019, EPIC, PNW Road-trip:

  • Where'd you go?

  • What were your top favorite spots?

  • How can I recreate your trip?

I hope this blogpost is not only:

--->Enjoyable for you to read

BUT also

--->A great jumping off point so you too, can design your own PNW adventure!

I've split this post into THREE key PARTS.

Scroll and peruse the topics that interest you most.

Part 1: Quick Itinerary (yes, we really did drive THAT MUCH)


Part 3: Key Road-trip Takeaways




I picked Joe (boyfriend) up at 7:00am when he got off his 48 hour shift.

Car packed and ready to go.

Snacks and lunch in the cooler.

Only stopped for gas.

Driving on i5 wasn't an option. Joe finds the i5 stretch incredibly booooooring.

Don't blame him. He much prefers the scenic coastal route.

We stayed the first night with my Aunt in Lincoln City.

DAY 2 LINCOLN CITY,OR ----> SEATTLE, WA (2 nights)

Seattle bound!

We split the leg of this trip into a few stops:

(Tip: Go in the morning before the crowds!)

If you like cheese and ice cream this is dairy mecca!

  • Incredible Coastal Views along the way.

(Tip: Climb the Astoria Column!!!!)

Incredible panoramic views overlooking the Columbia River.

We made it to WASHINGTON!!!

DAY 4 SEATTLE, WA ----> VANCOUVER, BC (1 night)

Joe and I both agree that crossing the border from the US into Canada is fascinating.

The process felt like a tourist destination in and of itself.

Our first stop over the border was Tim Horton's! Felt like a right of Canada passage.

DAY 5 VANCOUVER, BC----> Our FIRST ferry to VICTORIA, BC (2 nights)

We thought taking the ferry to Nanaimo and then driving through Vancouver Island

would be stunning.


The drive was not that pretty and took much too long.

Next time we'd take the Ferry STRAIGHT to Victoria.

DAY 7 SYDNEY,BC----> Ferry Ride to SAN JUAN ISLAND, WA (2 Nights)

The little town of Sidney, BC is cute I'm glad we booked the ferry from there.

Lord have MERCY!!!!

This next leg of the journey just about did us in.

As we were waiting to drive on to the ferry, we realized that...

our Bed & Breakfast booking fell through.


San Juan island is a small island!!!!

When hotels are booked-up, they are BOOKED SOLID.

By the grace of God, there was 1 Air B&B studio left on the entire island.

A sketchy option, but doable.

We received the reservation confirmation email as we drove onto the ferry!


Not going to lie. I was devastated.

The entire trip I looked forward to staying at my first Bed & Breakfast.

Oh, well. Next time.


ALWAYS check your Travelocity emails to make sure you have CONFIRMATION.


Tail end of our trip.

Last stop before we made the long journey home to Sonoma County.

Day 10 HOME!!!!




Obviously, Pike Place Market

Post Alley

The cutest little ally near Pike Place Market.

Several shops and restaurants.

We ate at the very popular, The Pink Door.

(don't be like us....make reservations in advance and request to sit by the window)

If you want a Washington wine experience, then visit The Tasting Room.

Located across from The Pink Door restaurant.

In fact!!!! Stop by here first before you head to dinner.

We ordered the freshly caught smoked salmon. Divine!

Canon Bar

My boyfriend's entire face lights up when he talks about this bar.

We spent at least 3 hours here.

America's LARGEST spirit collection.

4,000 labels and counting.

2014 voted World's 50 Best Bars!

You can order a cocktail in a...

Smoking Canon? Check

Disco Ball? Check

Smoking Pipe? Check

IV Bags? Check

The food here is also exceptional!

The Nest At Thompson Seattle

A rooftop bar with night-time city views.


The Westin Bayshore

Favorite hotel of the entire trip!

SUPER close to all the Stanley Park action.

Incredible views from room.

The food at nearby restaurant Cardero's is delish!

Cedar plank salmon was the best I've ever had.

Stanley Park

Joe had his mind set on renting bikes and riding through Stanley Park.

I was hesitant. The last time I rode a bike was 2008. Eeeek!

It takes about 1 hour to cycle around the park.

The world's largest and uninterrupted seawall path.

Around every corner is a photograph moment.

You are literally on the trail with hundreds of other bikers and walkers.


Empress Hotel

Known as Canada's castle on the coast.

One of the world's 21 most iconic hotels.

In the two days that we were in Victoria we spent a ton of time at the Empress.

HIGHLY recommend having lunch on the Veranda.

Views of Victoria Harbor, Parliament, and tourists walking by.

Fish & Chips gets two thumbs up and the BREAD!!!

Heavenly, doughy, and warm bread!!!

Everyone recommends the High Tea experience at the Empress.

We chose not to partake due to insane cost.

We found the tea experience at Butchart Gardens to be outstanding and much less expensive!

Walk inside the hotel and see if you can spot Winston.

Winston is the most adorable yellow lab ever!

He struts around the hotel lobby and greets all the guests.

Lucky for the hotel he failed out of puppy service school. He was too friendly.

WINE TIP: I LOVED Canada's Pinot Gris wine.

It seemed fuller bodied compared to the Pinot Gris I've had in CA.

Take a Water Taxi to Fisherman's Wharf

These taxis stop at all the main attraction spots.

We zipped on over to Fisherman's Wharf and had views of Parliament.

You also get to chat with other tourists and compare notes on places to see.

Stay hungry because the adorable wharf has LOADS of fresh seafood and

kiosk dining options.

The Butchart Gardens

By far, hands down, without a doubt...

Our favorite destination of the entire trip.

Absolutely MAGICAL!

I will never forget the moment we turned the corner and were shocked by this view.

We were silent.

I felt like I had stumbled upon one of the 7 Wonders Of The World.

Highly recommend their Afternoon Tea.

Make reservations for a table outside.

Eating dainty little tea treats, while beholding the landscape of Butchart, was perfection.

II Terrazzo Ristorante

Favorite dining experience of the entire trip!

Sometimes I balk at eating Italian food while traveling.

I want to eat the real local flavors.

THANK GOODNESS we stumbled upon this restaurant and made reservations.

So popular you'll not get in without reservations.

Book an outdoor dining reservation for realistic Italian ambiance.

A landmark in Victoria for over 25 years!

Order the Funghi Arrosto for your app.

My choice for dinner was the Linguini con Frutti di Mare.

Joe ordered the Linguini Marco Polo:

Linguine noodles mixed with chicken breast, toasted cashews, mango, fresh basil and pimentos in a creamy lemon sauce.

Joe said he'd travel back to Victoria JUST for that pasta dish.

After dinner, stroll around Victoria Harbor to behold the twinkle lights.


Roche Harbor

Originally, we thought Friday Harbor would be our main hangout spot.


We both fell in love with the quaint charm of Roche Harbor.

Like something out of a Disney Movie.

White picket fences, watercolor sunsets, and lights reflecting on the water.

McMillin's Dining is a restaurant that overlooks the water.

We ate here for lunch and came back for dessert after dinner.

Keep in mind, our trip was during summer months.

I'm not sure how much of San Juan island shuts down in fall and winter.

At night walk around the docks and see how all the fancy boat people live.

Duck Soup

On our way to San Juan Island we met a very nice elderly couple.

They live near the islands. Several times a year they boat to Vancouver BC.

I vaguely remembered a recommendation they gave us.

Something about a Duck Soup restaurant?????

We were told to ask the locals if Duck Soup was still a good spot.

If the locals said 'yes' we should be sure to go.

Well, it slipped off our radar until...

we drove by, on the way back from Roche Harbor, and I spotted the sign!

The sign was TINY.

We were a little concerned with having no reservations.

We also didn't get a chance to talk with any locals.

As luck would have it there was a no-show.

SCORE! We snagged a seat in the main dining area.

Fresh local food.

A higher price dining experience.

Outside you can sit and enjoy a drink around the fire.

The ambiance is very cozy cabin.

HIGHLY recommend.


Road-trip Takeaways

1. Packing Cubes

Usually the clothes from my suitcase explode EVERYWHERE.

I dread packing my suitcase while traveling because of the unorganized mess.

With all the moving around we did this trip, it was essential for me to pack smart.

All my shirts were folded in one cube, pants another, underwear get the idea.

Traveling is stressful enough!

Packing cubes are a LIFE SAVER and time saver!!!!

I found mine on Amazon.

2. Quiet Time

By the time Joe and I got to day 5

I had a complete:

overwrought, lack of sleep, stress induced, anxiety meltdown.

I cried.

I couldn't make decisions.

I cried some more.

I was super irritable.

Unfortunately, this ruined our first night in Victoria.

The next day, after Butchart Gardens, I came back to the hotel and crawled in bed.

I told Joe...

"Remember going to camp as a kid? There was always cabin time or quiet time built into the schedule???? Ya. I need more of that while traveling."

After a power nap I was ready to go!

3. Riding the Ferry

Before the trip I was terrified of getting sea-sick on the ferry.

I'm very seasick susceptible.

A friend warned that the ferry would in fact make me sick.


I always made sure I sat facing the direction the boat was heading.

Wear LOTS of layers. It gets COLD!

Joe and I enjoyed taking time-lapse videos while we pulled into each ferry terminal.


4. Capturing Memories

Joe was in charge of photos

I was in charge of video.

This worked out really well.

Now we have a plethora of road-trip memories stored in our shared Google Drive.

I highly suggest coming up with a similar plan with your travel partner.

This way you cover all of the memory bases.

5. Snack Essentials

I get hungry constantly.

When I get hungry, I get HANGRY.

Before the road-trip, I stocked up on portable food options:

Beef sticks, nuts, goldfish pouches, protein bars, Chicken of the Sea pouches.

No matter if I was on the ferry, in the car, walking to and from a tourist attraction...

I never panicked if my stomach grumbled.

Stashed in my bag was an arsenal of non-perishable snack choices.


We returned home from this trip exhausted.

We returned home from this trip still a happy couple.

Joe kept saying...

'If we can survive 10 days of stressful travel


being around each other 24-7

then, we are pretty solid.'

That we are!

We are already planning our next road trip adventure.

LEVENWORTH WASHINGTON we are coming for you this Christmas!


© 2020 Sheila Jane Co.