While you’re in the Northwest consider a side-trip to the largest west coast city in Canada...Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s only 140 miles north of Seattle. To get there you can drive three hours on the I-5 Freeway; take a Greyhound bus or Quick Shuttle. I prefer the scenic Amtrak Cascadian train that puts you right in the heart of the city. Board the train at King Street Station in Seattle, sit on the left side going north for scenic views on the four hour trip to Vancouver. Bring your passport. www.amtrakcascades.com
Public transportation is the way to go is this city. Leave the train station, walk across the park to catch the SkyTrain for an elevated ride to downtown Vancouver.
This is a great city to for a walking tour. Leave the SkyTrain at Waterfront Station; go to Main Street, on to Gastown and the steam clock, over to Chinatown to see the Classical Chinese Garden, back down Georgia Street for shopping at Pacific Center, over to fashionable Robson Street and on to the Granville Island public market. A mini-ferry will get you across False Creek to the food stalls, galleries and craft shops on the Island.
For me Stanley Park is a must see attraction in Vancouver. Walk the 6 mile seawall from Burrard Inlet to English Bay, bike the circle road with a stop at Prospect Point, or hike the forested trails through this thousand acre urban park. The ring road goes to sites like the Coast Salish totem poles, the aquarium with northwest whales, sea otters and dolphins and on to swimming at a sandy beach. Stop at one of Stanley Park’s cafes or view restaurants to conclude your visit.
Like Seattle, Vancouver is surrounded by water and mountains. Get out on the water by taking a SeaBus from Waterfront Station across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver. You’ll find a food markets, retail shops and ethnic cafes explore on the North Shore.
Grouse Mountain is the place to go for the best views of the city. From the base park start your 10 minute cable car ride up the mountain for a panoramic view of the city, the Strait of Georgia, English Bay and even Washington's Mount Baker on a clear day. I like to go at sunset for views of twinkling city lights and stay for dinner at the lodge.
Staying for extra days?
Consider a trip to Whistler, the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Whistler Express buses travel the Sea to Sky Highway to this world class ski resort. Summer visitors can take Rocky Mountaineer train to Whistler. Explore the hiking and biking trails from the Village or take the 6,000 foot ‘Peak to Peak’ Gondola ride for amazing mountain top alpine views. www.whistler.com