This itinerary is intended for travelers who plan to spend the majority of their time in Seattle and Portland, the two largest and most exciting cities in the Pacific Northwest. You can make the 178-mile (286 km) trip between the two cities by car in about 3 hours, depending on traffic (with an accident on the highway or slow-moving traffic, the trip can take up to 5 hr.). Amtrak has regular service between Portland and Seattle throughout the day, and Bolt Bus offers inexpensive bus service between the two cities; expect to spend about 3[bf]1/2 hours on either train or bus. There are also flights from Sea-Tac International Airport to Portland International Airport throughout the day, generally on smaller commuter aircraft; by air, the trip takes about 40 minutes. You will find information on all of these transportation options discussed in the “Getting There” sections in chapter 5 and chapter 6. If you don’t want to backtrack to Seattle at the end of your Portland visit, see if you can fly into Seattle and out of Portland. There is often no great price difference in booking your flight itinerary this way.
Days 1–2: Seattle
To get a good dose of Seattle, follow the suggestions for days 1 and 2 in our 3-day itinerary.
Day 3: Seattle/Day trip to LaConner & Skagit Valley
If it’s tulip season, you definitely don’t want to miss seeing the tulip fields in and around the town of LaConner, 70 miles (113 km) north of Seattle in the Skagit Valley. The Skagit Valley is the prime tulip-growing area in the U.S., and the vast, colorful tulip fields rival and perhaps surpass those in Holland. Have lunch in LaConner and stroll its lovely old streets. And if it’s not tulip time, you’ll enjoy exploring the charming town of LaConner and visiting its surprisingly good art museum devoted to the “Big Four” Northwest artists of the 1950s and ‘60s. You’ll need a car for this trip, but it’s an easy shot up I-5. You can easily be back in Seattle in time for a farewell dinner.
Days 4–5: Portland
For suggestions on how to spend your first 2 days in Portland, see our 3-day itinerary for that city.
Day 6: Portland/Columbia Gorge
Spend your last day in Portland by taking a day trip down the Columbia Gorge, as outlined in day 4 of our 5-day Portland itinerary. I would suggest that you make this a full-day trip by going on from Multnomah Falls to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Doing this, you will be getting a grand look at the grandest scenery near Portland.