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How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

nyc
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

We are planning on driving from Seattle on a Monday in August to Anacortes. It seems the drive through Whidbey Island and Deception Pass is highly recommended. Trying to figure out how long it would take us. We have 2 kids 7 and 9. Trying to schedule a whale watching tour accordingly. If needed, can stay overnight in Anacortes and do whale watching the next day if we need most of the day to get to Anacortes with stops along the way. I understand that it will vary based on number of stops, but trying to get a general idea of how long it may take us?

Edited: 09 June 2018, 10:45
14 replies to this topic
Seattle
Level Contributor
6,543 posts
18 reviews
1. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

Give yourselves a full day for Whidbey Island. There is actually quite a lot to enjoy, Be sure to factor in the ferry wait time at Mukilteo

And be aware that the Anacortes area has MUCH to offer. Washington Park, Mount Erie, Cap Sante park.

Stay over night in Anacortes and enjoy the whale watch tour the next day.

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
5,608 posts
109 reviews
2. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

I agree with Al. You want to enjoy Whidbey at a leisurely pace. Stop in Coupeville, check out Fort Casey, walk the bluff at Fort Ebey. And like he said, Anacortes has some fun spots to explore, too, as well as a small historic downtown.

~ Colleen

nyc
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

Thank you both! We are trying to get to the border within a day.. Would it be too much to make it into Canada the same day we leave? Again, it's a Monday morning we'd leave the Seattle area and work our way up through Whidbey Island. That may mean having to bypass some of the stops along the way, but think it's doable?

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
5,608 posts
109 reviews
4. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

I don't understand your most recent question in the context of your original post. Are you wanting to get, within a day, from Seattle to Anacortes? Or from Seattle across the border? Where's the whale watch based?

~ Colleen

Seattle
Level Contributor
6,543 posts
18 reviews
5. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

I too am confused.

But I am beginning to get the sense that, like many others before you, you are trying to squeeze too much good stuff into too short a time! If that's the case, do pare down and enjoy yourselves more~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
3,184 posts
179 reviews
6. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

If you want to do a drive, whale watching tour out of Anacortes and make it to Canada that day you are not going to be able to do much other sightseeing.

It is about 1.5 hours (minimum in no traffic) to Anacortes from Seattle via I-5. It is going to take you a little longer (at least 2.5 hours -- again with no traffic) if you go up Whidbey Island because you the wait for a ferry in Mukilteo and you have lower speeds and smaller roads on the island. Simply driving up the length of Whidbey on 525 is modestly scenic in parts but you really don't get much from the main road (apart from crossing Deception Pass bridge).

If you want to see Fort Casey or Fort Ebey, Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, walk around downtown Langley and the village of Coupeville and also spend any time in Deception Pass State Park that is an all day trip ending in Anacortes.

You might leave really early from Seattle, get on the first ferry that is loading at Mukilteo, make a couple quick stops in Langley and Coupeville to just take a couple pics and get a sense of the place then drive straight through to the Deception Pass bridge (without seeing the park itself) take some pics and go onward to Anacortes. Even if you make three quick stops and spent no more than an hour total you can see that you are probably looking at no less than 3.5 hours to Anacortes.

The whale watching is going to be a half day (at least 4 hours).

It is then going to take a minimum of 1.5 hours to get to the Canadian border via I-5 (no stop in Bellingham or scenic drive on Chuckanut). That is not accounting for what can be long backups to cross or significant traffic before and through the Bellingham area.

So could you do it? I supposed it is possible (depending on when you leave, what time the whale watching trip ends, traffic, number of stops etc.). But I wouldn't want to do that in one day.

-K

nyc
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

So sorry, realized I didn't explain myself from my original post. As we've read more and planned more, we are thinking it may be easier to get to the islands and do whale watching on the Canada side (from Victoria). In that scenario, we'd still like to go through Whidbey Island and Deception pass, but continue on to the border same day if at all possible. We would then stay in a town before Vancouver (opent to suggestions there too!) as it seems we'd need most of the day to get into Canada. Seems like driving to Vancouver might be too optimistic but hoping crossing at least the border will give us more time on the Canada side. But we do want to make stops and enjoy the drive up! Think that might be do-able on a Monday?

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
3,184 posts
179 reviews
8. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

It is not easier to do whale watching from the Canada side. Whales are prevalent all throughout the Salish Sea. Take a look at Orca Network's current sightings and also their sightings archive. This will give you an idea of where sightings are reported and what kinds of whales are spotted in various months. Here is the current sightings map. But you should look at the August maps from prior years.

orcanetwork.org/Main/…satmap0618.jpg

We could give you better advice if you would give the basic itinerary you are working with. As far as I can tell you are spending a couple nights in Seattle and then will have 6 additional days. Are you saying that apart from Seattle you are not seeing the San Juans or anything else in Washington? You basically just want to see Whidbey Island now on the way to Canada and spend the rest of your time in Canada?

I think that is a lost opportunity since August is the most beautiful time in Washington to see the ocean beaches, the islands and the Cascades. In particular the subalpine areas of some of the most spectacular mountains in the Cascades are snowcovered for much of every year ... often into late July or even August. Thereafter there is a wild riot of life before it starts getting cold with change of colors in September and early October. Often by October snow is falling again.

In those 6 days you could see Mt. Rainier for a daytrip. You could have done an overnight or two nights to the coastal unit of Olympic National Park to see the temperate rainforest valleys (though they are not too rainy in August) and wild beaches with sea stacks, tidepools and driftwood. On the way to Vancouver you could have also done a little exploration of the North Cascades N.P. then stayed in Bellingham for a night. If you were not leaving from Vancouver you could have even just seen Victoria as a day trip or overnight from Seattle using the Victoria Clipper.

That being said, it is your trip. If you have been to Washington in the past or have just ruled out those other Washington experience and you just want to get to Vancouver via a scenic route then I think if you subtract a half day of time for whale watching and the detour to Anacortes from Deception Pass you could see some of Whidbey Island and still make the border by the end of the day. Leave early to maximize your sightseeing time.

http://www.langleywa.org/

http://www.cometocoupeville.com/

https:/…

https:/…

https://parks.state.wa.us/507/Fort-Ebey

https://www.nps.gov/ebla/index.htm

More info.

https://whidbeycamanoislands.com

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
5,608 posts
109 reviews
9. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

As klsalas suggested, we're still somewhat confused, among other reasons because we don't have the big picture plan. It's not easier to do a whale watch or get to the islands (assuming you mean the San Juan Islands) from Canada. Also not sure what you mean by "it seems we'd need most of the day to get into Canada"? Once you cross the border, you're a short drive from Vancouver, so it makes no sense to cross and then stay in a town before Vancouver.

~ Colleen

Edited: 19 June 2018, 20:53
nyc
Level Contributor
9 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: How long should we allow for scenic drive to Anacortes?

Thank you for taking the time to let us know your honest thoughts! We planned the trip hoping to spend a few days in Seattle (have plans already for those 3 days/nights), but work our way into Canada and Vancouver. I do wish we had done a round trip from Seattle, but we have flights booked and so it will have to be a one way trip. We had done whale watching on the east coast and wanted to experience it from the west coast side. In reading reviews, a day trip to Victoria (Vancouver Islands) from Vancouver seemed easier (and possibly less expensive) than going to the San Juan islands with a car, staying over, and working our way through the Vancouver Islands to get to the mainland. So our tentative plan (this is probably not the forum for a Canada plan, but since we're discussing it!):

Monday: leave Seattle area and work our way through Whidbey Island and Deception pass, cross border, and stay in a town outside Vancouver. That way we avoid the hefty price of a downtown hotel as we really just need a place to sleep. As we are flying out of Vancouver, we wanted to save Vancouver for last.

Tuesday: drive to Whistler via Sea to Sky. Stay in Whistler

Wednesday: half day in Whistler, drive to Vancouver. Stay in Vancouver

Thursday: day in Vancouver, night in Vancouver

Friday: day trip to Victoria with Prince of Wales (Whale watching and Gardens), night in Vancouver

Saturday: day in Vancouver, overnight flight

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