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Holidays

Fly drive San Francisco - Seattle

9 replies

stringbean · 16/02/2022 22:55

We may have the possibility of a holiday in California next year - ds is going to study in San Francisco for a year and we're vaguely wondering about a trip there when his year is finished - around June 2023. Plan would be to fly to San Francisco for a couple of days, hire a vehicle and drive to Seattle, stop a couple of days and then fly home from there. Probably total of 2 - 2.5 weeks.

Dh is keen on the idea of a renting a motor home for the trip and staying in campgrounds. I'm happy to camp but can't help feeling a motor home would be too big (there will be 4 of us) and a pain to park etc, meaning less opportunity for spontaneous side trips. Campgrounds would need to be booked well in advance, and think I'd prefer just renting a car and staying in lodges/cabins ( aware they'd need to be booked too).

Has anyone done anything similar? If so, is there anything you'd suggest that worked particularly well, or anything to avoid? Any preference for car vs motor home? Any must-see places or places to swerve? Haven't really considered budget but am not expecting much change out of about £10k. Is this even realistic? We normally do camping in Europe for a summer holiday, organise everything ourselves and stick to a small budget, so this would be a bit of a departure from the norm, as well as a once in a lifetime trip for us, but a bit clueless as to where to start!

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BritWifeInUSA · 17/02/2022 05:07

I live along the coast that would be driving. The Oregon coast really is beautiful. RV rentals are not that cheap - not sure if there are anything like tourist rates but we looked into one the other day for us to go to Yellowstone this summer and the prices were so high I calculated we can take our vehicle and stay in very nice accommodations for less, especially with gas prices as they are currently and an RV typically gets 12 miles to the gallon. With a big RV most people tow their car behind it so that they have a smaller, more efficient vehicle once they get to their destination so they don’t have to drive the RV to a restaurant if supermarket.

We drove all the way to Southern California and back last summer. June is in peak season here so you will definitely beed to book wherever you stay in advance. I forgot to book accommodation for us for one night of our trip last summer and I realized 2 weeks before we were due to leave and all that was left for that night was a horrible motel. I still itch just thinking about it.

I’d skip Seattle. I’m not a fan of the place. But it might be necessary to get there for a flight home. Since you’ve got quite a good chunk of time you might want to zig zag across further inland also - Napa Valley, Crater Lake, Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River, the Lewis and Clark Trail, Mount St Helens, Mount Rainier….And get out to the San Juan islands. And there’s no better place for the Fourth than the beach.

Purchase any big ticket items in Oregon - no sales tax. Washington sales tax is one of the highest due to no state income tax.

Have a great time. It’s a great place. I love living here.

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stringbean · 17/02/2022 07:51

Thank you for all the info - will definitely check out those places you've suggested. You've confirmed my suspicions about RV hire: suspect fuel prices are a lot less in the US than here, but with only 12 miles per gallon, I can see that the costs would soon rack up. You don't mention Yosemite, which dh is desperate to visit. I went about 30 years ago - it was beautiful, and I don't remember a lot to be honest - and have since read it's incredibly busy with traffic jams at peak times. Is it worth the detour or are there other National Parks that are more worth visiting? My parents went to Seattle about 15 years go and raved about it: it just seemed the most logical place to fly from, unless we do a round trip back to San Francisco, which is another consideration, but it's the Pacific NW which mainly appeals as a trip.

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WiseUpJanetWeiss · 17/02/2022 08:25

One way vehicle hire is also often prohibitively expensive. Some states seem to allow it (e.g. California and Nevada) but others don't.

Yosemite is stunning. Staying in the valley is expensive, but more convenient than staying in an area like El Portal. I've stayed in Groveland without breaking the bank, and the little town itself is very quaint. It's about an hour's drive to the valley floor but the scenery is astonishing the whole way, so hardly a chore.

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WiseUpJanetWeiss · 17/02/2022 08:41

Sorry, meant to add that getting into Yosemite early in the day is advisable to avoid the crowds. You're likely still to be up at silly o'clock well into your holiday (when we go to the west coast we're always up and out by 6am anyway) so this shouldn't be too difficult!

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 17/02/2022 09:00

I would fly between the two cities rather than drive given that you have two to two and a half weeks. Make it a two centre and spend a week in both, Yosemite can be reached from SF.

Have you done such long distance driving before?. Have either of you ever driven a vehicle that length?. Its over 800 miles between these two cities and you'll be driving at some point every single day. Would you really want to spend most of your daylight hours merely driving from one place to another?. You'll see a lot of road and the steering wheel but perhaps not much else.

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stringbean · 17/02/2022 10:00

We're used to driving in France in particular, so one-way journeys of 600-800 miles is the norm for us on holiday Smile. Not driven an RV but we tow a caravan. Have to say the RV doesn't appeal to me - it's dh that's keen! Don't really want to do too much in the cities - just a day or two at either end: it's the countryside and scenery between the two that we want to see. Both dh and I have been to San Francisco before - admittedly a long time ago and not together- and ds will have been living there, but it will be new to dd, so maybe a trip to Alcatraz and a bus tour to see the main sites. Will check out costs of dropping car off in a different location as well.

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zafferana · 17/02/2022 17:30

That's a lot of driving to do in two weeks, particularly if you want to take large detours like Yosemite (personally, I'd go to other NPs that are actually on your route like Lassen, Crater Lake, Mt Rainier - all wonderful).

I like Seattle, unlike the first poster, but it's quite a small city and you don't need to spend very long there. We also liked Portland, but I'm not sure what is going on there since last summer, as there were BLM protests that turned into riots. I have happy memories though of the Portland Art Museum, the Pearl District, Powell's City of Books.

We also loved driving around Oregon - Mt St Helens you can see what happened in the 1980 eruption and the regeneration since, the Columbia River gorge with its waterfalls, Mt Hood, then in Washington State we had a weekend in a cabin just outside Mt Rainier NP. There are some spectacular beaches too - we made a detour to Cannon Beach, which has these gigantic rocks on it.

I love, love, love the Pacific Northwest. You could have a great trip, but I'd rent a car and stay in hotels/motels/cabins. RVs look horrible to drive unless you're on a long, straight highway.

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zafferana · 17/02/2022 17:33

Sorry - geography a bit muddled above - Mt St Helens is in Washington, Cannon Beach in Oregon.

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onetwothreeadventure · 17/02/2022 18:01

I did that a couple of years ago and it's fab - Oregon Coast is a real highlight and there's a ton to see along the way. We looked at renting an RV and, when we compared it to a car rental, the daily rental cost + fuel + campsites + insurance meant a car + hotel was the same price/less. A car also avoids the hassle of RV parking and there was sometimes restricted RV access along the coast

I just checked our car and it was £650 for 13 days for a large SUV - we had the excess insurance through our credit card so that saved about $30 a day.

We only rented the car after leaving Seattle (I've family there so they drove us around) and dropped it off when we got to San Francisco. We rented a car for a couple of single days in San Francisco for day trips and it was about 50$ for the day - overnight parking was $60 so we didn't keep the car the whole time in the city.

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