Looking for Travel Tips for Canada and West Coast USA

I thought I’d take the unusual step of putting our holiday plans out there to the blogging community, and see what helpful tips and info might come back my way.

We are off to the Canadian Rockies and the Alaska Inside Passage on a 22 day escorted tour starting on June 9th of next year. Choosing which company, tour and time of the year was quite a process! We decided on an escorted tour so that Bill and I have equal chance of viewing what we expect to be breathtaking scenery; and because we value the information we hope to get from the tour guide. A good guide can open your eyes to so much about the place, and you know I will be parroting it all back on the blog posts 🙂

This is our first trip to Canada. We had initially planned to start in the Maritimes and East Canada and work our way around, flying out of San Francisco. After a family conference (of two) we decided we didn’t have the stamina for such a long trip, which in any case would have been super expensive. So the east coast is on the back-burner for a separate trip at some future undetermined time. But we would love to get there!

Our tour will start in Victoria, and proceed to Vancouver, Whistler, Tyax, down to Quaaot Lodge at Chase, Emerald Lake, Banff, Jasper, and then on to the Rocky Mountaineer train for the two day run back to Vancouver via Kamloops. (Lake Louise is a stop en-route).

One optional excursion I hope we manage to fit in is the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary. And I am warning Bill I am looking forward to canoeing, maybe at Tyax. We’ve never canoed, so I don’t think he’s listening – but watch this space!

Then it’s onto the Holland America cruise ship MS Nieuw Amsterdam for a seven night return passage; Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan, disembarking us in Vancouver.

We haven’t sorted flights yet, but we expect to arrive in Victoria a couple of days before the tour starts. The tour includes Butchart Gardens and a city orientation tour, but that’s about it. So if anyone has a favourite thing to do in Victoria – we are all ears!

After that we will free wheel for a time, and this is where we could do with lots of advice. We will get to Seattle somehow – maybe bus or train – visit with a friend for a few days – and then . . .

We would like to hire a car and drive down the coast to San Francisco. We are in no rush. Given it will be July by then though, we might be wise to book accommodation ahead. Does anyone have a favourite self-drive itinerary? Or place to linger? Or place to stay?

The hilarious thing we found out today is that if we choose to fly with Air Canada – with whom many of the tour companies have a deal – we then fly back to Vancouver (fare included) before heading home to Australia.

(We had intended to fly out of San Francisco, maybe even have a few nights in Hawaii. We were there once in 2004 and loved it. We may still do that. It will come down to the airline deals. At this stage it looks as if backtracking will be the cheapest!)

Snapped in Hawaii in 2004 – like a Canadian Mountie – only different 🙂 – well . . . much different actually. Hopefully I will have a photo of the real thing this time next year.

18 thoughts on “Looking for Travel Tips for Canada and West Coast USA

  1. Gwen, while the Northwest certainly has its charms, I hope you consider spending a bit more time and seeing more of California. Here are a few of my favorite spots. Although I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and you certainly want to stay a few days there, please consider driving down the coast toward Los Angeles and San Diego.

    The towns of Monterrey and Carmel are wonderful. See Hearst Castle and Big Sur. Visit the central coast wine country (the movie Sideways) and compare the wines to the ones you have in Western Australia. Visit Santa Barbara.

    You can stop and visit the Monkey on your way to Los Angeles where you will want to see the Getty Villa, The Getty Center, Hollywood, Griffith Park, go whale watching, visit the Channel Islands, and maybe go up into the nearby mountains.

    South of LA is the beautiful mission at San Juan Capistrano, the spectacular coastline to San Diego, and in SD there is the Zoo, Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, and the waterfront.

    You can fly out of LAX or San Diego as easily as you can San Francisco.

    Something to think about.

    Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Kongo! Great information. I have made a note of all that. I think I might draw up two itineraries and put the option to ‘he who must be obeyed’ (at least I let him think that). We will have been travelling a month before we start this leg, so he may prefer the shorter plan. We originally intended to fly home from California (anywhere) via Hawaii. However, the tour company we are using for the Canada trip has deals with Air Canada. Which means Air Canada then flies us back to Vancouver to fly home directly. Still do-able from whichever airport, as you say. Thanks again!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I saw there was lots of excitement regarding their birthday celebrations. We will be too late for that, and too early to see autumn colours, but I will be interested to see the different types of maple trees and other vegetation. I think the varieties on the west coast differ from those on the east.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a beautiful vacation! Only sorry you will not likely get to Southern California for a visit. Would love too see you. Having never been to Canada or Alaska, I am no help. San Francisco is such a fun place to visit. The surrounding cites just regular American cities, I think, but a drive to Monterey, the Redwoods, or Sequoia would be worth a visit, In my opinion. Depends on what you would like to see. Beautiful country – Northern California. Keep us updated on your plans!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did give it serious thought, as it would be lovely to catch up. In the end, we thought it was just that little bit too much further – especially since it appears we will have to fly back to Vancouver. But thanks for the travel tips – I have added them to the planning list.


  3. WOW this sounds like quite an adventure for you! I lived in San Francisco 1970 – 2006 and it’s a beautiful place but very expensive now. Try to visit the different “neighborhoods” instead of the main tourist attractions and of course cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and Marin County. Good luck with your tours – never been a tour person but it certainly saves lots of research time!

    Columbia River Gorge is a must near Portland. Assume you will take the long way hugging the ocean – great drive at the right time of year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks – I have copied that into a “ideas” document. Bill is comfortable with us travelling Europe independently because he knows I am on familiar ground, but for Canada, he really wanted to go escorted. We are quite determined to see what we see and be content with that. But once we know the lay of the land, we may prefer independent next time. We could always take a tour once we arrive at a town and get our inside information that way.


I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s