29 September 2016
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the USA's most scenic landscapes, including the country's only temperate rain forest as well as mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, stunning rugged coastline and the wine country of Napa. This tour gives you plenty of opportunities to explore these landscapes, by car and on foot, as well as to visit the region's fascinating towns and cities, including Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.
Your adventure begins as you arrive at Portland International Airport (PDX), collect your car and proceed to your hotel. Known as the "City of Roses", Portland is famed for its beautiful public gardens and parks. You'll visit the International Rose Test Garden, established in 1917 by the American Rose Society and used as testing grounds for new varieties of roses. You'll also visit Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, where a mechanical sculpture forecasts the weather every day at noon. You'll also want to spend some time browsing the city's many unique boutiques and restaurants.
Today you'll make the scenic drive along the Columbia River Gorge, a spectacular canyon of the Columbia River that's up to 4,000 feet deep and stretches for over 80 miles, forming the boundary between Washington to the north and Oregon to the south. You may like to visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center to lean more about the local geology and history, or Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon and home to 12 glaciers.
Today you'll continue via a scenic route towards Mount Rainier, an active cascade volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice and surrounded by lush forests and subalpine meadows. Here you'll find variety of hiking trails, as well as the Longmire Museum, named for the pioneer who discovered mineral springs here in 1883. You'll drive past Mount St Helen, which last erupted in 1980, permanently altering the mountain's face and destroying plants and animals. Finally, you'll continue towards Seattle for a two-night stay.
You'll have a full day to explore Seattle today. Many of the city's landmarks, including the Space Needle, the Seattle Center and the Coliseum, date back to the World's Fair in 1962. Another major attraction is the waterfront, where you'll find shops, restaurants, the Seattle Aquarium, Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center and Ye Olde Curiosity. You may also like to visit Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continually-operated farmer’s markets in the country. An excellent way to see the city is on the optional Savor Seattle Tour, a foodie guided tour taking in Pike Place Market, a cheese manufacturer and the original Starbucks store, giving you numerous chances to sample local foods. This evening, relax on a tour boat and enjoy the views of the city from the waters of Puget Sound.
Early this morning you'll depart for Olympic National Park, made up of three different ecosystems: rugged glacier-capped mountains, wild Pacific coast and old-growth and temperate rainforest. You'll take a scenic drive to Hurricane Ridge to enjoy the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, and may like to hike one of the trails along the picturesque Olympic Coastal Strip. You'll visit the Hoh Rainforest, part of the only temperate rainforest in the United States, and make a stop at Lake Crescent, a popular recreational area where you can rent a raft or kayak. You may also like to take a dip in a hot-springs-fed pool at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. During your time in the park, keep an eye out for wildlife including Roosevelt elk, cougars, black bears, sea otters and marmots.
Today you'll continue towards Newport, with your first stop en route at the town of Seaside, at the end of the Lewis and Clark trail, where the two explorers reached the Pacific Ocean. Here you can stroll down the promenade, lined with shops and restaurants. A few miles further on you'll come to Cannon Beach, with its well-known landmark Haystack Rock, an igneous rock accessible at low tide, with a small cave system. You'll continue to Newport, where you'll visit the picturesque Yaquina Head Lighthouse, the harbour and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. At the historic Bay Front you'll find shops, galleries, canneries and restaurants serving clam chowder, shrimp, oysters, crab and salmon.
You'll continue along Oregon’s Pacific coast today, stopping at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where the huge sand dunes provide opportunities for off-roading, hiking, photography, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding and riding dune buggies. Next you'll continue to Coos Bay, where you'll visit the attractive waterfront boardwalk, where a former lumber mill is now the site of the Mill Resort & Casino.
This morning you'll continue to Crater Lake National Park, containing Crater Lake's caldera, the deepest lake in the United States. The lake is filled entirely by snow and rain – no streams lead into it – and it regularly turns a stunning shade of blue. After your visit you'll continue to Medford for an overnight stay.
This morning you'll stop at the Oregon Caves National Monument, where you can take a guided tour of the caves, as well as walking through the lush coniferous forest. Next you'll continue to Redwood National Park, home to coastal redwoods, the tallest tree species on earth, as well as banana slugs, grey whales, black bears and sea anemones. Here you can hike one of the fascinating trails before continuing to Eureka for an overnight stay.
Today you'll head up the stunning Pacific Coast into wine country. You may like to take a brunch, lunch, or dinner trip on the elegant Wine Train, which tours the Napa wine-making region, giving you a chance to enjoy seasonal gourmet dishes and sample the finest Californian wines. You may also like to take the optional Napa Valley Winery Tour, which takes you to a century-old winery where you can taste a wide range of award-winning wines and learn about the wine-making history of the area. Finally, you'll continue to Napa for an overnight stay.
This morning you'll depart Napa and continue to San Francisco, stopping en route at Muir Woods National Monument, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The star attractions here are the huge redwoods, relatives of the giant sequoia; the tallest here is 258 feet, and the oldest is at least 1,200 years old. Afterwards, you'll head to Sausalito, at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, to enjoy the harbour views, before continuing to San Francisco.
Today you have a full day to explore San Francisco. Don't miss the chance to ride the famous cable cars, and you may like to take the optional Alcatraz Island Cruise and Tour to explore the island in San Francisco Bay which has served as a lighthouse, a military fortification and a federal prison. You may also like to visit Golden Gate Park, to see the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden and the local resident buffalo herd. This evening, make the most of the excellent restaurants in Chinatown, or head to North Beach for Italian cuisine.
Your tour comes to an end today as you transfer to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for your onward flight.
Superior fr £1213pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated