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BC to CA

Travel Forums North America BC to CA

1. Posted by solokiter (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Fellow travellers,

I need some advice on the best modes of transport from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to San Francisco, CA, USA.

Some more details:

It will be in mid September
I will travel alone
I would like to see as much as possible between the two locations (e.g not fly)
It needs to be cost effective
I dont mind staying a night in small towns
It cannot take longer than 5 days

Thanks for your help,


2. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5635 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Basically, that means renting a car as that will maximize your options regarding seeing as much as possible in between cities and towns.
Cheapest cars start at around 20-25 dollar or so, and don't budget on insurance. Petrol is cheap as well, around 3 dollar a gallon (gallon is 3,8 liter about).

3. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I'd take a bus to Seattle and rent the car there, as the rental company might get a bit stressed out if you are crossing the border and have to charge you lots of extra money to calm their nerves. the border may also be a potential source of inconvenience if they suspect you may abandon the car at your destination, make sure there is an outlet at the other end of the trip.

4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I suggest you take the first day and rent a car and visit Vancouver Island;--specifically, Butchart Gardens, Butterfly World (near the Gardens), and the city of Victoria.

Then check the car back in and on Day 2 take a ferry through the San Juan Islands and get a new rental car when in Washington (as Jambo101 suggests). Drive to Seattle and visit the Space Needle and EMP (Experience Music Project) at the base of the Space Needle.

Day 3 get on the road and start driving Interstate 5 south, because it's a long way to San Francisco now;--about another 900 miles. Stop in southern Washington and do a quick visit to the Mt. St. Helens museum, then back on the road and try to get to at least Eugene, Oregon.

Day 4 head south on I-5 to Grants Pass, then get on U.S. Highway 199 and head southwest through the Jedediah Smith Redwood Park and then get on U.S. 101 south. When you get into the Redwood National Park, look for the "Trees of Mystery". You'll be able to spot it by the gigantic statue of Paul Bunyon (a mythical lumberjack) in front of the entrance. Take the self-tour--it's remarkable.
Then get back on U.S. 101 and drive south to Ukiah.

Day 5--Go south either through the Napa Valley (get off on state highway 101 at Geyserville) or through the Sonoma Valley (get off on state highway 12 at Santa Rosa) and visit a few wineries (but don't drink and drive--so one should drive while one is the designated driver) in one of the valleys, then find your way back to US 101, stop in Sausalito just north of San Francisco--and then drive on across the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco. If you go to Sonoma, I suggest you visit the central square which has a great cheese factory and some nice shops. Consider visiting Kenwood, Kunde, Sebastiani, or Ravenswood Winery. If you go to Napa Valley, consider having a picnic at the V. Sattui winery. You can buy your wine there or at one of the many excellent places nearby (I suggest buying food at V. Sattui or across the street at Dean and Deluca, but getting your wine at Chauteau Montelena, Sterling (which has a tram that takes you to the top of the mountain for great views of the valley, or Stags Leap.

A great place to visit no matter which valley you go down is Tattinger Cellars (Domaine Carneros), which is on Highway 121 halfway between Napa and Sonoma.

Enjoy your trip.

P.S. Spend the evening visiting the pier areas of San Francisco--like Ghiradelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, or the Embarcadero

[ Edit: . ]

5. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2009 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I suspect what you mean by cost effective is inexpensive? If that's the case, then renting a car (and the associated drop charges incurred with one-way rentals) is not going to work. The Amtrak train can get you there too, and at a much cheaper fare. Take the Amtrak Cascades from Vancouver, and you could stop along the way to see Seattle, Portland and the Oregon Coast (connecting bus service Portland to Astoria).

From Portland or Eugene, you need to transfer to the Amtrak Coast Starlight for travel to the San Francisco Bay Area.

(When traveling in the Pacific NW, be aware that there's more than one Vancouver -one in British Columbia and one in Washington State).

6. Posted by solokiter (Budding Member 2 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Thanks all for the replies so far.

Thanks Calcruzer for your extensive itenary! I could almost print that out and go from there.

However, Daawgon is correct in the fact that I need it to be cost effective - as in 'cheap, cheap, cheap!!', which means I dont really mind if I dont have my own CD Player and A/C, I just want to get there someway.

Amtrak train sounds like the go - will check that out.

Am now thinking of heading down early September, as I have a back injury that needs time to heal before I get back on my mountain bike.

thanks everyone,