A travel journal
to Puget Sound by El Gallo
Quote: Puget Sound is the most ferry-connected place on the Continent, maybe the world. And the big boats aren't just for commuters--travelers can plan car-free trips to the San Juans, the Olympic Peninsula, even Canada.
Washington State Ferries (Maps, fares, routes, the whole nine yards.
Victoria Clipper to Victoria, Vancouver, San Juans.
The Ferry Traveler Online a fantastic compendium of ferry data--everything in here and much, much more.
But basically, 'The Ferry Terminal' is the big one at Pier 52 (thoughtfully located right on the waterfront) where the big green and white SuperFerries constantly steam in and out. The boats run from here to Bremerton and Winslow (on Bainbridge Island), neither all that exciting in the way of destinations (though kids might see some submarines or carriers at the Navy Base in Bremerton) but they offer tourists one of the best and cheapest sight-seeing trips in Seattle. Time your trip to go out a little before sunset and return with the lights of the skyline swelling up ahead. Fares are $8 one-way for car & passenger, $3.60 for walk-ons to either location. If you are driving, this is your gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, though you might want to call 1-800-419-9085 to see if the Hood Canal Bridge (the vital link from the Kitsap Peninsula to the Olympic) is working before leaving. Washington State bridges have a very poor record of reliability.
There are some exciting (if more expensive) to the State ferries if you want to head to Victorian, British Columbia for a day, overnight, or continued trip--or want to see the San Juan Islands but have no car or don't want to drive all the way up Anacortes. The Victoria Clipper, a high speed catamaran makes the run to Canada in abround two hours and returns that evening. A day in Victoria is a real experience and the next best thing to visiting England. Be sure to take high tea in the preposterously Victorian Empress Hotel. Rates start at $49 each. Or, STAY at the Empress overnight and come back on the clipper the next day--rates for RT and room ranging upwards from $99. There are also excursions including a night in Victoria, and a night in Vancouver.
The same company offers trips from Seattle to Victoria and The San Juan Islands on mini-liner Princess Marguerite III from May to October, taking cars or walk-ons. This is quite a bit more posh than ferries or hurry-up hyper-cats, there are lunges, buffets, gift shops, espresso bars, and planks for the kiddies to walk. Fifty bucks for a car & driver, $29 for passengers, one way. Five bucks to bring your trusty bike, $29 buys you a private salonette, just perfect for espionage or mysterious murders.
Something to note here: the Clipper gets you to Victoria, from whence you can take another ferry to Port Angeles to enjoy the Olympic Peninsula. Also note that once in the San Juans directly from Seattle, you can run around the islands on the State Ferry system--free back to Anacortes.
If you are headed from Seattle to Canada, by all means forget the boring passage up Interstate 5 and take the Clipper to Victoria. If you wanted to see the San Juans on your way, do it from there and return by Washington State Ferry. Or nip down to Port Angeles or Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula for a day shot before moving on to Vancouver and points east.
If you are looking to explore the Olympics, perhaps on your way south to Oregon coast, same deal. Clipper to San Juan Island, then P.S. Express to Port Townsend, or Clipper to Victoria, Coho to Port Angeles.
Oddly enough, you can even catch a ferry to Whistler Ski Area of the Canadian Rockies. True story--just contact Victoria Clipper for package deals involving Seattle to Victoria by boat, a night in Victoria, then surface transportation to the mountains. You thought I was going to tell you the boats went up streams like salmon, didn't you? Come on, get serious.
Monkey Junction, Afghanistan