In 2 weeks my good friend Shannon and I are taking a short vacation to the Washington coast. It was spur of the moment, and July is not the best time to plan a trip to a big tourist destination. We lucked out and found a condo available in Copalis Beach. I had forgotten that I had gone to Copalis for a week many years ago when my now 23 year old daughter was in a playpen. It was a great place to stay then and I am looking forward to going back. It is a 7 1/2 hour drive from where we live, so we need to have snacks, drinks and the ipod loaded up with good music to listen to.
My friend is from Louisana and has never seen the north Pacific coast. It is totally different from Florida or any southern beach. The weather is likely to be brisk, rainy, sunny, chilly, warm, or any combination of these. The water is cold and in August is about 53 degrees. People do swim in it, but wading is more the ticket for us. Realizing that the weather is not what she is used to is part of the planning. We need to take clothes for every weather. Bathing suits are a must for the pool, sauna and hot tub...not for the beach. Oh that reminds me...we should each bring a beach towel. The towels that are provided are never adequate. Fleece jackets, waterproof windbreakers, sweatshirts and long pants are important because at the beach in August it can be cold. We are thinking about a day trip to the rain forest and there is average of 12 feet of rain a year on the coastal side of the Olympic mountains. It could be nice so some tee shirts, tank tops and shorts are in order...keeping my fingers crossed for that.
We have been looking at all the things to do up and down the coast. Ocean Shores is close to where we are staying and we have been looking up restaurants, art galleries, wine shops, scooter rentals and all kinds of things. My favorite source for information is Trip Advisor.
I use this site for every trip we take. You can read reviews from actual travelers on hotels, restaurants and things to do for places all over the world. I never make a reservation anywhere without checking out the reviews. We found out the #1 restaurant in Ocean Shores is Chinese/Vietnamese. We found out there is an Irish Pub that serves authentic Irish food and has traditional music on Friday and Saturday nights. We have researched every art gallery, wine shop, and museum on that part of the coast. Clam digging is huge there and razor clams on the menu would be the freshest and most native thing to eat. You can drive on the beach, but it's not recommended because if you get stuck, you will pay through the nose to get pulled out. I bet the locals make a pretty penny pulling out over enthusiastic tourists.
My preference in traveling is renting a house, apartment or condo. Being in a cramped hotel room gets old after a short while. Being able to stretch out and cook your own meals makes it much nicer, and cooking for yourself saves big bucks. Having a washer and dryer means that you can dry wet towels, and rain drenched clothes. Also Shannon and I are HCG girls for life and cooking our own food means we can stay faithful to our way of eating. We will eat a meal or 2 out, but for the most part we will eat low carb.
To summarize...Plan, Plan, Plan!!! You will know what things cost, where things to do are, best places to eat, what the weather will be like, and all kinds of other things. Good planning will enable you to get the most out of your vacation dollars and time.