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Quick trips
Getaways where half the fun is getting there
So many travel options, so little time -- this is the dilemma faced by residents of the Pacific Northwest, who are quite confident they live in the most beautiful part of the country. How do you find time to see all that's out there?

One little tip is to plan quick getaways. These are the trips that are quick and easy, not too far, and with a transportation element that means you begin enjoying your getaway before you even get to your destination.

You might hop on a plane, a train or a boat. You might visit the seashore or the mountains. It's all here in the Pacific Northwest. Here are five examples of great trips you can do easily on a long weekend and feel like you've been on vacation for a week:

Victoria, B.C.

We'll start off with a quick trip to  1Victoria, B.C., an amazing destination that is just 45 minutes from Seattle when you fly with Kenmore Air on one of their floatplanes. Those floatplanes leave from Lake Washington and Lake Union in Seattle.

The planes land right in Victoria Harbour, where you literally can walk a couple of blocks to your hotel. There's really no need to rent a car because most of the Victoria tourist attractions are within walking distance. There are great museums, restaurants, magnificent hotels and lots of waterfront attractions.

But maybe the best reason to go is Victoria is very British -- almost like going to Great Britain. The customs of the United Kingdom shine through in many of the sights, activities, restaurants and hotels you visit in Victoria. And it's a much shorter flight that going to London.

For more information, please visit www.kenmoreair.com or phone 866.435.9524.

Train trip

Another great trip is to take the train from Seattle to Central Washington and back. Or go the other direction. Depending on where you live, this could be a great weekend trip to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth, or Central Washington residents will find this an easy way to get to Seattle without even taking the family car.

From Seattle's King Street Station, it just takes a little over three hours to get to downtown Leavenworth. The Empire Builder leaves Seattle at 4:40 in the afternoon. In practically no time you're in the colorful village of Leavenworth with all its European flair, great restaurants, fun shops and spectacular mountain scenery.

Heading west, you do need to get up early -- The train leaves the Leavenworth station at 6 a.m. and arrives in Seattle about 10:30 a.m. But once you get there, it's just a short cab ride to downtown Seattle -- a complete change of scene for people who live in Central Washington. For more information, please visit www.amtrak.com. Fares are as little as $24 one way.

Friday Harbor

There are several Washington State Ferries a day leaving from Anacortes in Northwest Washington and, depending on how many stops the ferry makes, it takes between 60 and 90 minutes to reach the charming town of Friday Harbor. You can take your car, or save money and just walk on the ferry.

If you do go as a pedestrian, there is plenty to do right in Friday Harbor. This historic village is great for strolling and people-watching and enjoying amazing waterfront views. Not to mention enjoying the very fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants.

You can take a wildlife cruise to see whales, seals and other animals. Or you can visit the whale museum. And when you want to get some exercise, just rent some bikes and go cruising through the incredible island countryside. For more information on the ferries, please visit www.wsdot.wa.gov or phone 1-888-808-7977.

Nanaimo, B.C.

The Canadian city of Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, is a great place to get a feel for the island's beautiful coastline and countryside. And it's home to those famous Nanaimo bars that you find in bakeries all over British Columbia.

A great way to get there is by flying in a floatplane from the Kenmore Air base of operations on Lake Washington. It's just an hour and 15 minutes to Nanaimo. On this flight you get a great view of the fjords of Canada's Inside Passage as well as the majestic mountains and gorgeous bays along the island coastline.

The city is about 70 miles north of Victoria and has a unique urban experience along with lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking. And like other Canadian cities, your U.S. dollar goes a bit further here with exchange rates giving you something around $1.30 Canadian for every U.S. dollar. A getaway to Nanaimo is both scenic and unique and a quick trip you'll long remember.

For more information, please visit www.kenmoreair.com or phone 866.435.9524.

Coho ferry

 1This rather large ferry is almost like an ocean liner. The MV Coho doesn't have the amenities of a cruise ship but it's a great substitute if you'd just like to take a 90-minute voyage that's almost like going to sea.

This trip is across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Port Angeles to Victoria B.C. On board you'll find big windows and lots of comfortable seating to enjoy the scenery. You could even enjoy lunch on your way with the hot and cold food items available that also include specialty sandwiches.

This is a big boat -- it has a passenger capacity of 1,000 people. You can also take your car, although you really won't need it in downtown Victoria. The hotels, shops and restaurants are all within easy walking distance in the Inner Harbor area.

For more information, please visit www.cohoferry.com or phone 888-993-3779.
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