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Originally published January 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM | Page modified January 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

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Off-season deals spice up Northwest travel

If Mexico or Hawaii aren’t in your winter budget, enjoy these nearby bargains.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Hotel discounts, dining-out deals and fewer tourists make the next couple of months ideal times for a budget-friendly Northwest getaway.

On my calendar are reminders to take advantage of a midweek lodging special at the White Pass ski area and a free Amtrak Cascades companion-fare coupon for train travel to Portland or Vancouver, B.C.

Sun and sand are always welcome, but when a trip to Hawaii or Mexico isn’t in the budget, a fireplace, a book and a glass of wine will help you warm up to winter.

Settle into a leather chair and start out with a cocktail in the Bengal Lounge of the Fairmont Empress Hotel, followed by dinner and a brisk stroll past the lighted Parliament Buildings on the Inner Harbour.

Clipper Vacations ( is extending overnight package deals through April. Prices start at $269 for two, including taxes, for round-trip passage between Seattle and Victoria and a night’s hotel stay.

The Black Ball Ferry Line has similar packages for walk-on passengers traveling between Port Angeles and Victoria ( Note that the Clipper is out of service between Jan. 3 and Jan. 18.

If you’re not doing a package and are looking for a luxurious splurge, consider the newly renovated, 80-year-old Oak Bay Beach Hotel, with seaside heated mineral pools overlooking the bay. “Soft opening’’ rates of $139 plus taxes extend through February. See Use the booking code SOFT.

Portland and Vancouver, B.C.

With hotel parking rates at $25-$30 per day, think about taking Amtrak or BoltBus to either Portland or Vancouver, B.C.

Hopefully you stopped by PCC Natural Markets over the holidays for a free Amtrak Cascades companion-fare coupon. Coupons are good through April for travel anywhere on the route between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C.

Some stores still may have a few left. If not, consider buying a Chinook Book, on sale at local stores and online at Find Amtrak discount coupons for Monday-Thursday travel.

Mudslides have been disrupting Amtrak service lately, making BoltBus ( an attractive alternative.

One-way fares on BoltBus between Seattle and Portland or Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., are as low as $8-$10, depending on time and day.

Bidding on Priceline for a hotel in either city yields an excellent deal this time of year. A bid of $80-$90 could land you a room at the Hyatt Regency or Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver, B.C., or the Benson, Marriott (city center or waterfront) or Vintage Plaza in Portland.

If you’re driving, consider Travel Portland’s “Portland Perks’’ packages. They include free parking, breakfast and discount coupons for about what the hotels charge for the room alone. Book at

Tourism Vancouver plans special hotel rates ($78, $108 and $138 per night) and packages during the Dine Out Vancouver Festival Jan. 18-Feb. 3. More than 200 restaurants will offer fixed-price meals at $18, $28 and $38. Details at and

The San Juan Islands are swamped with tourists in summer, but few think about an island getaway in winter.

Stay two nights for the price of one in garden cottages on Lopez or get $50 off your second night at a saltwater farm on Orcas. See

Lake Chelan is one of my winter favorites. Most wineries open their tasting rooms on weekends, and there are opportunities for cross-country skiing, tubing, snowshoeing through the vineyards and “snowga,’’ a new activity offered by Yogachelan that combines yoga and snowshoeing (

Through the end of February, Lakeside Lodge and Suites ( is offering rooms for $69.99, including breakfast and soup-and-salad dinners on weekends. Call 800-468-2781.

Carol Pucci is a Seattle freelance writer. Contact her at Web/blog: Twitter: @carolpucci.

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About Travel Wise

Travel Wise is aimed at helping people travel smart, especially independent travelers seeking good value. The column covers everything from the best resources to how to tap into the local culture. It runs each Sunday in the Travel section.