The first stop on our summer road trip adventure was Seattle, WA. We only had two days and we meant to make the most of our time in this fun city.
We set ourselves up at the Residence Inn by Marriott Lake Union, quite possibly one of the largest Residence Inn I’ve ever stayed in. It was also convenient, located across the street from the marina of Lake Union; a great spot to grab a drink, dinner, and watch the sunset. If you can score one of the rooms with a balcony overlooking the lake, do it. Right down the street was a stop for the Seattle street car, an inexpensive and quick way to commute to most attractions.
Day One: Embrace The City
We took the street car further downtown and then walked about 6 blocks to the Pike Place Market, a highlight for those visiting the city. It is a tourist mecca for sure, but if I lived here I would come down for the fresh, crazy big fish at the fish market, and the uber inexpensive flowers they sell there. It’s also where the very first Starbucks is located – and well, of course, I couldn’t resist stopping in!
We spent our first day in Seattle being true tourists and doing all the things that tourists do, but not before purchasing a CityPass for our family. Though you can’t use the CityPass for the Seattle Great Wheel on the pier (best to do at sunset, though beware, it’s also when lines are longest), you can use it to take a water tour with Argosy Cruise. This hour-long tour gives you a lot of insight into the city’s history, its landmarks, and some of its quirky stories. Also near the piers, and included in the CityPass, is the aquarium. Parking in the area can be pricey and traffic slow to navigate through. So aside from the street car, taking the tram is a great option. It not only leaves you nearby the public market and piers, but also takes you directly into another must-see spot: the Seattle Center.
In this one convenient spot you have access to the city’s most popular museums.
The EMP Museum is a film, music, and pop culture aficionado’s dream come true. Located in a gorgeous Frank O. Gehry designed building, exhibits cover everything from horror and fantasy films, to television favorites and musical icons, including an entire exhibit just for Women Who Rock. By far one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been too. I especially loved taking in Michael Jackson’s entire Thriller mini-film with my little ones while it was projected on the world’s largest indoor LED screen in the Sky Church.
The Chihuly Glass and Garden was another breathtaking museum experience. If you are familiar with Chihuly’s work, then you can understand how incredible it is to walk through an entire museum dedicated to it, including an outdoor garden which brought nature and glass sculptures together in beautiful harmony.
The Pacific Science Center was really fun stop for the family. Spend the extra money and watch one of their IMAX films. We watched “Hubble 3D” and were completely entranced as Leonardo DiCaprio narrated the NASA expeditions to save the famous satellite. Aside from the IMAX theatre, the science center has several interactive and educational areas that encourage families to explore everything from sound and movement to insects and pre-historic life.
Of course, you can’t visit Seattle without at least going up its most beloved landscape, the Space Needle (the CityPass gives you tickets for both a day time and evening access). The 360 degree view of Seattle from 604 high is pretty spectacular and on a clear day like the one we visited, even more so as you can see all the surrounding mountains as well as the beautiful city skyline. We did the Space Needle first and avoided huge lines. Early birds arriving to the parking lot at the Seattle Center (even before attractions open) also benefit from discounted parking for 10 hours.
Day Two: Embrace Nature
On our second day in Seattle we decided to venture outside of it, 30 miles out to the Snoqualmie Falls. We were hoping to hike, however, recent renovation work on the trails has led to these being closed temporarily. The falls are still worth the trip, and if you are lucky enough to reserve a seat for brunch at the lodge, you will be in for a treat as you get the views along with a great dining experience.
We ventured a few more miles out to Twin Falls State Park to make the hike to the Twin Falls.
Every pamphlet you will read will say that the hike to the falls is 1.5 miles, an easy hike for those who do it often. It’s no surprise then that on this beautiful Saturday morning, the trail would be filled with families with little kids (also a lot of dogs). What you should know however, is that the trail is mostly uphill, making the 1.5 miles (I still doubt that) seem much more than that. It is also a very rocky trail and when it rains, which it did during our visit, the trails are muddy and slippery. Not much of a challenge for my family as we hike often, and sometimes even for longer stretches, especially when we travel. But something to note before you visit. Something else to note is that this is a beautiful hike, lush and green, with tall trees, and a babbling brook along the trail. During the light rain the whole experience is magical, just you and nature. A really nice escape from the city scene.
Seattle is a pretty active town. You will see tons of joggers, cyclists, kayakers, and boaters. It also has some great parks for hiking, walking, and biking.
One of readers gave us a tip on Discovery Park, and we really enjoyed our visit there. There is a 2.5 mile loop around the park which is easy to do and allows for tons of opportunities to see some of the area’s wildlife.
The best part about our Discovery Park was the beach along Puget Sound. Parking is free, but the visitor’s center only provides parking passes to 8 people at a time, for 3-hour periods. We didn’t know, but lucked out because we got one of the last passes to the beach for the sunset hours. Bikers, joggers, walkers, and even boaters seem to be able to access the area just fine. This was one of our last stops in Seattle and I can’t think of a more wonderful way to have ended our visit. The lighthouse sets a nostalgic tone while the gentle waves softly crashing against the rocky shoreline and the views of Mt. Rainier in the background provide the serenity that would make someone want to stay here forever. Granted, the incredibly sunny weather we experienced added to it all, something which everyone kept saying we were so incredibly lucky to experience as it is rare in Seattle. We took it all in, happily.
I’m surprised at how very little we ate while in Seattle. In an effort to not break budget we took advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast every morning, but we did get to try a few Seattle favorites.
Serious Pie serves up some gourmet pizza that is pretty tasty, and not one I wanted to share. My penn cove clams, pancetta tesa, and chilies pizza was so great, I ate the entire thing all by myself – after starting it off with a buratta and strawberry salad. Wait. Did I say we didn’t eat much in Seattle? Ok, well, maybe a little. The brick oven cooks up one yummy crust, which to me is everything when it comes to a good pizza.
We stopped into Top Pot. These hand forged doughnuts served up in the trendy neighborhood of Downtown Seattle, also their flagship cafe. It’s a good thing that this doughnut stop is a bit of a walk from other attractions near the pier, justifying indulging in them before setting out.
Speaking of trendy neighborhoods, check out the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. It’s where we had ice cream from Bluebird Microcreamery and Brewery and pies at Pie. It’s also where we met a troll while walking under a bridge and posed for pictures.
We loved our Seattle visit, and we especially loved all the awesome weather we experienced while there. Though, I have to say, even when it rained, our parade of awesome adventures didn’t seem to slow down one bit.
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