Oh Washington, What A State!
Picture this: a warm cup of fragrant coffee in hand, lush hiking trails, a retro Space Needle, snow-capped mountains, vibrant Farmer’s Markets, and lots of city sounds. That’s Seattle for you: the quintessential picture of the Pacific Northwest.
Not too long ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a week in iconic Seattle. This was my very first time exploring the area (I mean, transits don’t count, right?), so I was ecstatic! We had such an incredible time, and the week absolutely flew by.
While Seattle was our “home base” for the week, we also took several day trips to nearby areas to explore more of what Washington has to offer– and loved every moment of it! So I thought I’d share with you a bit of our adventures so YOU can: 1) live vicariously through us, or better yet, 2) take it as a guide to plan your own adventures to Seattle, WA!
As a good rule of thumb, the most popular time to visit the Seattle area is between May and October. Granted, as with any high season excursions, you may find that prices are a bit higher than in low winter seasons. This is because winters are typically cold, with daily highs of 46°F and roughly 18 days of rain. In contrast, traveling during the summer allows you to get the best chance of catching the sunshine, which was what we were after! That being said, no matter what time of year you visit, Seattle is sure to impress!
Before we start, check out this short video to give you a glimpse of our week:
Did you catch the crazy double rainbow in the beginning? Read the full story here!
Being a part-time photographer, Rattlesnake Ledge has always been on my bucket-list spot to visit and take in. And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. According to the Washington Trails Association, Rattlesnake Ledge is “a fine hike on a well maintained, albeit busy trail through the forest with views of the Cedar River watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake.” Part of the Snoqualmie Region, Rattlesnake Ledge is approximately a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle. And in case you’re wondering (as I was), there’s no rattlesnakes! So why the name? The Seattle Times explains: “Before there was a lake, there was a town. And the area was filled with camas plants. When the flowers were done, and their seed pods dried out and the wind blew, it sounded like rattlesnakes.” Now that you know that, onward!
Gates Foundation Discovery Center
This certainly is not everyone’s cup of tea, but Evan and I LOVE to learn, even during vacation! Ever since we were little, have each felt a call to start a business in another country to teach people how to be financially independent. We feel God’s call for us to “teach a man how to fish” so he can take care of his family and pass it forward to the community. Growing up in a Third World country, there is so much potential within the kids, teenagers, and even adults there. The sad part is they often don’t have the opportunities, specifically financially, to do anything with it, and the potential is left untapped. So naturally, a visit to Seattle wouldn’t be complete for us without a stop at the Gates Foundation Discovery Center!
Upon the free entry to the discovery center, you’ll get access to interactive exhibits that relates to the foundation’s mission “to reduce inequities related to poverty, health, and education affecting people all over the world.” You’ll be able to learn about the everyday hurdles that’s currently facing the world’s underprivilidged, and what different groups of people and companies are doing to improve their conditions and lives.
What Evan and I love most about our time here is how much it resounds with our calling. As their website states, “We seek to unlock the possibility inside every individual. We see equal value in all lives. And so we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world. From the education of students in Chicago, to the health of a young mother in Nigeria, we are catalysts of human promise everywhere.”
And to that, we echo a resounding, “YES!”
The Space Needle
Did you really visit Seattle if you don’t stop by the iconic Space Needle? Perched up at 520 feet above ground, The Space Needle offers an incomparable view of the city, with open-air deck options and tilting glass walls! After a multi-million dollar renovation, the Space Needle also features the world’s first and only rotating glass floor. Last we checked, it costs $18/person to experience the Space Needle, though this fee is waived if you have a reservation at SkyCity — Space Needle’s own revolving restaurant!
Mount Rainier National Park
Here’s the thing: Mount Rainier was the main reason for our Washington trip, so to say it was a highly-anticipated part of our week would be a huge understatement at best! BUT, beyond our wildest imaginations, we were thrilled to find it even more glorious than we ever pictured it to be!
All the lush forests, snow-capped mountain peaks, and crystal-clears lakes and waterfalls make Mt. Rainier National Park a definite highlight of our trip! And that’s given the fact that we didn’t even explore all of it (I mean, have you seen how BIG the park is?) I guess that just means we’ll have to come back to explore the rest 🙂
One of our favorite parts of this day trip (besides our accidental discovery of a local fruit market) would be the Sunrise area. At an elevation of 6,400 feet, the Sunrise area is considered the highest point throughout the entire Mount Rainier National Park that is accessible by a vehicle. According to its website, the Sunrise area opens from the end of June all the way until October.
After parking our tiny little red rental car on the parking area of Sunrise, it was time to choose a trailhead to hike. To be quite honest with you, we just ended up walking and exploring as we went, and while we may have gotten a bit lost ( 🙂 ), we made it back in time before closing! While no overnight lodging is available at Sunrise, we thought a day spent here was plenty to fill our craving for the beautiful outdoors!
Pike Place Market
To all the foodies out there, this one’s for you. Nothing speaks to our foodie souls better than authentic, unique, and fresh artisan foods sold by the most kind vendors in the most vibrant marketplace.
Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is dubbed “Seattle’s original farmers market” and is one of the oldest public farmers’ markets operated continuously in the United States! And after visiting this glorious place (twice!), we think there are lots of great reasons why it’s still the best one in the city! Overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront, Pike Place Market is anything but generic – just ask any one of its 10 million annual visitors!
As you might guess, Pike Place Market is home to many local farmers, artists, and other small businesses. If you know Evan and me, you know that we love supporting small businesses! So of course, our trips to Pike Place Market felt like a feast, both for our bellies and souls!
A few highlights and treats from our visits to Pike Place Market:
- Pike Place Fish Market: A Pike Place Market icon! Here, you won’t see employees passing fish politely to one another. Instead, you’ll witness a show! Just order a fish and you’ll see an employee throw your choice of fish (including three-feet salmon) over icy countertops for another employee to package!
- The Chocolate Market: Need I say more? CHOCOLATE of all kinds!!
- Ellenos Greek Yogurt: Just like an ice cream store, but filled with the best greek yogurt you’ll ever have! Psst, the marionberry flavor was our fave!
- Piroshky Piroshky: Pronounced pi-rawsh-kee, these hand held pies are an Eastern European classic!
- The 1st Starbucks store: That’s right! The original store of this popular coffee chain can be found right here in Seattle! Location? 1912 Pike Place.
- Seattle Great Wheel: Just a short walk away to Pier 57 is Seattle’s best Ferris Wheel!
- And much more: Discover fresh flowers, fruits, baked goods, cheese, and other artisan goodies everywhere!
As an avid recipe creator, farmer’s markets are my jam! And as my trusty taste tester and fellow foodie, Evan agreed that this was by far one of the best farmer’s markets we’ve ever been to. In fact, we loved this place so much, we came back twice!
Our day at Vashon Island one for the books! Located just west of Seattle, Vashon Island offered us a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of city life. With great beaches, friendly locals, and the cutest tiny downtown, Vashon Island is a great place to unwind!
We started the morning with breakfast at a local Salvadorean restaurant (YUM!) and had some time to eat and chat. After about an hour or so, we headed over to the Fauntleroy terminal and bought our ticket to Vashon! Side note: don’t hop off one stop too early like we did and end up in Southworth! Thankfully the ship crew were super gracious and allowed us to hop back on, and an hour later, we arrived at our original destination: 13-mile long Vashon Island.
Here, we planned a progressive lunch AND dinner to try out the quirkiest cafes on the island! Some of my favorites were these “Cowboy Cookies” and delicious sushi. In fact, I liked these “cookies” so much, I decided to recreate them, but double the chocolate! Progressive meals or not, I definitely recommend taking some time to stroll Vashon’s quaint downtown.
In between lunch and dinner, we also rented two e-bikes. This has long been one of Evan’s bucket list items, so given the chance, we crossed it off! It took us a while to get used to them, but soon enough, we thought we were pretty decent. Pro-tip: if you’re less of an adrenaline-junky like me, make sure to scale down your setting when going downhill – Evan had his on turbo and we were DEFINITELY not on the same level 🙂
On our way back to drop off the e-bikes, we came across a local cidery called Dragon’s Head Cider. To be honest, I thought ciders were your typical fall-spiced, sweet drinks that are served hot for campfire sessions. Well, as we experienced our first cider tasting, I soon found out they are not. How do I know? My face immediately went flush, and I quickly fell asleep on the ferry ride back to Seattle – oops!
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Have you been to Seattle? What did you think? Feel free to leave a comment below!