Seattle Trip Review!
In need of a week-long vacation with just the four of us, my wife and I brainstormed new and exciting destinations for a family vacation. We settled on Seattle after learning about all the kid-friendly attractions and proximity to such beautiful natural areas. There is a plentiful variety of what I would call “vacation environments” which caters to those of us who want options. Instead of having just the ocean or just a cute town or just the great outdoors, why not give yourself the option to do it all?!
So we did a little planning and embarked on what would become a forever-cherished family trip. My full review of the trip is below - enjoy!
WHEN WE VISITED
August 2018 – the temperature was very comfortable all week long; cool mornings turned to warm days and then pleasant nights.
WHERE WE SLEPT
After doing research on the Seattle area we found five places that we knew we needed to visit: Seattle Center (aka the Space Needle and everything around it), Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, Mt. Rainier National Park, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and Olympic National Park.
So I needed a home base that could access all these areas relatively easily. The other necessity was a place on the water. The Puget Sound is the lifeblood of this entire area and brings with it some incredible wildlife and scenery. I thought it would be neat to give my family a taste of that with the place we stayed in.
This gave a me narrow enough footprint to search in and soon I uncovered an amazing vacation rental near Gig Harbor, a charming little town about an hour south of Seattle. It turned out being my favorite vacation house I’ve ever stayed in. Thanks VRBO!
WHERE WE ATE
Kelly’s Café & Espresso – cute little place with casual food, a warm atmosphere, and delicious ice cream!
Anthony’s at Gig Harbor – this was our nicest meal of the week. They’re a moderately upscale restaurant with fresh seafood and a sprawling view of the Gig Harbor waterfront.
Lowell’s at Pike Place – I got a tip from a friend to eat here, and it did NOT disappoint! Located directly above the Pike’s Place Market, half the restaurant has views of the Puget Sound and the other half has views into the market. It’s a very cool atmosphere with terrific seafood but it gets very crowded.
Maggie Bluff’s – with the feel of a casual yacht club, Maggie Bluff’s is right on the water next to a marina and has views across the Sound to downtown Seattle. Unfortunately the night we ate there the wildfire smoke clouded our views of the city.
Waffle Stop – this was a clutch find by my wife right before we went to the zoo. Talk about food euphoria…this place has everything you’d ever want out of brunch. Amazing waffles, savory egg dishes, coffee and bloody Marys.
Sidewalk Café – a rather impromptu little find between the children’s museum and a 2-hour drive to a nature hike. It’s a very cute, albeit very small, sidewalk café (hence the name) with great sandwiches, coffee, and unique juices.
WHAT WE EXPLORED
Discovery Park – a massive urban park that feels more like a nature preserve. We only did a short forest hike and hit up a playground, but I wanted to try a beach hike that finishes at a lighthouse with downtown views.
Snoqualmie Falls – an absolutely stunning waterfall that unfortunately is a little too touristy for my liking. But it’s only 45-minutes east of the city.
Mt. Rainier National Park – my personal highlight of the trip, we visited MRNP twice during the week; once the day we arrived and once the day before we left. Our first hike (Sourdough Ridge) departed from the Sunrise visitor center but we had to cut it short due to rain. But the scenic drive alone made the visit worth it. Our next trip into the park had much better weather and we took the Nisqually Vista Trail from the Paradise visitor center. It was a fully paved hike with very few people and one of the prettiest views I’ve ever seen (photo below).
Hands-On Children’s Museum – Thanks to Blippi, an educational YouTube personality, we knew making a half-day trip to this museum would be worth our time and it didn’t disappoint. The boys enjoyed the true hands-on style of this place and the indoor/outdoor setup. Everything caters to learning with your hands and there are some very cool Pacific Northwest-themed exhibits. AND a bigfoot statue.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – another shout-out to Blippi here! We had a fabulous time at this zoo which is nestled on a peninsula near Tacoma called Point Defiance. We saw a polar bear, Sumatran tiger, arctic foxes, meerkats, walrus (they are HUGE by the way), and countless types of primates. Eddie got to ride a camel and then he even recognized one of the zookeepers from Blippi’s episode!
Gig Harbor – the town we stayed near, Gig Harbor was a charming waterfront town that makes you feel part of the Pacific Northwest. Parks, specialty shops, cute restaurants, a trolley, and breweries highlight the unique harbor town. You can see the water from almost everywhere. I could see myself retiring here in summer months!
Bremerton Ferry – I had fond memories riding the ferry with my dad when I was 14 so I knew that was one thing I wanted my family to experience. We hopped aboard at Bremerton and cruised across the sound to downtown Seattle. The boys absolutely loved being on the high-speed ferry and it offered some beautiful views of the surrounding waterfront area.
Pike’s Place Market – We knew we had to go here but feared how crowded it may be. Luckily even with the crowds this tourist hot-spot lived up to its hype. It’s just such a unique setup that must be experienced firsthand to be appreciated.
Quinault Rain Forest – after the children’s museum we grabbed some lunch and drove west, taking advantage of 2 hours in the car for the boys to nap while my wife and I eagerly awaited our first experience being in the temperate rain forest of the PNW. The hike we did was just outside of Olympic National Park in the Quinault Rain Forest. It was, I’m sure, a comparatively standard one by PNW means but we found it stunning. The size of the trees, the lush density of the forest, the gurgle of streams…everything added up to a wonderful family memory.
Ruby Beach – This was stop #2 on our Olympic National Park day trip and it came late in the afternoon after the Quinault hike. We knew we faced a 3-hour drive back to our house so there was a little angst during our visit to Ruby Beach, but I couldn’t pass up a visit to this natural spectacle on the rugged shores of the Pacific. When (yes, WHEN) we go back it will be for an entire day.
Seattle Center – this was the park area around the Space Needle and it was a fun adventure for a few hours. There was a great playground (Artists At Play) and massive fountain (International Fountain) that the boys loved.
Our house – two of our days were spent totally at the house, which sounds boring but we were able to walk the beach, watch the vessels cruise up and down the channel, and view an endless amount of wildlife right from our deck. We had deer visit our yard, a harbor seal swam past the house every day, and a pod of dolphins even cruised past! And in a true National Geographic moment I saw a bald eagle catch a fish mid-flight about 50-yards offshore. All while we sat on our deck. Amazing!
WHAT WE MISSED OUT ON
Hurricane Ridge (Olympic National Park) – one of the most iconic views from ONP, it was too far out of the way but gives us an excuse to return.
North Cascades National Park – also too far out of the way but I’ve heard wonderful things about this secluded national park.
Museum of Pop Culture – might be a cool place to go with teenagers or young adults.
Seattle Children’s Museum – timing just didn’t work out for us to give this place the kind of time it deserved.
I can go on and on about the Pacific Northwest – it might just be my favorite part of the country (we’ll see if that sticks after I visit Yosemite in a few weeks!). But If you want a little variety in your vacation then Seattle gives you just that.
SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE TRIP
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