Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington anaheimer

The sprawling Seattle metropolitan area is surrounded by water, mountains, and lakes in the Pacific state of Washington – and home to a lot of history and culture.

From the iconic Space Needle tower to the historic Pike Place Market and from the waterfront restaurants to Mount Rainier covered with snow, everywhere you look, there is something new to see or adventures to be had.

A visit to Seattle would not be complete without exploring downtown on foot, riding the Monorail, spinning around on the Great Wheel, dining on the waterfront, or finding unique gifts at Pike Place Market.

Interesting Facts: The Seattle area has been continuously inhabited for at least 4,000 years.

nullSeattle is also home to mega tech firms like Microsoft and Amazon and major industry giants like Boeing.

The Seattle area was settled by the Coast Salish Native Americans for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived in the mid-19th century. 

The first European to visit the area was George Vancouver in 1790. The city was officially incorporated in 1853 and then went through several cycles of boom and bust. Tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft drove the latest boom. To read more about Seattle’s history, go here

Climate

Seattle’s weather is classified as Oceanic, but that doesn’t really tell you what to expect when visiting the city. If you are visiting during the summer, expect dry and temperate weather. Expect lots of rain (or snow in the mountains) and cold temperatures any other time.

Getting there and getting around

nullVisitors from neighboring states can take major highways 5, 405, and 90 – but beware, traffic is a nightmare when you get close to downtown Seattle. If you are flying in, you will end up at Sea-Tac airport (Seattle-Tacoma).

The airport is huge and well organized. It is considered the 28th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. If you rent a car, you will take a shuttle to the Rental Car Center – about 5 minutes away. The center is huge and has most of the rental companies.

Interesting Facts: Seattle is home to the world’s first gas station, opened on East Marginal Way in 1907.

You can also take light rail to downtown Seattle and avoid driving altogether. The light rail system runs from Angle Lake to the University of Washington, passing through downtown. Trains pass by every 5 minutes and cost around $3. For trips further away, you can take Metro buses and water taxis. Once you are in downtown, you can just walk around to the major attractions.

Where to stay

Like any large city, there are a lot of lodging options. You can stay at major hotel chains like Sheraton, Hilton, and Marriott downtown or find a room or a whole house with Airbnb and VRBO.

If your main goal is to explore downtown and the surrounding area, I advise booking a place downtown. This way, you can avoid traffic headaches and walk to most attractions. If you plan ahead, you can find good deals right in the middle of the action.

Fun in Downtown

nullDowntown Seattle is a hodgepodge of old and new, trendy and laid back. The best way to enjoy this medley of sights and sounds is just to start walking. If you are new to Seattle, try to join a walking or food-tasting tour.

I went with “Show Me Seattle” Tours on their Pike Place tasting tour during my recent visit. The tour was just what I needed to get introduced to this iconic Seattle place. This market started in 1907 and is still the most popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Read more about Pike Place tasting tour here.

Seattle - Pike PlacePike Place Market is full of all kinds of shops and restaurants. You can buy your produce or fish here, enjoy breakfast or lunch, or find a special souvenir. While browsing, you can enjoy the street performers.

You can walk down a long set of stairs from this bustling market to reach Seattle’s waterfront, with many more restaurants, piers, parks, and rides. The waterfront is also where many of the water taxis, ferries, and cruise boats operate. Seattle is renowned for its water transportation system and many island destinations.

Another way to enjoy downtown is by Segway. You can rent one or go on a tour. I recently went on a tour with “Seattle by Segway” through the waterfront, Seattle Center, and Pike Place. Our guide, Cory, was an excellent tour guide, showing us some interesting places along the way. Read more about Seattle by Segway tour here.

Here are some must-see attractions in downtown Seattle:

Pike Place Market

nullThis market is the second most visited place in Seattle and one of the most popular places in the world. It is also home to the first Starbucks coffee shop, which opened in 1971. The market first opened in 1907 as a farmer’s market. It started its life as a meeting place for farmers and fishermen to sell their products to the locals. It had now grown to a multi-level center with various shops and restaurants.

Tip: Most visitors only discover the top level, which runs along Pike Street and Pike Place. Don’t be a tourist. Go deeper into the market and down the stair to discover more shops and restaurants.

Seattle - Pike PlaceAs you stroll through the market, you will notice many street performers. They are also called Buskers, and some of them go on to become famous performers and songwriters. While visiting, make sure to stop at one of the fish sellers and observe. To attract customer attention, some fishmongers started throwing fish at each other and making a big show out of preparing and selling fish.

Interesting Facts: Although Pike Place started as a farmer’s market, it now also offers many trinkets, fine art, shows, breweries and dining experiences.

Some vendors worth mentioning at Pike Place: Daily Dozen Donuts; Saffron Spice Indian food; Supply the Best dried fruits and veggies; The Urban Garden; Don and Joe's Meats; Honest Biscuits; Totem Smokehouse; Chowder Kitchen; Arts and Crafts area; Made in Washington stores.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle

Starbucks Reserve Roastery In SeattleDiscover the extraordinary Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, a haven for coffee enthusiasts unlike any regular Starbucks.

Step inside this architectural marvel to savor exclusive coffee blends, witness unique brewing techniques, and indulge in gourmet food pairings tailored to elevate your coffee experience.

Whether you're a coffee connoisseur or simply seeking a unique spot to unwind, the Reserve Roastery offers a captivating blend of luxury, education, and innovation.

Read more about this unique place here.

Space Needle

nullThis 605 ft (ca. 184 m) observation tour is the most visited attraction in Seattle. The Needle reopened recently after some major renovations. The observation tower commands a remarkable 360-degree view of Seattle, Puget Sound, several lakes, and Mt Rainier. It has both outdoor and indoor observation decks. A snack shop offers drinks, popcorn, and other snacks.

Interesting Facts: The Space Needle design was inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany.

The tower also has a revolving restaurant with a glass bottom. The seating is extremely limited at the restaurant/bar, and they don't have reservations, but it is worth the wait. We had drinks and snacks while admiring a 360-degree view of the city.

Waterfront and Great Wheel

nullA few steps down from Pike Place, you will reach Seattle’s waterfront, with many shops and dining experiences. The waterfront is a long stretch of walkable sidewalks along Alaskan Way. Start from around Yesler Way, which dead-ends into the Ferry Terminal, and keep going north on Alaskan until you reach the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Along the way, you will pass great seafood restaurants like Elliott’s Oyster House, the Salmon Cooker, the Fish Bar, or the Crab Pot. Looking for entertainment and fun? Stop at the Great Wheel at Pier 57, get your tickets, and enjoy a leisurely ride in the heated cars. Protected from Seattle’s unpredictable weather, you can observe the city skyline on one side and Elliott Bay on the other. You can even grab a beer for your ride.

Seattle - Aquarium by Joe Mabel - WikimediaPast the Great Wheel, you can stop for a picnic at Waterfront Park or continue to the Aquarium. If you decide to visit the Aquarium, make sure to spend some time under the dome. The underwater dome provides a window into sea life in Puget Sound.

If you prefer to cruise through Elliott Bay, the Locks, or the lakes, stop at Argos Cruise terminal and explore. Further down, you will come across another ferry terminal and then the Olympic Sculpture Park. The park has a statue of a large white head gazing at the Olympic mountains in the distance. The best spot to view this statue is at the tip of Pier 70. The park also has a nice fountain.

On the way back, you might want to stop at “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” at Pier 54 for some unique merchandise and souvenirs. They have a large collection, and the prices are reasonable. If you haven’t visited Pike Place Market yet, you can take a side trip from the waterfront up some stairs and right in the middle of the bustling market. Across from Pier 62, there is an unnamed road that will take you to those stairs (on some maps, it is called “Pike Place-Hillclimb”).

Seattle Center

Seattle, WashingtonYou can’t really miss the Space Needle from anywhere in downtown Seattle – and further away. But the Needle is not the only attraction at the Seattle Center. This multi-block area is home to the “Pacific Science Center,” “Chihuly Garden and Glass,” “The Children’s Museum,” and the “Museum of Pop Culture.” It is also home to several gardens, the International Fountain, and kids' play areas. The Children’s Museum building also hosts the Armory, which is a large food court with many dining options.

Between the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center is a nice little garden with unique metal sculptures. On one side, you can see tall glass flowers. If you pass under them, they will start singing.

Seattle Center - International FountainsThe Pacific Science Center is a great place for kids and adults to explore and learn all day. With plenty of exhibits and hands-on experiences indoors and outdoors, no one can get bored here. The science museum also has a large IMAX theater that shows several nature and adventure films all day long.

The center is connected to downtown via a Monorail system. You can take the Monorail from Westlake station at the shopping mall to the Seattle Center next to the Needle.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

nullThis is a must-see museum in the Seattle Center. The “Glass Museum” was opened in 2012 to showcase the glass works of Dale Chihuly. It has three distinct areas with amazing displays of lights and colors. Indoors, you can walk through various rooms with beautiful glass displays with vibrant colors and complex shapes. Some look like Seattle - Aquariumflowers or animals, while others defy description.

Interesting Facts: Seat Seattle is the second largest glassblowing capital in the world, second to Murano Italy.

Outdoors, you can stroll through a glass garden. All kinds of glass plants and animals roam through this enchanting place. Connecting the two areas is a big glass house with stunning glass formations hanging from the ceiling. Through the glass ceiling, you can see the towering Space Needle. Read more here.

Shopping

I am not a fan of shopping, but for you die-hard shoppers, downtown Seattle has a lot of shopping choices. You can start at the Westlake Center, a 4-Story glass-enclosed mall connecting to a 25-story office tower. The mall has many well-known stores like Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue, Clair’s, and Anker, and some favorite dining places like P.F. Chang, Starbucks, and Candy Time. If you are seeking some gifts to take back home, visit the “Made in Washington” or “Simply Seattle” stores.

 Right next door, you can stop at the Pacific Place mall for some high-end shopping. From there, you can take the Sky Bridge to connect to the Flagship Nordstrom store.

Many unique shops and restaurants are also found at street level as you navigate the downtown grid.

Evening Colors Sunset Sail

Seattle sunset sail One of the best ways to admire the Seattle Skyline is to take a cruise through Puget Sound. During our July 2023 visit, we went on a sunset sail with Seattle Tall Ship and had a wonderful time.

We arrived early at Bell Harbor Marina, where the Tall Ship is berthed, and while waiting, we strolled around the Marina and along Alaskan Way. We noticed many waterfront restaurants, the Aquarium, and Seattle Big Wheel. 

Close to cruise time, our guide led us down a ramp and a long boardwalk to the Tall Ship, which sat lazily at its berth with its sails unfurled. 

Seattle sunset sail We left the harbor on motor power, and the crew started a drink and snack service. While we enjoyed some beer and wine, we gazed at the receding skyline, islands, and mountains. The sun was starting its descent behind the Olympic mountains, adding some surreal hues to the sky.

When it was time to raise the sails, the crew asked for volunteers to help with the task. The recruits took to their task with gusto and got the shop going on wind power only. 

It is a wonderful feeling to be cutting through the water without the loud motor sounds.  

The cruise took around 2 hours, and by the time we returned, the sun had plunged beyond the horizon, and the city lights came on. 

During this sunset sail, we saw two sides of Seattle: Daytime and nighttime. 

Outside of Downtown

The fun and discovery are not limited to the popular downtown. A few miles in any direction, you can find places like parks with Seattle views, aviation museums, Sounds, Lakes, and Islands.

Parks

nullFor the best views of the Seattle skyline, try to get to one of those small parks with stunning views.

From Kerry Park, you can see a great view of downtown, the Space Needle, and Mt Rainier. The park is just a small strip of green overlooking the bay but is very popular because of the view and the abstract art. The view is especially spectacular at dusk or nighttime.

Another magnificent view can be had at Hamilton Viewpoint Park. This is a larger park with portable facilities and telescopes. Seattle’s skyline is across Elliott Bay, looking east.

The “Gas Works Park” also has a nice view of the Seattle skyline, with the added bonus of being a full park with its own history and views. It used to be a coal gasification plant but was turned into a park after the city bought it in 1962. The designers decided to keep the factory structure intact as a contrast to the green fields and Lake Union.

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

nullHave you ever wondered how the Boeing jumbo Jets are built? If so, this museum is a great place to get a glimpse of how models 747, 767, 777, and 787 (the Dreamliner) are built. The museum is located in the city of Mukilteo, about twenty-five miles (ca. 40 km) north of Seattle. Read more about Future of Flight here.

Museum of Flight

nullAnother must-see museum for space and aviation buffs. This one is in the city of Tukwila, south of Seattle, and comprises several buildings and a large outdoor exhibit. The museum holds a diverse collection of aircraft, including the Boeing 747 and the Concord, and a dedicated building for Boeing history. Read more about the Museum of Flight here.

Tours around Seattle

The best way to explore a new city is to join a tour and learn from the expert locals about where to go, what to see and do – and where to eat.

Taste Pike Place Food Tour

nullI went on the Taste Pike Place tour with Show Me Seattle the very first day I arrived in Seattle. It was a terrific way to learn about one of the most well-known attractions in town and to taste some delicious food. Marcia, our guide, was very friendly and knowledgeable. We spent more than 3 hours learning about the Pike’s history, people, and shops and ended up tasting food from thirteen different places. Taste Pike Place Food Tour here.

Seattle by Segway

nullSegways are a great way to discover a new town. You can rent a Segway and go on your own, but it is always better to learn from an expert. I recently went on a tour with “Seattle by Segway” through the waterfront, Seattle Center, Pike Place, and other downtown landmarks. Read more about Seattle by Segway tour here.

Mt Rainier National Park

nullThe majestic mountain towers over the Washington state landscape and can be visible from most vantage points in the Seattle metro area. It is an active volcano that is always topped with snow. It has 26 main glaciers – the most on any mountain in the lower 48 US states. It is well over 14 thousand feet high and spawns 6 major rivers and many waterfalls. The national park around the mountain was established in 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States, and it encompasses 236,381 acres. Along with the towering peak of Rainier, the park’s expansive area includes many mountains, meadows, old-growth forests, rivers, and waterfalls.

Read more about Mt Rainier tour here.

Read about a self-guided tour to Mt Rainier here.

Olympic National Park Tour

Olympic National Park Hurricane RidgeI visited the Seattle area several times but never made it to Olympic National Park, partly because of the long drive and because I didn’t know what I was missing.

In July 2023, I went with Evergreen Escapes on a full-day tour that took us from Seattle on a ferry through Bainbridge Island, a Native Reservation, many port towns, national forests, lakes, and majestic peaks. 

Read about this spectacular tour here

Mt Rainier Revisited

Mt Rainier Revisited anaheimer

In 2023, my wife and I came back to Mt Rainier on a self-guided tour to discover more wonders.

null

You can read about my first adventure here.

We headed south and drove for about 2 hours and a half to reach the Nisqually Entrance.

Along the way, we stopped at Rocky Point on Alder Lake to admire the view and grab a few photos.

You can usually capture some great photos of Mt Rainier from this point, but today was a cloudy day with a chance of rain, so we didn’t glimpse Mt Rainier until much later.

Interesting facts: Mt Rainier is an active volcano that last erupted about 1,000 years ago.

Mt Rainier - Entrance We went on a Monday and arrived around 9 am at the Nisqually Entrance, and we had to wait around 30 minutes to pass through the gate. I am told the wait is much longer on weekends.

After driving for 6.5 miles (ca. 10 km) from the park entrance, we reached the Longmire National Historic District, which includes the Longmire Museum, a Visitor Center, and Paradise Inn.  

Across from the lodge, you can hike through the Trail of Shadows, an easy .7-mile hike through trees, creeks, and meadows. Looking closely, you can see that the Beavers were busy building their dams across the creek.

Christine Falls

Mt Rainier - Christine Falls We next visited Christine Falls, a 69-foot (ca. 21 m) high waterfall with a picturesque Bridge spanning the lower drop. The upper drop is 32 feet (ca. 10 m) high and is almost impossible to film in tandem with the lower tier.

This fall is about 10 miles (ca. 16 km) from the park’s Nisqually Entrance on Paradise Road to get to a small parking pullout. 

You only get a glimpse of the waterfall as you drive in or from the car park. You must walk down to the overlook point to get the best view. But once you make it down, you will be rewarded with a great view of the cascading water.

Interesting Fact: Christine Falls was named in honor of Christine Van Trump, the daughter of P. B. Van Trump, one of the first climbers of Mt Rainier. 

The Christine Falls Bridge was built in 1931 and is a popular photography spot. The bridge offers a stunning view of the falls and the surrounding forest.

To reach the bridge, walk across the road and follow the path up. You can admire the upper waterfall from the bridge and see the water cascading below you to the lower fall.

Narada Falls

Mt Rainier - Narada Falls Our second stop on this self-guided tour was at Narada Falls, located about 7 miles (ca. 11 km) past Christine Falls. 

After parking, we walked down a short path to an overlook point with a magnificent view of the waterfalls.

Narada Falls is a two-tiered waterfall, with the upper tier dropping 168 feet (ca. 51 m) and the lower tier dropping 20 feet (ca. 6 m). The Paradise River feeds the falls, which originate on the slopes of Mt Rainier.

There are two ways to view Narada Falls. The first is to park in the small parking area at the top of the falls and walk down the short trail to the overlook. This is the best way to see the entire waterfall. 

Mt Rainier - Narada Falls The second way to view Narada Falls is to hike to the bottom of the falls. To achieve this, you must take the Narada Falls Trail, which starts at the parking area at the top of the falls. The trail is 0.2 miles (ca. 322 m) long and descends 200 feet (ca. 61 m).

The hike to the bottom of Narada Falls is relatively easy, but it can be slippery and muddy. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear and clothing.

Once you reach the bottom of the falls, you will be rewarded with a close-up view of the rushing water. You can also walk behind the falls and feel the mist on your face.

If you prefer not to hike at all, you can still get a nice view of the fall from the bridge next to the parking lot.

Reflection Lakes

Mt Rainier - Reflection Lakes Our next stop was at Reflection Lakes, which is about 2 miles (3.22 km) away from Narada Falls. We drove a short distance, but hiking from Narada to the lakes is possible.

The lakes are named for their ability to reflect the image of Mt Rainier, creating a stunning mirror-like effect, and it is also a place for peaceful reflection. 

Mt Rainier - Reflection LakesDuring our visit, the mountain was mostly shrouded with layers of clouds. It did peek through the clouds a few times, giving us a stunning view.

The lakes are surrounded by subalpine meadows and wildflowers, making them a beautiful summer hike spot. 

We spent some time walking along the path surrounding the lakes and had a picnic lunch while admiring the views.

Reflection Lakes is a popular spot for photography, especially in the morning and evening when the light is best. The lakes are also a popular spot for wildlife viewing, with deer, marmots, and pikas being commonly seen in the area.

Important note: Be sure to stay on the trails to help protect the delicate ecosystem, and Leave no trace to keep the park clean and beautiful for future visitors.

Hike from Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes

Mt Rainier - Reflection Lake Although we didn’t attempt this hike, it is worth mentioning here.

The hike from Narada Falls to Reflection Lakes is a moderate 1.5-mile out-and-back trail. The trail begins at the Narada Falls parking lot and follows the Narada Falls Trail downhill to a junction with the Wonderland Trail. 

The hike is mostly shaded, with some open meadows along the way. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. There are a few steep sections, but the hike is not too challenging overall.

Bench & Snow Lakes

Our final stop on this self-exploration tour of the park was supposed to be at Bench & Snow Lakes. 

We discovered that the only way to reach those two lakes is via a short hike. The parking lot at the bottom of the trail was full, so we turned back, vowing to come back in the near future. 

You can find a detailed hiking guide here: https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/bench-and-snow-lakes.

Mt. Rainier, Washington

Mt. Rainier, Washington anaheimer

nullThe majestic mountain towers over the Washington state landscape and can be visible from most vantage points in the Seattle metro area. See the main Seattle page here

Mt. Rainier is an active volcano that is always topped with snow. It has 26 main glaciers - the most on any mountain in the lower 48 US states. It is more than 14 thousand feet high and spawns 6 major rivers and many waterfalls.

The national park around the mountain was established in 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States and it encompasses 236,381 acres. Along with the towering peak of Rainer, the park’s expansive area includes many mountains, meadows, old-growth forests, rivers, and waterfalls.

nullRead more about the park here.

Interesting Facts: On clear days Mt Rainier can be seen as far away as Corvallis, British Columbia and Oregon.

The park is popular for hiking, climbing, and winter sports. Most visitors go for a day trip, but some like to stay at the campgrounds and Inns.

On a recent tour with “Customized Tours”, we spent a day exploring this beautiful park and majestic mountain.

nullWe started from Seattle and headed south towards the Nisqually entrance. Along the way, we stopped at Puyallup to stretch our legs and buy some supplies. The town has a large Fred Myers grocery store with everything you can think of – including a Starbucks. It was a good stop for breakfast.

Interesting Facts:Some ice cave in the mountain are so cold they are being studied for similarity to conditions on Mars.

Our guide and driver Joe was a wealth of information. He knew the ins and outs of the park and where to stop and what to see. As we threaded the windy highway towards our destination, we enjoyed the amazing scenery and stopped for small hikes into the woods to inspect the wildlife. On one stop we got close and personal with some deer – a mom and 2 pups.

nullThe weather is unpredictable at the National Park. On an early October day, the sun was shining in downtown Seattle, but as we drove up the hills into the park, the skies darkened and a slow drizzle started. Joe used his experience and knowledge to adjust our itinerary according to weather conditions.

First, we stopped at National Park Inn in Longmire for lunch. This stop also has a ranger station, visitor center, and a museum.

Tip:Longmire is the last stop at which you may find some cell phone coverage. After that point the phones were totally dead.

nullRight across the street from the Inn, we enjoyed a hike through the Trail of Shadows. It is an easy .7-mile hike through trees, creeks, and meadows. If you look closely you can see that the Beavers were busy building their dams across the creek.

On the trail, we also passed an old log cabin and some abandoned hot springs. The hot springs are now considered very dangerous due to the presence of parasites.

After our lunch stop and hike, we discovered that the drizzle turned into ice. Later during the climb to Paradise, the ice turned into snow. Joe decided to keep going and reach the Inn before any road closures. As we climbed, a few snow-covered peaks revealed themselves through the clouds but Mt Rainier remained shrouded.

Interesting Facts:The mountain is so high that from the lowest summit, Liberty Cap you can see four additional mountains, Mount Baker, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams

nullArriving at Paradise Inn, we saw a rustic wood structure mostly covered in snow. Inside it was warm and inviting with vaulted ceilings made of aged old-growth wood. Outside, under light snow, squirrels were scurrying around and then hiding in snow holes.

Paradise area is a base camp for many activities. During the summer visitors go camping, hiking or mountain climbing. In the winter months, they go cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and tubing – or just enjoying the winter wonderland, like us.

On the way back, the snow stopped and the clouds started clearing. All of a sudden, Mt Rainier revealed itself and we could see the shiny glaciers. Because of the improving weather, we were able to stop at 2 waterfalls, Ruby Falls and Sluiskin Falls. Both were cascading through an eerie snow-covered landscape. The Paradise river has 8 major waterfalls along its path and many minor ones.

nullOn the way back into town we kept getting glimpses of this magnificent mountain to remind us of the adventure we just enjoyed.

This guided tour by Customized Tours was only an introduction to the national park. I will definitely come back to explore the many trails and waterfalls and maybe camp during summer. de Joe made it a fun trip with his stories and commentary. The tour bus was comfortable and warm in the wintery weather. I am looking forward to going on more tours with this company.

More to see

In 2023, my wife and I came back to Mt. Rainier and discovered more wonders.

We visited Rocky Point ay Alder Lake, Christine Falls, Narada Falls, and Reflection Lakes. 

Read the full story here.

 

Olympic National Park Tour

Olympic National Park Tour anaheimer

Olympic National Park Hurricane RidgeI visited the Seattle area several times, but never made it to Olympic National Park, partly because of the long drive, but also because I didn’t know what I was missing.

This time around, in July 2023, I went with Evergreen Escapes on a full-day tour that took us from Seattle, on a ferry, through Bainbridge Island, a Native Reservation, many port towns, national forests, lakes and majestic peaks. 

Here is my account of this spectacular tour.

Olympic National Park - Ferry Terminal in SeattleWe met our guide at the Evergreen Adventure Hub in Seattle at 7 am, collected a few more guests and headed out in our comfortable van. 

Evan was both our guide and driver, and he excelled at both. We made it to the ferryboat in time for the 7:40 am departure. Evan mentioned that if we didn’t make it on time, we would have to wait 50 minutes for the next one. 

Up on the ferry’s passenger deck, we enjoyed French-press coffee and some pastries prepared by Evan and then went exploring through the boat. 

Olympic National Park - Ferry rideOn the upper deck, we said goodbye to the receding Seattle skyline and gazed at the approaching island and the mountains in the distance.  

Interesting facts: The ferry we were on was huge. It could hold up to 300 cars and 2000 passengers.  The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the USA.

The ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge was 35 minutes long, but the time passed quickly. We were having too much fun exploring the ship and the views.

The drive

The drive from Seattle to our destination, Hurricane Ridge in the National Park, is about 3 hours long. But with many stops and points of interest and landmarks, it took close to 7 hours. 

Along this long trek, we passed through Bainbridge Island, over a floating bridge that connects to Kitsap Peninsula, through several small towns and ports, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and several types of forests. 

Even though the drive was long, our guide kept us busy and entertained and picked the right stops with amazing views and a chance to stretch our legs or go on short hikes.

Jamestown S'Klallam Indian Reservation

Olympic National Park - Jamestown ReservationOur first stop was at the Jamestown reservation, which was more of a rest stop than an actual native residential settlement. The S'Klallam Indians use this area as a seat of government and to provide social services. 

This reservation has a unique history. It was formalized by members of S'Klallam communities in 1874 when they purchased a tract of 210 acres (0.85 km) near Dungeness to avoid the threat of forced relocation by European colonizers.

This was a notable feat, since at the time, Native people were legally barred from buying property and most didn’t believe in private ownership. 

Read more about their history here 

Our stop here was a nice opportunity to stretch our legs, use the restroom, and checkout the gift shop. 

Interesting fact: The Olympic National Park got its name because Explorer Vancouver claimed the gods live in those mountains, and he named the highest peak Mt Olympus. 

Lake Crescent and Lodge

Olympic National Park - Lake CrescentLake Crescent was carved by glaciers 14,000 years ago and is the second-deepest lake in Washington, with a maximum depth of 624 feet (ca. 190 m). 

It is crescent-shaped, about 7 miles (ca. 11 km) long and 2 miles (3.22 km) wide. The water is a brilliant blue-green color, and is incredibly clear, with visibility up to 100 feet (ca. 30 m). 

Interesting Fact: According to Native American legend, the lake was created when a giant cannibal named Seatco threw a boulder into the valley below. The boulder dammed the river and created the lake, which swallowed up the S'Klallam and Quileute tribes who were fighting in the valley.

The Lodge on Crescent Lake shores is a historic lodge and was built in 1915. It has 55 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant, and a gift shop. There is also a boathouse on the lake where guests can rent boats and kayaks. 

The lodge is surrounded by beautiful scenery, including Lake Crescent, the Olympic Mountains, and the Sol Duc River. There are many hiking trails in the area, as well as opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming.

Olympic National Park - Merymere fallsWe used the lodge as our basecamp for a beautiful hike to Merymere falls.

This easy trail is about 2.25-mile out-and-back and took us about 1-hour to complete, and most of it was shaded by old-growth trees.

We had many stops along the way while Evan was describing the flora and fauna to us. He also pointed out that the creek along the way is icy cold because it is from glacier meltwater.

Towards the end of the trail, we had to cross two bridges and climb steep stairs, but the waterfall at the top was worth the effort. 

My only complaint is that the last part of the hike was overcrowded. Too many hikers were clustered.  

After the hike, we relaxed at the lodge for a while, used the restrooms, and did some souvenir shopping at the gift shop. 

Madison Falls and lunchtime

Olympic National Park - Madison FallsOur guide picked a lovely place for a picnic lunch. The picnic tables were set up next to the Elwha River and close to the Madison Falls trailhead. 

This easy to reach waterfall and picnic area is 16 minutes away from Port Angeles on highway 101. You can reach the trailhead on Olympic Hot Springs Road, which is closed beyond this point. 

While Evan was setting up our lunch, we went on the short, walk to the falls.  

The trail to the fall is short, paved and wheelchair accessible, and it takes about 5 minutes to reach. 

The falls are located on Madison Creek, which is a tributary of the Elwha River. The creek flows through a lush forest of Douglas fir, western hemlock, and cedar. 

If you are lucky, you may see deer or elk and lots of birds. We saw some birds but no large animals.

After lunch, and while Evan was clearing the tables, we trekked down to the riverbank and admired the towering mountains in the distance. 

Hurricane Ridge

Olympic National Park - Hurricane RidgeWe drove from Madison Falls and through Port Angeles for about 28 miles (ca. 45 km) to reach the highest point in our tour and were greeted by a spectacular view of the Olympic Range. 

Hurricane Ridge is open to the public for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding, but with restricted access due to the limited facilities. 

The rangers will count the vehicles entering the area and only permit 170 vehicles at a time. Check the website for the latest alerts here.

Interesting fact: There are 244 named mountains in the Olympic Mountains

Olympic National Park - Hurricane RidgeAfter admiring the views, we went on a loop hike that took us from the parking lot through the woods and to an overlook with a spectacular view of the bay below. From the overlook, we could see Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria in Canada. 

Towards the end of this short hike, some of us took a longer hike to Hurricane Hill for a stunning 360-degree view of the area. 

Interesting fact: The Olympic Mountains were born in the sea

Olympic National Park - Hurricane RidgeIn the parking lot, while sitting on a bench and admiring the meadow below me, and the mountains in the distance, I spotted a deer and two fawns playing in the meadow. 

The mother sped up chasing something while the fawns hid in a shady spot waiting for their mother to return. Deer are herbivores, so I don’t think it was hunting. It was probably just having fun.

The return trip

After the highlight of the tour at Hurricane Ridge, we started our journey back to Seattle. 

This was a very long tour, mainly because of the of distance from Seattle, so we were exhausted. I actually napped most of the way back, which made the time pass quickly. 

We made it back to the Evergreen Hub at 8 PM, which made this a 13-hour tour.

Other than the long drive, I enjoyed every minute of this tour and really appreciated Evan’s knowledge and dedication to making this a memorable trip. 

Evergreen Escapes

2960 4th Ave S #115, Seattle, WA 98134

https://www.evergreenescapes.com/ 

Other points of interest

Although our tour took 13 hours to complete, we didn't get to visit all the best places in the peninsula. Here some places worth mentioning:

Rialto Beach

Olympic National Park - Rialto beach - by Ron Clausen - wikimediaRialto Beach is a public beach near the mouth of the Quillayute River, and is composed of an ocean beach and coastal forest. The many miles of seaside topography offer views of sea stacks and rock formations in the Pacific Ocean.

Port Angeles

Port Angeles is located on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is the gateway to Olympic National Park, and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking.

Port Angeles has a small-town atmosphere, with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. The city is also home to the Port Angeles Harbor, which is a major shipping port.

Enchanted Valley

The Enchanted Valley is a beautiful and secluded valley and a popular destination for hikers, campers, and nature lovers.

The valley is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including old-growth forests, wildflower meadows, and Roosevelt elk. 

It is surrounded by towering mountains and lush forests. The valley is home to the Quinault River, which flows through the center of the valley. The river is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and kayaking.

Seattle Aviation Museums

Seattle Aviation Museums anaheimer

null Seattle is home to the largest aerospace manufacturer in the world, so it stands to reason it is also home to 2 separate aviation museums. See the main Seattle page here

Both are run by private companies but showcase a lot of Boeing's products and history. For a more Boeing-centric experience, visit the Future of Flight which includes a tour through the Boeing factory. For a larger exhibit with international flavor and a section dedicated to space, go to the Museum of Flight.

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

nullHave you ever wondered how the Boeing jumbo Jets are built? If so, this museum is a great place to get a glimpse of how models 747, 767, 777, and 787 (the Dreamliner) are built.

This museum is located in the city of Mukilteo (next to Everett) about 25 miles north of Seattle. Before the tour, you get to visit the main Gallery (Learning Center) with some informative exhibits and hands-on experiences.

You can get into the cockpit of a 727 plane, take a simulated flight, inspect GE and Rolls-Royce engines, and many other exhibits. While visiting you can also design and print your own airplane image or visit the "How Planes are Made" family zone.null

Interesting Facts: The Boeing assembly line at Everett is the largest building in the world by volume with 472 million cubic feet in volume.

After you have your fill of indoor activates and exhibits, take the elevator to the observation deck where you can view an active runway and Boeing factory buildings.

nullThe tour is about 90 minutes and takes you through the Everett building and through the largest assembly building in the world. You get to see airplanes moving down the long assembly line in various stages of completion.

Tip: Photography and electronic devices are not permitted during the tour. Make sure to place your belongings in the free lockers before your start - and remember you code.

It is a brisk walk, so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues. But don't let that stop you from enjoying this tour. The museum offers 2 tours a day that meets ADA requirements. You just need to call 2 weeks ahead of time to reserve it.

Interesting Facts: According to the Guinness World Records, the mural on the six factory doors is considered the largest in the world.

During the tour, you also get to visit the airfield and watch planes taking off and landing. The tour was very informative and engaging even for children. The tour guides are Boeing employees and know their stuff. It was a nice touch when the guide pointed to his working place in the plant.

Interesting Facts: The Boeing Company, founded in the Seattle area by William Boeing, started as a boat company

The museum also has 2 gift shops and a café. One store is at the front of the tour and it carries Boeing items. Another store sells more traditional science gifts. For a free souvenir, go back to the gallery level. Take a free photo at the booth and come back later to select your background and email it to yourself. You can also purchase a hard-copy photo at the Boeing store.

Read more about Future of Flight at their website here.

Museum of Flight

nullAnother must-see museum for space and aviation buffs. This one is in the city of Tukwila south of Seattle and is comprised of several buildings and a large outdoor exhibit.

One building is dedicated to Space exploration. Inside you can climb into a Space Shuttle model or browse through Apollo engines, Model Rockets, or visit the Space Flight Academy. When you are done with the space exhibits, take a pedestrian bridge to the main building with a large aviation gallery. The gallery showcases airplanes through the ages from the historic flight of the Wright Brothers to recent advances in space flight and all the innovations in-between. For a better view of the whole gallery, take the elevators to a balcony overlooking the whole exhibit.

Another building tells the story of Boeing from 1916 to 1958. The first floor is dedicated to William Boeing and his pioneering decades' building this company that became the dominant Aerospace manufacturer.

Interesting Facts: In 1915, William Boeing dropped cardboard "bombs" on a crowded California-Washington football game to wake up Americans to the danger of foreign attack.

nullThe second floor explores the company’s shift from small craft to multi-engine airplanes concluding with the building of the 707 jetliners.

Outdoors, you will find a large covered area with many aircraft from around the world. This exhibit has the only Concord plane in the US. You can climb in and experience the seating plan and the complex cockpit. Also outdoors you can find a Boeing 747, the first jet Airforce One, and many military jet fighters and bombers. The museum offers several tours and experiences.

You can go on a one-hour Boeing Field tour. The tour takes you both inside the historic airport and along the runway. You can also go on docent tours of the museum for a more in-depth experience of learning and entertainment. Finally, you can enjoy a 3D movie or take a simulator flight for an additional fee. During your visit, you can spend some time at one of two Cafés to relax and enjoy some snacks.

Read more about the Museum of Flight at their website here.

Seattle by Segway

Seattle by Segway anaheimer

nullSegways are a great way to discover a new town. You can rent a Segway and go on your own, but it is always better to learn from an expert.

I recently went on a tour with “Seattle by Segway” through the waterfront, Seattle Center, Pike Place, and other downtown landmarks. See the main Seattle page here.

Tip: Parking is difficult and expensive at the waterfront. You can find cheaper parking a few block away, but remember that you have to climb down and back up to get to the water level.

We started with a quick lesson on how to operate the Segway and be safe. Once you learn the basics, the Segway is very easy to operate and much faster than walking.

We selected our helmets and started the tour from their location at the waterfront. Our guide Cory was an excellent tour guide showing us all the interesting places as we zipped along Alaskan Way pedestrian way.

Interesting Facts: The Edgewater is the only over-water hotel in Seattle. It is built on top of Pier 68 and famous for hosting the Beatles when they visited Seattle in 1964.

nullOn the waterfront, we saw the Seattle Great Wheel and passed by popular seafood restaurants like Elliott’s Oyster House and the Salmon Cooker.

Towards the north end of the waterfront, we went into pier 70 to gaze at the Olympic Statue from a great vantage point. The huge face in this park is gazing at the Olympic mountains in the distance.

At this point, we went deeper into town and headed toward the Seattle Center for a great view of the Space Needle and Museum of Popular culture.

While at the center we drove our Segway in between large glass flowers that started singing to us. We also passed by the International Fountain and a musical kids' playground.

Interesting Facts: The ferry terminal connects the waterfront to Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Vashon Island and Port Orchard.

On the way back, we passed through Pike Place and the old part of downtown at Pioneer Square. Riding the Segway through Pike Place was very challenging due to the crowds, but it was fun anyway.

Pioneer Square had a lot of old and historic buildings. Although my feet were tired from standing on the Segway for 2 hours, I was sad to see the tour end. It was a great experience.

Starbucks Reserve, Seattle

Starbucks Reserve, Seattle anaheimer

Starbucks Reserve Roastery In SeattleVisiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle is like stepping into a grand temple of coffee.

Situated in the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood, this flagship location isn't just another Starbucks; it’s an immersive experience into what makes Starbucks unique, especially when compared to its regular stores.

Unique Ambiance and Design

The Reserve Roastery in Seattle is housed in a massive, beautifully renovated historic building. When you step inside, you're greeted with the rich aroma of coffee beans being roasted on-site. The interior is a feast for the eyes, featuring rustic wooden beams, copper tubing that snakes across the ceiling, and large, inviting leather chairs. It’s much more than a place to grab a quick coffee—it’s a place where you can relax, work, or catch up with friends in a cozy, upscale environment.

Exclusive Coffee Offerings

Starbucks Reserve Roastery In SeattleOne of the highlights of the Reserve Roastery is its exclusive coffee offerings. This location serves rare and exotic coffee beans from around the world that you won't find in a typical Starbucks store.

For example, you might try the Panama Carmen Estate Coffee, known for its smooth, balanced flavor with hints of chocolate and lemon, or perhaps the aged Sumatra, stored for three to five years to enhance its spicy, earthy notes.

Special Brewing Techniques

The brewing techniques here are also a spectacle in themselves. From the siphon, which uses halogen light to heat the water and create a vacuum for brewing, to the cold brew system, which features coffee slowly dripping through a mesmerizing spiral of tubes, these methods not only produce distinct flavors but also add to the overall experience of your visit.

Innovative Food Pairings

Starbucks Reserve By Joe Mabel Wikimedia Food at the Reserve Roastery is crafted to complement the sophisticated coffee offerings. The menu includes items that are a step above typical Starbucks fare.

You might enjoy a prosciutto and Parmesan croissant or a slice of rich chocolate ganache cake. For a savory option, try the truffle mac and cheese or the fig and goat cheese flatbread. Each dish enhances your coffee and provides a delightful taste experience.

Exclusive Merchandise and Tours

Additionally, the Roastery offers exclusive merchandise, such as specially designed mugs and bags of Reserve coffee beans that you can take home as a souvenir.

For coffee enthusiasts interested in learning more about the process behind their favorite brews, the Roastery also offers guided tours that explain the journey of bean to cup in depth.

In conclusion, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle offers a unique blend of luxury, education, and innovation that sets it apart from regular Starbucks stores.

Whether you're a coffee aficionado or just looking for a unique place to relax, this destination promises an enriching and flavorful adventure.

Starbucks Reserve

1124 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101

Taste of Pike Place Food Tour

Taste of Pike Place Food Tour anaheimer

nullDowntown Seattle is a hodge-podge of old and new, trendy and laid back. The best way to enjoy this medley of sights and sounds is to just start walking. See the main Seattle page here.

If you are new to Seattle, try to join a walking tour or a food tasting tour to learn from local experts.

 I went on the “Taste Pike Place” tour with Show Me Seattle the very first day I arrive in Seattle. It was a great way to learn about one of the most well-known attractions in town and to taste some delicious food.

nullMarcia, our guide, was very friendly and knowledgeable. We spent more than 3 hours learning about the Pike’s history, people and shops and ended up tasting food from 13 different places.

Interesting Facts: Pike Place market is about 9 acres big with 24 buildings and 240 small businesses

The food choices were excellent and filling. During this tour, we got to try Seafood, donuts, snacks, chowder, and dessert. My favorites were:

nullDaily Dozen Doughnuts: A small kiosk that creates great doughnuts every day. I loved their sugar-coated and caramel.

Tip: Most visitors only discover the top level, which runs along Pike Street and Pike Place. Don’t be a tourist. Go deeper into the market and down the stair to discover more shops and restaurants.

Saffron Spice: This Indian cuisine kiosk offers delicious traditional dishes like Samosa, curry chicken, and vegetable wraps. We tried several Samosa with different fillings and a spicy sauce.

nullRub with Love Shack: This place has a large variety of American sandwiches like Cheesesteak, Salmon Burgers, Toasted Turkey, and Grilled Cheese. We tried the salmon burger and it was very tasty.

Honest Biscuits: This is a place specialized in fresh biscuits with a variety of fillings. The biscuits are always fresh out of the oven and fluffy. The fillings are locally sourced from Pike Place shops.

Pike Place Chowder: You can’t miss this award-winning chowder restaurant. Their New England Chowder was amazing.

Interesting Facts: Rachel the Piggy Bank is located beneath the Public Market Clock and Sign at the corner of Pike Place and actually makes money for the market foundation.

nullEllenos Greek Yogurt: A great snack or dessert. This place offers Greek yogurt made with locally sourced fresh ingredients. You get to try it before you buy it. My favorite was the Marionberry Pie.

We also had great street tacos at Los Agave, tried some smoked Salmon at Pacific Seafood, and some dried fruit at Supply the Best. Food was only a part of the tour. We also visited “Seattle’s Pub and Brewery”, watched fishmongers throw fish around, and visited a nice rooftop garden maintained by the local vendors.

Interesting Facts: The market foundation does not allow chain stores in the area, but Starbucks was grandfathered in because it started as a unique coffee store.

nullOne of the buildings at Pike Place is dedicated to arts and crafts. Here you can find locals selling their handmade creations. Everywhere you go you can enjoy the street performers (also known as Buskers). You can listen to some guitar players, singers and classical musicians.

I really enjoyed my tour with Show Me Seattle and would recommend it to anyone new to Pike Place Market.