Category Archives: Washington (State)

18 Fun Things to do In Sunny Seattle Washington (Part 3 of 3)

Visiting Seattle Washington (Part 3)

This is the final installment of a 3 series blog that discusses 18 fun things we found to do in Seattle Washington.  If you missed the prior blogs, you can access them below:

2 Weeks Ago: 

Argosy Locks Cruise, Duck Tour, Snoqualmie Casino Ziggy Marley Concert, Around Seattle, Chateau St. Michelle
Blog:
 http://wp.me/p2z3sU-fh

Last Week:

Ballard Locks,Space Needle, Experience Music Museum, Gas Works Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Starbucks
Blog:
 http://wp.me/p2z3sU-gp

This Week:

Seattle Art Museum, Theo Chocolate Factory, Seattle Aquarium, Mt. Rainier Railway, Underground Tour.

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this visit, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seattle.asp

Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) showcases modern art, sculpture, Greek and tribal artifacts, and topical themes (it was Japanese Fashion the week we were there).  I am no art aficionado, but the modern art was akin to pieces our kids made in grade school.   It seems if you slap watercolor on notebook paper, they will call it art and frame it nicely for the SAM.  When you walk into the SAM, you will see about 4 or 5 Ford Tauruses hanging above.  Art?  Not sure I buy that.

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

The Greek artifacts were very interesting, many of the carvings and sculpture date back to B.C.   I also enjoyed the vertigo art.  The SAM is a good place to visit on a rainy day but if it is sunny out, I would much rather be taking in a hike.

Theo Chocolate Factory

The Theo Chocolate Factory was a fun tour, especially if you have a penchant for cocoa.  They have been around since 2005 was the first to lay rights to being a fully organic and fair trade shop.  Being fair trade compliant, independent companies ensure that their cocoa suppliers in Ecuador, Peru and the Congo pay their employees well and are not using under aged labor.  You will pay a little more because their costs of doing business is higher, but many people will agree it is worth the extra cost.

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Theo Chocolate Factory

Theo Chocolate Factory

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Theo Chocolate Factory

Theo Chocolate Factory

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly.  She explained how the beans are shipped to this factory and roasted.  Once roasted, the shell is taken off, ground, mixed with sugar and liquified into chocolate.   You get to sample a lot of chocolate, so come hungry!

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is a good way to spend a few hours.  It is wise to purchase the City Pass because it gives you a pretty good deal (43% savings) on the Aquarium, Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight, and Experience Music Museum.  After visiting other larger aquariums (Chicago and Baltimore), this one was not as impressive, but I love sea life so it was still fun.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Mt. Rainier Railway

If you’ve never been on an old train or if you have kids, this is the ride for you.   Lynn and I have been on countless trains with our kids, so it was a bit boring for us.   The train ride starts at the base of Mount Rainier, so the drive to the station offered up some great views of Mount Rainier.  The train ride is about 30 minutes up to a Train Museum and 30 minutes back.  The scenery along the ride was a little disappointing.  I was hoping to see great views of Mount Rainier, you only get about a 5 second view.  Other than that, you are looking at  unimpressive trees and small streams.  The museum is also mundane, not a ton to see here.

If you are really into trains, I could see it being really interesting for you.   Lynn and I took a train to Machu Picchu last year, so this paled in comparison to that.  If we had it to do again, we would have just purchased a day tour of Mount Rainier.

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Church at the Train Station

Church at the Train Station

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Train Museum

Train Museum

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

Underground Tour

The Underground Tour is very popular, you need to get there about 2 hours ahead of time to purchase a ticket.  A new tour starts every hour and it is crowded.  I had high expectations for this tour but left a bit disappointed.  In the late 1800’s Seattle burned to the ground by an accidental fire.  Since all buildings were made of wood, there was no hope of saving any buildings.

Once they decided to rebuild Seattle, they concluded that all buildings had to be brick (smart move) to prevent it from happening again in the future.  To rebuild, they wanted to take their time to properly zone all the areas of the city and to ensure that they had a great drainage and sewage system.

To do it properly, they decided to build huge retaining walls that spanned from 10 to 35 feet high.  Businesses did not want to wait 7 years for the retaining walls to be built, so they got approval to begin building immediately.  But they had to agree to build all their buildings at least 3 stories, understanding that once the retaining walls were in place, the first (and maybe second) floors would be underground.   They agreed and construction began.

Once the retaining walls were finished, the city was essentially built on top of the first story of the new businesses. This created an interesting underground section of the city that can still be seen today.   There really is nothing that compelling about how it looks today, it looks like a bunch of dingy basements.

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

I hope you enjoyed learning about places we visited in Seattle and hope you get a chance to visit it in person some day.

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18 Fun Things to do In Sunny Seattle Washington (Part 1 of 3)

Visiting Seattle (Part 1)

Yep, you read the title right: “Sunny Seattle“.  Sound like an oxymoron?  It’s true, almost every day we spent here over the past 2.5 weeks has been beautifully sunny.  It’s not always so.  We lived here in 1997/1998 and experienced the daily drizzle until we could not take it anymore — that’s why we moved to Colorado.

But we vowed we would come back to Seattle in the summer and experience what the locals refer to as their “8 weeks of bliss”.  And bliss it was.  This town has so much to offer and so many things to do.   In fact, there is so much to do, I could not cover it all in one blog (without you going totally glassy-eyed).    So I will break this blog into 3 parts, covering different fun things to do if you ever get up this way.  I put them in order of enjoyment (most fun first).

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this visit, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seattle.asp

Argosy Locks Cruise

This was a really fun boat tour.  It starts out in Lake Union with tons of boats on the water enjoying the day.  I love boating (we have a Searay 220 Select), so this was tailor-made for me.

It is really cool to see the planes land on Lake Union.  You can catch tours on these to the San Juan islands.

Planes leave several times daily

Planes leave several times daily

The Amazing Race has filmed footage in Gas Works park in 2 different seasons (Amazing Race 3 and 10), you can see why. It is a great place to relax and sports spectacular views of the city skyline.

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Seattle view from Lake Union

Seattle view from Lake Union

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If you are a fan of “The Deadliest Catch“, you will recognize the ship below, the ship named Wizard.  It spends its summers here too.

The Wizard

The Wizard

Once you leave Lake Union, you go through the Ballard Locks.  It separates Lake Union from the Puget Sound.  I will do a separate blog on the locks, but it was fun having the tour boat go into the lock, watch the water rise and then exit out into the sound.

As you exit the locks, you encounter draw bridges before getting out into the open Puget Sound, where you are rewarded with great views of the lighthouse and the Seattle skyline.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle Skyline

Alki Light House

Light House

Duck Tour

No tour of Seattle is complete without getting on the Duck!   This is a really upbeat and fun tour that not only educates you on the area but also allows you to go from land to water all on the same tour.  It takes you around town showing you the sites but ends up in Lake Union, giving you an up close encounter with the floating homes of Lake Union.

Snoqualmie Casino – Ziggy Marley Concert

This casino is east of Seattle, just outside of the famous Snoqualmie Falls.  We stumbled on to the casino after visiting the falls and found that Ziggy Marley was performing there a few days later.  Luckily, they still had a few seats left so we snapped them up.  We decided to come a little early to avoid traffic and crowds and had time to waste.  Lynn put $1 in the penny slots and won enough money from that $1 to pay for our Ziggy Marley tickets!  We cashed out and enjoyed the show.  The concert was amazing, it started out with Eric Burdon — the lead singer of War.  He put on a really great show, I had forgotten how many songs I knew as he began his set.  His voice was spot on, he has not lost a step.

Many of you know that I am a big fan of Ziggy and Bob Marley.  Ziggy not only sang his popular hits, but also about 3 of Bob’s songs.  And he did his Dad proud, his mix of the songs were fresh and sounded incredible.   My favorite songs Ziggy played were “Justice”, “Tomorrow People”, “True to Myself”, and “Look Who’s Dancing”.

Museum of Flight

We spent about 4 or 5 hours in this museum and could have spent longer. It has planes from all stages of aviation and includes an exhibit from the space age, complete with rovers and other space vehicles.   We also boarded the Presidential Plane, that is probably the only chance I will have to do that!

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Presidential Plane

Presidential Plane

They also had a flight simulator that I was able to pilot.  A guy from Chicago volunteered to be my gunman as I piloted the combat airplane to shoot down the enemy planes.  It felt pretty realistic, I was able to make the plane do 360’s and 180’s — that was so much fun!  The second picture below shows us upside down as I maneuvered a 360.

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Around Seattle

There is so much to do in Seattle, just browsing around town.  We saw the fish mongers throwing around fish at Pike Market, visited the Gum Wall, spent time with Rachel the pig, saw Alki Beach, hiked Discovery Park to the lighthouse, hung out at the Sculpture Garden, and stopped by the Pacific Science Center.  By the way, we saw Superman in iMax at the Pacific Science Center, great place to see a 3D movie.

Check out the slide show below.  If you want to navigate the pictures manually, hover over the picture and click the forward or back buttons.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chateau St. Michelle

If you’ve had Riesling wine at any restaurant, you have probably tasted the wines of Chateau St. Michelle.  We decided to visit the winery and join a tour.  The grounds are impressive, the tour was good and we were surprised to learn that they have concerts all summer long.  The Steve Miller Band (no pun intended) was performing here the weekend we visited.  If you get a chance to stop by this winery, it is definitely worth the trip.

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Well, that covers 6 of the fun things we did during our trip. Over the coming weeks, I will continue detailing our time in Seattle with a total of 18 spots to see if you visit.

The Wondrous Forests of Olympic National Park

Avoiding Bears in Olympic National Park

On our journey from Oregon to Washington, we spent a few days in Olympic National Park. As we began our trek through the western edge of the Olympic National Park, we kept seeing signs touting the largest trees in the world.

“See the world’s largest Spruce”, “See the world’s largest Cedar”, “See the world’s largest Douglas Fir”. Alright, it got our attention, so we stopped and took a few photos.

For a slide show of this trip, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_OlympicNationalPark.asp.

The Mossy forests of Olympic National Park

The Mossy forests of Olympic National Park

World’s Largest Spruce

Our first stop was the world’s largest Spruce tree. Accessible via a quick hike, we reached it quickly. It was large. Not as large as some of the Sequoia’s we saw in Sequoia National Park, but certainly respectable in size. Notice closely on the tree, I am standing just above the base!

World's Largest Spruce

World’s Largest Spruce

World’s Largest Cedar

The Cedar was cool, you could walk inside it which offered up a great photo opp.

Worlds Largest Cedar

Worlds Largest Cedar

Worlds Largest Cedar

Worlds Largest Cedar

Along the way, we saw lots of other magnificent waterfalls and trees.

Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

Waterfalls in Olympic National Park

Trees in Olympic National Park

Trees in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Kestner Homestead Trail

We also hiked the Kestner Homestead Trail, it leads back to an old homestead that they are starting to revamp for public viewing. It offered some great views and nice pictures.

As we made our way along the trail, Lynn shouted “bear!”. I turned around to see what the commotion was all about to find out that she had seen a bear cross our path only about 30 yards ahead. We high-tailed it out of there, going back the way we came in! Luckily, we had already made it through the homestead before seeing the bear, so we came back with some pictures to share.

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

We also found a cool beach called Ruby Beach that is a haven for thousands of marine creatures. It also offers up some great views of the Pacific Ocean.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

As we ended the day, we stopped into Sol Duc Hot Springs to soak our weary bones. After relaxing in the mineral springs, we stopped by Crescent Lake. This pristine lake, created by a glacier, was spectacular. Although the pictures don’t do it justice, you could see the bottom of the lake until it dropped off into a blue hole of nothingness.

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

I will leave you with a couple more pictures of Port Angeles. The final one was a hoot — this raccoon was begging for scraps.

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The Truman Show: Seaside, FL or Seabrook, WA?

Idyllic Town Fit for The Truman Show

When planning our trip to the Northwest US, we used the Internet to find this quaint coastal town called Seabrook.   From the pictures, it looked like a hip, upscale town, and it felt oddly familiar.  Many of my readers know we live in Florida but may not know exactly where.  We live on scenic 30-a, a beautiful coastal highway that runs along the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, in a town called Seacrest.  Seacrest is nestled right between the trendy towns of Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach.

Only a few miles down 30-a is a town called Seaside, Florida.  This is where they filmed the 1998 movie “The Truman Show” (starring Jim Carrey).  In the movie, they called the town Seahaven, but most of the iconic houses, interior roads and shops were shot in Seaside. I think they chose Seaside as the location for this film because of the small beach homes with tin roofs and white picket fences.  Here are some pictures of Seaside (not all of these pictures are my originals).

If you wish to see a slide show, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seabrook.asp

When we arrived in Seabrook, we talked to several of the locals and they all talked about how Seabrook was modeled after The Truman Show and Seaside, Florida.  We then knew why this felt so oddly familiar.  Since we stayed here a week, we formed our own opinions about how similar yet different the two communities are.

First, the houses in Seabrook are little more in the “New England Nantucket style”, with gray shingles and standard roofs.  We certainly have houses on 30-a in this style (think Watersound).  I think I actually prefer the look of these Seabrook homes over Seaside:

Score one for Seabrook.  

Seaside has lots of little shops and plenty of eateries.  If you haven’t been to Great Southern for the best cheese grits around, you’re missing out!  Seabrook has one eatery (Mill 109).  It has good food but it is small and limiting.  Seaside has lots of food choices.

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook has some cool hiking trails that lead you around the community and it is set in a beautiful mountain setting.  Huge alpine trees and wonderful vistas.

Score one for Seabrook.  

We brought our bikes and found that Seabrook is not very bike friendly.  You can ride around the community, but you get about 10 minutes of biking time and you run out of places to go.  As anyone that has visited Seaside and anywhere on 30-a knows, we have over 28 miles of paved bike trails on 30-a.  And most of the way, it has beach views.  Simply awesome!

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

I took this picture from scenic 30-a while biking

Score one for Seaside.

Seabrook is flanked by a small fishing town, Pacific Beach. This town is really small, has no movie theater, and has no endearing restaurants.  If you want to drive about 25 minutes, you can drive to Ocean Shores.  Ocean Shores does have a small theater that offers 3 different movie titles.  It offers a few touristy things to do (a casino, go carts, golf, and bowling).

But when contrasted with Seaside, it pales in comparison. In Seaside, you can take a quick trip to Pier Park with tons of restaurants, bars, fishing piers, shopping, and a proper movie theater.  Or you can jump in the car and visit Destin, who has a Bass Pro Shop, lots of restaurants, water parks, golf, mini golf and more than you can imagine to do.

Score one for Seaside.

The biggest difference between the two communities is the beach.  Seaside wins hands down.  In Seabrook, the beach has dark, mud-like sand while Seaside offers white, powdery, sugar-like sands.   In Seaside, you will see tons of people on the beach, building sand castles, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and lounging under umbrellas.   In Seabrook, you may encounter 10 people on the beach, some flying kites and a few kids making mud pies.   With Seaside summer temperatures in the upper 80’s and low 90’s as compared to Seabrook’s mid 60’s, you can understand why.

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Seaside, Florida

Score one for Seaside.

The final contrast I’ll draw is the people.  People are friendly in both locations but you won’t hear that infamous southern drawl in Washington. For me, that is a good thing, I get tired of hearing my own southern drawl.   Now you know why these blogs are written and not in video form.  🙂

Score one for Seabrook.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

With all that said, we think they are both great beach communities and we really enjoyed our stay. We highly recommend you visit if you travel to the Northwest US.  And of course, if you want stunning beaches, you gotta go to scenic 30-a.