Sorry for the delay in sharing more from our family road trip with you. Today, I wanted to share our third week on the road with you. We spent our 3rd week on the road primarily in the Seattle/Tacoma area and in the Portland area. I’ve got lots of fun things we did that can be great ideas for your next trip to the Northwest.
If you have been following this series, you know that this post is about 2 weeks late.
The last weeks we were on the road, it just got a bit overwhelming to keep up with the driving, sightseeing and working at nights. I gave up on the last week and took the week off. These trip posts are kind of monster posts and take quite a bit of time to put together. I just couldn’t do it. I’m sure that you understand. I will still share the rest of our road trip now that we are home. I will continue to share a post each week.
So, let’s see what fun we found in the Northwest! We used to live in the NW, so I was super excited to go back. I still long to move back and was hoping my kids would feel the same way after our trip.
We have family that live in the Seattle/Tacoma area, so we were able to stay with my cousin, her husband, baby and 2 doggies. We spent the whole first day there doing NOTHING! It was lovely. It was so nice to be in one place and in a home and with family, pets, and an adorable baby.
My Great Aunt lives in the area, so we spent a day with her. We went to Poulsbo, a quaint Norwegian area with delicious restaurants and award-winning ice cream (Mora). I had the chance to show my girls this cute town and a little bit of their Norwegian heritage.
If you are going to visit the Seattle area, a ferry ride is a must(in my opinion). We rode the ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. Bainbridge Island is another great area to walk around with cute shops, yummy food, and more award-winning ice cream (Mora).
The Bainbridge Island ferry was fun. My girls loved that we drove our car right on and then could get out and walk around. As you can see, it is quite windy on the deck of the ferry. It also gets cold. If you prefer you can sit in an enclosed observation area as well.
One of the great things about riding the ferry are the unique views of the city. How many downtowns are right on the water and you can photograph the whole thing?
The following day, we drove back into downtown Seattle to do some sightseeing. We started with the Seattle Space Needle.
If you go, you can find parking on the street in the area. We were a few blocks away but easily found street parking.
Another neat tip, when up on the observation deck, there is one location that is marked on the ground where you can have an automatic picture taken. Find that mark, scan your admission ticket to the Space Needle, look at the camera and enjoy actually having a great picture of your whole group at the top of the Space Needle.
It is rare for me to get pictures of the three of us on our road trips, and often they aren’t the best. This was so nice. The other really nice thing, the picture was free! When you are done on the observation deck, inside or down in the gift shop, there are computer monitors where you scan your admission ticket again. You will have to sign up for a Space Needle account (if you are like me, don’t forget to uncheck the box that you want to get their email updates) and they will email you the picture free. Love it!
From the Space Needle, Pike’s Place Market is about 1.0 mile away. We could have walked it, but not knowing the safety of that, we drove and again easily found parking.
Our first stop was highly anticipated for me. The first Starbucks store is in Pike’s Place Market. The line was long, but I knew I needed to wait. This was the one mug I HAD to get to add to my collection.
A tip for you, I did notice that we went back by around 5:30pm and there was no line at all. The lady in the shop told me that when they first open for the day it is really slow as well. So, if you can time your visit, you may be able to avoid the lines.
You guys! I almost cried! After all the waiting and anticipation, I got to the front of the line and they were totally sold out of the Pike Place Market Starbucks mugs. The order had not arrived that day and they had nothing! I was devastated, but I figured I better get a mug anyway and it would be part of the story. I bought the mug on the bottom left above. I was so disappointed. We checked back as we left the market because they had said the mugs may come in later in the day…still nothing.
As I mentioned, my cousin, whom we were staying with, lives in the area. When we got to their house from sightseeing that day…guess what?!! She had a mug for me!! I actually did cry! It was so sweet that she had a spare mug and that she gave it to me. She loved the mug that I had purchased and had thought of getting it, so we swapped mugs. Yay! Happy ending!
So back to Pike’s Place Market. We were there later in the day (because we never make it anywhere early in the day) and I had told my kids how you could go watch people throw fish and that it was supposed to be really neat. We lined up and waited. Nothing! We were there for a while and we only saw 1 fish fly. My kids think I’m nuts that you can see fish flying and thus far, I’m totally on the hook because Pike’s Place is boring to my children. sigh.
Someone mentioned the gum wall to us. I had never heard of it, but figured we should check it out as we were so close. It is just a short walk from Pike’s Place Market (and may even be considered part of the market).
This wall, and really the whole alleyway, is filled with gum on the wall.
It is fascinatingly disgusting. 🙂
See what my kids thought? Kind of cool, kind of gross. They wanted me to put one of my blog business cards up there. As I had no gum, I would have had to touch other people’s gum…no thank you!
Following Pike’s Place, we walked down to the Great Wheel. I figured as long as we were being tourists for the day, we might as well do it up.
Now, if you are not a fan of heights or hanging out over the water at heights, I don’t recommend the Great Wheel. Overall, the ride was neat, but I was totally unnerved by the loading process where you are just sitting still high up over the water. Not my favorite thing.
I think if you have money and about 10-15 minutes to spare, go for the Great Wheel. In my opinion, it was pricey ($34.38 for the three of us) especially given that the actual ride is 3 turns around and takes about 10 minutes.
The views from the Great Wheel are pretty, though. So, if you love that kind of thing and have the money, it is a good ride.
Now if you have been on the road and are staying in an actual home, it is so lovely. Then if your cousin and her husband mix up fun drinks every night…it will seem like heaven as I shared on my Instagram account. 🙂 If you have any time to spend in the Tacoma area, I highly recommend Point Defiance Park & Zoo. It is a huge park with all kinds of things to do. This is near the main entrance to the park. There is a huge flower garden. It is so pretty!
We took lunch from the Antique Sandwich Co, which is located a few blocks from the entrance of the park, and had a picnic near the pond. The lunch was delicious, but a little pricey for our usual lunch budget. It was great that they had so many homemade and organic options. We bought some of their granola and brought it home. It is delicious! The flower garden had so many varieties of flowers. So many interesting and fun flowers. This was in the Dahlia garden. There is an enormously large Redwood tree right by the entrance to the flower gardens as well. Originally when we planned out our trip this summer, we were going to drive down to San Diego as well. We had planned to see the Redwood Forest en route. At least I got to show my girls what I meant by the enormous trees. In Point Defiance Park, there is a beach. My girls wanted to get their toes wet. Since we used to live in the NW, I knew how cold the water would be. I just mentioned about how no one else was in the water and let them run on ahead. She figured out why no one was in the water really quickly. LOL! There are also all kinds of trails for running, walking and hiking throughout the park. We drove the main outer loop and got out to walk a bit along the way. It is gorgeous. I was so jealous of all the runners I saw using the park. From a couple of view points along the outer loop drive, you can see views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The whole area is so pretty! I need to move back to the NW!
By the way, if you are ever in the Tacoma area, you need to try Ice Cream Social. It is our family’s vote for the best ice cream we had all summer(and we had a lot!). It is so yummy and pretty much always has a long line, but is totally worth it. We liked it better than Mora Iced Creamery, which has a lot of accolades.
Sadly, it was time to say good-bye to my cousin and her family. We were excited though, as we were heading to Portland. We used to live in Portland, so I was super excited! Only sad that I had a really hard time finding reasonably priced hotels, so we had to cut our time there a little shorter than planned. If you visit the NW, you need to try Burgerville. It is fast food, but totally different. It is sourced locally and sustainably. It is fresh, yummy food. Unfortunately, when we arrived at our hotel, our room wasn’t ready. There was a Burgerville and a Starbucks within walking distance. We made due. 😉 Thankfully this is the time of year that Walla Walla onions are in season, so I got to have some Walla Walla onion rings! Yum! After Burgerville, we hit up Starbucks. Thankfully, they had the Portland mug. So excited to add this one to my You Are Here Mug Collection. While we were in Oregon, Starbucks came out with a new Oregon mug. I couldn’t find it anywhere…I’m so sad, I really wanted that one as well. Once we got checked into our hotel, we needed to take a tour of our old neighborhood. Snowflake was hoping she remembered some of it, but she didn’t. Then we headed over the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. We used to live pretty close to here and I wanted to go on one of the walks we used to take all the time. The memories that flooded back were fun! It is a fantastic park to go for a walk and enjoy some nature. You can enjoy paved paths or dirt paths. You can go for a short walk or do a big loop like we did that ended up being about 2 miles if I remember correctly. My girls thought I was nuts that I thought this was picture worthy. Pretty!
A photo posted by KC Coake (@realcoake) on
I couldn’t visit the NW without stopping at least once in a Nordstrom rack. We had some fun. My girls really wanted to me get the pink heels. I loved them as well, but I have nowhere to wear them, so even though they were a steal at $26, I left them behind. I did, however, get the Betsey Johnson purse and the cute gray flats. Fun!
I really wanted to take my girls to the Oregon Zoo while we were in Portland. We used to LOVE the zoo when we lived there. It is a great zoo and I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.
Tip: Parking at the zoo is a pain on busy days. If you ride the MAX or TriMet (public transportation), you will get $1.50 off the already reasonable zoo ticket price.
They are in the process of building a new elephant habitat, which is going to be amazing and HUGE.
The zoo is built on a hill, so come with comfy shoes and plan to walk a lot up and down the hill.
The zoo is very interactive, with fun hands-on displays and great activities for the kids. We participated in the Zoo Quest the day we were there and not only did my kids enjoyed it, we all learned quite a bit about the cost our cell phone/electronic addictions are having on animal habitats. I had no idea.
We have been to a lot of zoos. One of the things that makes the Oregon Zoo a stand out is that almost every animal enclosure has multiple viewpoints and often multiple levels of viewing. You can see the polar bears on land and under water from different vantage points. A lot of the animals are like that. It makes it fun to see them and it gives plenty of space to see the animals and not feel crowded even on a busy day.
My memories of Oregon, and one of the many reasons why I miss it and loved it there, are that people love to be outdoors and be active. So, when in Oregon, on the spur of the moment, how about if we enter a 5k and meet up with friends at the 5k. Thankfully my friend knows the woman who puts the Ladybug Run together and she was able to secure us 3 last-minute (as in the night before) bibs for my family and 3 for another friend.
If you are in the Oregon area, you need to check out the Ladybug Run. Not only are the medals adorable (and what cinched that my girls wanted to do the 5k), but the money raised goes to help raise awareness for CDH and to help with research. It was interesting learning about the medical trials that are underway and the hopes of bringing some of those to the Oregon area.
It was a fun, casual race with delicious food afterward. Much better than the food at the races I’ve run on the East Coast. It was also a great time to run/walk the race with my girls and get to catch up with friends. Snowflake got to get reacquainted with a friend from her playgroup when we lived there. I will even say it was nice to get up early on a Saturday with a fun race, great medals, great food and great friends!
Hey and guess what? You can virtually run the Ladybug Run. You can sign up and they will send you the cute medal, t-shirt and your race bib. Then you run the race no matter where you live. Love it! We just may do that next year, so we can get the cute medals. 🙂
You can also run the Cause + Event virtually. A friend of my is the race director this year. I love that this race, you get to choose the charity that gets your money. Perfect!
For us, a trip to Portland wouldn’t be complete without riding the MAX into the downtown area. I used to be a flight attendant when we lived in Portland, so I used to ride the MAX to work. We also used to regularly ride into downtown as the Portland downtown area always seems to have something going on and is a fun downtown.
On the advice of my cousin, we wanted to try Blue Star Donuts rather than VooDoo Donuts. We were late in the afternoon when we arrived. There was a line out the door. As we were in line, I noticed the supply of donuts was rather low. They sold out to the person in front of us!
While waiting, I had to snap a shot of this. As a blogger and on almost every type of social media for work, I had to laugh at their very accurate descriptions.
When the clerk announced they were sold out, I noticed there was one donut left. I asked if they could sell it to me that I had come from Virginia and was leaving the following day. They told me no, it was a display donut and had flies on it during the day, etc and they wouldn’t sell it, BUT the sweet employee went around the corner and got us two donuts from his personal stash for the day. Thank you!
The donut on the left is a Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut and the other is one that I don’t remember. It had a peanut butter powder on the outside and since I’m allergic to peanuts, I kind of tuned out and knew my kids would need to eat that one. The filling was spicy. The kids didn’t think Blue Star Donuts were that great. They didn’t finish their donut. Now, I’m going to guess, had we gotten there earlier and been able to select our donuts, my kids would have loved it. I sooo appreciate the employee who gave us a few from his stash. That was so nice and just typifies the NW to me! I solved the dilemna of no yummy sweet treat for the kids and took my them to Ruby Jewel where they got some delicious ice cream…I may have gotten a kid scoop as well to wash down my donut…I had after all walked over 15,000 steps that day. 🙂
Next in our road trip, was a flight. Yep, this year, we had boats, trains, automobiles and now we add planes to our journey. It was time to fly to California to spend a week with my family celebrating my parent’s 50th Anniversary.
When flying out of Portland, a feet selfie with the new (or old if you can find it) carpet is a must. The carpet may have achieved cult status. 😉
We arrived in LAX and I managed to find my first California Starbucks mug for my collection right at the airport while waiting for my husband to arrive. My girls were quick to discover how much they don’t like LAX nor Los Angeles. I’m right there with them. Thankfully, that wasn’t our final destination.
But, when in California, In-N-Out Burger is a must. That was our first stop on our way to our hotel for the evening.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably already know where we went the following day. If you don’t follow me, I’ll make you wait in suspense until next week to hear about our week in CA. 🙂
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