This past weekend I had my first, but surely not my last, experience in the Pacific Northwest. Such a large area with infinite options, and so little time. I worked really hard to build a succinct itinerary that would permit maximum amount of PNW experiences with the limited time I had. While this has left me hungry for more, I’m satisfied with the array of activities I was able to squeeze into this short two day trip!
My destination: Seattle and the surrounding area. While Seattle is a bustling city with plenty to offer on its own, I couldn’t make the trip out west without getting a little closer to some of the gorgeous scenery surrounding the city. The water- the Sound. The mountains-THE mountain. As it turns out, the geographical highlights really impact the culture of Seattle and its residents.
Check out my itinerary, as follows, to get the most out of your weekend trip to Seattle! Fair warning- to accomplish this, you’ll need to wake up early, and rent a car. I opted to stay close to the airport to make my travel around the city easier.
We committed to waking up very early and were on the road by 6:30 am.We grabbed some coffee, breakfast and snacks at the hotel, and packed them in our backpacks for later. A little under two hours, we arrived at Mount Rainier National Park. We were able to watch the sunrise over the mountain as we drove closer to it, and we were able to see some Elk eating on the side of the road on the outskirts of the park.
The plan was to spend the morning on the Burroughs Mountain Trail. According to my research, this is the trail to take in order to get as close to the mountain as possible, without needing an ice pick to go actual mountain climbing. There was also the strong possibility of seeing White Mountain Goats. Unfortunately, the road that goes to the Sunrise Lodge (where the trail head begins) was closed due to weather earlier that week, so we had to get creative. We were able to find another trail in the same area that led towards the end of the Burroughs Mountain Trail- The Glacier Basin trail. While we didn’t see any goats, and we were in for a lot more snow than we expected, we had incredible views of mountains and nature.
After 3+ hours hiking, the rest of the day was spent driving around the rest of the national park, wearing out my camera battery, and gasping at every wind in the road that brought a new and priceless view. Highlight: Reflections Lake.
Day 1- PM
A quick 2 hour drive back to our Double Tree by the airport (those cookies were KEY to get us through the rigorous hike!), we showered and freshened up before heading to the city for an evening of local craft beer and grub. I recommend: The Elysian Bar, and try a few with a flight. For dinner we were true tourists in the Pike Place Market Bar & Grill, but it did not disappoint!
Day 2- AM
We needed to wake up early again, but the city had so much to offer that it wasn’t tasking. We started our day at the market- heading to the original Starbucks to grab a coffee, and then to a kiosk in the market, the Seattle Bagel Bakery, for a quick grab-n-go breakfast. Tip: try the Bagel Dog (bagel-wrapped hot dog).
We walked with our coffee and bagel to the Space Needle, a good 20 minute walk from the market. We made it in time to beat the lines (opens at 10 am on Sundays). The morning light made for great views, even the mountain was peaking through!
Day 2- PM
Heading back towards the market and waterfront, we stopped at a few souvenir shops, and decided on trying another local brew at Old Stove Brewing. A nice waterfront walk down to the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal, and we were boarding the 1:10 ferry. We lucked out with a sunny ride over, and while we didn’t spend any time on the island itself, it was well worth the $8 for just the boat ride and breathtaking views!
Considerably hungry after our bagels have worn off, we hopped off the ferry and opted for a waterfront seafood late-lunch. Tip: Cafe 56 (Part of Elliot’s Oyster House) does not disappoint with their Salmon BLT (with goat cheese…!), a cup of clam chowder and a local Manny’s lager (according to the bartender, this is Seattle’s “favorite beer”).
Stuffed with fresh seafood, now was the perfect time to walk. Souvenirs and the market, stopping for a quick picture at the Harbor Steps on the way. After a few hours of shopping and walking, we were completely exhausted and decided to go back to the hotel and freshen up before enjoying our last night in the city. We stopped at Kerry Park just before sunset to get one more daylight- skyline view of the city.
Finally, by the time we were hungry again it was pretty late, and on a Sunday night our options were limited. We stumbled upon a tiny Italian place tucked under the market that offered Italian-style tapas on their late-night menu. It was the perfect upscale, romantic and intimate setting we were looking for, and it had lighter options. Highly recommend this place: Il Bistro. A few night time shots of the city lights and the market and our trip had come to a close.
However, be forewarned, the Pacific Northwest will surely call you back.