If you have not visited Seattle yet, put it on your to-do list. When we arrived in Seattle it was a cool 63 degrees, a shock to our system after a week of 80’s and up in our home town of Kentucky. However, we were soon won over by the pure beauty of Washington State’s largest city. They don’t call it the Emerald City for nothing! Everywhere we looked it was brilliant green and flowers were in bloom as far as the eye could see.
The day was still a little too overcast for us to catch a clear glimpse of Mount Rainier but we were told that on a sunny day you can see the snowcapped top.
A day of whale watching was definitely on our agenda. We made the 2-and-a-half-hour drive to Port Townsend and set sail on a tour of the San Juan islands. The marina we left from was beautiful and we were soon spotting seals playing in the water and basking in the sun on small islands. After about 45 minutes we spotted our first Killer Whale.
Not long after that we saw two adults with an infant swimming together. I couldn’t believe how close they swam to the other boats and even the shore. We witnessed one very small boat with a whale so close the people inside could have reached out and touched it. It was an amazing adventure and well worth the $135.00 price of admission. The cost is guaranteed, if you do not see whales they will give you another tour for free.
The next day we decided to do some light hiking and see some of the spectacular nature that Washington is famous for. Any Twin Peaks fans out there? Snoqualmie Falls is only a 35-minute drive from Seattle and is featured in the opening credits of the cult favorite TV show. The Falls are an easy hike from either the lower or upper parking areas, with plaques along the trail to identify the local wildlife, flora and fauna of the region. The waterfall itself is quite a sight to see. The falls are 268 feet high, nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls and 1000 cubic-feet of water per second rushes into the Snoqualmie River. After the hike you can visit the cute town of Snoqualmie for lunch or dinner.
For a more adventurous hike we drove the 2 hours to a site many locals told us about, The Grove of the Patriarchs. It is part of the Mount Rainier National Park and consists of well-marked trails through a magical grove of ancient Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and western red cedars. From the small parking lot the trail leads you up through a path where you will cross the Ohanapecosh River on a suspension bridge.
The sign instructs you to cross the bridge in single file. Once you cross the bridge, you reach the island of these magical trees. The path is a loop so you can go either way.
After we toured this area we still had a few hours of daylight left so we decided to explore some of the other trails in this magnificent park. We stopped at the welcome center and picked up some trail guides. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong on any of the suggested trails, the beauty of this area was almost overwhelming. Trails are not nearly as well marked once you leave the Grove of the Patriarchs so be sure to pay attention. We got turned around somewhere along the way and ended up about 4 miles away from where we parked.
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market.
This historical landmark built in 1907 is full of a huge variety of vendors. Local crafters, fresh flowers, shops, restaurants, and of course the flying fish vendors. The entire historic district is about 9 acres. With so many choices of food (Russian, Italian, French, just to name a few) I am not sure how you can decide. We sampled things from several places. You can even find the original Starbucks here. You can also be entertained by the many street performers, known as Buskers (a person who entertains in a public place for donations), all around the market. You will see several spots around the market marked with a large musical note painted on the sidewalk, these are designated areas for buskers.
We also loved the “secret” rooftop garden with great views of the water and the giant Ferris wheel at Pier 57 on Elliott Bay. The Ferris Wheel stands 175 feet tall and is said to have magnificent views of the city. If you are a tea lover they have a great little tea shop in the market and you can sample some of the unique flavors they sell.
If you have any favorite spots in or around Seattle please leave a comment below and tell me about it.