Seattle trip 2007

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A few thoughts of things to do (or not do) around Seattle. Also see:

Getting around

Indianola, by virtue of being in the center of everywhere, is no where. You're about an hour and a half from Everett (drive to Kingston, 30 minute ferry to Edmonds, drive to Everett), about an hour and 20 minutes from Seattle (drive to Bainbridge, ferry to Seattle), about an hour and 40 minutes from Port Angeles (gateway to the Olympics), and about 3 hours from the Paradise area in Mount Rainier.

In the City

Downtown / Capitol Hill

  • Seattle Public Library. A great example of modern architecture with some interesting and unique spaces in the building. Good for a quick look, or some more leisurely wandering. Go to the top floor reading room for a view of the city, in the city. 1
  • Sculpture Park - at the north end of the waterfront. New.
  • Seattle Underground Tour: Sometimes corny and more touristy than I prefer, I actually found this to be a fairly pleasant way to learn a bit about Seattle's history though quality is very dependent on your guide. In Pioneer Square which is an older part of the city.
    • In Pioneer Square (well, a couple of blocks south), also check out Elliot Bay Book Company. It's probably the best book store in a city that buys more books per capita than anywhere else in the US. Good bargain racks.
  • Pike Place Market. Always great. I don't think I need to say much here.
  • Watch a game at SafeCo Field. Great ballpark. Also a great place to see a sunset. Home games on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Against Boston. Most of us are scheduled for the Sunday afternoon game. 1
  • Seattle Museum of Flight. The Air & Space of the West Coast. Smaller but decent collection. (Really more South than downtown, but I didn't want to make a new category)
  • Seattle Aquarium. I thought that it was a bit of a letdown as far as aquariums go, though a new exhibit has since opened that is supposed to be quite good.
  • Arboretum. You can explore this on foot or in a boat. If you explore it in a boat, one option is to rent from Agua Verde in the U-District (delicious food, nice place to eat) and paddle over. Cheaper rentals can be had at UW's Waterfront Activities Center, also near the Arb. The Japanese Garden is supposed to be particularly nice (but is past its prime; nothing is blooming).
  • Volunteer Park Conservatory. 5 different environments.
  • Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. I put this here only because Gary will make you all try to go. That's when you can say no, and go do your own thing. It's really not worth your time. --But Gary says How can you pass up a pilgrimage to Sylvester the mummified cowboy??
  • SeaFair 3-5 August. Airshow (Blue Angels, etc), hydroplane races. Will snarl up traffic, be aware.

Seattle Center

  • Experience Music Project + Science Fiction Museum: Interesting museums but overpriced. In a Frank Gehry building.
  • Seattle Center & Space Needle Gary added this. (Note from Sean: I actually think the best views of the city include the Space Needle and so see no reason to pay to go up it. You can get a better view from the surrounding hills. c.f. Kerry Park)

North of the ship canal (Fremont, U-District, Ballard)

  • Rent bikes and ride the Burke-Gilman trail, or go to Discovery Park
    • Upper Burke/Sammamish River trails: parallel the Sammamish River (pretty), run through Kenmore, and parallel 405 (briefly, not so pretty). The brewery and wineries are there, too, but may interfere with biking.
    • Lower Burke-Gilman trail will take you from Ballard (pretty), through Fremont (quirky), over to Lake Union (Gasworks Park and views of the city) and then the University of Washington. N.b. that a section of the trail through Fremont is currently on the street (in a bike lane) due to some bridge construction.
    • The ride from Fremont to Woodinville is separated from traffic and quite flat (hard to find in Seattle!); at 27 miles one way it's a haul.
  • Theo Chocolate Factory: The tour is really quite good -- you get right up with the chocolate making machinery, and it's clear that the people at Theo Chocolate really are passionate about their product. $5/pp, but you get it all back (and then some) in wonderful samples. Because they are becoming more and more popular, reservations are basically required now, especially for a group. Private tours (an alternative) are $10/pp. Their chocolate bars are a bit quirky, with flavors such as bread and chocolate, coconut curry, and chi, but are also oh-so-good. The confections are also outstanding, and handmade.
    • Weekday tours: Are a bit louder (since the factory is running) and include a couple less stops. On the plus side, you will probably see more machinery in operation.
    • Weekend tours: Quieter (since the factory is not running) and include all stops.
    • This tour is reserved for all of us on Wednesday, Aug 8 at 3 pm.
  • Ballard – wander historic Ballard, see the locks.
    • Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Some of the busiest locks in the US, and the only locks in the US where saltwater meets freshwater. Also a botanical garden and a fish ladder. Free. Particularly pretty 4-7p.
  • Woodland Park Zoo (Greenwood / Upper Fremont). Reportedly one of the top 10 zoos in the US with a focus on "habitats" rather than cages. I haven't been here yet.
  • Green Lake is another area to rent boats and paddle around, though feels claustrophobic compared to Lake Union & the ship canal.

West Seattle

  • Alki Beach (West Seattle). I don’t have strong feelings about Alki, but it can be a nice place to spend an afternoon with a good view of the skyline (approximately what you'll get from the ferry, though). The most beach-like beach close to Seattle, I think.

Around the City

  • Boeing Factory and Future of Flight Museum (Everett). Bus tour through the factory. Not particularly interactive (compared to being able to climb through an airplane as it is being built), but it is quite impressive to see how the airplanes come together.
  • Whidbey / Deception Pass. Deception Pass is pretty. Not sure how I feel about Whidbey. 1
  • Redhook Brewery Tour (Woodinville). I felt that the tour was more "story" than tour, but they are quite generous with the samples and it was still enjoyable. Forecasters Pub, at Redhook, has some decent food (get their nachos to share) and outdoor seating.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Wineries (Woodinville). Haven't been to either. People at work say Ste Michelle is the better of the two, but they are right across the street from each other.
  • Argosy Cruise Tour of Sound (2.5 hours, includes lunch). GAM add details? (note from Sean: I can get you a Boeing discount on this (see this link for details). That doesn't mean I recommend it, especially if you are already taking the ferry back and forth.)

Longer Day Trips

  • Mount Rainier. The Paradise area (3.5 hrs from Indianola) is particularly popular in Rainier. Can be extremely crowded on summer weekends. Also note that the park was severely damaged in storms this winter, which may limit what is open this year.
  • Mt St Helens. The lava dome, I believe, is still growing. A bit of a haul (3.5 hrs from Indianola) for just a day, will leave you wishing you had time to really explore (get to lava tubes, etc.)

Cascades

  • Mountain Loop Highway. (1 hr northwest of the city, with no traffic.) In the national forest. Some trails are inaccessible due to storm damage this winter, see this page for the latest. There's more to see here than I've done (such as some sort of historic village called Silverton, fossils, a long railroad tunnel to explore), but some ideas include:
    • Hike Mt Pilchuck. Popular 6mi r/t hike north of the city. Moderate difficulty, so not for everyone. Nice views, less crowded than Mount Si usually. There were a string of break-ins here in a summer past; don't leave valuables in the car.
    • Big Four Ice Caves. This is a good walk in; about a mile round trip. Pretty. 1, 2. CLOSED due to a bridge out. (You can get there, but it involves some deep wading.)
  • Serene Lake Hike. About seven miles round trip with 2000' elevation gain; great lake 1 at terminus with a nice (small) waterfall about 2 miles in 2. One of my favourites in Seattle so far. About 2 hrs (drive & ferry) from Indianola in the Cascades.

Snoqualmie Pass (I-90 corridor)

Just take the ferry to Seattle and drive out I-90. Couldn't be easier.

  • Exit 31
    • Mount Si This is the standard Seattle hike. Close to the city, good views at the top. Crowded. You can find better hikes that have views on the way up.
    • Snoqualmie Falls Large waterfall. Very pretty. View from above is only a couple of hundred feed from the car, on a paved path [1]. A steep trail leads to the bottom. There is a nearby train museum.
  • Exit 47
    • Franklin Falls & Wagon Road Trail 2 mile loop (can be shortened if you leave from further up the road) that takes in a waterfall 1, 2 and some of the pass's old wagon road 3. It's a sneaker trail (i.e., you can do it in your sneakers without worrying about anything).
    • Denny Creek and Lake Melakawa Pleasant walk up to the water slides where you can hang around, walk up the creek, and check out small cascades. You can all slide on them, though I find that the rock is very hard 1, 2. Those with a little more ambition can make more of a hike (9 mi r/t) by climbing up to Hickory Ridge 3 and then descending slightly to Melakwa Lake Basin 4, 5. Overall, I think Serene Lake is prettier as a lake, but the water slides make this a nice two-part hike. If you're going to the lake, bring insect repellent.

Olympic Peninsula

  • Marmot Pass / Upper Big Quilcene 10.6 mi r/t hike that parallels a lovely creek 1, 2, then climbs to an expanse of endless wildflowers (which will be sparser in August), a camp where springs feed a creek, and finally the pass -- with marmots, views of Puget Sound and the Olympics, and the occasional mountain goat. Elevation gain 3600', on a very humane and recently maintained trail. More energetic hikers can turn left or right at the pass and climb another 500' - 1000' to various additional vistas on unsigned trails. This is on the east side of the peninsula, so it is fairly convenient to the house rental -- maybe a 1.5 hr drive to the trailhead? Forest Service PDF.
  • Olympic National Park. Lots to see here, and this should be fairly accessible from your location. This park was also damaged during the storms this winter. Among the highlights:
    • Rialto Beach. (see below)
    • Ruby Beach. Also popular, but further south. 1
    • Hoh Rain Forest. Pretty (and short) walk through a rain forest. 1, 2
    • Sol Duc Falls. Pretty. About a mile walk to the falls, I think. 1
    • Hoh Beach. Pretty, also a bit of a walk in, on uneven ground. 1, 2
    • Hurricane Ridge. Lovely views into the park. A nice, moderate hiking trail. [2]
  • Port Angeles, WA is a small pretty town (with a market on Saturdays, I think) on the way to the Olympic Peninsula. Sinful cinnamon rolls at Gina's Bakery, 710 S. Lincoln St (according to Gary). Port Angeles is also where you get the ferry to Victoria.
  • Whale Watching is a half-day to full-day trip. Boats leave from various ports and explore the San Juan Islands. P.S. Express leaves from Port Townsend, the nearest port to our house rental. 1

Victoria.

  • Butchert Gardens Sort of like a small Longwood Gardens. Stunning when things are in bloom. [3]
  • Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Nifty old house built by rich coal baron. [4]
  • Butterfly Gardens [5]
  • Glendale Gardens & Woodlands 103 acres of pretty stuff just outside Victoria. [6]
  • Did we mention the cinnamon rolls in Port Angeles along the way?

Best Sunsets / City views

  • Bremerton --> Seattle ferry. The sun is behind you as you sail towards the city (i.e., over Bremerton), but makes for a pretty ride. 1. The Bainbridge ferry is better for you from Indianola and is on a similar route.
  • Dr. Jose Rizal Park (Seattle). Over by the Amazon building, you’ll have the city between you and the setting sun. 1
  • Kerry Park (Seattle). Great views of the city. Popular at night, this is okay for sunsets and great for a night view of the skyline. 1, 2
  • During a Mariners evening game (Seattle). To maximize your enjoyment of the sunset, avoid 3rd base / left field. Right field is quite nice. 1, 2
  • Rialto Beach (Olympic National Park): Very accessible (the beach is about 50’ from where you park), this is out on the peninsula. 1, 2

Indianola & Kitsap Peninsula

Map of area

  • Green Mountain State Forest It sounds like they have some trails. Nothing too fancy, but it's close by.
  • Indianola Bicyle Loop Ride. 14 miles. But not sure how/whether we can rent bikes.
  • Indianola Waterfront & Woodland Preserve. Good for a stroll, good for birding.
  • Made in the Great Northwest arts & crafts store. 18924 Front St., Poulsbo, which is a "Norwegian town". Also the Marina Market (food) on Front Street.
  • Mesolini Glass Studio. 13291 Madison Avenue NE, Bainbridge Island.
  • Port Gamble (town). Sounds like a nice place to wander around. Sunday farmers/crafts market 11AM-PM.
  • Nunsense at the Jewel Box Theater. Poulsbo, Fri nights 8PM. $14 regular ticket.
  • Nearest true grocery store?? There is a deli right in Indianola.


Food (the most important section for our family?)

I'm going to work on this section a bit in preparation (feel free to send me advances for restaurants you would like scouted...), but a few places I really enjoy.

Bakeries

  • Le Fournil My favourite bakery in Seattle, with quite reasonable prices. French. Pastry-oriented but good baguette sandwiches too.
  • Top Pot Donuts Cake donuts with premium ingredients. Wedgwood, Downtown, and Capitol Hill.
  • I have also heard good things about, but not tried, La Boulangerie and Dahlia's.

Chocolate / Ice Cream

  • Fran's Chocolates. Various locations. Decent ice cream too not anymore -- health rules or something. Their various caramels are the best of their chocolates.
  • Theo Chocolates. See things to do.
  • Bottega Italiana. Down by the market (basically at the market). Delicious gelato.
  • Gelatiamo. Also good gelato. Pastries too. On 3rd.
  • I have also heard nice things about, but not tried, Rose's Chocolates.

Real food

On a scale of $ - $$$.

Seattle

  • Agua Verde (Seattle - U-District). See above. $.
  • Paseo (Seattle - Fremont). I have yet to meet someone who has eaten one of their sandwiches and does not think they are the best in Seattle. Get the Cuban Roast (#2; formerly Midnight Cuban). Bring the wet-naps; it's impossible to eat these sandwiches and accompanying corn on the cob without making a bit of a mess. Don't go too late; they run out of bread by evening and then you will have to eat one of the other delicious items on the menu. Worth a special trip. Closed Sunday and Monday.
  • Flying Fish (Seattle). Get the bucket of dungeness crabs to share as an appetizer. $$$.
  • Anthony's Pier 66 (Seattle.) A bit more expensive than Flying Fish, this restaurant has slightly better food (including wonderful bread baskets) and more artistic presentation, and it is right on the water. Not an every-night option, but is a solidly good splurge ($$$). I've also eaten at Anthony's Bell Street Diner (downstairs, $$). It's a cheaper option and you definitely don't get what you don't pay for. You're on vacation. Go upstairs and live a little.

Everett

  • Alligator Soul (Everett). If you got to the Boeing Factory for a tour, stop here for lunch if it works with your schedule. It's oh-so-good. It will not be able to seat a large group, especially between 11a and 12:30p. $$.
  • Grouchy Chef (Mukilteo). Since not everyone will fit at Alligator Soul, send a car (but no more) to the Grouchy Chef. Gourmet food at not so gourmet prices (particularly at lunch). And do follow the instructions on the signs -- I've seen people get thrown out of here. Less good than it used to be. $.

Kitsap

  • Tatu BBQ Poulsbo. Barbaque, pulled pork. 2006 People's choice award. Only open Wed-Fri until 6:30.
  • Casa Luna Poulsbo. Mexican. Very informal.
  • JJ's Fish Poulsbo. Mixed reviews on food. Good fish and chips. Low brow, noisy, very informal. All the sourdough bread you can eat.
  • J'aimes les Crepes Kingston. Crepes indeed, desert and not desert types. Very good reviews.
  • Indianola Country Store - deli. Not clear what they offer, but open for breakfast or lunch. Close.