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Published: March 22nd 2015
Island Adventures' 3-hour tour to Whidbey Island
Our friends bailed on us for this trip, but that didn't discourage Kristina and I from flying across the country to return to a city we were both familiar with and very fond of. The allure of Seattle drew us back for another taste of its food and natural setting, making this the first time we've ever repeated a destination. What isn't a surprise: Seattle is currently the fastest growing metropolitan area in America, attracting residents and visitors to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, whether for the first time or for life.
The Emerald City is nestled between Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains to the west, with Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains to the east. It was settled in the mid-1800s, but exploded in size during the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska during the late 19th century. This city's history is vaguely similar to its older and more congested counterpart, San Francisco, because any major city west of the Mississippi needed an incentive, like gold, to lure settlers to the Wild West during a time when "wild" didn't only refer to nature. These days, Seattle has switched from one metal to another, with silicon now engraved in its identity;
Pike Place Market
Est. in 1907, oldest farmers' market in the country
technology giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and T-Mobile are headquartered here, in addition to other corporations such as Starbucks, Boeing, and Nordstrom's. Although this town has evolved immensely since its early days of timber and gold, many aspects have remained intact, including the gorgeous landscapes, the impeccable culinary scene, and the quirky personality only rivaled by its younger sibling to the south, Portland. In essence, come for the food, stay for the hikes.
We began our tour in the Capitol Hill district the night we arrived. From the airport (about 20 minutes south of downtown), we rented a car for 4 days/$150 and headed straight to Mad Dawg's Hot Dogs (908 12th Ave), a sidewalk institution feeding drunken night owls. Choose from 5 sausages (Louisiana Spicy is the best), 5 sauces (definitely try the spicy mayo), and 5 toppings, making certain to order cream cheese for this is the defining ingredient in a Seattle-style dog. Kristina and I agree this is the most unique dog we've tried on our travels, from the Chicago-style to the South American-inspired ones of Miami to the German wieners in Vienna. We then explored the surrounding strip of bars before heading to the quaint
View of Seattle at dusk from Kerry Park in Queen Anne district
and peaceful Greenlake neighborhood to call it a night at a friend's home.
The next morning, we woke up early to drive to Macrina (2408 1st Ave) in Belltown, considered a top 25 bakery in the world. We tried the roly-poly--an amazingly flaky cinnamon roll with walnuts and coconuts--then proceeded to the oldest farmers' market in the country, Pike Place. Established in 1907, this institution was created to remove the middle man and make produce more accessible to the masses, which has now become a major landmark with 10 million visitors annually. This market holds a myriad of culinary hotspots, including Elleno's (the best Greek yogurt outside the Mediterranean), Beecher's (ranked the best mac-n-cheese in the country), Le Panier (Kristina's favorite sandwich shop), Pike Place Chowder (voted the nation's best clam chowder), Piroshky Piroshky, and America's first Starbucks. Also noteworthy is the infamous Gum Wall behind a narrow alley, which was hailed as the world's most unsanitary tourist attraction.
After breakfast, we drove 30 minutes north to Everett for the obligatory whale-watching with Island Adventures (800-465-4606). March is the beginning of the migratory season for gray whales, followed by minkes in the summer, humpbacks in the fall, and
View from whale-watching boat of Mt. Baker, which set the world record for annual snowfall in 1999
orcas throughout all three seasons. The whale-watching year had just kicked off the day before, so we luckily squeezed this bucket-list activity into our trip, which was a 3-hour tour to the southern end of Whidbey Island where we spotted a gray whale, Little Patch, who has frequented this area for years. This was an awesome experience to be out on the water in one of the best areas on Earth for viewing these enormous sea creatures.
We then returned to the Queen Anne district north of downtown and visited the famous Kerry Park overlooking the city. This has become a favorite of photographers hoping to catch a panoramic of the entire town with Mount Rainier in the distance. If you want something to snack on while enjoying the views, stroll to the popular ice cream parlor, Molly Moon's (917 E. Pine St.), but be prepared for a long line with few employees to accommodate. Also nearby is Dick's Drive-In, a Seattle staple offering cheap and quick burgers, as well as amazing benefits for their employees such as college scholarships, something we feel is worth supporting. If you're still hungry, head downtown to Pioneer Square--the oldest part of town
Mount Rainier National Park
Christine Falls near the entrance of park
with a classic feel--and pop into Owl-n'-Thistle (808 Post Ave) between 3-7 p.m. daily for happy hour deals. Their fish-n-chips were rated best in Seattle, something we can attest to, with a creamy tartar sauce and a crispy coating to die for. We arrived right before a Sounders soccer game so the place was bustling and rowdy, which we actually enjoyed since this is expected for an Irish pub.
After dinner, spend time roaming around Pioneer Square, walk down to Pier 52 and taste some clam chowder, or stroll along the waterfront to enjoy Puget Sound. We decided to head home instead and get an early start for our long drives the next few days to Vancouver, Mount Rainier, and Portland, thus concluding our stay in the Emerald City. Seattle was a pleasant retreat among the forests, mountains, and great bodies of water in the Pacific Northwest. Its location is well suited for nature lovers and city crawlers alike, so if you can't decide whether food or hikes are more appealing, double dip and enjoy both in this city by the water. Our next stop: Vancouver.
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