From its skyscraping Douglas Firs to snowcapped peaks, the Pacific Northwest is truly a special place.
However, even within the region, each city has its own distinct cultural vibe. Last winter, I drove down to Seattle and Portland with my family, experiencing life in these metropolis’ for the first time in over a decade, albeit briefly. Seven months later, I went back to take a closer look at the Emerald City.
That’s right – mere hours after belting out O Canada at the Steveston Salmon Festival, we turned around and started humming the Star Spangled Banner as we headed south along the 99.
I when I say hours, I mean hours. To avoid traffic, we left at around 6:30 in the morning. We originally planned to stop at Bellingham for a nap, but the drive was so smooth that we missed the exit entirely – and didn’t even realize until we were about 30 minutes away from Seattle.
We made impressive time, arriving at our breakfast destination, Glo’s Cafe, at around 8:15am. There, we partook in a hearty breakfast of eggs benny and an omelette before taking off to the Museum of Flight.
The Museum of Flight
After another 45 minutes or so of driving, we made it. We were still early (the museum opens at 10am), so we took a much-needed nap before heading in at around 10:15am.
Normally, an adult ticket for the Museum would cost $23USD each, or around $60CAD for the two of us. But because I had a membership for the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, we got in for free! The entire year’s membership costs $40CAD, so saving that $20 was a pleasant surprise on top of all the other benefits.
In my post covering the my last trip to Seattle, I lamented not being able to spend more time in the display hanger at the Museum due to bad time budgeting. So this time, after completing the first indoor section (and flying in one of the simulators), we headed straight there. This allowed me to spend more quality time with some of my favourite planes ever, the F-14 Tomcat, F-18 Hornet, and Concorde.
After the display hanger, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Wings Cafe before heading into the World Wars display and Red Barn. All-in-all, we spent a good four hours in the Museum of Flight and definitely made the most of our time.
See also: Seattle Museum of Flight Gallery
On our way out, we stopped by the Starbucks Reclamation Concept Store to take some pictures. Made out of decommissioned shipping containers, it was closed on the Sunday which means we had the whole place to ourselves.
Heading into the City
After spending the morning at the Museum of Flight and Starbucks Reclamation Concept Store, we piled into the car and headed to Downtown Seattle.
Since forever, some people in Vancouver have complained about the downtown viaducts. They, however, don’t hold a candle to the system of elevated motorways winding along the Seattle waterfront. Seriously, it was a little intimidating seeing concrete EVERYWHERE.
The Loyal Inn
We made it though alright, though, and ended up at our hotel for the night, The Loyal Inn.
Our room was a pretty standard affair for a lower-end hotel. It was clean and cozy, although not exceptionally-furnished. Its location is excellent, though, being basically smack-dab downtown with Pike Place, 5th Avenue, and the Space Needle just a short walk away.
After dropping out stuff off at the Inn, we headed out into the city for the first time. Since our restaurant reservation was at Hamanasu on 5th Avenue, that’s where we headed first. Along the way we saw some familiar shops like Zara, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom Rack. However, most shops were closed since it was a Sunday.
An Unlikely Combination (Teppanyaki and Cheesecake)
The food at Hamanasu was decent, if only average. The cook was friendly, and portions were decently sized. The highlight of the night, however, were our table neighbours.
Now, it’s pretty standard to share tables at teppanyaki places due to the limited number of ranges. This night, we were seated with a family from somewhere in the south (Texas, I believe). Because they were unfamiliar with the food and cooking style, they made some funny remarks about it, and waited until all the courses were completed before digging in – at which point most of it was cold.
Once we completed our satisfying meal at Hamanasu, we decided to walk off some of the calories. However, all that went out the window as we made our way to the Washington Convention Center and waltzed into The Cheesecake Factory to order some dessert. We elected to doggy bag our two cakes, as we were still stuffed from the big dinner.
The Space Needle
Once we secured our dessert, we made the (kinda) long trek to the Space Needle. Once we got there, we entered the gift shop to take a look around, then exited to take a few pictures. We visited the Armory and Chihuly Glass Museum as well, but had to stay outside since they were both closed by this time. I visited both these places last time I came to Seattle – you can read about my time here.
Finally, after taking a few more pictures, we headed back to our Hotel. On the way, however, we stopped by McDonalds to grab a smoothie and sundae to complement our cheesecakes.
Turning in for the Night
Back at The Loyal Inn, we put our feet up to relax after a pretty hectic day. We had our cheesecakes and caught some local news, but ended up turning into bed a little later because we were just so tired; after all, we did get up at 6 to get here.
Oh, I forgot my toothbrush at home, but luckily the lobby carried extra for people like me. Great service, The Loyal Inn!
When we woke up the next morning, we had a mission: to see all we can see since this was our last day here.
Luckily, parking wasn’t an issue since The Loyal Inn allows for guests to leave their car in their lot until 5:00pm on the day of check-out.
So with the car at the hotel, we set out on foot to ship out my 1912-13 Montreal Canadiens Throwback jersey which I sold a few days prior. Knowing that I would be in the States, however, I spoke to the buyer who agreed to wait a few days so I could ship it out via USPS.
Once the jersey was shipped out, we made our way back to 5th Avenue where we visited Nordstrom Downtown Seattle, as well as the connected Pacific Place Mall, the Nordstrom Rack across the street, ROSS, and Target.
Pike Place & The Waterfront
With our shopping done and stomachs growing, we decided to head to Pike Place to do some sightseeing and grab some food.
There, we walked around the market, visited the original Starbucks, and saw (+smelled) all the gum on the gum wall.
Our quest for fresh fish-and-chips, however, led us on a journey South where we passed the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Great Wheel and the pier.
At Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant and Chowder, we got their famous fish and chips, along with shrimp salad and a bowl of clam chowder. Honestly, none of it was all that great especially in comparison to the choices at Steveston. I refuse to believe a harbour as beautiful as Seattle’s would have such crappy fish and chips though, so maybe there are better options somewhere nearby?
After eating, we slowly made our way back to the hotel to pick up the car. It’s always sad leaving a place, especially in the middle of a sunny day.
On our way back to Canada, we stopped off at Bellingham where, if you remember, we intended to go on our way down.
Our first stop at this border town was Bellis Fair. The last time I visited this mall was over a decade ago, and almost the entire place was renovated since then with only a few stores remaining. Luckily for us though, Cinnabon was one of the survivors, allowing us to enjoy the chewy goodness of their mini-rolls.
Next, we visited ROSS. Again, this was a place I haven’t been to since I was a kid, but I still fondly remember playing with their toys and checking out the electronics in the now-closed Circuit City. For some reason, however, I remember ROSS being a distant drive from Bellis Fair, so imagine my surprise when my GPS said it was right next door to the mall.
After our dinner, it was time to head home.
After topping up our gas tank at the Shell nearby, we hit the I-5 to Pacific Crossing. The border lineup was not too bad as it was a Monday evening, the lineup definitely did not seem short being as tired as we were. Overall, though, it was a smooth ride back home along the beautiful sunset.
Although I briefly visited the city last winter, I didn’t feel like I had a chance to really enjoy all the city had to offer. This trip, however, gave me a chance to spend some quality time in Seattle and take in the hipster yet progressive character it is so famous for.
Still, I’m waiting on some Pike Place-worthy fish & chips.