Seattle is a fantastic city, with so much to see and a pretty amazing food scene. We were fortunate to connect with family and friends while we were there, which really made the visit for us. We were staying with Juliette’s cousins in Lake Stevens, about an hour or so outside of Seattle. They live in an Airpark Community, and had generously offered us a spot in their backyard, with water and electrical hook ups. We arrived in Lake Stevens early afternoon, with enough time for a quick run to Fred Meyer (our favourite!) before sharing a lovely dinner together. One of the big draws for this travel adventure for us was the ability to reconnect with friends and family members, it is such a treat!
We had a quick and delicious breakfast the next morning, making use of local Cascadian Farm Skagit Valley Chocolate Almond Granola and Kite Hill Vanilla Yogurt. I love all of the local (and/or locally available) products we’ve managed to find thus far!
We decided to take advantage of the Seattle Park and Ride, and hopped on a bus to head into town. We now drive a truck in order to pull our travel trailer, but want to make use of our bikes and public transit as much as possible (not to mention that parking a truck downtown is both cumbersome and expensive). The highlight for Armand was discovering that the bus shares the subway track with metro trains, it was fun to watch both the trains and buses move through the same station.
Once we tired of bus and train watching (well the rest of us did, I think Armand could have stayed there for hours) we made our way over to a famous Dim Sum spot in Chinatown, for a snack of Gai Lan and a mushroom hot pot before heading over to the Wing Luke Museum. We explored the museum in its entirety, including a very informative guided tour that walked us through an old hotel and a reconstructed shop that was apparently the hub of the Chinese American community for many years. We learned so much about the Chinese Head Tax and the Japanese Internment, along with the difficulties faced by all members of the Asian Pacific Islander American community. We learned a lot, as did the kids, and we would highly recommend the museum for anyone coming through Seattle. One of the aspects of homeschooling we love most is the ability to teach our kids about different historical events while we are traveling. Seeing exhibits and learning first hand from a guide make the information far more immediate than reading about it in a book, something we are privileged to be able to do with our kids at the moment.
We followed our museum visit with another food stop at Tai Tung, one of the oldest Chinese Restaurants in Seattle. We made our way over to Pike Place Market afterwards, which was so much larger than we had anticipated! We wandered through a couple of levels, before emerging on the top level to walk by a series of shops and outdoor stands, including a rather epic lineup leading to the original Starbucks location. It’s amazing to see how much coffee shops have taken off since the late 90’s, with Starbucks leading the way. We hopped back on the bus to meet up for a family dinner with Cherylin and Larry and their daughter Candace and her family. Her son Griffin and Armand got on like two peas in a pod, they had so much fun together! Cherylin made a fantastic asian noodle dish for dinner, and Juliette made up a Chocolate Avocado Mousse for dessert. So much fun!
Our second day in Seattle was low key, we made our way downtown via the Park and Ride and the fancy schmancy Monorail - Armand was thrilled to finally get a chance to ride on a sky train! We spent the rest of the morning exploring the Pacific Science Center, which was fantastic (but crazy packed with people). Our favourite stops were the Tropical Butterfly House, Body Works and Dinosaur and Animal Exhibits (with super cute naked mole rats). The outdoor fountains were pretty spectacular, the below freezing temperatures had turned them into ice sculptures! We were gifted with a membership to the Vancouver Science Centre for Christmas (from Juliette’s Dad and Step-Mom - thank you!) and we were thrilled to discover that our membership has reciprocal privileges at ASTC Science Center’s Internationally! It’s a good thing to look into if you are planning to travel, as it brings down the cost considerably.
We had pre-packed a lunch, but forgot it in the truck. So much for planning ahead! The Happy Cow App led us to the Plum Bistro, in the Armoury Food Court, which made Juliette’s day as she is a huge fan of the Plum Cookbook! We hadn’t realized that Plum Bistro and the Plum Cookbook were one and the same. We purchased one of each of their delicious sandwiches to split, along with a gorgeous kale salad. Yum! Happy Cow has a fantastic website and app that helps you locate veg friendly markets and restaurants all over the world.
The Space Needle had a huge lineup, so we elected to take an impromptu walk over to Hot Cakes for a delicious Vegan Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. We had found out about this spot from a friend as we were finishing up lunch, which ended up being perfect timing! We had just enough time to enjoy our delicious treat before taking the Park and Ride back up to Lake Stevens in time to catch up with more of our lovely cousins for dinner. It was such a treat catching up with everyone, it has made us all the more excited about our family reunion next summer!
The following day we drove into town and parked close to our friend Jacquelyn’s house. We had a lovely time meeting her new baby girl and catching up over a walk into town. We grabbed lunch at El Borracho, a fantastic Mexican Food Restaurant in Pike Place Market before making our way down to the Seattle Aquarium, on the waterfront. We learned a lot about the fish and sea creatures that live in the Pudget Sound, including 6-gill sharks, a large octopus (swimming right in front of us!) and a very sociable sea lion who came to pose for pictures. We finished our day with a walk back to the truck with Jacquelyn, getting back to Lake Stevens to meet up with everyone for a big family dinner. Thanks to the Instant Pot, Juliette was able to bring some Chili Non Carne, along with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies from Meghan Telpner’s blog that she had prepared the night before. We had so much fun catching up with everyone, the dinners together were such a treat!
Our last day in Seattle was eventful, as we tried to pack in everything left on our Seattle City Pass! We discovered the pass thanks to the Lonely Planet, if you are planning to be in a major city for a week or so it is a great option, as you can purchase a bundle of tickets for selected major attractions for 50% off. We are going to take a look at the city pass for San Francisco, we will be there for Adele’s birthday and thought it might be a fun way to take in the sites and celebrate!
Our first stop of the day was the Seattle Space Needle, had we braved the crowd a few days prior we would have had a clear view, but we much preferred being able to walk right up, thanks to the weather and our weekday visit! There are several panoramic view stations at the top of the tower, which highlight the best views from the past couple of years, so we were able to see a wide variety of sights that way (including some gorgeous sunset vistas). Dominic took the kids on a walk around the outside deck, Juliette has a rather deeply entrenched fear of heights and was happy to stay inside. Despite the rain we still had a great view of the city from up above.
Our next stop was the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which contains a very impressive selection of Dale Chihuly’s glass work. Our favourite stops were the Sealife Room and the glass ceiling. We also found some local Theo Chocolate, which made for a delicious snack! We walked across to the Armoury Building to visit the Seattle Children’s Museum, which is a pretty fantastic place. They have so much for little ones to see and explore, including a giant tree with tunnels, grocery store and cafe, a stage complete with set pieces, back drops and sound effects (Armand was the resident sound engineer, while his sisters tread the boards as our resident thespians extraordinaire!) We had been gifted this visit by my brother and sister in law for Christmas, and were so grateful as we thoroughly enjoyed our experience!
We left the Children’s Museum with just enough time to pop into the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture, which just happens to have the coolest abbreviated title ever!) to view their Star Trek exhibit. It was fantastic, and such a great way to introduce the kids to the wonderful world of Star Trek! They even had some of the original costumes and props on display, how cool is that? We finished up with a quick tour of the other exhibits (including an awesome guitar room!) before hopping back on the bus for the park and ride. Up to this point everything had gone very smoothly, however that evening we were up for a bit more of an adventure when the bus broke down just after exiting the ramp onto I-5! We lucked out with a fantastic bus driver whose sense of humour kept everything light, and none of the passengers freaked out, which was a definite bonus. Adele started to get a bit anxious, which instigated a talk about the fact that we couldn’t do much about what was happening so we might as well make the best of it. We were rescued within the hour, and were back on our way without further incident.
Our last dinner was bittersweet, as we had so much fun visiting! We tried to contribute to meals as much as we could, as a thank you for having us, and thankfully what Juliette had planned (Shrek Pasta, Cheesy Roasted Veg, Cheesy Garlic Toast and Lemon Cashew Cheesecake tarts prepared the night before) didn’t take too long! We enjoyed our time in Seattle so much, we were so close in Victoria but hadn’t had a chance to make it across as of yet. What a treat to take it all in, and have some family time to boot!
Seattle City Pass - the city passes are a wonderful option if you are going to be in a major city for a week or so, and would like to take in lots of the sights. They offer a selection of passes for 50% off regular retail price, and a couple of the stops have two options (ie either the Pacific Science Center or the Chihuly Garden and Glass, we chose the latter as we already had our Science Center Passes).
Wing Luke Museum - definitely worth a stop if you come through Seattle! The Wing Luke Museum has a number of fantastic displays and a guided tour that provide lots of fantastic information about the Asian American Experience.
Pike Place Market - the Pike Place Market is a must see in Seattle! Spanning several floors, you can find pretty much anything food or artisan related here. Around the corner from the market itself (although technically still part of it) you can find Metsker Maps, a fantastic (wait for it) Map Store where we located a great map of the USA to keep track of our travels.
Monorail - The monorail was originally built for the World’s Fair in Seattle and it has two stops - Seattle Center and West… At $4 a pop it isn’t cheap, but it is fun and a great option for rainy day transportation (or providing thrills for train obsessed little boys!)
Pacific Science Center - The Pacific Science Center is visually spectacular, with a central outdoor court that leads into different wings of the Science Center. There are lots of permanent and visiting exhibits to see, just try to time it so you are not coming on a weekend or holiday as it gets pretty packed!
Plum Bistro - We can’t say enough good things about the Plum Bistro, their food is fantastic! They offer a wide selection of plant based options, including sandwiches (gluten free optional), soup, salads, smoothies and juices. Yum! Did I mention they have a fantastic cook book with lots of their delicious recipes (some of which they serve at the Bistro)?
Hot Cakes - a dear friend tipped me off to Hot Cakes, a gorgeous dessert and coffee spot with several locations across Seattle. We went to try their Vegan Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cake (so delicious!) but they have an extensive menu of other goodies as well (if dairy is not an issue).
El Borracho Restaurant - a fantastic Mexican Food restaurant located close to Metsker Maps and the Pike Place Market. They offer a wide range of authentic dishes that cater to veg and meat eaters alike.
Seattle Aquarium - located down by the waterfront, this aquarium provides a wonderful insight into the fish and sea creatures of Pudget Sound. They have lots of fantastic displays, and their staff is super helpful and willing to answer any questions you might have. My eldest daughter learned a lot about 6 gilled sharks while we were there!
Space Needle - This might very well be THE landmark Seattle is known for, also built for the World’s Fair in the 1960’s. Offering spectacular panoramic views of the city, it is well worth a visit. Even if it is raining or you are not obsessed with Sleepless in Seattle!
Chihuly Garden and Glass - Dale Chihuly’s work is absolutely gorgeous, and put on fine display both inside and out at the Chihuly Garden and Glass. They also provide videos detailing exhibitions of his work, and a gift shop featuring artwork and (our favourite part) local chocolate!
Seattle Children’s Museum - what a fantastic spot for kids! If you have little ones, this museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon, there is so much here to fire up their imagination!
Museum of Pop Culture - the MoPOP is one cool place, especially when they have a Star Trek exhibit on! Even without the Star Trek there is lots to see, with exhibits dedicated to Science Fiction, Guitars and Nirvana. Did I mention that the building itself is pretty funky too?
Happy Cow - We use the Happy Cow website and App a lot, it is a great resource for locating veg friendly restaurants and markets all over the world.