My wife and I decided to do a trip around Washington and I thought I'd post a review to help others looking at this state for vacation. This was one of those go go go trips, but we got to see a lot of of the state.
We live in eastern Montana so we drove to Missoula this day which is about 500 miles for us...all in the same state.
Drove from Missoula to Leavenworth. For those of you that don't know about Leavenworth, it's a little town tucked into the mountains, that's been made over as a German village. We thought it was very charming as we're big fans of German food and drinks.
We got reservations for our hotel pretty late (only a couple of weeks ahead) and about the only place left was the Bavarian Lodge which is on the pricy side, compared to what we're used to. However the hotel is very nice and comfortable, the staff was very friendly, and the free breakfast in the morning was very good. It was worth every penny we paid, but we typically stay in hotels with less amenities.
After checking in we went to the Munchen Haus for a brat a beer. They have one of my favorite beers in the world, Hofbrau Hefeweizen, on tap so that scored some points with me. After a snack we walked around to the various gift shops and bought some souvenirs for our kids and got a cup of coffee.
That afternoon we walked around the Waterfront Park and then visited the Icicle Brewery. We got a sampler of beers for about $12 which I thought was pretty good.
For dinner we ate at Andreas Kellar. I had a pork hock which I never had before and I was a little disappointed. The whole thing was way over cooked and dried out, some of the skin was so hard I couldn't eat it. Overall the food was just OK for us, but the atmosphere was great, and we got sat with another couple that were fun to talk to.
6/23 – 6/24
After a night in Leavenworth we made our way to Seattle on highway 2 through the mountains. It's a beautiful drive.
We made reservations at the Hotel 5 in the Belltown area. Overall this place was in a very good location for walking to all the attractions, kind of right in the middle of everything. The hotel is self described as “hip and urban, funky and fun”. We didn't really care about any of that, but it was a nice place that was modern and clean and as far as hotels in downtown Seattle moderately priced. Hotel staff was also very friendly. The hotel also offers parking for $15/day which seemed like a good deal.
After getting to the hotel, it was too early to check in so we left our bags and made our way to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden. The Chihuly Garden was a very impressive display, and was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. My wife chickened out going to the top of the Space Needle, so we skipped that.
For lunch we headed to Pike's Place market and stopped at Kells Irish Pub, food was good and it's a neat old building to look at (that's supposed to be haunted). After that we checked out some of the shops in Pike's Place Market and watched them throw fish around for a while.
That night we went to the Black Bottle for an early dinner. The Black Bottle is a tapas restaurant and it was happy hour so they had tacos. The food is very good, and they had a good selection of beers. For tapas I thought the portions were large.
The next morning we got breakfast at Top Pot Donuts which is about a block from Hotel 5. The donuts and coffee were awesome. After breakfast we headed for Pioneer Square and took in the Underground Tour. The tour guide we had was very knowledgeable and entertaining as I'm sure most of them are, the tour overall was great. We checked out a couple of shops around Pioneer Square, and then headed back towards Belltown.
In the afternoon we did some shopping and found the Maximus Minimus food truck. This food truck is known for it's pulled pork sandwiches that I thought it was great. Also got some chowder at Pike Place Chowder. It was worth the wait in line and I found you could get a sampler of 3 chowders if you checked in on Yelp for about $8. The chefs special that day was halibut and asparagus, delicious.
For dinner checked List for some more tapas. Since this was a Monday they had happy hour all day. Drink were cheap and tapas were half off. Judging by the crowd, we weren't the only one's that knew about this. I thought the food was very good.
Today we got up and had breakfast a a little Parisian cafe by our hotel and waited for rush hour to pass before heading to Port Angeles. We left around 10:00 AM and didn't have any issues with traffic, instead of taking a ferry, we went through Tacoma and then back up to Port Angeles. After checking into our hotel (the Red Lion), we drove up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. It was a beautiful drive, but the clouds were low so we didn't get much of a view. Once we reached the top, we found the ridge lived up to its name and was very windy. Just by dumb luck, on our way out I drove toward the picnic area on the west side of the visitor center and found a black bear just hanging out on the side of the road.
After getting back to Port Angeles we had dinner at Bella Italia. It was just OK, but my wife is a Twilight fan so we enjoyed it. Not much else this day, I took a scroll along the Waterfront trail by our hotel which is completely paved and just a nice walk.
We woke up and had breakfast at Cafe Garden, this was one of my favorite places. Food was great, after breakfast we packed up for our ferry ride to Victoria, BC. We didn't want to take our car so we parked it at the Budget covered parking garage. It was very simple, you just find your spot and go to the kiosk and write down the spot and put your money in the envelope. I misunderstood the pricing, I thought it was $10 per 24 hours, but it's $10 per day the car is there, so if you go to Victoria and stay overnight like we did you have to pay $20, I had a note on the car when we got back and I just went into the office and paid it.
Now back to the trip, the ride over to Victoria went quickly for us, after arriving we went to our hotel, the Best Western Carlton Plaza so we could drop some bags off, and found out we got a free upgrade ot a suite which was cool. We walked around the harbor to the Fisherman's Wharf area and found the seals getting fed. The walk around the harbor is nice, but deceptively long so we took a Harbor Taxi back toward our hotel. We got some lunch at Garrick's Head Pub and enjoyed a beer or two. I had the poutine which I had never heard of before, but is just french fries, brown gravy and cheese curds.
After lunch we picked up a couple of souvenirs for the kids and headed to Beacon Hill Park which was another long walk. This was a very nice park, reminded me of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco a little bit. Lots to see. On the way back we got a bit lost and walked through a lot of the residential area of Victoria which was interesting. For dinner we went to Darcy's pub where I had the fish and chips and then we called it a night.
The next morning we found some coffee and bagels and hopped back on the ferry to Port Angeles.
After we got back to our car we headed west on 101 to Lake Crescent and hiked to Marymere Falls. The hike is pretty short and was muddy in spots which I'm sure is pretty normal. The falls is worth the effort.
We continued heading west on 101 and stopped at Forks to pick up some groceries to eat for later and then continued to the Hoh Rainforest where we hiked the Hall of Mosses. They had warning signs out about aggressive elk, but we didn't see any. The Hoh Rainforest lived up to it's name and rained the entire time we hiked. I've never been in a place like that before.
We continued south down 101 until we reached our destination for the night Kalaloch Lodge. It's located right on the Kalaloch Beach. Only regret we had was getting in to late, about 6:00 PM. After we checked in, we walked down the beach just enjoying the ocean. Since their was only two of us we didn't really want a cabin, so we ended up with a room in the Seacrest building, and ended up on the second floor with a balcony and nice view. We ate our groceries and just enjoyed the view. By far the most relaxing part of our vacation and wish we would have gotten here earlier to relax.
We wanted to hike Third Beach which is in the La Push area, but we were advised to go at low tide so we could see the tide pools. Low tide was about 11:00 AM so we got up in the morning and drove back to Forks for breakfast and then continued to the Third Beach trail head. This was another muddy trail with more elevation gain than the others, but it's only about 2 miles or so through the forest. Once we hit the beach it was easy to find the tide pools, with star fish, clams, and crabs running around, another first for us which was awesome. We walked down to the waterfall on the south end and then hiked back to the car.
We had a lot of driving to do today so we hit the road. The following day we were going to check out Mt Rainier so I booked us a room at Wittakers Bunkhouse by Ashford. So we drove around the south end of Olympic National park, then Olympia, Yelm, and Eatonville. We got lunch in Olympia, but I wish we would have waited and ate at Wittakers, the burgers and pizza looked and sounded great, but we settled for a beer.
Today got up really early and made our way through Mt Rainier National Park. We didn't stop much, but did get some coffee at Paraside and tried to enjoy the view, but today wasn't our day. Mt Rainier was covered in clouds the entire day. We stopped at Reflection Lake, which was mostly iced over, and got our binoculars and were able to spot some hikers traversing the mountain, which was cool to see. We made our way to Sunrise and and admired the cloud covered mountain. I was really surprised at how much snow was still in this park for being late June. From reading the opening dates for some of the lodges this seemed to be pretty normal, so keep that in mind if you're planning a trip here. The drive through the park was nice, but we back tracked a bit and headed east to Yakima, and then headed back up to the interstate and made our way back home.