Archive for the ‘ Washington ’ Category


Riding the Washington State Ferries

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Washington State Ferries is an integral part of the transportation system; most of the routes are to destinations within the Puget Sound area of Seattle. While the ferry system is used as daily transportation for many commuting to work in Seattle, the ferries are also a great way for tourists to see the city and the surrounding areas. I’m always an advocate of seeing a city by water if available, as you get an entirely different perspective of your surroundings.

On a clear and sunny day, riding a ferry in Seattle is an awe-inspiring experience. With the sun on your face, and the wind at your back, you’ll see the white-capped peak of Mount Rainier, as well as wildlife playing in the Puget Sound. In the mornings when the tide is out, the shimmering light off the still water is a sight to behold.

  • From downtown Seattle you can take the West Seattle water taxi to Alki Beach, one of the best beaches in the city. From West Seattle you can get to the downtown waterfront and the famed, Pike Place Market.
  • Also from the downtown Seattle ferry terminal, you can board a vessel to Bainbridge Island, where you’ll find a host of museums, art galleries, parks, beaches and much more to explore. In 2005 CNN and Money Magazine named Bainbridge the second best place in the country to live.
  • From the West Seattle Fauntleroy terminal, you can get to Vashon Island, which is a wonderful place to take a bike and a picnic lunch and go explore. Or, you can continue on that same ferry to Southworth/Bremerton and visit maritime and naval museums, stroll the boardwalk, or attend one of the many festivals.
  • The Edmonds ferry is located in northern Seattle and takes you across the Sound to Kingston, which is one of the entry points to the Olympic Peninsula area. There are many wonderful things to see and do in this region of the state, click here to read the many destinations I’ve written about. From Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Rain Forest, Poulsbo, Dungeness Spit, Hansville to Whidbey Island and many others.

Riding the Washington State Ferries can be a bit intimidating for those who’ve never traveled on a ferry before.

Here are a few tips to make your Washington State Ferry ride a pleasurable one:

  • Depending on the season and the time of day, Wait times for vehicles can be quite long, so be sure to take that into consideration. Pedestrian and/or bike riders typically will have no problem getting on the next ferry.
  • Be cautious not to cut in line. During times of heavy volume, the line of cars can be extensive, often spanning intersections. For ferry riding newbies, the vehicle lines can be uncertain and drivers will often inadvertently cut in line. Trust me, you do not want to do this. One of two things will happen. 1) You’ll get in a fight or shouting match.  2) An attendant will ask you to go to the back of the line.
  • There are ferry departures throughout the state and the Puget Sound, here is a link for terminal locations.
  • Terminals are set up in such a way that you’ll drive up to a tollbooth and pay the fare. You’ll then be directed to a holding lane and wait there until the vessel is ready to load.
  • Once you get on board, a crew member will direct you where to park. Some of the car decks may feel tight, so drive carefully and watch out for other passengers getting out of their cars. Oh, and be sure to set your parking brake as there can be a lot of movement/shifting during the ride.
  • Click the following link for a complete schedule of the Washington State Ferries.

If you’re a seasoned Washington State Ferry rider and have some destination or other trip advice, please leave a comment below and share with my readers and me.

Olympic Peninsula Road Trip Map

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Your complete road trip guide to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state

You don’t have to drive the full 300+ mile loop around the Olympic Peninsula, but if you do you’ll see picturesque shoreline, waterfalls, pristine lakes, mountain views and even a rainforest.

Start your trip with a ferry ride from downtown Seattle (which is located just below the famed Pike Place Market).  As soon as the ferry leaves the docks, so too will your anxiety after enduring the Seattle traffic.  As you disembark onto Bainbridge Island, you’ll immediately feel a sense of serenity.  Tall pine trees and winding scenic roads await.  Your first destination is the Norwegian town of Poulsbo, where your first stop has to be the world famous (no really, it is) Sluys Bakery for some apple strudel.  Take a stroll and enjoy the quaint shops and seaside views.  If it’s lunch or dinner time, check out Mor Mor Bistro, which serves up northwestern cuisine in a lovely setting in the heart of town.

Head west on 305, then north on Hwy 104 toward Port Gamble, or what I like to call, “Pleasantville.” Be sure to stop by the General Store (trust me, it’s cool) or one of the fresh produce stands.  Hwy 104 meanders north, then turns into 101 west where you’ll head to the town of Sequim. Depending on how much time you have, there are a number of activities indicated on the Google Map below.  You’ll also see that I recommend a couple very nice B&B’s, one of which won “Best Inn” on my “2011 Best of” list.  Staying in Sequim makes for the perfect home base to see the rest of the sights on this Olympic Peninsula road trip. Make reservations at George Washington Inn or Colette’s for the next couple of days…both are located on a cliff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and are fantastic lodging choices.

After a relaxing evening, the next stop is a hike down to the Dungeness Spit.  If you time it right and are adventurous, make the 11-mile (round trip) trek to the lighthouse located at the tip of the spit. Take a backpack with provisions along with a packable hammock.  An additional stop, or in lieu of the Dungeness Spit hike, is a stop at the Railroad Bridge Park (aka: Dungeness River Audubon center).  Also nearby is a drive straight up the Olympic Mountains to Hurricane Ridge, where on a clear day you can see Vancouver Island. You can simply enjoy the views, or, there are a number of hikes to glacier lakes, rivers and streams.

Time to wind down for the evening…try one of these local eateries:  Alder Wood Bistro, Sawadee Thai Cuisine, Michael’s, Smugglers Landing for good fish & chips, and Toga’s for an outstanding lunch.

The next day there are several forks in the road––if you want to go on a hike through a spectacular rain forest, head to Sol Duc in the Olympic National Forest.  For a scenic and historic drive, peruse by Lake Crescent for awe-inspiring views of the massive body of clear blue water.  While in the area, stop by Lake Crescent Lodge for a history lesson, or, a leisurely walk to Marymere Falls.  If you’ve sufficiently enjoyed your drive by the lake, continue west along Hwy 112 to the most northwesterly point in the contiguous U.S., Cape Flattery.  This is a wonderful stroll through a rain forest, where you’ll come upon a cliff with all kinds of unique and wonderful vantage points, including a small island with a lighthouse.  If you want to explore the area further, and enjoy camping, I have a spot for you!  Click here for Google Map of the most perfect, somewhat secluded camp spot right on the beach.  If the weather is nice, don’t pass this up…there is no one around and the morning walk on the beach when the tide is out is a memory you’ll never forget.

Click the following link to see an array of pictures from the Pacific Northwest.

In recent years the Olympic Peninsula has become well known as the setting (Forks) for the popular Twilight books and movies. Whether you come to the area for fascination or inspiration, you’ll enjoy this scenic and diverse road trip––no other place in America can match its diversity in terrain and weather in such a small geographic area..  From mountain views, strolls along the beach, waterfalls, outstanding lodging, to rain forest hikes, a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula is not to be missed.

View Olympic Peninsula Map for a Road Trip in a larger map

Notes: This is the Pacific Northwest, so you do need to plan for rain, however during the summer months good weather is on your side. As a matter of fact, few travelers probably know that the far northern half of this region benefits from a “rain shadow,” often benefiting from more sunny days with milder temperatures than Seattle. Best months to visit are August, September and often the first half of October.

If you’ve been on a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula, or you have any questions, please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Whidbey Island: “The shortest distance to far away”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Have you ever been to a place so close to a big city, yet so far removed?  One example that comes to mind is Central Park in New York City.  Central Park is smack dab in the middle of one of the busiest and most populated cities in the world, however after you stroll just a hundred yards into its womb, it’s as if you’ve been transported to a place of polar attributes.  It’s really an extraordinary experience…all the horn honking, traffic noise, construction work and stress of the city just seems to dissipate. I recently had a similar experience as I visited Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest, where they have a saying…“Whidbey Island is the shortest distance to far away.”

Whidbey Island is just a short ferry ride, and 25-minute drive from Seattle–yet once you land on her shores, it’s as if you’ve arrived in a place much farther removed.  What I discovered, was that beyond the geographical separation from mainland Seattle, Whidbey Island seems to have an entirely different vibe. The feelings of serenity, community and connection to nature saturate not only the island, but also its inhabitants. I know that may sound a bit exaggerated or superfluous, as perhaps it was just a moment in time when these senses coalesced. Either way, if you’re in the Seattle area and have the time to do some exploring, you’ll want to visit Whidbey for the variety of sights, activities and places to stay.

I visited Whidbey Island twice this past year, the first time, I entered from the north as I made my way south, coming from Canada.  Accessing the island from the north does not require a ferry ride, but rather an exciting drive over the Deception Pass Bridge.  Deception Pass Park encompasses areas on both sides of the bridge and I highly recommend spending time in the area.  On a clear day the views are extraordinary–your instinct to take photos will be well justified.  You can walk along the bridge or take a hike down to the water.  Nature lovers will enjoy seeing whales, sea lions, bald eagles and more on a jet boat ride through the pass with the folks from Deception Pass Tours.

As I made my way south I stopped by the Greenbank Farm, which is right off highway 525 (a main artery that runs north/south through the island).  Greenbank Farm is situated on 151 acres and has something for everyone…from the duck and geese playing around the pond, to a stroll through the gardens, or a walk to the top of the hill for rare view which features water from both sides of the island.  There is also an art gallery, wine and cheese shops and much more to enjoy.

As I continued my exploration of the island, I meandered south where I would end up staying in the seaside village of Langley for a few days.  My home while visiting Langley was the Saratoga Inn bed and breakfast, which derives its name from the stunning views of Saratoga Passage–views I would enjoy each morning out the window of my room as the sun rose above the majestic mountains in the background.

Langley has some really cute shops and tasty eateries’, one of my favorite places to hang out was the Useless Bay Coffee Company…have a look at the video below and you’ll see what I mean:

After four glorious days, all enjoyed with perfect weather of an Indian summer, I was off to my next destination…Leavenworth, which is located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains.  I returned to Whidbey Island a couple months later where I would stay as a guest in a sizable (13,000 square feet to be exact) vacation rental home called, Quintessa.  Quintessa is located not far from the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry terminal in the town of Clinton.  The home is perched atop a hill, providing wonderful views of Pudget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range.  Ironically, there is a direct line of sight from Quintessa to Hansville, a small coastal community where my folks have a home.

I was invited to stay at Quintessa for an open house of sorts, in which many community stakeholders were in attendance. Unbeknownst to me, I was one of the guests of honor.  This will come as a shock to many of my readers, but I can be a bit shy and have troubles at a party where I don’t know anyone. I have no troubles carrying on an intelligent conversation with people from all sectors of society, so long as they make the first move. :-) Given that I was sort of a special guest, people were gracious enough to come up to me and strike up a conversation, so that burden was thankfully minimized.

It didn’t hurt matters that Quintessa has an aura that seems to connect people; which makes it a perfect venue for weddings, family reunions and corporate retreats.  I have no doubt the warm feeling I experienced was derived from the generous and vivacious nature of its owners, Carrie and Tessa.  See what I mean by watching the video below.

I ended up meeting some of the most interesting folks during the Quintessa open house, as well as during the rest of my island visit.  For example, I met the owner of the local telcom company, Whidbey Telecommunications.  For starters, I had no idea there were still localized and family-run telecommunications companies left in the country, let alone ones that offer leading-edge technologies, which I’ll expand upon in a moment.

I also met the owners of Deception Pass Tours, a jet-boat whale watching company that started from humble beginnings and now is a thriving business.  I met some talented musicians, technologist, and an array of other local business owners, many of whom invited me to visit their establishments during my stay on the island.  One such business I had to check out was the newly crowned “Best Sandwich Shop” in Western Washington, Pickles Deli.  I was chatting up Kim Bailey, the owner of Pickles and she was telling me about her gourmet sandwich shop at the open house…I was razzing her with a level of cynicism, explaining that I was a gourmet sandwich connoisseur and that all too often sandwich makers mislead the public with terms like “gourmet.” I asked her all the tough sandwich questions, like what kinds of bread do you use?  What are the toppings offered?  Do you have a line of “signature” sandwiches? What brand of cold cuts do you use?  When she told me that she uses “Boar’s Head,” I piped down immediately and gave her a high-five and told her I’d come by the next day.  I’m so glad I did! Pickles Deli is absolutely worthy of the title, “best sandwich” shop.   The location is sort of a hole-in-the-wall situated in a nondescript strip mall, but don’t let that deter you from entering. The variations of sandwiches, salads, baked goods and ice cream will keep ya coming back for more.  I thought the presentation of the sandwich was also really cool, placed just so on a cutting board plank that screamed, “delicious!”

Another place I really enjoyed was the Mukilteo Coffee Roaster, the type of place I love to discover.  Mukilteo Coffee is a true locals hangout, and the reason is…there’s no way a visitor could find it! Tucked back miles off the highway, several turns and a sign that says “no outlet” later, you finally smell the distinct aroma of roasting coffee that indicates you’ve arrived.  If it wasn’t for Carrie and Tessa (of Quintessa) allowing me to follow them, I’m not sure Mukilteo Coffee would have made my agenda.  I’m so thankful for the discovery though as I got a behind-the-scenes tour of the roasting process, which was quite fascinating.  I also learned that Mukilteo is a fairly large roaster, supplying coffee to a chain of shops in Hong Kong.  They also have a kitchen producing some fantastic food for breakfast and lunch, along with a comfortable dining area and inviting patio. And, I have to say, their coffee is pretty darn good too!

Back to Whidbey Telcom…while talking with George, one of the owners of the company, I learned that they recently opened a coffee shop/café next to their headquarters; the place is called WiFire.  What is interesting about WiFire, and what intrigued me, was the fact that they are testing and offering to their patrons, super fast high speed internet.  When I say, “super fast,” I’m talking about mind-blowing…faster than anything available on the market, which could open up a whole new industry.  As an early adopter and technology enthusiast, I enjoy prognosticating what “could be” with the new evolution of Internet connectivity.  Doctors performing remote surgeries are already a reality.  One thought that comes to mind is holograms–being in two places at the same time!  Sounds a bit “trekkie,” but it could happen. Something more down to earth…downloading a full HD movie in seconds vs. minutes or hours.

As far as island nature stops…I explored the South Whidbey State Park, which is a forested area full of trails offering hill-top views, while others led to the water.  Just down the street from Quintessa is Buck Lake County Park, an area at sea level where you can stroll the beach, enjoy the seaside homes, watch nature scurry about or just relax and watch the sunset over the Olympic Mountains.

I also met several folks from Northwest PR, the public relations agency that organized the Quintessa open house.  Northwest PR is based on Whidbey Island and one of their services is video production, which provides clients with a wonderful asset to help market and promote their businesses.  In this post you may have observed that I included a number of their videos on places I visited.  If you watched the Quintessa video, you’ll notice that I had a guest role.  It was a blast working with these folks and I’m sure you will agree their videos are outstanding.

Whidbey Island is a destination full of nooks and crannies, so, for those who love adventure, you’ll have a great time exploring this island, “the shortest distance from far away.”   If you’ve ever been to Whidbey Island, leave a comment below and tell my readers and me what you enjoy most.

Alki Beach – The sunny side of a cloudy city

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Alki Beach is a popular coastal community located in the most westerly point of West Seattle, jutting out into the Pudget Sound.   Alki is one of my favorite places in the city. During the morning hours you can grab a cup-a-joe from your preferred coffee shop and take a stroll along the boardwalk.  Or, sit on some driftwood lining the expansive beach and watch as the colossal ferries float by.

Sitting anywhere on Alki offers views of downtown Seattle and that of the iconic Space Needle.  I especially enjoy an early morning walk…as the sun begins to rise, the water is very calm and the tide is low.  In the distance you can hear seagulls squawk, baritone ferry and fog horns blow, with the lapping of the water on the shore—during this time of day you can help but feel a great sense of serenity. You’ll often see people meditating or performing some form of martial art exercise.

By the afternoon (especially on a sunny day and/or on the weekends) the area is hopping with activity, often with special or annual events, such as weddings, volleyball tournaments and competitive runs like the Alki 5k Fun Run.  There are a ton of activities to partake in…from biking, rollerblading, running, kayaking, scuba and a whole lot more.  There are several rental facilities to accommodate nearly any whim. If you’re into Frisbee or playing catch and the beach is too full, there is a large park just a block from the beach with two baseball/softball fields and plenty of room to play.

The Alki Beach boardwalk is two and a half miles long, providing outstanding distances for activities and exercise.   Only a small portion of that two and a half miles has a sandy beach, the rest is seawall. Naturally the beach portion of the area is the most crowded, so your best bet to find parking is on the extreme ends, or inland a bit. There is however a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes or so, which makes parking beyond the beach much easier. The shuttle also allows you to explore other areas of Alki and West Seattle as it makes a big loop along the water and up and over the hill into West Seattle.

Seacrest Park, which is located on the far end of Alki, provides kayak, paddle board, scuba and other rentals.  Seacrest Park is also where you can catch a water taxi to take you to downtown Seattle to explore the waterfront district, Pike’s Place Market, Seattle Center, the stadiums and aquarium. You do not want to park in downtown Seattle, it’s a mess!  Parking and taking the pedestrian water taxi, then walking to your destination is your best bet.

While you’re at Alki Beach, you may also want to check out:

  • Alki Point Lighthouse, which is one of only eight lighthouses on the Puget Sound open to the public.
  • Log House Museum is the birthplace of Seattle and honors the Denny party who landed on Alki beach in 1851.
  • Alki Bathhouse often has art exhibits and other activities.
  • Many great local restaurants…one of my favorites is Cactus.  Cactus is a contemporary southwestern restaurant with outstanding food (I really like the seafood enchiladas) and a great open-air layout.
  • Salty’s is something of a Northwest institution. The view is spectacular, and the romantic atmosphere can’t be beat.
  • Phoenecia has a small, intimate setting with a great vibe.  The food is contemporary American served tapas style so you can try many dishes.  They also have artisan thin crust wood-fired pizza.
  • If you’re not from Seattle, you simple must try some fish & chips…if it’s nice out…take them to the beach.  The Spud is a Seattle institution and has been on Alki Beach since 1934.  My Dad used to take me there when I was a kid…”Single with extra fish please” is what I’d order. I have very fond memories going there with my Pop!
  • While the Spud is good, just two blocks away is a place called, “SunFish” which I think edges out Spud. SunFish only takes cash and the owners are a couple of old crotchety brothers…they remind me of the Soup Nazi in NYC. They’re good guys…it’s just customer service is not their forte…thankfully good food is.  The seafood skewer is outstanding too.

If you live or have been to Alki Beach, let my readers and me know what you like most by placing a comment below.  Click the following link to see more of my pictures of Alki Beach.  If you enjoyed this post and video, please click the “like” button to share with your friends and family.

Jimgermanbar in Waitsburg, WA

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

While I was in Walla Walla, Washington staying at the ever-so-quaint Fat Duck Inn, the proprietor (Alexa) invited to take me to this up-and-coming little town about 20 miles north called, Waitsburg.  Founded in 1859, Waitsburg is a cute town that seems to be reemerging as a hip destination with some quality restaurants, including the jimgermanbar, which is where we dined.

All the buildings in town appear to be of the period and have (or are) undergone a wonderful restoration process to reflect their nineteenth century roots while creating a tasteful modern esthetic.  Each building has its own eclectic feel—you immediately get a sense that this is a community attracting the creative and the artistic.

The menu at jimgermanbar is handwritten on these long sheets of construction paper.  The food is Italian infused American  served tapas style with a mad selection of inspired cocktails.  The atmosphere is casual and almost reminiscent of a sophisticated beatnik club, which may actually be an oxymoron. I don’t even know why that description came to mind as the 60s were way before my time. :-)

Here are the items we enjoyed:

  • Claire’s Cornucopia Antipasto – House cured duck breast prosciutto, Fra Mani salami, a selection of cheeses, bocarones, Mama Lil’s peppers, crostini and crackers made by Colville St. Patisserie.
  • Cumin roasted potatoes with lemon aioli
  • Braised tenderloin with roasted asparagus
  • I can’t recall the name of the cocktails we enjoyed, but they were some sort of lemon-drop martini…very refreshing.

After dinner, something told me it was time to get back on the road…there was a very loud siren that went off in the middle of town—I’m sure it could be heard from miles away (see end of video).

If you’ve ever been to jimgermanbar in Waitsburg, WA before, please leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what you think.

‘Rachel’ You’re one Serene Mountain Lake

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

It was early Fall when my cousin Nick and I decided to do an overnight backpacking trip to a mountain lake we had researched.   The weather was absolutely spectacular for this time of year, and, since we went mid-week, we saw very few people on the trail and we were actually the only ones camping. Rachel Lake is located just north of Snoqualmie Pass, about 90 minutes east of the Seattle area.

The hike to Rachel Lake is about four miles each way, and while many folks do this excursion as a day-hike, it’s simply too wonderful to just turn back without spending a night under a bright, star-filled sky.

The first 2.5 miles of the hike are quite easy and extremely enjoyable, with various streams and waterfalls cascading through the dense flora and fauna.  As the trail runs into the forest of Box Canyon Creek, the climb intensifies immensely…the next mile of assent is more than 1300’— in contrast, the previous 2.5 miles is only a modest 300’ gain.  The last half mile was a bit more moderate, but you’d hardly know it with tired legs and burning lungs.  Seemingly out of nowhere, we had reach the summit and emerged out onto the sunlit shores of Rachel Lake.  It was a wonderful hike, but we were both tuckered and famished.

With great jubilation we quickly found a stellar campsite where we got things set up in time to enjoy the views of the lake in one direction, and vistas in the other…all the while the setting sun cast an amber glow upon the scenery.  Sipping tequila with a handful of mixed nuts, we embraced the beauty surrounding us while becoming mesmerized by the serenity of being the only souls in sight.

We then gathered some wood for a small fire, filtered some drinking water from the pristine lake (the water was probably clean enough to drink, but when you have a water filter, there’s no reason to take a chance), then prepared a meal that I’ve never had while backpacking…a delicious smoked salmon salad.  We actually chopped up vegetables earlier that morning, mixed them with an array of salad greens, then put it all in a ziplock bag.  In separate containers we had a honey mustard dressing along with some fresh cherry smoked salmon that my cousin got from a friend in Alaska .  I don’t know if it was because we had worked up such an appetite, but that salad was so damn good!

We enjoyed our fire for a spell, but found firewood to be quite scarce (funny, we’re in the middle of the woods and couldn’t find adequate fuel for the fire).  The weather was quite delightful, so we ended up staring at the sky for what seemed like a couple of hours…we watched as the stars continued to increase in brightness as the sky turned darker with the loss of sunlight.  There was little light pollution and the sky was clear of clouds, so the stars illuminated with a rare brilliance.

The next morning we woke to a beautiful sunrise, and the stillness of the lake provide an awe-inspiring reflection of the surrounding mountains. After exploring the other side of the lake, we relaxed a bit before packing-up and beginning our decent. The trail to/fro Rachel Lake was lush with wild berries…we enjoyed blueberries, blackberries, red and orange salmon berries as well as watermelon berries.

Click the following link if you’d like to see more pictures from Rachel Lake.

If you’ve been to Rachel Lake before, please post a comment below and let my readers and me know what you like best.  If you enjoyed this post and video, please share the love by clicking the “like” button below.

Hike Info:

GPS Coordinates: 47.4012 – 121.2848
Goggle Map: Rachel Lake Map
Distance: 4 miles each way (8 miles round trip)
Elevation gain: 1670′
Duration:  With heavy packs, it took us 3 hours up and about 2.5 hours back.
Directions: Head east on I-90 to exit 62, then head north about 6 miles (about 90 min. outside Seattle)

Tantalize all your senses at Pike Place Market

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

With a mix of fishmonger’s, florists, local farmers to restauranteurs and entertainers, it’s no wonder Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle is such a popular place among visitors and locals alike.  The vast array of sounds, vibrant colors, textures, aromas and flavors, will put your human senses into overdrive.  Rain or shine, Pike Place is always alive and inviting.

Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market is the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the U.S.  Located high above the famed Seattle waterfront, the Market overlooks Elliott Bay, providing its 10m visitors with fantastic views along with a plethora of shopping choices from hundreds of farmers, craftspeople, artisans, florists and of course fishmongers.

Even though Pike Place is quite a tourist attraction, the Market is sill patronized by locals alike for all the fresh fish, produce and outstanding prices on beautifully cut flowers.

Pike Place Market Hours:

Pike Place is open year-round, seven days a week (closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s).  Merchants set their own hours, so it’s a good idea to check specific vendors.  Restaurants hours may vary during peak seasons.  Farmers are frequently set up and ready to sell by 8:00 am.

Pike Place/1st Avenue level:

  • Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm
  • Sunday is 9 am to 5 pm
  • Individual shop hours may vary

DownUnder stores:

  • Monday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm

Getting to Pike Place:

  • Driving in and around Pike Place is a nightmare, your best best is to take some sort of mass transit.  From West Seattle, your best bet is to take the Water Taxi.

Brief History of Pike Place:

Photo Courtesy of the City of Seattle

Pike Place Market was born out of the frustration of a sudden onion price increase in August of 1907.  On the opening day of the Market, a total of eight farmers brought their wagons filled with produce to the corner of First and Pike.  The small group of farmers were quickly overwhelmed by over 10,000 eager shoppers…they were sold out within a couple hours.  The rest they say is…history.

A century later, Pike Place Market is recognized as America’s premier farmers’ market.  Hundreds of farmers, craftspeople and entertainers play host to over 10 million visitors a year, making it one of Washington state’s most frequently visited destinations.

Click the following link to see more or my pictures of Pike Place Market.  If you’ve been to the Market before, let my readers and me know what you like best.  If you found this post and video helpful, please hit the “Like” button below. Click the following link for Washington B&B’s.

Avoid the headaches, take the Seattle Water Taxi

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Driving and parking in or around downtown Seattle is about as fun as poking needles in your eyes.  If you live near West Seattle, thankfully there is an easy and convenient way to reach many of the wonderful attractions that downtown Seattle has to offer…the Water Taxi.  The Seattle Water Taxi is a pedestrian-only ferry taking passengers to/fro West Seattle’s Seacrest Park and downtown Seattle’s waterfront district. On the West Seattle side there is even a free bus shuttle that makes a loop around the area, hitting all the main stops like Alki Beach.

Seattle Water Taxi Schedule

  • Monday – Friday the water taxi leaves every 30 minutes.
  • Saturday and Sunday the water taxi leaves West Seattle on the hour and Downtown Seattle on the half hour.
  • Fares are $3.50 each way for adults.

Seattle Water Taxi Bus Schedule

  • The shuttle bus that runs a loop from Alki Beach to Seacrest Park (Water Taxi terminal) picks-up every 20 minutes or so from a number of stops along the route.

Seattle Water Taxi Map

Things to do:

There are many fun things to do within walking distance of the ferry terminals on either side.

  • On the West Seattle side, right at the Seacrest Park terminal you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, bikes and more.  There is also a couple restaurants and great scuba diving.  Walk down the boardwalk (west) and you will run into Alki, one of the best beaches in the city.  Watch a competitive game of volleyball, rent a bike or some skates, or enjoy some fish & chips on the beach while watching the ferries go by.
  • On the downtown Seattle side, if you walk to your right (south) you can watch a Seahawk or Mariner game at either of the two stadiums.  Head to the north along the boardwalk and you can check out the Seattle Aquarium or a number of restaurants in between.  There are also a number of tourist attractions and tours that can be found by venders along the waterfront boardwalk.  Head east, up a steep hill a couple blocks and you’ll find yourself at the famous Pike Place Market.  Head north and you’ll find yourself at the Seattle Center, where the iconic Space Needle resides.

Whatever your mood, the Water Taxi in between downtown Seattle and West Seattle will make it more convenient and that much more enjoyable.

If you’ve taken the Seattle Water Taxi before, let my readers and me know what you thought.  If you’ve enjoyed this post and video, please hit the “Like” button below.

Visiting Leavenworth, WA in the Winter

Monday, March 21st, 2011

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, there is no place better to do so than a visit to Leavenworth, Washington.  This Bavarian themed city is located in the central part of Washington State and provides all the necessary ingredients for a fun-filled time during the winter months and holiday season.  You’re sure to find plenty of snow,  kids sledding in the heart of town, live holiday music, shops serving warm treats, and of course, plenty of Christmas lights.

Leavenworth, WA sits near the eastern part of the Cascade Mountains with the picturesque Wenatchee River running through it. The drive to Leavenworth is little more than a couple hours east of Seattle and provides for a scenic drive. The peak of the Cascades are at 8000 feet, and the decent to Leavenworth will leave you below 1500’.  There are many charming shops and restaurants to choose from, with a wide range of events throughout the year to entertain its two million visitors.

After floundering for decades, the 1960s was a time for change in Leavenworth.  City leaders made transformational changes that converted the city into what we know today… as a Bavarian-themed village. Leavenworth is Bavarian through-and-through…from the architecture to the merchant’s regalia, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported thousands of miles away to a mountainous German village.

Popular area activities include: downhill and cross country skiing, river rafting, rock climbing, sledding, golf, fishing and hiking. Outside of Germany, Oktoberfest in Leavenworth is considered one of the largest in the world.

There are a number of great places to stay in and around Leavenworth, including many outstanding B&B’s, some creek and river-side like Run of the River.  I stayed just outside of Leavenworth near Wenatchee Lake at the Pine River Ranch (click the link for my review).

Click the following link if you’d like to see more of my pictures of Leavenworth.  If you’d like to find out what “the ONE thing” is about Leavenworth, click the previous link.  If you live or have been to Leavenworth, please post a comment below on what you like best about the area.

Vantage Bridge Wild Horses Monument Display

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

This horse sculpture display was created by artist, David Govedare and is located right in the middle of Washington state.  The display can be seen from viewpoints along I-90 on the east side of the Columbia River…the best “vantage” point is about two miles east of the Vantage Bridge across the Columbia River. The eastbound off-ramp has a rough path that leads a quarter mile to the Wild Horses Monument.

Once you reach the overlook parking lot, you’ll enjoy views below of the Columbia River and the Vantage Bridge…as well as the views above of the wild horse sculpture display. If you so choose, like I did, you can hike up to the top of the bluff to walk among the horses.  You’ll be amazed at how big the display is, and how thick the steel is…this display was built to last!  Unfortunately some feel the need to tag these sculptures with paint, so I’m sure it’s a continual battle to keep them clean for all to enjoy.


Click here to see more pictures of the Horse sculpture Display at the Vantage Bridge Overlook.