One week in the Pacific Northwest – Seattle & Olympic National Park

One Week in the Pacific Northwest: Seattle & Olympic National Park

Traveling to Seattle was a bit of a homecoming for us.  In the early 2000s, we lived in Seattle with two young kids.  We loved our time living in the Pacific Northwest.  The scenery was breathtaking and the mild weather was welcomed after the extremes we experienced in the Midwest.  We had always talked about a return trip with the kids, especially because Ava was not born yet when we lived out there.  This year we finally made it happen after moving away 15 years ago!  

Our journey started on Memorial Day, leaving at noon and arriving into Seattle in the evening, PST.  Once we got our rental car we headed right to Whole Foods where I did a quick shop for the next few days.  Then it was off to our Airbnb.

When we traveled

Early June 2021 – the weather was a complete mix.  Our first days were quite warm for Seattle, in the mid 80s.  We had nice weather in Olympic National Park, 60s-70s, which was perfect for hiking.  Once back in Seattle, we had chilly, rainy days.  

Below is a map of our driving route

Seattle, Washington

We stayed in Seattle at the beginning of our vacation as well as the back end with Olympic National Park in the middle.  

Where we stayed (on the front end)  

Airbnb in the city | 3 nights | Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle

Staying in an Airbnb on the front end was great.  We had room to spread out as there were three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full kitchen, plus dining room, living area, two balconies, and a full size washer and dryer.  There was also a great view of Mt. Rainier from our balcony.

Where we stayed (on the back end)  

Seattle Marriott Waterfront | 2 nights | downtown Seattle

We opted to stay in a hotel at the end of our trip as we just needed a place for one and a half days.  This location was great to finish our time in Seattle.  

Pike Place Market

We started off our first day in Seattle with a visit to the iconic Pike Place Market. 

Pike Place Market is home to vendors of all kinds:  freshly caught seafood such as gigantic crab legs, salmon, fish, and all sorts of sea creatures.  If you’re lucky you’ll get to see the fish fly, which is when the vendors playfully toss fish, often to crowds of tourists waiting to see it in action.  When we visited, it was relatively quiet so the fish were not flying, but we did experience low crowds, due to arriving early in the morning, around 9 a.m.  Fresh local Washington produce, cheese shops, tiny donuts, and all sorts of souvenir stores with a variety of tchotchkes are what you’ll find at Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market 

We took our time wandering the market, making a few purchases, and then made our way across the street to the original Starbucks.

The Original Starbucks

The original Starbucks has become a touristy destination for sure.  But as a coffee aficionado and a Starbucks regular, it was worth the 20 minute line to get in.  Due to protocols at the time we visited in early 2021, people are held in a line outside the building.  Only a max capacity of ten people were allowed in at one time.  This made it a much more enjoyable experience to be honest.  You have plenty of room to wander about, check out the exclusive merchandise located at this store, and take photos inside and chat with the very friendly staff while waiting for your drink.  Plus they have drinks here unique to this location only.  I am a big fan of cold brew coffee so I tried their chocolate covered cherry cold brew – and it was delish!

The Original Starbucks

Ivar’s & Old Stove Brewing Co

After our time at the market, we headed down to the waterfront to grab a lunch for my husband who was soon to head to some work meetings while we were in town.  He got some fried clams and french fries from the famous Ivar’s – which he said was very good. 

Ivar’s is a great place for fried clams

He then left us for a few hours so the kids and I headed back to the market area to eat lunch at Old Stove Brewing Company.  We got in line at 11:20 and were the first ones let in when it opened at 11:30.  We chose outdoor seating so we had a lovely view of the waterfront while dining.  The food and service were both wonderful and we highly recommend dining here if at Pike Place Market.

Miner’s Landing

After our lunch break, we made our way to Miner’s Landing, a pleasure pier at Pier 57.  We were eager to try the simulator ride called Wings Over Washington.  If you are familiar with Soarin’ at Disney, then this is similar, albeit with a Washington State theme.  We loved it and rode it twice during our stay in Seattle. 

Braden and Ava took a turn on the ferris wheel, known as The Seattle Great Wheel.  I opted to stay down on the ground and let them enjoy the spin!  They loved it and got great views in every direction.  On a clear day one can see Mt. Rainer, the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, and panoramic views of the city of Seattle. 

Miner’s Landing – a fun stop with kids & teens

The Great Seattle Gum Wall

We all thought the idea of the Gum Wall was pretty gross but it also piqued our curiosity so we checked it out after our time at Miner’s Landing.  From Miner’s Landing we crossed the street (Alaskan Way) and headed up the hill.  The Gum Wall isn’t truly a gum wall, but rather an alley way running under Pike Place market where the brick walls were adorned with people’s old chewed gum.  A colorful oddity, yes, and very disgusting!  We did not add any chewed gum as we pretty much high tailed it out of there after a brief look-see!

The Seattle Gum Wall – gross!

Palisade

This was one of our favorite restaurants when we lived out here 15 years prior.  I remembered the beautiful views of the city and the marina from the floor-to-ceiling windows and wanted to revisit.  The restaurant also features an indoor pond!  We had a fabulous meal and loved the expansive view once again.  We were so lucky in that the sky really put on a show the night we were there – bright pinks and blues slowly faded into night as the sun set.

The Best Seattle Skyline Photo Spot

To get incredible views of the city, Mt. Rainier, and Puget Sound, head to Kerry Park located in the Queen Anne Hill neighborhood.  It gets busy in the evening with people and tripods lined up to take photos of the sun setting on the city.  There is street parking but it’s limited as it’s also a residential area.  We parked just a short distance away.  Soon, we watched as the city was bathed in golden hour evening light, then light blues and pinks, and finally the city lights came on and gave us a twinkling city light show.   We had a clear day which is a must to also get a fantastic view of Mt. Rainier.

View of the city with Mt. Rainier in the distance, as seen from Kerry Park

The Troll Under the Bridge

This fun art installation resides under the Aurora Bridge in the Fremont area of Seattle, at the corner of Troll Ave N and 36th St.  The story behind the troll is back in 1989 the city launched a campaign to clean up the then-decrepit area under the bridge.  A sculptor named Steve Badanes won a competition to erect a piece.  He is said to have been inspired by Billy Goat’s Gruff, especially due to this location under a bridge.

We easily found parking here in this residential area mid-day.  There are stairs in the back of the Troll’s head so one can climb up the back.  Notice the real VW bug being crushed in the Troll’s left hand!  

The fun art installation, the Troll Under the Bridge

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington State’s most popular attractions.  Located approximately 28 miles east of Seattle, the falls tumble about 270 feet down into the Snoqualmie River.  The Salish Lodge sits right above the falls – how’s that for a view?!

Parking at the upper lot is free and a bridge takes pedestrians across the road to the the walkways to the falls.  We opted to park in the lower lot, where we paid a $7 fee.  We paired our visit here with lunch at Snoqualmie Falls Brewery which we all enjoyed.

At the lower observation deck at Snoqualmie Falls

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island was on our route back to Seattle, where the final leg to the city involved a driving bridge onto Bainbridge Island, driving across the island, and then a final ferry boat to Seattle.

As we were driving, we saw an adorable town with cute shops and coffee shops.  I had wanted to eat lunch at the highly recommended Harbour Public House so we decided to spend a few hours here on Bainbridge Island and I’m so glad we did. 

We first headed to Harbour Public House for lunch. 

The Harbour Public House on Bainbridge Island

We sat at an old wooden booth, right by an old wooden window, that was slightly ajar, letting in the cool breeze.  I also had a lovely view of beautiful hydrangea bushes with the harbor beyond. 

My lovely seat with a view for lunch

The food here was delicious.  I had grilled cheese and tomato soup and Mike had the most intriguing clam chowder. 

Mike’s clam chowder

After we finished our lunch, we walked down to the water.  The views and ambiance at this restaurant were fabulous as was the food and we highly recommend eating here.

We spent some time visiting the shops in town as well.  There were locally made products and unique souvenir items.  I also stopped for an afternoon iced coffee at Pegasus – what a charming building and the coffee was great!

TIP:  If you are interested in visiting Bainbridge Island as a day trip from Seattle, you can easily hop on the ferry from Pier 52 as a foot passenger.  The ride takes a little over half an hour and offers scenic views of the city.  Check the website for ferry schedule and ticket information.

Museum of Flight

Visiting the Museum of Flight was a last minute change of plans for us as we had initially planned a day trip out to Mt. Rainier on our last day in Seattle.  However, the weather was chilly, rainy, and cloudy, so there was no point in going to see the mountain up close when it would not even be visible!  The Museum of Flight was what we chose to do on this rainy day, and we are so glad we did!

Funny enough, this was the very first thing we did as a family when we moved out to Seattle 17 years prior.  And this would be the last thing we would do on our trip.  It kind of closed the full circle for us!

The Museum of Flight is located south of the city of Seattle.  Currently, the museum is open Thursday-Monday with timed tickets.  We easily got a time slot for the same day.

If you love planes, space, and the history of flight then this is the museum for you.  It is the largest non-profit flight museum in the world!  One can walk through a variety of exhibits, including those about space, early days of flight, how flying made an incredible impact and really changed the world, and a gallery called the Personal Courage Wing – all about the air combat of WWI & WWII.  Our kids loved this museum, even Ava who is not terribly keen on museums.  She stated after our visit that she loved it!

Planes, planes, planes at the Museum of Flight

The kids’ favorite part of the museum was the Aviation Pavilion, which is a covered, outdoor hangar with many different types of aircraft, some you can even walk through.  We walked through an Air Force One plane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and a few others.  

We did miss out on a few exhibits that were still closed due to the pandemic – the kids especially wanted to try the flight simulators, but they weren’t open in June 2021.  Hopefully soon!

During our visit we also ate lunch at the Wings Cafe.  They had a variety of items, including salads, hot dogs, and even beer!  

Olympic National Park

Where we stayed

Log Cabin Resort | 2-bedroom cabin with kitchen | Olympic National Park | Port Angeles, WA

We loved our stay at Log Cabin Resort!  The Resort is on the shores of beautiful Lake Crescent, with evergreen clad foothills ahead and snow capped mountains in the distance.  Massive pines popped up all over the resort – the scenery was breathtaking.

Beautiful Lake Crescent at Log Cabin Resort

Our cabin was perfect for the five of us.  We had 2 bedrooms as well as a pull out sofa, full bathroom, and kitchenette.  Outdoors we had a picnic table and our own fire pit where we cooked breakfast and dinner.  

The main lodge was simple but cozy.  The kids especially loved the wi-fi, although they were finishing up the end of their virtual school year!  There was a shop inside that sold some souvenir items as well as drinks, food, and provisions.

One can rent paddle boards or boats during specified time periods and we saw people fishing as well.  Lake Crescent is deep, cold, and clear – a bit too cold for us to swim in June but we saw some kids plunging in!

 

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK FACTS

The Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park is a World Heritage Site & Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

  • LOCATION:  Washington
  • CLOSEST MAJOR CITY:  Seattle, WA
  • ANNUAL VISITORS:  2.4 million 
  • 14th most visited US National Park out of 63
  • BECAME A NATIONAL PARK:  1938
  • TOP THINGS TO DO:  Hike the Hoh Rainforest Trail & the Hall of Mosses

The Hall of Mosses Trail & Hoh River Trail

Driving to the Hoh Rainforest took about 80 minutes from our cabin at Log Cabin Resort. As we got closer, we could see we were entering the rainforest.  The verdant greens were so varying in shade and the flora was so lush.  While waiting in line to enter the park, we saw several elk grazing on the side of the road! 

We were happy to have seen the elk from the safety of our vehicle.  Once we parked and got out of our vehicle, we came across this sign:

The first trail we started with was the Hall of Mosses Trail, a 0.8 mi loop where dramatic moss hangs gently from the branches above.  We learned that the moss are “epiphytes”.  The moss doesn’t live off the trees, rather simply lives on them.  They receive their nutrients from particles in the air that the wind blows about.  Isn’t nature amazing?

This trail was relatively easy with minimal steps and it really is a slow walk in the woods.  You can’t help but walk slow when surrounded by such beauty.  

After the Hall of Mosses Trail we started on the Hoh River Trail.  The Hoh River Trail runs parallel to the Hoh River and is almost 18 miles one way.  One can go as far or as short as you like by simply turning around.  While I would have liked to hike in much further, we were with our teens so we just hiked a few miles.  We also had a lovely picnic lunch right by the river. 

We loved this trail – the pines were massive and the lush ferns popping up from the forest floor and hanging moss made it feel like an enchanted forest!

Rialto Beach

Olympic National Park is on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the far west of which borders the Pacific Ocean.  There are several beaches along the coast.  We chose to visit Rialto Beach after our visit to the Hoh Rainforest because it was just a slight detour on our way back to Log Cabin Resort.  

Rialto Beach is about 14 miles west of the town of Forks, WA.  The drive there was easy and parking plentiful with an overflow lot as well.

The beach features black sand and massive amounts of bleached driftwood on the shores.  In the sea are rocky outcroppings and wild waves, at least when we were here.  We also touched the ocean, climbed the driftwood, and took in the stunning scenery.  In total, we spent about 45 minutes here before heading back to Log Cabin Resort.

Black sand, wild waves, and bleached driftwood at Rialto Beach

Overall Thoughts

We loved our return trip to Seattle.  We were a bit sentimental about visiting certain places as we did as a young family of four many years prior.  It was also wonderful seeing new places and doing new things now as a family of 5 with our teens.

Seattle has so much to offer visitors.  From an iconic marketplace, the first Starbucks, a gross gum wall, a massively cool troll under a bridge, and its proximity to three national parks, Seattle is a wonderful place to visit.

 

Dietary Notes

As always, everyone’s needs are different.  At press time my husband is grain-free and two of our kids are allergic to nuts and eggs.  Although we seem to encompass a large amount of dietary restrictions, we can only offer advice as to what pertains to our own family, as that is where our expertise lies!

We ate out at Old Stove Brewing and Elephant & Castle for dinner while in Seattle and everyone was able to safely eat at both locations.  We also stopped at Whole Foods to stock up on groceries for our first few days in Seattle when we were in our Airbnb.  

When we headed to Olympic National Park, we hauled the groceries out to our cabin.  Getting groceries before entering Olympic National Park is a must as provisions are limited in the area.

For more on traveling with dietary restrictions, be sure to check out our guide:  On the Go with Allergies.

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