A few weeks ago, I shared a recap of the Oregon Coast/Portland leg of our recent adventure to the Pacific Northwest. Here's part 2, from our time in Seattle. This city has been on my travel list for years and years, and I loved every minute of being there. Coffee! Ferry boats! The Space Needle! Water everywhere! Glacial mountains! Coffee! Really, the city is a coffee lover's dream come true. We seriously considered a shotgun relocation to Seattle, but since that wasn't practical, we settled for hitting as many coffee shops as we could in four days.
We let Sam roam among the monolithic sculptures in Olympic Sculpture Park, inspected the Space Needle up close, took a jaunt through Pike Place Market, and explored the waterfront...
...ate really, really good BBQ ribs at Bitterroot in Ballard
...snagged a comfort-food lunch at Skillet Diner in Capitol Hill (fried chicken on kale Caesar salad with boquerones!)
...ate a smookie (which, obviously, is a s'mores cookie) at Macrina Bakery
...and ate pho in the International District (pho is a thing in Seattle), caprese crepes in Capitol Hill (crepes also are a thing: a very good thing), and artisan pizzas (although I was too busy eating to take pictures of any of the above).
And we scoped out several scenic parks. One of my favorite ways to get to know a new city is to find parks or scenic spots with the best views, and it's also a good way to give Sam a break from the car/stroller/carrier and let him romp in the grass. The best spots we explored included Kerry Park...
...Seacrest Park and Alki Beach, in West Seattle, where you can snag photos of the skyline from across the bay
...and Gas Works Park, which is bizarre and beautiful and built around the remains of an old gas processing plant (remember the paintball scene from 10 Things I Hate About You?) and is also a perfect place to watch the sun go down and reflect off of the skyline.
We stayed in a cute little Airbnb apartment in Capitol Hill, which had its quirks but was really quite comfortable and affordable. In our travels with Sam, we've stayed in both hotels and Airbnb lodging, and Airbnb definitely wins for traveling with little kids--it's possible to spend a week or more on the road without having access to a kitchen, but it sure does make things easier if you do.
One day, we met up with some old friends and took a ferry to Bainbridge Island. We ate one big progressive meal around the island: baguettes and local cheese from Pane D'Amore (Beecher's Flagship cheddar, Humboldt Fog chevre), Mora Ice Cream (Dark chocolate mint! Pink grapefruit sorbet!), and fish and chips from Harbor Public House.
This picture of the three of us was taken on day 8 of non-stop exploring (which, to be honest, felt just a tiny bit like the 25th mile of a marathon), and it is fairly representative of us near the end of our travels: happy, a little bleary, crazy-haired, and one of us threatening to lecture the next person who tries to photograph him in a scenic spot. This trip was the most challenging adventure I've attempted with Sam to date. We hit a few roadblocks (Sam caught a cold somewhere in Oregon, and Jordan's knee went out), and I exhausted every trick up my sleeve to help Sam stay happy in restaurants, other people's homes, boats, cars, strollers, and planes (my sleeves were 100% empty by the time we got home). I felt mentally wiped out by the end, mainly from masterminding Sam's gear and excessive use of the Yelp app. I was also one rendition of Yankee Doodle away from throwing Wee Sing America into Puget Sound. But I also felt elated and accomplished: we did more together than I ever dreamed would be possible with a toddler.
Working up to to this trip with smaller adventures helped a lot, and so did our preparations (which I blogged about here) to help Sam get used to the idea that he'd be seeing a lot of different people and places on our travels (he acclimated much better on this trip than he did on our last vacation, which I didn't prepare him for at all). But I think it also helped to expect the best of Sam. He did just as well as I expected he would--if not ten times better. It can be so easy to expect the worst of little kids--for example: "he is going to be miserable if we take him to this or that grown-up place!"--but I'm starting to realize, 9 times out of 10, that's actually just a self-fulfilling prophecy. This time, I really believed that even though he's tiny, he could still have a great time exploring the Pacific Northwest with us if we really engaged him in our activities, and you know what? He did. And, in case you were wondering: he squealed every time he caught a glimpse of the Space Needle. Okay, I guess I did, too.
Here's a list of our top Seattle picks, in case you find yourself in the neighborhood (in italics are places we didn't actually get around to, but which either looked amazing from a distance or came highly recommended to us):
Bell Street Pier (photo ops)
Pike Place / Starbucks / Beecher's Cheese
Olympic Sculpture Park
Chihuly Gardens & Glass
Muse Coffee Co.
Molly Moon's Ice Cream
Rachel's Ginger Beer
Via Tribunali (pizza)
Analog Coffee/Herkimer Roasters
Gas Works Park
The Fremont Troll
Anchored Ship Coffee
Ballard Locks & Fish Ladder
Westward (seafood & drinks)
Tamarind Tree (Vietnamese)
Alki Beach + Seacrest Park
Marination Hawaiian BBQ
Volunteer Park Water Tower (climb it for views!)
Harbor Public House (no one under 21 allowed inside, including babies--but the takeout fish n' chips are amazing)
Pane D'Amore Bakery
Mora Ice Cream