I had been dying to hit this state for years before I got here. I started in Seattle of course, but combined that with a trip to Victoria, British Columbia (see Canada page) and then ferried back to the U.S. and visited the San Juan Islands (below) .
My overview of Seattle and San Juan Islands below was from a trip in July 2014.
Click destination to jump to that section.
Getting There/When To Go/Where to Stay
Flying into Seattle-Tacoma International is easy with lots of direct flights.
Seattle is known for its overcast, drizzly weather so your best bet is summer.
Major city means every hotel brand possible – use your points! You’re going to do a ton of walking and will be exhausted – a simple hotel is fine. Think location, location, location.
Things To Do
Public Market/Pike Place Fish Co.
A visit to the public market is usually first on everyone’s list. A foodie paradise – so much fresh fish!!
For those not familiar, you’ll want to stop at Pike Place Fish Company. They were made famous by a corporate customer service book called Fish Philosophy where this business is used as the ideal for how retail customer service should work.
If you have seen the Fish Philosophy, then step right up and have them toss you a filet! I did. Caught it perfect on my first try.
Because you just have to say you did….
Major cities that are on a body of water usually have Duck Tours. I highly recommend these as a way to get a quick overview of a big city, some history and have some great fun doing it. If you’ve never done a Duck Tour, these are amphibious car/boats and they take a spin in the harbor during the tour.
Its that huge tower you can see from anywhere in the city. Your standard viewing tower and restaurant. Confession – this shot I took from Duck Tours was as close as I got to it. Not my thing.
This little island is just a short ferry ride from Seattle and a great day trip. It has several parks and nature reserves, but I just spent an afternoon strolling about the town and enjoying the rustic charm. There were lots of quaint eateries, including an irish pub and a cupcake store. Beautiful skyline shots of Seattle on the way back.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
This museum in the middle of Seattle is a worthwhile ticket. Whether you like blown glass or not, the talent of Dale Chihuly is just so over the top that you can’t possibly not appreciate it. I really enjoyed this, perfect if you get caught in a drizzle and need to get out of the rain for a little while. Once the rain let’s up, don’t miss the sculptures in the outdoor garden.
Center for Wooden Boats
Ok ladies, if your husband accompanied you to Chihuly Garden you should return the courtesy by taking him to the Center for Wooden Boats.
This is a museum (dedicated to wooden boats obviously) but also a boating school and rental company. If you get a nice day, might be a fun diversion to get out on the water.
This concludes a two-day trip to Seattle. For an exciting add on, try taking a seaplane to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). Click the image below to visit my page on Canada to read more.
From Victoria I took a ferry back into Washington and visited the San Juan Islands, overview below.
San Juan Islands
The payoff of putting in time to travel research and going down the rabbit hole is that occasionally you find a gem like this.
The San Juan Islands is a cluster of 3 small islands that make up an archipelago in the state of Washington known for Pacific Northwest landscapes. They offer world-class whale watching opportunities (this area is known for the ability to see orcas during breeding season!) as well as hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and tons of farm-to-table eating.
The information below is from a trip I took in July 2014.
There are many ways to access the islands. Depends on where you are coming from. Click the image to visit the San Juan Islands visitors bureau for more information.
Where To Stay
My short trip only allowed time for San Juan Island, the main island, and I stayed outside the village of Friday Harbor. There are accommodations in the village center and ample B&Bs in the surrounding area.
Things To Do
I’ll be hitting the highlights of what I can remember – most of my travel pages have better details thanks to my travel journal which is much better than my memory. For some reason this trip is not in my main journal so some details are lost…for now. It will turn up someday.
Definitely rent a jeep so you can tour the entire island. There is a scenic byway that leads you to the key sites. I visited sites including Lime Kiln Point and Roche Harbor.
This island was a naturalist’s paradise. I saw bald eagles everywhere. The picture below was taken from the side of the road standing up in my jeep. If you are here in the summer, the islands are famed for being on a migration route for orcas (thin Shamu) and you can see pods of whales passing by the island from your picnic spot on the cliffs.
I did several pleasant hikes on this trip, one at a location called the American Camp which was a mostly flat hike through a grassy field with incredible vistas. Got some great bird photos on this walk including a surprise flock of cedar waxwings and a juvenile hawk.
My TripAdvisor account tells me I also hiked the English Camp, a short but aggressive 1-mile uphill walk that had limited payoff.
There were ample opportunities for boating excursions to see the orcas. While this might be worthwhile, I think I got better pictures from the cliffs on dry ground. If only I could find them….
Until my lost journal and photos surface, do your own research but definitely add the San Juan Islands to your list when traveling in the Pacific Northwest.