We recently took a family trip out to Washington… the state not District of Columbia. Anyways…it was a great time!!! We loved it there, there were beautiful sights, delicious food and tons of coffee.
So to start we were travelling with not one, but two kids. One of which was a lap baby and 11 months old, which was rough. It was a two hour flight from Atlanta to Chicago and a one hour layover followed by a four hour flight to SeaTac. Charlotte actually did pretty well considering how young she is and it was her first time flying. Cole is content as long as he has his iPad so he was rather easy. We flew Southwest because we have the Rapid Rewards Credit Card and got two of our round tickets free! (people at work always wonder how we go on frequent vacations, well its easy with free flights!).
After arriving at SeaTac we got our rental car. We used the App Turo and got a great van for a much more affordable rate then you can from a rental car company. Basically you rent the car from someone that doesn’t need it for the week. I made sure to rent a van with free delivery and he met us right at curbside with the van and we dropped it off at the curb too. It worked out great and I was able to get a very nice Honda Odyssey for 5 days with insurance for $320, not too bad.
After we finally got our bags we made our way to my friends house that we were staying with. She lives in Graham, about 15 miles outside of Tacoma. I mapped it and realized we were about 35 miles from her hours and was very disappointed in the traffic!!! Like I said, 35 miles, but it took over 1:15 to get there! The traffic there is absolutely insane and only seemed to lighten up when it was 4 in the morning… We basically relaxed for the rest of the night after stopping at Fred Meyer, which is actually a great grocery store.
The next morning we got up bright and early ready to explore Seattle. Once again we sat in traffic for an unnecessary amount of time. We found some parking which was $21 for three hours. Kind of insane, but it seemed to be the average and the kids were ready to get out of the car. After parking we made our way to a not one, not two, but a THREE story Target!!!! I was in Target heaven, but sadly it wasn’t shopping time and I didn’t have room in my luggage for the area run I found… oh well. I did however stop at Starbucks and get my mugs (I collect the You are Here Collection). We stopped there primarily to get an umbrella because it was raining, but as soon as we got outside it stopped raining.. just our luck.
We made our way to the tourist trap of Pike’s Place Market. The flowers were absolutely beautiful and so well priced. You could get a huge bouquet of beautiful flowers for only $20, I have never seen them so cheap. We saw the fish throwing too which was pretty cool! Also in the fish area, I saw the biggest shrimp (oxymoron) I have ever seen. No lie they were 5″ long. I was in shock. We really didn’t do much else exploring in there because it wasn’t exactly jogging stroller friendly.
Afterade our way out of the market to stumble on one of the places on my “To Eat” list, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. You could see them making the cheese through a window and taste their cheese and cheese curds. I decided to have their Mac n Cheese and their classic grilled cheese sandwich, my (high maintenance) husband decided to get the Dungeons’ Crab sandwich. Both were toasted and melted to absolute perfection. The cheese was sharp, creamy, gooey and just perfect!!!I would highly recommend eating there again. It was pretty pricey, but it was amazing.
After a delicious lunch we made our way to a brewery, it was beer time!! We stopped at the Old Stove Brewery in downtown. I got a flight of four of their beers and they were all really good. One thing I had there that was new was a sour beer. And honestly, I was not a fan, but the rest of their beer was delicious!!!
Our last stop in Seattle was to their downtown Ferris Wheel. For all four of us to ride it was about $40. It was pricey, but I thought it was cheaper than going up in the Space Needle. Anyways… we went up and it was cool for the first go around, then it went around four more times. The view was nice but I don’t really think it was worth the money and like I said after the first time it wasn’t that cool anymore.
After Seattle we made our way back to Tacoma and fought a bunch of traffic yet again. We stopped at a restaurant and brewery in town called Engine House no. 9. The beer there was good, my husband got a burger that was really good, mostly due to a yummy sauce they put on it and I got a salad, which was mehhh. I got the beer flight that brought me all six of their house made beers and it was pretty good, minus once again the sour beer. It was a kid friendly restaurant, which is always a plus!
The next morning we got up and went to another place on my “to eat” list. We went to Legendary Doughnuts and man they were good. Not only did they have great doughnut combos, they were HUGE. I got the peanut butter chocolate which was delicious, I also got the Coastie which was filled with bacon and cheddar cheese and I cant stop wanting more! I got my husband the Oprah doughnut which was a long doughnut topped with a maple glaze and bacon (I may or may not have stolen a bite). I then got Cole the Homer Simpson which was a glazed doughnut….. a huge one. It was about $18 for all four doughnuts, but it was worth it!
This was a day to spend in Tacoma. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t too bad, but it still took too long to go 20 miles. We went to the Tacoma zoo first, I wish we hadn’t. This was probably the worst zoo that I have ever been to. It was really sad and barren. I was really expecting it to be a much better zoo, but it was a complete letdown. They have a lot of construction going on so hopefully that will improve the place but currently, I wouldn’t go back. The one kinda highlight about it was that Cole and I rode a camel together. I don’t think I would do it again because it was $14 for both of us to go around a circle two times, but it was an experience.
After that we met up with an old friend of mine from high school. He is stationed at the Army base near Tacoma. We went to RAM restaurant and brewery on the Sound. They brew their own beer and it was goooood. I got the flight first which was all six of their beers and they were all great. the I ordered the shorty flight where I got to pick three of their beers, I thought I was going to get three small shots or something, but it was three big glasses, but hey they were all good. We got the loaded tater tots to start which were delicious!!! I then got the Butter face Amber Ale Sandwich and I would go back to Tacoma just to go get that sandwich again!! It was so good! I would HIGHLY recommend this restaurant to anyone.
Later my friend watched the kids while we ventured into Tacoma together. We ate at The Swiss (yet again on my list). We were still pretty full from lunch and just got clam chowder, which really wasn’t that great. Then we checked out the glass bridge and walked all around the college campus and checked out some cute stores around there.
The next day was one that I was the most excited about, Olympic National Park. It was so nice to get out of the city and see Washington’s beautiful countryside. It was a drive to get out there (close to three hours) but it wasn’t a heavy traffic drive thankfully. We started our trip by going to the Quinalt Rain Forest and it was really beautiful. We opted for this rain forest over the more popular Hoh Rain Forest because it was much closer to where we were staying. It was so green, mossy and beautiful! There were some funky looking plants but everything was so alive and bursting with color. It was an easy .8 mile hike with a beautiful waterfall as well. The thing that amazed me most was the trees! They were so tall I felt like I couldn’t see the tops sometimes and I cant even begin to describe how big around they were, they were awe inducing. Looking at pictures I think it was very similar to the other rain forest and about an hour closer. I loved loved loved the rainforest!!
After that we were so hungry!!! From the look of it I couldn’t find anywhere to eat, minus a gas station. There was also no cell service. Finally we found a restaurant on the water, The Kalaloch Lodge, also it doubled as the only restaurant around. We were desperate so we stopped. It was on the beach and it was the first time we had seen the Pacific, it was beautiful! Anyways… we stopped there and had clam chowder which was…okay? I then had the Beechers Mac and Crab Cheese, it was good, but not $22 good. It did double as a kids meal, so thankfully it saved a little money. Adam had the Salmon BLT and it was pretty tasty! The meal was all around kinda pricy, but when you’re hungry oh well!!
After that we ventured to the beach! I really wanted to see the sea stacks so we went to Ruby Beach. It is Washington’s most photographed beach and I can see why. It was a long walk down a hill to get there and then a stumble over driftwood but then you’re on the most beautiful beach. there’s a rock path between the beach and a creek leading to the water. The beach was mostly rocks. The rocks were the most well tumbled flat and round rocks I have ever seen and they were everywhere. The sea stacks were too big for words and were breathtaking! I decided to climb up on one and then tried to take a shortcut down and busted my butt!! This beach was beautiful and I am blessed to say both of my children have touched the water at both coasts. I would go back to this beach over Caribbean beaches any day!! Minus the FREEZING water.
After that we ventured home and finally made it four hours later!!!
Our last day in the beautiful state of Washington was spent in Mount Rainier National Park. My friend watched the kids again and we took a trip out there. It was about a forty five minute drive. I got us in the park free because I’m military but it is typically $25 a car! Pretty hefty price but worth every penny. We drove through the winding roads and made it to the farthest we could get to by car. Hard to believe that mid May parts would be snowed out still. When we got to the top what we saw was so beautiful. Pictures truly don’t do it justice, it was the most beautiful mountain I have ever seen. We climbed up some snow to get above the piles of snow and saw the mountain a little closer. There was also a group of 20 hikers getting ready to make the climb to the summit. The bathrooms were in a building buried in snow minus the door which was pretty cool to see how cold it was inside. After we were done starting at the beautiful mountain we made our way back down the winding road. We stopped at a trail and walked for awhile and the scenery at the bottom of the mountain was very similar to the rain forest. If I could do it again I would bring warmer clothes and do a more snowy hike. This trip and the Olympic trip were easily my favorite parts of the whole vacation. oh and bring food for the drive/day, there’s not much up there and I was getting HANGRY!
After our day in the park we came home and took our gracious hosts out to dinner. We went to Duke’s Chowder house in Tacoma and it was the best food we had the whole trip. It was a very nice and pretty restaurant right on the Sound. My mistake was ordering the Dingy sized chowder because I wanted to basically eat a bathtub sized amount it was so good. Then I had their stuffed shrimp and ohhh myyy goshhhh it was soooooo good. I was very very impressed with this restaurant and will definitely go back if we are in the area again. It was pricy, but so worth it. I would highly recommend this restaurant.
The next day we got up early and made our way back home. It was time for the kids to get readjusted to the time difference and we were pretty ready to go. The six hours of travel time was rough, but the trip was worth it!