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Your Guide to a Pacific Northwest Vacation

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Seattle

Saturday and Sunday

We departed early on Saturday morning and flew directly from Atlanta to Seattle.


Pro Tip

We spent around $12 to take the Seattle Center Monorail directly to our hotel. It was far less expensive than an Uber and took around the same time.

The monorail also links downtown Seattle at Westlake Center and the Seattle Center, home to key attractions like the Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture.

After dropping off our bags, we headed straight for the Seattle Farmers Market, also known as Pike Place Market, which sits on Elliott Bay.

Pike Place Market


Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, the Pike Place Market is a vibrant community of hundreds of farmers, artisans, small businesses, and residents, offering a wide range of fresh produce, handcrafted goods, unique food items, and more.

Pro Tips

Pike Place Chowder is the place to go for chowder, but plenty of other excellent options are in the market.

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

We wanted to experience the electric atmosphere at Lumen Field in Seattle, and it did not disappoint. As you can see from the short video clip to your right, there were over 40,000+ fans in attendance for the MLS Western Conference rivalry match between the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers.

The match ended in a scoreless draw, with neither team displaying much quality in the final third.


We expected a win by the home team, who stood in fourth place with 27 points, well ahead of Portland in 23rd place.

Starbucks Seattle Reserve Roastery

First thing Sunday morning we headed to the Starbucks Seattle Reserve Roastery. My oldest son has been a barista at Starbucks for five years. He insisted on experiencing the Reserve Roastery, corporate headquarters, and the original Starbucks, all of which he did.


The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle is in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. Much more than a regular coffee shop, this 15,000 square-foot multi-floor space is a combination of a working coffee roastery, a café, a bakery, and a sensory experience that showcases the art, science, and theater of coffee roasting, brewing, and craft mixology.

Pro Tips

Hit the bar first and try a Black and White Manhattan: Starbucks Reserve Coffee, Basil Hayden's Bourbon, Cynar Amaro, Carpano Bianco Vermouth.


You can listen and watch how it is made by watching the video on your right. Frankly, it is the best coffee drink I've ever had. Albeit the spirits helped. :-)

Follow it up with the Experience Bar: Coffee Chemistry.


Coffee Chemistry is an interactive space within the Starbucks Reserve Roastery that elevates coffee tasting to a new level. We witnessed various coffee siphons as a part of our tasting experience, paired with chocolates. The perfect follow-up to the Black and White Manhattan.

Stranger Things Experience


The Stranger Things Experience is an immersive, interactive event inspired by the hit Netflix series "Stranger Things." It transported us into Hawkins, Indiana, and the Upside Down. We faced various challenges with actors and 3-D rooms similar to a Stranger Things plot line.

The experience was a blast for our kids, who have seen all of the Stranger Things episodes.


Kerry Park Seattle

Words cannot describe the beauty of the view at Kerry Park, so here is the picture.


5 Point Cafe

The 5 Point Cafe is a dive bar that offers hearty portions of classic American fare, a robust drink selection, and a charmingly eclectic atmosphere with an unpretentious vibe. Get the Reuben and Poutine.

Space Needle

Before heading into the Space Needle, we stopped to listen to an underground talent I'll never forget. Jonathon Franklin is an Emmy-nominated singer, songwriter, and violinist. There he was, playing in the park like a nobody. It was some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard.

The Seattle Space Needle is an iconic Seattle landmark that defines the city's skyline with its futuristic, flying saucer-inspired design. Standing over 600 feet tall, it offers breathtaking 360-degree views of Seattle and the surrounding mountains and bay. Of the two floors at the top, the bottom features a revolving glass floor.


Pro Tip

I ordered the tickets well in advance and, using the time and date site, selected the time slot that allowed us to see the sunset over the water and mountains. Give yourselves a couple of hours at the top. You will never tire of the view, and there are plenty of drink and food options.


Vancouver

Monday-Wednesday


Amtrak Cascades

We took the Amtrak Cascades from Seattle to Vancouver. The Amtrak Cascades is a scenic train route that includes Seattle to Vancouver and includes breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest, including majestic mountains, lush forests, and picturesque coastline.


We were impressed with the comfort and the onboard amenities, both of which were far superior to a flight. The total one way cost for four of us plus baggage was $200.


Pro Tips


Arrive 45 minutes early to check your bags and get in line early so you get first pick of where to sit. Be strategic about selecting where to sit. When you get on the train and are facing north, sit on the left side of the train. You'll find the best views of the ocean on that side.


Get off the train ASAP in Canada. The line to get through customs does not move quickly.


The Pan Pacific Hotel


The Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver is a waterfront hotel with stunning mountains, bay, and city views. It is located in the heart of the city.

It's pricey, but so is Vancouver.

The 8th-floor outdoor heated salt-water swimming pool and hot tub have a spectacular view and excellent service.

To the left is a short video clip of the view from the hotel.

We purchased the Panoramic Harbourview Room for two nights. The upshot is the room was large enough to add a sofa bed.

If we were to do it again, we would probably not stay here. You can only choose between a King or two double beds. Not ideal for a family, and I expected more for the price. An oversight on my part.



Capilano Suspension Bridge


The Capilano Suspension Bridge is a thrilling attraction nestled in the lush rainforest of Vancouver. The sprawling bridges, swaying planks suspended high above the forest floor, and paths at varying heights along the Capilano River provided us an exhilarating experience.


The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Instagram Account is full of examples of what you'll see.


Grouse Mountain


Grouse Mountain soars above Vancouver and is a nature lover's paradise, offering outdoor activities and breathtaking views. It is often referred to as the "Peak of Vancouver."


In the winter, ski and snowboard enthusiasts can hit the slopes on the mountain's groomed trails, while in the summer, hikers can explore scenic trails and take in panoramic vistas from the summit.


What drew us to the mountain was the zip-lining. The ziplining adventure includes five different ziplines in picturesque settings.


The short video clip to your left is our middle child enjoying the zip line on his birthday.


Stanley Park


Stanley Park is in the heart of Vancouver, and feels like an urban. The park spans over 1,000 acres and is a haven of natural beauty and recreational opportunities.


With its lush forests, vibrant gardens, and stunning waterfront views, Stanley Park offers a perfect escape from the bustling city. Visitors can explore the park's winding trails, rent bikes to cruise along the seawall, or enjoy a leisurely picnic amidst its serene surroundings.


Mt. Hood National Forest (Portland area)

Thursday-Wednesday

Transportation


We chose to grab a rental car for the remainder of our trip. It is a 5 hour drive from Vancouver to our destination outside of Portland. We took the Canada Line from our hotel to the airport where we picked our car up. This was significantly less expensive than an Uber.


The drive from Vancouver to our cabin took around seven hours because we made a couple of stops. Our cabin included a grill so we decided to stop on the way and buy fresh seafood to eat for each dinner.


Cabin

We chose a remote cabin just on the outskirts of Mt. Hood National Forest.


We like to escape the hustle and bustle of urban and suburban life. Hiking has always been a family activity we enjoy, and we found good hiking around Mt. Hood.



The trail name is a bit of a misnomer. Most of the hike is uphill. It is a 4.2-mile loop trail considered a moderately challenging route.



This was our favorite hike. It's more of a stroll, but a beautiful and calm walk along the riverfront. It's just under 3 miles out and back.


Pro Tip


The only good time to schedule your hikes is when the weather forecast is certain. Be on the lookout for clear morning to prioritize the hikes with spectacular views of Mt. Hood.


All trails provides helpful reviews for eight more recommended trails around Mt. Hood.

 

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