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Andrew

Pacific Northwest

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Andrew   

So, rumor has it that a couple of A&F folks live in Seattle, Vancouver, and other parts Pacific Northwestish.  My fiancée, my three teenage kids, and I are contemplating travel destinations for a weeklong early June vacation.  So far, pretty much anywhere in North America is fair game.  But for folks familiar with that part of our continent, what are some must-see and must-do activities in Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver?  We're game for experiencing the great outdoors, science museums, aquariums, zoos, cool landmarks, funky multicultural neighborhoods, you name it.

 

Thanks in advance...

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Having lived in all three cities you mentioned, here's my two cents on the ones I'm most familiar with:

 

Portland: OMSI, the Portland Zoo and Aquarium, Powell's World of Books (if you like books, this is heaven), the Pearl District, Hawthorne Blvd (this is where weird Portland people hang out, and has lots of great shops and food. I used to live in this neighbourhood.), Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Gorge has plenty of great hikes, and a favourite short hike is Oneonta Gorge).

 

Vancouver: Stanley Park (includes the Vancouver Aquarium and the seawall, and is a great park for exploring or having a picnic), Granville Island (like the Pike's Place Market of Vancouver, only cleaner and less crowded), Capilano Suspension Bridge, Science World, Grouse Mountain (this is an intense and steep hike, with a great view at the top), Vancouver Art Museum (I haven't personally been, but it's a site for plenty of movies being filmed in Vancouver), and the waterfront has plenty of interesting places, including the Olympic torch from 2010.

 

Even though I grew up near Seattle, I honestly don't know as much about its cultural happenings, apart from Pike's Place Market and the Space Needle and Alki Beach. Hope that all helps in your potential exploring!

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If you were ever into Twin Peaks, while in Seattle you could drive east about 20 miles and visit Snoqualmie, hike to the falls. 

 

Snoqualmie_Falls_in_June_2008.JPG

 

Then a short drive to North Bend for some pie and coffee. 

 

Twedes_TwinPeaks.jpg

 

It also give you an excuse to stop in at Boehm's Candies in Issaquah, on the way back to Seattle.


b180bc39-e04b-4c89-af52-af7e2f99f867.jpg

Edited by John Drew

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If you're in Portland and want a day long trip, you can drive the Columbia Gorge (beautiful with several waterfalls along the way and then cross over into Washington to hit the Maryhill Museum it's eclectic, but impressive especially for such a middle of nowhere place.

 

Seattle has a nice sculpture garden

Edited by Darrel Manson

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mrmando   

If you were ever into Twin Peaks, while in Seattle you could drive east about 20 miles and visit Snoqualmie, hike to the falls. 

 

Then a short drive to North Bend for some pie and coffee. 

 

 

It also give you an excuse to stop in at Boehm's Candies in Issaquah, on the way back to Seattle.

Well, a bit further out on I-90 you would hit Roslyn, home of Northern Exposure...

 

Seattle has a little of everything. If your money is weighing you down, you can drop a few C's on Teatro Zinzanni: European cirque entertainment combined with a gourmet meal. Went there for our 20th anniversary last week. The art museum, opera house, and symphony hall are world class. The zoo ain't bad. The aquarium is OK but pales next to Vancouver's. Some good theatre although we lost one of the major venues, the Intiman, a couple of years ago.  

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Kinch   

Portland: OMSI, the Portland Zoo and Aquarium, Powell's World of Books (if you like books, this is heaven), the Pearl District, Hawthorne Blvd (this is where weird Portland people hang out, and has lots of great shops and food. I used to live in this neighbourhood.), Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Gorge has plenty of great hikes, and a favourite short hike is Oneonta Gorge).

 

As a lifelong Portlander (though, being 17, that's not saying much), this is a pretty good list. Add Music Millennium and you've got my favorite parts of the city.

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If you're in Portland and want a day long trip, you can drive the Columbia Gorge (beautiful with several waterfalls along the way and then cross over into Washington to hit the Maryhill Museum it's eclectic, but impressive especially for such a middle of nowhere place.

 

Seattle has a nice sculpture garden

Don't forget the Stonehenge Memorial.

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mrmando   
 

Don't forget the Stonehenge Memorial.

 

Wha? Seattle has a Stonehenge memorial?

 

Is it 18" tall? 

 

For that matter, don't miss the Fremont Troll, Lenin, or the Gum Wall... 

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Andrew   

Thanks for the feedback, folks.  It's been quite helpful.  My fiancée, kids, and I took a vote and decided on Seattle, with a couple of days to check out Mt Rainier and Mt St Helen's as well. 

 

Ergo, a couple of Seattle-related questions: 

- What are the best coffee and breakfast places to be found in walking distance of Pike's Place?  (Our hotel is just a few blocks away from that handy landmark.)

- What are your favorite lunch and dinner venues in that vicinity?

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Andrew   

Well, my kids, fiancée, and I had a blast in Washington, and my 15 year old daughter is making plans to move to Seattle for grad school and beyond.  I don't know where all these complaints about bad weather in the Pacific Northwest come from; all we encountered were 75 degree days with clear to partly cloudy skies, a welcome respite from the muggy South.

 

High points:

- The Seattle Public Library - my boys and I spent an hour oohing and aahing over the splendid exterior and interior architecture (yes, we're all nerds).  I want one in my neighborhood.

- EMP Project:  a museum about rock and roll and sci-fi; about as cool as one would imagine

- Whale watching among the San Juan Islands:  we saw 2 freakin' pods of orcas, with breaching and tail slapping in abundance; one of the greatest brushes with wildlife in my lifetime.  Pack your own breakfast and lunch for the trip, though; it's a long day on a boat serving mediocre (at best) food.

- Mt St Helen's:  minimal traffic, great trails with splendid views of the mountain and the ruination/restoration that the 1980 eruption prompted

- Mt Rainier:  incredible views throughout, and my kids loved playing in snow, in June, in shirtsleeves.  I'm glad my Washington cousin advised us to avoid it on the weekends; we went on a Monday, and the main parking lot was full by mid-afternoon.  Still, it didn't feel over-trafficked, with much smaller crowds than I've encountered at other national parks (e.g., Acadia and Yosemite).

- Seattle food:  Mmm, Top Pot Donuts, Serious Pie, and Vietnamese and Mexican restaurants whose names I've forgotten.

 

We also lucked out on our lodgings.  The Moore Hotel in Seattle was relatively inexpensive, but sufficiently quiet and excellently located, with a great coffee and waffle shop right next door.  When visiting the national parks, we stayed in Packwood, about 15 miles south of Mt Rainier.  Our second night there, 18 elk (including a bunch of youngsters) grazed on our motor lodge's front and back lawns.

 

Thanks for the suggestions and recommendations here; some excellent communal memories were formed among the five of us.

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