This past holiday season, the fiancé and I took a little trip south of the border to experience our own version of 2 Days in Seattle. As we mentioned in Part 1 of our Seattle Weekend Adventure, we wanted to take our time on this adventure so we planned to split up our weekend by spending one night just outside of Seattle, and one night downtown. After spending a wonderful day and night at the famed Tulalip Resort & Casino (and doing a bit of shopping at the Seattle Premium Outlets), we found ourselves all packed up in the car and on our way south towards downtown Seattle!
We left Tulalip just shortly before lunch, and it wasn’t long before both of us were ready for something to eat. I can’t be the only one who gets hungry as soon as we start a road trip, right? Lucky for us FVP’s Editor, Kristi Ferguson, told us to be on the lookout for a restaurant called Claim Jumper – and boy are we glad she did! This little known gem (for us Canadian’s anyways) is located roughly halfway between Tulalip and downtown Seattle, and is worth every one of the extra 7 minutes to takes to get to from the I-5. Just follow the signs to the Alderwood Mall (in Lynnwood) and head to the far end of the parking lot where the movie theatre is located.
The restaurant itself looks like a very cool ski lodge inside, complete with antler chandeliers and log chairs, and an amazing dessert display as soon as you walk through the door. The menu is huge, with some of the most original pizza combinations we’ve ever seen and some of the biggest desserts we’ve ever seen (the chocolate cake is an actual monster!). Try to visit between 3:00-7:00pm M-F or between 11:00am-3:00pm on Saturday for incredible Happy Hour specials like $2 Hummus & Dip, $3 Zucchini Sticks, $4 Irish Nachos or $5 Fried Macaroni and Cheese (plus tons more). You’ll have to sit in the bar area to order these deals, which we unfortunately missed out on since they were so busy. Regardless, the service in the restaurant area was some of the best service we received all trip.
Since neither of us had really explored Seattle before (and neither of us had data roaming packages for our smart phones), we did a bit of preliminary research before we left. We wanted to keep the trip fun and spontaneous, so we arranged to stay at the Hyatt at Olive 8, and left pretty much everything else up to chance! The Hyatt at Olive 8 (Olive 8 being the name of this particular Hyatt, as there are 3 in the Seattle area) was in the perfect location to enjoy the city, and we were able to walk to everything we wanted to see and do during our stay there. One of the neat things about the Hyatt at Olive 8 is their environmentally friendly policies and initiatives, which earned them the first LEED certification granted to a hotel in the Seattle area. Guests at the hotel are given information regarding the building’s energy saving initiatives during check-in, such as instructions for their key operated room lights. We loved that if we left the room and forgot to turn off the lights, they would turn off automatically for us! Smaller initiatives such as recycling baskets in every room may not seem like a big deal, but many small steps add up when measuring our environmental footprint.
We loved the calming colours and modern design of our room – and the abundance of super fluffy pillows! We stayed in a standard king room, which included a built-in bar area with a mini fridge. We don’t normally use mini fridges in our hotel rooms, but this one came in handy to keep our Pike Place Market goodies refrigerated during our stay! We also loved the iPod dock & alarm clock as an added touch, which we used both as a phone charger and a (mini) dance party starter. The concierge staff at the Hyatt were beyond accommodating and had great recommendations for us during our entire stay. They set us up with a map, a few directions and an extra large umbrella for two – and we were on our way. This is pretty common for most Hyatts and is a free service that everyone really should take advantage of whenever they can.
Our first stop on our walking tour was the historical Pike Place Market. Pike Place is a huge, indoor market filled with all sorts of fresh fruit and veggie vendors, fisherman with big personalities and eclectic crafters and artisans. There are a number of entrances, and a few different floors, so take your time when wandering through so you don’t miss anything. In a place with so much history (and so many alley’s and hidden shops) we recommend taking one of the many great walking tours offered by a few local Seattle companies. Although we weren’t able to take an official tour this time around, we loved the idea of the Pike Place Market Food & Culture tour offered through Savour Seattle, and hope to try it again next time.
Even though we would be crossing the border on the way back, which meant we couldn’t bring any produce across, we still found plenty of goodies to purchase! Our favourites included Chukar Cherries, Daily Dozen Doughnut Co., and Pike Place Fish (who will package your ocean goodies to stay fresh for 48 hours, or ship them via overnight shipping). The market is also home to the iconic Starbucks that started it all. Located just a few doors down from its original location, the Pike Place Starbucks opened its doors in 1971 as a single coffee shop with no plans for expansion. It wasn’t until Howard Schutlz walked in for a coffee ten years later that Starbucks began to morph into how we know it today!
While at the market, we had an early evening snack at Beecher’s Cheese, located just across the street from the main market. They make all of their own cheeses on-site during the day, (which you can watch from the street or inside the café), and believe us when we tell you that their cheese is to-die-for! Depending on how busy they are, they’re usually able to give you a tasting tour of all 15 of their cheeses to help you decide which one you like best! They are most known for their notably named Flagship Cheese, which also happens to be the main ingredient in their World’s Best Mac ‘n Cheese (even Oprah loves it). Another award winner is their Flagsheep cheese, which is a mixture of cow’s milk and sheep’s milk, and was recently named the Best Cheese in North America at the National Championships of Cheese! Whichever one you like best, be sure to purchase a bit more than you think you need – ours seemed to disappear a little quicker than we expected!
After a quick change of clothes in our hotel rooms, we visited the Musicquarium Lounge at the Triple Door, for late night drinks and appies. We originally only popped in for a glass of wine, but decided to extend our stay due to their delicious tapa menu and the great live music! They had a number of satay style tapas to choose from, including peasant’s chicken, hawker beef and Bangkok boar. With the smaller portion sizes and relatively good prices, we couldn’t help but try something a little different! Each satay tapa came with 2 or 3 skewers, a little tower of rice and a house-made dipping sauce. The Musicquarium is named after the 1,900 gallon freshwater tank that can be seen directly behind the stage, and is a great venue to chill and unwind with friends. There is live music every Friday & Saturday and cover is always free in the lounge!
We had heard about the Seattle Great Wheel prior to our trip to Seattle, and we so happy to discover it was located relatively close to the Musicquarium! After asking a local for the best walking route to the water, we were headed towards the water for a night time view of the city! The Seattle Great Wheel is rather new, having just opened in the summer of 2012. It consists of gondola style seating, in a ferris wheel concept. Since we arrived at the wheel around 10:00 (it’s usually open until 11:00pm), there wasn’t any line up, and we were shown to our ferris wheel chariot right away. Tickets include at least 3 trips around, but the group seated on this ride included 5 or 6. It was incredibly beautiful to see the view of the city from a sea-side perspective, and we both felt we’d rather this attraction over the Space Needle.
Since so much of our dining downtown seemed to be more snacks and appetizers, we stopped in to our hotel restaurant Urbane, for a midnight snack. Unfortunately, we were notified that they kitchen was closing but we were referred to a great little late night gem just a block away. DragonFish is an award wining Asian café, which has great late night and happy hour specials. There were plenty of $2, $3, $4 menu items to choose from, and our fiancé and I had our first sake experience. Our waiter was super knowledgeable and was able explain dishes to us, as well as help us decide which sake we would like best. We were very happy to have discovered this little gem and will most definitely be back!
We had so much fun during our trip to Seattle and really cannot wait to visit again! It is the perfect weekend getaway destination that can be tailored to suit so many tastes and interests. We made sure not to overbook ourselves during our stay, and definitely recommend that outlook for others as well. In a city with so many unique things to experience you don’t want to be running around trying to accomplish it all! There were a few places that we didn’t get to (like the Portage Bay Café, they have a fruit buffet), but you can be sure they’ll be on our must-do list the next time we visit!
Have you ever been to Seattle? What were your favourite touristy and not-so-traditional-touristy things to do while you were there? We highly recommend visiting this vibrant city at Christmastime – what a fabulous road trip!
Thank you to Hyatt at Olive 8 for providing us accommodations on our trip and Musicquarium for treating us to complimentary beverages!