Even though we returned from our time in Seattle almost four months ago, I realized I never got around to sharing a recap of the Seattle portion of our trip. As I mentioned in my Alaskan Cruise recaps, our cruise sailed in and out of Seattle, Washington. Our departure date and return date were both on Saturdays, which allowed our travel to be flexible. Our travel agent encouraged us to fly out to Seattle the day prior to setting sail, as most east to west coast flights we in the morning hours. Since we knew we were going to take the day off anyway, Jody and I decided to book an earlier flight than the rest of my family so we would have time to explore Seattle, too! After a bit of planning, we realized that there was so much to do, so we ended up booking our flight back to the east coast on Sunday — we practically had two full days to see Seattle!
Our flight to Washington surprisingly landed earlier than expected, which we were excited about since we were hoping to grab brunch somewhere downtown. However, after being slightly delayed trying to catch the shuttle to our hotel to drop off our bags, we then realized that the 80 degree weather that was forecasted was actually 52 degrees. We packed a change of clothes in our carry-ons, however, all of our coats and pants were deep in our suitcase, which we were not going to be able to access until room check-in later that day. Our hotel was great though; they let us leave our luggage with them so we didn’t have to wait until we could access our room.
There are a ton of hotels within a mile of Sea-Tac airport, which is where we chose to stay on our first night of the trip. It had convenient access to the Sound Transit Link Light Rail, which was about a ten-minute walk from our hotel. From there, we had a short ride to many points of interest downtown! Compared to navigating the subways in Europe and New York, it was so easy to use and only cost $2.50 a person. Much cheaper than an Uber!
Our first stop once we arrived downtown was to find a Starbucks. By this point, we had jokingly calculated that I had been awake for 12 hours without coffee! We had planned to make time to visit the original Starbucks store, which is located in Seattle, but due to how crowded it gets, I decided to stop at the first one we stumbled upon. And praise the Lord, it didn’t take long to find one.
Knowing we wouldn’t have time to see everything Seattle had to offer (and to relax a bit!), we made a list of places we definitely wanted to see while we were in Seattle. Probably no surprise to anyone, visiting Pike Place Market was at the top of the list. Early on, Jody and I decided it would be best to spend a few hours at the market on Friday, since we imagined it would be busier on Saturday, after our cruise returned to port.
Pike’s Place was just a few blocks from the light stop and the coffee shop we had found! We spent a few hours visiting all of the booths, admiring the handmade soaps, sampling olive oil, seafood and honey, and smelling the thousands of peonies – the most beautiful peonies I had ever seen, I must admit!
We were standing in front of the Pike’s Place Fish Company when we could tell the the crowd around us was getting restless. Suddenly, we heard men yelling, and looked up to see a fish flying through the air. The fish market!! I had heard that it was famous, but admittedly, I wasn’t sure why. Turns out, it is famous for the entertainment when customers buy fish. Each time someone purchases a fish, the fishmongers fling the fish from the display cases to the scales for packaging. They call out the order, toss the fish behind the counter, and chant in unison, all the while in overalls and orange rubber boots. Even though we didn’t purchase any fish, it is definitely one of the spaces you want to experience in the market!
Right underneath Pike’s Place, in Post Alley, was the famous gum wall. Honestly, I’m not too sure what the point of it is, but it is a local landmark for sure. I was surprised how many people were taking selfies next to all of the gum! While we thought it was a bit gross, it was colorful!
After strolling through the market, we grabbed a seat outside at nearby restaurant for an afternoon snack and drink. It was almost dinner time to us, but we were trying to wait for more family to get in town before deciding where to get dinner. Instead, we discussed where we wanted to visit next, and what we should wait to see the following Saturday. Ultimately, we wanted to keep walking, so we walked along the waterfront and watched as the ferries crossed the bay. It turned out to be such a nice day, and we saw a great view of the skyline from one of the many piers!
As we headed back towards the light rail to make our way back to our hotel, we stumbled upon the Starbucks Reserve store. The reserve store sells some of the rarest coffee that Starbucks has to offer, including beans from many different countries around the world, a variety of blends and crafted drinks. Similar to a wine bar, there are flights of different coffees to try, or you can just enjoy a cup. While I didn’t taste any, it was a neat store to see in the “hometown” of Starbucks.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the places I definitely wanted to stop was at the original Starbucks store, right by Pike’s Place. Ever since the coffee chain grew, so did the line to enter this historic store. I had read before arriving in Seattle that the best time to visit (aka the shortest lines), were early in the morning or in the evenings. So once we arrived back in Seattle after our time in Alaska, we knew a visit to Starbucks was our first stop.
The store does a great job of keeping the line moving with the amount of tourists that come and go. Following a very methodical system, Jody and I were able to order drinks, purchase an exclusive “You Are Here” Pikes Place mug, and were out the door in under five minutes. After grabbing one more photo in front of the store, we decided to enjoy our drinks as we took another stroll through the market.
The Market was probably my favorite part of our time in Seattle. I could stroll the aisles all day! We were glad that we took a few hours to spend in the market the week before because it was definitely more crowded on Saturday. Several cruise ships held excursions which included a visit to Pike’s Place on the day they returned to port, so it was more challenging to slowly stroll with so many people in one space. We ended up only stopping at a few of the booths for that reason. I literally could not get enough of these flowers! If we weren’t flying a five hours flight home the next day, I definitely would have bought a few bouquets!
We finished our time at Starbucks and in the Market early in the day so that we were able to spend some time in the surrounding area. Initially wanting to visit Woodinsville, an up and coming western Washington Wine Country, but not wanting to book transportation, we instead decided to visit Bainbridge Island, a charming town just across the sound from Seattle. We walked to the Seattle Waterfront, where we purchased pedestrian tickets for the ferry and boarded for our 35 minute ride to Bainbridge. As a diehard Grey’s Anatomy fan, I couldn’t help but think of Derek Shepard as we pulled out of Seattle.
Once we arrived to the island, we stopped at the information desk to see what kinds of things there were to do in Bainbridge! Since we didn’t have a car, we were pleased to discover that there were boutiques, wine tasting rooms and restaurants were just a short walk away. We strolled down the main street making a mental list of places to stop in after we got a bite to eat.
As self-proclaimed vinos, we were excited to taste Washington State wine! Our first stop was at the Eagle Harbor Wine Co. at their downtown tasting room location. We enjoyed a few samples while learning about the grapes they use from some of the vineyards in eastern Washington. Our tasting was short and sweet, and while we didn’t purchase anything, we did find out we could order wine online to be shipped home if we wanted!
Our next stop was at the first tasting room we passed when arriving in Bainbridge, at the Amelia Wynn Winery. I was initially attracted to this winery because it was one of the few we passed that offered small plates to purchase with your tasting. Not only was our antipasti plate delicious, but the adorable flight rack and light lined alley made this winery the most charming of the ones we visited. I tasted the Mixed Red and White Flight, while Jody opted for something a little sweeter. We both tasted their Soñador dessert wine — we loved it so much, we even brought a bottle home in our already over-weight luggage!
We ended our self-guided wine tour at Eleven Winery tasting room. It was crowded, so our service was slow, but we had a seat at the bar so we didn’t mind. We enjoyed each other’s company and talked about some of our favorite experiences on our trip. It was the perfect way to wind down (pun intended 🙂 ) after such a fun trip! Once we finished our tasting and glasses, we headed back to the terminal for our ferry ride back to Seattle across the sound.
To be honest, we struggled deciding what to do when we arrived back in Seattle. Our early morning flight loomed over us and knowing we had to completely repack our luggage so it would hopefully not be overweight, but we also felt like it would be a waste to spend our last night in our hotel room.
We had considered going to the Space Needle, but were hesitant because it was a bit pricey. Since it was just a few blocks from our hotel we decided to walk over to it so we could at least get a picture. We ended up deciding to purchase tickets to go to the top since we weren’t sure if we’d be back in Seattle again. We had to wait a little while for our assigned ticket time, but that ended working out perfectly because we got to the top of the needle just in time for the sun to set. We got to walk on the world’s only rotating glass floor, which is 500 feet up in the air! The view was incredible — we could see the streets below us, the sound, Mt. Rainer and the skyline of Seattle. While the temperature quickly dropped with the sun, we were so glad that we decided to squeeze in one last stop.
We caught an Uber to our hotel and grabbed a burger, fries and a milkshake from Dicks’ Drive-In, a local fast-food chain, which was just down the street. We felt a bit like locals eating further away from the more touristy neighborhoods. We toasted with our burgers in honor our last night of vacation before turning in for the night.
We squeezed so much into our two days in the Seattle area, but I’m so glad we had decided to allow extra time in the city prior to and following our cruise. I definitely suggest doing so if you ever sail out of Seattle. Next time we are in the area, we hope to explore more of the areas surrounding the city, including Mt. Rainer!