Last month I shared that Jody and I had planned a surprise trip for our vacation. And when I say planned, I mean we booked our trip with Charlotte at Whisked Away and she planned our entire trip for us. The kicker was that we didn’t find out until the morning of our trip where we were headed!
Anticipation for our surprise destination grew the closer we got to our departure date. After checking (and double-checking!) to ensure we have the envelope which held our surprise, we headed to the airport for an early morning flight. Since we didn’t know where we were headed or which airline we were flying, we opted to have our shuttle driver drop us off near the middle of the departure desks. Once we grabbed our luggage, it was time to reveal our destination…
We were headed to Seattle! We both laughed in disbelief, partially because I was right in guessing our destination, and partially because we passed through Seattle on our last vacation pre-pandemic, hilariously saying “I don’t know when we will ever come back, so let’s squeeze Seattle into one day” – I will never say that again!
In our customized itinerary booklet, also included in the envelope was our flight information. We headed into the airport and flipped through the booklet while we waited to check our luggage, where we also found our hotel reservation, as well as our booked and suggested activities list. I was excited to see we already had reservations to visit Mount Rainier National Park, as well as a walking tour of Seattle. Even the suggested activities listed included some things we didn’t get to see on our last time in the city.
By the time we were about to board our flight, Charlotte had texted us to let us know that she arranged a transfer from the airport to our hotel once we landed. Everything was so simple – all we had to do was board our flight!
Where We Stayed
Charlotte booked us this great hotel, Inn at the Market, a boutique hotel which overlooked Pike’s Place Market, as well as the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. The rooms overlooked the sound or the city – we had the latter – which was great because we had a balcony! It wasn’t roomy enough to sit but I loved standing out there in the evenings before heading to dinner, watching the city transition from day to night. The hotel was close to everything, plus had this amazing rooftop that we spent most evenings on!
What We Did
When we completed our survey for Whisked Away, we noted that we wanted that perfect mix of adventure and relaxation, and I think that is exactly what we got! As I mentioned earlier, we had two pre-booked activities – a Walking Tour of Seattle and a day-trip to Mount Rainier National Park. The walking tour was a great way to learn the about the history of the city, which we both enjoyed, plus it was great that the tour extended from just the marketplace area! Seattle is also a very walkable city, so it was still pretty relaxing as we toured.
Mount Rainier National Park was amazing. You can actually see the mountain from most places in Seattle, but it was cool to get up close to it – it’s magnitude is indescribable. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect of the tour, since it was a day trip, but I was overjoyed to find out we’d still have a bit of time to hike, as well as see most of the park’s highlights! We got to see the peak from many different angles, hike through a bit of a steep, wooded trail, as well as stand in the unmelted snow. Of course, there is much more to do within the park, but throughly enjoyed our tour and it was the best way to see and do a ton in a little amount of time.
One of our favorite, albeit, spontaneous things that we did was renting sea kayaks and kayaking in the sound. We had so much fun paddling through the water, but also taking time to soak in the skyline in front of us, Mount Rainer to our right and the Olympic Mountains to our left. We rented the kayaks from Alki Kayak Tours, which we access via water taxi – how very Seattle of us! We enjoyed it so much that we ended up renting cruiser bikes from them later in the week and biked to Alki Beach in West Seattle, one of the few sandy beaches in the area!
One thing we wanted to do, but didn’t have time on our day the last time in Seattle was make a trip up to Woodinsville, a town not too far outside Seattle known for its local wineries. Since Charlotte knew we enjoy libations, and because the PNW is known for it’s wine, she included some recommendations in our itinerary booklet. We enjoyed tastings at DeLille Cellars, Novelty Hill-Januik, and Mark Ryan Winery – the stunningly gorgeous day didn’t hurt!
There were a ton of recommended hikes that we asked locals about, however, many of them we a bit too far out of Seattle, considering we didn’t have a car. We did find one, Discovery Park and Lighthouse Loop, which had us hiking through what seemed like a tropical forest, as well as tidal beaches and meadows. We also spent a lot of time wandering through Pike’s Place Market, revisited the beachy little town on Bainbridge Island, and unwound on the Inn’s rooftop.
Where We Ate
We didn’t have a meal we didn’t like while in Seattle! After checking into the hotel, Jody and I ventured out in search of food trying to beat the jet lag that began to set in. Since it was a Sunday morning, most brunch places had a wait so we stumbled into Von’s 1,000 Spirits, where we had the most delicious Whipped Chevre and Almond Pesto Sourdough Pizza. This restaurant was suggested to us multiple times throughout the week, so I’m glad we kicked our trip off there!
We found that Mondays and Tuesdays were days that many restaurants were closed, a similar experience that we found in Maine. Because of that, we decided to try Noi Thai Cuisine, a restaurant, admittedly, we probably would have looked over if we had more options of places to eat. Much to our delight, we had a fabulous meal enjoying cuisine that we haven’t had much experience with. Jody devoured his Garlic Chicken, while I enjoyed Drunken Noodles. Likewise, on Tuesday evening, we ended up at Umi Sake House, which I had heard was one of the best sushi restaurants in Seattle. Jody typically doesn’t eat sushi, but after branching out the night prior, decided to try one of my vegetarian rolls, and discovered that he liked it!
The Pink Door was a restaurant that Charlotte, among many, many others, recommended for us to try, however she strongly encouraged making reservations. We unfortunately were not able to find an available reservation on open table, however, we luckily found success as a walk-in. We did have to still wait for a while, which was fine with us because we weren’t super hungry and we knew how hard it was to get a table at this restaurant. We were sat near the bar, which allowed us to chat with the bartender about some of their top dishes. I had been eyeing the Linguine with baby clams, one of the most popular pasta, but since we still didn’t have a huge appetite, Jody and I split the Pappardelle al Ragu Bolognese.
On the morning of our anniversary, we got up early to wait for a seat at Bacco, a little cafe below our hotel that we assumed was good based on the line that formed outside of it each morning. We thankfully didn’t wait long – we were hungry and it was a bit of a crisp morning – before we were seated. We reminisced over our wedding four years prior while enjoying coffee and tea. To eat, Jody ordered the Brioche French Toast, and I tried the Dungeness Crab Benedicts, which was delicious. That evening, we ate at Shaker + Spear, where Charlotte had made us reservations. They served seasonal, Pacific Northwest favorites, so naturally I ordered the Diver Scallops, which were so good, but admired the platter of oysters that many of the tables got.
On our last morning, we headed down towards the market to pick up coffee and pastries from Le Panier, which we took back to the rooftop of our hotel for a scenic morning overlooking the sound. For lunch, we stopped at the ever-popular, Beecher’s, for a cup of their “world’s best” Mac and Cheese, which was truly worth all of the hype. We ended our day with a little more french cuisine at Cafe Campagne, another restaurant right below our hotel.
Other Places Where We Ate
Final Thoughts on Our Surprise Trip
We had such an amazing time our surprise anniversary trip that I really don’t know that I can say anything bad about it. One of the top questions when we got back was “Would you do it again?” and we can both honestly say yes. I don’t know that we would do it every year, but the pure adrenaline of having no idea where you are headed (even though I had a hunch!) is such a unique experience, and one that adults do not get to experience very often! It was much needed break from the real-world, and not having to plan it made it even more of a vacation versus just a trip. Charlotte at Whisked Away did a fantastic job at communicating, which put some of our nerves of traveling with little information at bay, of course without spoiling the surprise. I especially loved that she provided a lot of details of things to do, but still allowed for us to pick and choose what we wanted. We are more excited to consider another surprise trip for a long-weekend getaway in the nearer future!