Pacific Northwest Travel Planner
The Pacific Northwest/Puget Sound area is a vacationer's dream, filled with scenic daytrips exploring natural rainforest settings, rugged coastal and cascade mountain trails, pristine ocean beaches and the many islands and diverse marine life of Puget Sound. Add to that a wealth of antiquing, shopping and nightlife opportunities, along with the Pacific Northwest's obsession with a good cup of coffee, and you've got vacation nirvana on your screen.
The following is a list of suggested sightseeing touring itineraries and key points to achieving the Pacific Northwest Experience during your stay in the Seattle - Tacoma - Puget Sound area.
To fully appreciate life in a coffee-induced culture, one must never succumb to simple Seattle tourist tactics, such as "buy a guidebook " (or worse, buy several), then drive yourself to distraction in trying to see everything that is labeled "must sees" in Seattle Tacoma Puget Sound.
You'll notice, for example, that you will not find the Seattle Space Needle in any of the following lists. The reasoning is simple - it is there, you can't miss it while you're touring Seattle - and you'll eat up valuable experiential time just trying to get to the structure, then up to the top for a quick view, then down, and back out - only to discover it's just another tall building (not as tall as some, actually - and the best experience is to see it from a distance, anyway).
Very few books even mention the Java Jive (highlighted below), yet what better symbol of coffee mecca exists than a building in the shape of a coffee pot that was pushing caffeine long before Starbucks was even a consideration -- and in the most unlikely places as Tacoma.
And while Starbucks outlets exist in most major cities across the U. S., there is only one Java Jive. It would be impossible to franchise it - but then, who would want to?
At the same time, it would not do to visit Seattle's Pike Market and not touch the counter of the VERY FIRST Starbucks. Remember, there are tourist attractions,then there are Pacific Northwest Experiences.
Off we go.
Step 1. MOST IMPORTANT
Allow yourself plenty of time for:
Lingering over breakfast with a friend
Long walks with NO DESTINATION IN MIND
Serious tub soaks with a good book in hand
And, of course, consuming
massive amounts of coffee while:
ship-watching from the inn's wraparound porch
island hopping on the Tacoma and Seattle ferries, and
people watching at a nearby waterfront cafe -
after all, a vacation is supposed to be a departure from the over-scheduled lives that most of us lead.
Review amount of days allocated to visit the Tacoma - Seattle area and
add at least 2 more.
Review amount of vacation/personal days
still available. Repeat step 2.
(ok, ok - we know you want to save a few vacation
days for other trips and cleaning out the
garage - just don't shortchange yourself on the Seattle Tacoma
Pacific Northwest experience).
Depending upon the amount of travel time you've
accumulated from steps 2 and 3, select from
our suggested "Java Journeys"
Java Time: 6 months - 1 year
Lucky you! Forget the vacation --
just pack your bags & move here!
Java Time: 1 month
Life is just too wonderful - everyone else will be
crazed with envy, cuz you get to see everything Seattle and the environs have to offer
AND have lots of time to do nothing:
1 week in Seattle Tacoma area
(of course, we know a great inn that we could recommend)
1 week in Victoria/West Vancouver Island/Vancouver area (don't miss Butchart Gardens and the B.C. Museum in Victoria, as well as Stanley Park in Vancouver)
1 week on the Oregon Coast
1 week in the Olympic National Park
(be sure to visit the Hoh Rainforest, coastal beaches,
and the boardwalk trails thru the
dense rainforest and secluded ocean beach
at Lake Ozette).
And back to Seattle/Tacoma area for the last night
Java Time: 3 weeks
1 week in Seattle Tacoma area
3 nights/days in Olympic Peninsula
3 nights/days in Victoria
2 nights in Vancouver
5 nights on Oregon Coast
and back to Seattle Tacoma area for last night
Java Time: 2 weeks
1 week Seattle Tacoma area
3 nights - Olympic Peninsula
2 nights - Victoria
1 night Vancouver
and back to Seattle Tacoma area for last night
Java Time: 1 week
4 nights Seattle Tacoma area
1 night Olympic Peninsula
1 night Victoria
and back to Seattle/Tacoma area for last night
or spend the entire week in Tacoma/Seattle area
and do Victoria and Olympic Peninsula as
day trips - saves packing, unpacking,
and dragging your luggage
| Java Time: 5 days |
Seattle Tacoma area main attractions and
daytrip opportunities are listed below.
You can probably do 5-6 in a 5 day visit - or just
do 3 and explore Tacoma's historic neighborhood,
waterfront park, and downtown theatre district
on foot (10 - 15 min walk from Chinaberry Hill).
Take in a play, concert, movie, grab a cup at
Grounds for Coffee or a brew and meal at The Swiss -
both have live music regularly.
... Point Defiance Rainforest Park, Zoo & Aquarium
(Tacoma - 15 minutes from inn - can also take
the ferry from Pt. Defiance to Vashon Island, an artist
community w/several galleries, then on to
Seattle via another ferry).
... Pike Market, Pioneer Square & Underground Tour,
Pacific Science Center (Seattle - 45 min to Pike Market)
... Mt. Rainier & Northwest Trek (45 min - 1 hr from inn)
... Victoria via Washington State passenger ferry in
Pt. Angeles (2 hrs drive, ½ hour crossing time, several
departure/return times throughout the day) - or you can
take the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry from Seattle
( 2.5 hr crossing - costs quite a bit more, since is
privately run, and only departs once per day, at 8 am).
... Antique Row (be sure to visit Sanford & Sons),
Tacoma Art Museum, The International Glass
Museum, and Washington State History Museum
(Tacoma - 5 minutes from Chinaberry Hill.)
... Ocean beaches and rainforest trails at Lake Quinalt &
Olympic National Forest (1.5 hrs to beach from inn,
another hour to Lake Quinalt National Forest).
... Mt. St. Helens and Centralia Antique District (2 hrs
from inn to mountain, catch Centralia along the way).
... Gig Harbor - quaint fishing village - great photo opportunities, shops, restaurants, sea-kayaking (20 min from Chinaberry Hill).
There's also a lot of shops, eateries in Proctor Shopping District (North Tacoma, 5 min from inn) and Freighthouse Square (old railroad warehouse by Tacoma Dome - 10 min from inn).
Be sure to make a surprise appearance at the Java Jive (bad food, lousy coffee, tasteless decor) - a local hangout in the shape of a coffee pot, the Java Jive is located in the
industrial section of Tacoma. Built in the 1940's, it's totally camp - you gotta go! (get someone to take your picture
in front of the place - Americana at its best/worst).
|Java Time: 2 days |
Seattle Tacoma area · Seattle Pike Market and Underground Tour · Pt. Defiance Rainforest Park & Aquarium · Antique Row and/or Washington State History Museum (Grab a bite and a brew at The Swiss, just a few blocks from the museum) · Don't forget the Java Jive! (see above)
Java Time: 1 day
Just make a day of it at Seattle's Pike Market and Pioneer Square (be sure to catch the Seattle Underground Tour!). Enjoy a leisurely dinner at Elliott's or Ray's Boat House (great seafood), along the waterfront - or just eat your way throught the Market - lots of little specialty stands - seafood, bakeries, ethnic eateries.
or rent a car and drive to Tacoma's Pt. Defiance Park. Walk the trails, make friends with the Beluga Whales at the Aquarium. You can spend the entire day in this wonderful Pacific Northwest forest setting or
Catch the ferry to Vashon Island and cruise a couple of art galleries - shop for a few good used books at the Book Monger & rent a kayak for a couple hours and cruise along Quartermaster bay & then return to Tacoma.
Watch the sunset from one of the waterfront restaurants along Ruston Way (Lobster Shop, Luciano's and C.I. Shenanigans are sure bets), then catch some live music and a few brews at The Swiss (don't miss Chihuly's glassworks above the bar - a Swiss regular and world-renowned glass-blowing artist, Chihuly loaned them to the pub to add a little local "color" to the place - the pieces are reminiscent of "Dr. Seuss does blown art glass" -
each one is worth at least $30K, we're told).
Java Time: Quick layover at
Don't despair - there's a Starbucks coffee stand in the main terminal.
Order a Seattle Starbucks mug and double Latte,
cruise the airport shops,
purchase an oversized Seattle T-shirt,
glossy postcard of Mt. Rainier and
a promising Pacific Northwest novel.
Better luck next time!
Note: There's LOTS of other daytrip options in addition to the above suggestions, including:
Seattle Art Museum, Aquarium and Art galleries
Ferry to San Juan Islands, where you can explore forts, cruise local art shops, kayak - and maybe even spot whales or dolphins.
Local wineries, Boeing Museum of Flight
San Juan de Fuca, Dungeness Spit Wildlife Preserve
Nisqually Wildlife Preserve,
Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Forest.
Glass blowing schools - open for touring
Snohomish (another cute historic town with
lots of antique shops),
Spirit of Washington and Mt. Rainier
scenic dinner trains
Friendly Tip: You'll notice it is awfully green here. Yes, it does rain in the Pacific Northwest & and quite regularly, we might add.
To take full advantage of the weather during your stay, it's best to be somewhat flexible - is it a sunny day when you come down for breakfast or are the weather guys predicting a clear sunny afternoon? Maybe this is the day to visit Mt. Rainier, hike the rainforest trails or do a little beachcombing.
Clouds moving in? Try exploring the local antique shops or touring some of the museums on your list. If you're planning to be far afield from the inn for the day, be sure to take plenty of layers of clothing, a light jacket - and maybe even an umbrella (although carrying an umbrella is considered wimpy, and will definitely identify you as a tourist to the locals).
Always pack plenty of layers of clothing, along with a sweater and light rain jacket (especially if you plan to spend time on the ferries, or walking along the beaches - it can get quite cool, even in the spring and fall). We recommend including a pair of slacks or jeans, even in August (although August is good weather for shorts) - you might need them going into the higher elevations or out on the water.
Did You Know
We know that you're dying to try the Pacific Northwest salmon and fresh seafood dishes. (and you won't be disappointed). While you're here, however, be sure to try a few Asian restaurants, as well.
Many Pacific Rim chefs have found their way to the Seattle - Tacoma area and are gaining international recognition for their unique approach to Asian cuisine. There are many to choose from - a few of our favorites are:
East & West Cafe - Tacoma, WA
Indochine - Tacoma, WA
Chinois Cafe - Seattle, WA
Wild Ginger - Seattle, WA
Two Koi - Tacoma, WA
What sets them apart from "American-style" Asian cooking is the light, flavorful sauces, broiling techniques and playful combinations that you'd never find in a more traditional setting. Indeed, Pacific Northwest cuisine takes many of its cues from its Pacific Rim neighbors.
If you are looking for more traditional Thai however, we must say that Galanga Thai - Tacoma has the best Swimming Rama on the planet (chicken & spinach leaves in peanut curry sauce) - simply to die for. And no one even touches their salad rolls (we think the secret ingredient is both the sauce and the mint leaves that they include in their rolls). Yum!
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