Last year, my brother, sister and I, set off on an amazing adventure to the US of A. Somehow, we survived each other and spent two incredible weeks city-hopping down the West Coast. If you’re planning a similar trip this summer and need ideas, look forward to reading my city guide travel series…
F I R S T S T O P , S E A T T L E !
Up-high and down below
After spending a gloriously sunny week visiting family in Vancouver, we were ready to embark on our American adventure. Arriving at the airport during the early hours of the morning, we were sleepy, excited and unprepared for the highly suspicious security staff who greeted us there. If you’ve never set foot in America before, arrive at the airport early. There is a small chance you will be whisked away to an ominous room full of nervous, fidgety travellers waiting to be questioned.
As we were ushered into this limbo, worrying about missing our flight, my sister and I were told to take a seat whilst my brother was taken away by a stern man ready to interview him about his motives. He was asked about every place he planned to visit and all the hotels’ names! Luckily, I’d printed out a list which sped up the process and we were happily sent off – now it was clear that we were not terrorists.
F L I G H T & C A R H I R E
We flew via Air Canada, on a tiny, cramped plane. I wasn’t too impressed but it was only a short flight to Seattle. Once we arrived, we took a free shuttle bus from the airport to the car hire company, Alamo. We’d booked a small four seater online, so all I had to do on arrival was pay. Then we went down to the car park to pick one out to drive off in! We chose an automatic, Toyota Camry. The whole process only took about 15 minutes.
In the car, I was slightly nervous having never driven on a motorway before and learning to do so on the opposite side of the road. Once you get over that though, it’s plain sailing! I definitely prefer driving in America than in England as the roads are far wider.
W H A T T O S E E
P I K E P L A C E M A R K E T
Just a short walk from our hotel was Pike Place Market, a place buzzing with activity and an array of stalls selling fresh produce, speciality foods and crafts. A great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts and to try out different cuisines. There’s a lot to take in, so give yourself a good hour or so to have a proper look around (there are two floors to this place).
Pike Place is also home to the first ever Starbucks, kept in it’s original design. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go inside as it’s a very popular tourist attraction and the queue went on for as far as we could see!
C H I H U L Y G L A S S G A R D E N S
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this exhibition but all three of us really enjoyed it. Located right by the Space Needle, these glass gardens are the work of artist, Dale Chihuly, who creates large sculptural installations out of coloured glass. It was like being transported into another world. The exhibition starts off indoors inside a glossy black room full of magical glass objects and moves outdoors where the contrast between nature and the fantasy aesthetic creates a dream-like garden.
S P A C E N E E D L E
The Space Needle takes you up 520 feet over the city for a breathtaking view of Seattle. It’s open from around 10am to 10 pm- we decided to go around 8pm to catch the sun setting. Late viewings are quite popular so make sure you book tickets online beforehand. I booked mine a few weeks in advance and tickets were selling out fast! The website also does a value ticket deal where you get tickets for both the Space Needle and the Glass Gardens together. I wish I’d known about this before I’d booked mine – I recommend you see both!
B I L L S P E I D E L ‘ S U N D E R G R O U N D T O U R
Despite the not-so-glowing reviews online, I was intrigued to go on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of Seattle. And I’m glad I ignored the reviews! I had no idea that Seattle was built upon the old city beneath it. So much of underground Seattle still remains intact, including shop signs, windows, doors.. it was very interesting to see! I’m also not one for history lessons but I found our tour guide and the story very interesting.
In the above picture, you see Tellers Cage, a supposed haunted sidewalk. We were told to look out for any ghosts that appear in our photos but I don’t see one…
W H E R E T O E A T
E L L I O T ‘ S O Y S T E R H O U S E
Elliot’s is right by the ocean, located at Pier 56, so you can imagine just how good the seafood here is. We had crab cakes for starters which came as two medium cakes between three of us. We were expecting a bigger portion for the price but I suppose the quality of the food makes up for it.
My sister and I had toasties for our main and my brother had the special of the day, swordfish. Much happier with the portion size of the mains and everyone enjoyed their food.
The restaurant itself is very sophisticated, both in it’s design and the waiters’ manners. A lovely place for a quality lunch and an ideal spot for dinner.
T H E L U C K Y D I N E R
We found this place late in the evening, after seeing the Space Needle, so it must have been around 9pm. We were shocked to find that most restaurants had already closed for the night and had no idea what else was close by. So, we did what any typical tourist would do and got out our impractically giant map.
We spotted a bar and grill restaurant and made our way towards it but then we stumbled across The Lucky Diner and couldn’t say no (obviously looking for an authentic American experience).
The food here was amazing. So filling, so tasty and very reasonably priced. For some reason I had another toastie and we shared a brownie for dessert. The menu has a good range on it from all day breakfast dishes to hot sandwiches and burgers, and even some Mexican style dishes. Great place no matter what time of day.
W H E R E T O S T A Y
We decided to stay at the Travelodge by the Space Needle as it was in the perfect location for the activities we had planned, right in the centre of the city. The staff were really friendly and kept our bags in storage for us as we were too early for check-in.
Our two-bed room was simple but perfect for the one night we were spending there. Nicely lit, clean and comfortable. We had free wifi, hairdryer, desk, safe and breakfast included. The continental breakfast wasn’t that great but apart from that, I would totally recommend this hotel.
If you liked this post, look out for next in series: Portland
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Image Credits: SlashGear.com, ImagesByChristineCox.com, ElliotsOysterHouse.com, TheLuckyDiner.com