Road trip, Tips, Travel Guide

What NOT to miss in Washington state

Oh Washington. You make my heart skip a beat! It’s been a year since I was in Washington (not D.C.) but I still think of it often, hoping to visit again in the future. The whole vibe of the Pacific Northwest is very appealing to me. Gloomy weather, dozens of tasty food options, coffee shops at every corner and the fact that waterfalls, rainforests, lakes, coastlines & snow capped mountains are well within grasp.

Known as the Evergreen State (they weren’t kidding), there’s no shortage of natural diversity in Washington. Even the most reclusive person can’t escape the charm of outdoor recreation that is the highlight of this state. Everyone seems to be so happy that they’re outside; enjoying its benefits. Urban parks filled with families, farmer markets bustling with excited shoppers, locals excited to go on weekend hikes-quite the opposite of what I thought it would be given that cold weather makes me feel lazy. We braved the cold, rainy and windy weekend to explore this beautiful state. For a place that seems to have a never ending list of places to go to, I compiled a list of attractions/POIs that you should definitely NOT miss when you visit Washington.

*Per usual, I enjoy making travel guides and I try my best to be as precise & truthful as I can when I make these. But please also remember to take in this information thoughtfully. It’s always best to form your own opinion about the place you’re visiting. So let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Space Needle

Perhaps the most visible and famous landmark in Seattle, the iconic Space Needle towers at 605 feet. It was constructed in 1961 and was finished a year later, just in time for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.  It is built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour, which says a lot about its durability. It also has a restaurant (Sky City) and an observation deck that gives you 360 degree views of downtown Seattle.

We visited at night and I highly recommend it. I’m sure the morning views are nice but nothing beats seeing all the twinkling lights of downtown Seattle. After you’ve soaked in the view, grab a cup of hot coco and elevate your experience by taking advantage of the digital experience inside the observation deck. Download the free Space Needle app to picture yourself with a life-sized needle or be floored with a “see through” view over Seattle. So cool! There’s also an online memory book called Spacebook that stores photos and highlights from your sky-high experience.

Before we left, I had to go back outside and take my last glimpse of the beautiful city lights. It was truly mesmerizing!

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Info:

Address: 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109

Observation deck hours: Mon-Sun 10:00 am till 9:30 pm

Observation deck admission: $22 (Ages 13-64), $13 (Ages 4-12), $19 (Age 65+)

Parking: General Valet $25, SkyCity guests $12, Observation deck guests $16

[There’s also metered parking around the area, although it may be difficult to find a parking space because there are apartments nearby.]

For more info visit their website at: Space Needle

2. Pike Place Market

Another iconic landmark in Seattle is the beloved Pike Place Market. This vibrant and charming public market has become synonymous with Seattle. It is the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market since 1907. Locals and tourists alike flock to either shop for fresh produce, amazing fish & beautiful handmade arts and crafts or to satisfy their hunger by eating at one of the restaurants in the area. One of the main attractions in Pike Place is the “flying” fish. An employee hurls a massive fish from the display to the people behind the counter to be cleaned and wrapped, ready to go for the customer. It is definitely a crowd pleaser! You can join in on the fun and try to catch the fish that you just bought. But a little caution because it is slippery. 🙂 I enjoyed visiting Pike Place Market because of its uniqueness & energy and I’m sure you guys will too.
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Info:

Pike Place Market hours: General market hours are M-F, 9 am till 6 pm and Sundays, 9 am till 5 pm. The hours of individual businesses vary.

For more info visit their website at: Pike Place Market

3. Gum Wall

Located in an alley under Pike Place Market, this unusual photography spot is one of the germiest (germaphobes, beware) tourist attractions in the world. The tradition started in the early 1990’s, when patrons of the Market theater would wait in line at the alley for the next show. I guess the wait was too long that their gum lost it’s flavor and so they decided that the wall was the perfect place to put it. Theater workers scraped the gum off the wall twice but eventually gave up in 1999, after it was deemed a tourist attraction. The wall runs for 50-something feet long and serves as a great (or gross) backdrop for photos.

I heard recently that they’re planning to scrub the wall clean for the first time in 15-something years. Go see it now before it’s too late!

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4. Pike Place Chowder

Nothing beats a bowl of chowder in a gloomy day. This award-winning chowder house is located in a hole-in-the-wall between Pike Place & Pine St. The menu is comprised of a variety of chowders (of course) & sandwiches/rolls. We ordered two of their classic signature dish, New England Chowder on a sourdough bread bowl ($10.45)  and a half of the Dungeness crab roll ($9.45). The chowder was creamy and delectable. It reminded me of the chowder at Boudin in San Francisco (still my favorite). The flavors consists of bacon, cream & a blend of herbs and spices. The famous Dungeness crab roll, however, was a bit underwhelming. It was bland and lacked that crab flavor. I suggest that you guys stick with the chowders instead. Now, about that infamous long line. We didn’t come across a long line when we visited. Probably because it was off season and it was freezing cold that day. But don’t let that deter you from trying their yummy chowders.

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Info:

Address: Pike Place Market, 1530 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101

Hours: Open Daily from 11 am-5 pm

For more info visit their website at: Pike Place Chowder

5. Original Starbucks

As a coffee addict, my go-to is Starbucks. So visiting the “first” ever Starbucks was a cool experience for me. I put an emphasis on the first because although it’s commonly known as the Original Starbucks, it is not. The current address is the second location for the Pike Place store. The first Starbucks was actually located at 2000 Western Ave. It moved to its location in 1912 Pike Place, about 5 years later in 1971. The space is small (no seats, standing room only) and you may rub elbows with fellow tourists either buying coffee or shopping for mugs. Despite the coziness, I do love the fact that they retained the original look. Of course, I had to get a mug as a memento for visiting the “first” Starbucks.

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Info:

Address: 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101

Hours: Open Daily from 6 am till 9 pm

6. Le Panier

If you know me well, then you know how much I love pastries (I think I can smell a freshly baked bread about a mile away). Naturally, we had to drop by this cute French bakery located in Pike Place. They opened their doors in 1983, deeply rooted in the tradition of a local French bakery. The bakery’s name, Le Panier, refers to the large willow baskets that carry baguettes fresh from the oven. It had a lovely atmosphere despite being busy, equally filled with tourists and locals. Their menu boasts a variety of croissants, sandwiches, macarons, baguettes & espressos. Despite being tempted to eat everything in the menu, I ended up getting my favorites-French macarons! They were absolutely delightful. If you want a light dessert (or love the smell of pastries), then you should definitely visit Le Panier.

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Info:

Address: 1902 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101

Hours: Monday-Saturday 7 am till 6 pm; Sundays 7 am till 5 pm

For more info visit their website: Le Panier

7. CenturyLink Field

Seahawks fan or not, this multi-purpose stadium is a must visit. As a sports fan, I know how it feels to be proud of your team and well, they don’t call Seattle fans 12th man for nothing. Want an up close and personal look at behind the scenes areas? Want to feel like a VIP and step foot into the Suite and Club levels? Then take the stadium tour. The tour takes about an hour and a half and the best part is it doesn’t break the bank. At an affordable price of $12 (Adults), you’ll get closely acquainted with CenturyLink Field. We usually do stadium tours whenever we visit a state but unfortunately they had an event going on that day. When we visit again, we’ll definitely do a tour and maybe even watch a game.

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Info:

Address: 800 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134

For more tour info visit their website at: CenturyLink Field

8. EMP Museum

This is a nonprofit museum founded by Microsoft co-founder and Seahawks owner, Paul Allen in 2000. It is dedicated to contemporary popular culture and is home to exhibits, interactive activity stations, sound sculpture and various educational resources. Designed by Frank O. Gehry, this museum is ridiculously beautiful inside and out. One could spend hours going through different memorabilia and exhibits. I enjoyed every bit of this place, most especially the interactive parts. They even have a sound lab where you can play different instruments with your family and friends. Make sure you have adequate time to go through the whole museum. It is definitely worth it!

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Info:

Address:325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Tickets: Adults $25 but if you buy online it’s only $22. (You can buy the tickets on your phone on the spot and just show them your confirmation email.)

For more info visit their website at: EMP Museum

9. Big Four Ice Caves

A designated National Recreation Trail, this is one of the most popular hikes in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest attracting over 50,000 visitors per year. It is a fairly easy hike to get to the ice cave, with a boardwalk path to walk on. Families can definitely do this hike because the trail is well maintained. Originally, we (but really in reality, I) wanted to do four hikes in one day. How ambitious, right? My friend already warned me that this trip to Big Four Ice Caves alone, could take half a day. She wasn’t kidding. From our hotel in Redmond, it took us about > 2 hrs (67 miles) to get to the head of the trail. On top of that, it was raining pretty hard so we had to drive slow. But once we got there, we readily headed for the trail and enjoyed the quietness of the forest. We had the whole place to ourselves. One of the perks of traveling during winter is avoiding a huge crowd but the downside is the inclement weather, which for the most part, we didn’t mind.

It’s not everyday you get to see an ice cave so I know some may get excited to climb on top or even enter the cave. WARNING: Do not, at any time, enter the ice cave or climb on top of it. I know you see it in Instagram and it looks cool but people have died here from sudden cave-ins. If you feel like you really have to get a closer look, you can approach near the mouth of the cave, but remember, you are putting yourself at risk and you are solely responsible for your well-being. It is advised to stay at the end of the trail and viewing area. Enjoy the elements but be respectful as well.

Disclaimer: My photos show that I’m at the mouth of the cave. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m encouraging you to do the same.

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Info:

Hiking length : 2.2 miles RT

For more info visit this website: Big Four Ice Caves or the Washington Trails Association

10. Snoqualmie Falls

One of the most popular scenic attractions in Washington is the 270 ft Snoqualmie Falls. It attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year. From Seattle, it takes roughly 40 minutes (28.3 miles) to get here.You can either view it from the top in the observation deck or down below after a short hike. The upper viewing area has several viewpoints and observation areas so you’ll definitely get a good look of the falls from any angle. We arrived late in the afternoon and like Big Four Ice Caves, we had the whole place to ourselves. It was such a surreal experience. I’ve seen my fair share of falls and this is one of my faves!

Disclaimer: My photos show that we are close to the falls. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m encouraging you to do the same as the river levels may rise unpredictably.

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Info: 

For more info visit this website: Washington Trails Association

What I missed: (there’s a lot!)

  • Olympic National Park
  • Hoh Rain Forest-Olympic National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Gothic Basin-North Cascades
  • Mt. Rainier
  • Mt. Baker
  • Rattlesnake Ridge
  • Franklin Falls
  • Palouse Falls
  • Blanca Lake
  • Goat Lake
  • Diablo Lake
  • Enchantment Lakes
  • La Push Beach
  • Vance Creek Bridge
  • Washington State Ferries
  • Kerry Park
  • Fremont Troll

What my belly missed:

  • Storyville Coffee
  • Beecher’s handmade cheese
  • Mee sum pastry
  • Piroshky Piroshky
  • The Crumpet Shop
  • Lola

 

How about you guys? What’s on your must-see list in Washington/Seattle?

16 Comments

  1. Meg Jerrard

    November 21, 2015 at 1:44 am

    I hope you have the chance to get back to Washington State – we recently visited and spent 4 days in Olympic National Park and it was such an amazing experience – totally unplugged, most amazing scenery. Definitely recommend for your next trip 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 21, 2015 at 1:51 am

      Hello Meg! I know, I’m really missing the PNW. I definitely will come back, hopefully sometime next year. We mainly focused on the sightseeing/touristy part of Washington but the nature part we will do for sure. Thanks so much! 🙂

  2. mark

    November 21, 2015 at 2:00 am

    The space needle looks amazing. We have been to Europe several times and always seem to go up these type towers. Berlin, Munich, Tallinn and more. I love panoramic views you get from the top.
    cheers
    Mark

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 21, 2015 at 2:05 am

      Hi Mark! It’s really amazing! The views we got from the top were phenomenal, especially with the city lights twinkling at night. 🙂

  3. Jo

    November 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    That whole part of the world is so pretty and so interesting. I first become interested in Seattle via the TV series Frasier – with its view of the Seattle skyline. I’m really sorry though, being the Australian coffee snob I am there is absolutely no way I would be going to Starbucks – even if it is the original shop – YUCK!!

  4. Jo

    November 21, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Great post about such a pretty part of the world. I first became interested in the Pacific North West via the TV show Frasier – I loved how the Seattle skyline featured so heavily in the show. One place you wouldn’t get me to though is that Starbucks. Being the Australian coffee snob I am there is no way…………..YUCK!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 21, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Hello Jo! Oh nice. I’ve never seen Frasier but I think that’s cool that they shot it in the PNW. Haha no worries! To each their own. 🙂

  5. Natasha

    November 22, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Never been to Washington State but that space needle looks so cool! Will have to go there.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 22, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Hello Natasha! Oh yes, definitely! You have to visit Washington. The view from the space needle is so nice at night! 🙂

  6. Lesley

    November 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    My husband visits Seattle all the time for work but I haven’t been yet. The Space Needle is on the top of my list.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 22, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Hello Lesley! Yes you should definitely visit Seattle. Maybe next time tag along with him and you guys can explore Washington together. Space Needle is amazing! 🙂

  7. Becca

    November 28, 2015 at 7:19 am

    You heard the gum wall is no longer, right? About a month ago, they cleaned the entire surface! Also, I love that you mentioned Storyville! People who don’t live here have never experienced the wonder that is Storyville coffee and they are missing out!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 30, 2015 at 12:21 am

      Hello Becca! Yes I actually read online that there’s no longer a gum wall. 🙁 But I’m sure it will be back again someday. It’s just going to take awhile. Oh yes, I’m actually sad that I didn’t get to try Storyville when we visited. There’s always next time! No problem and Thank you for visiting! 🙂

  8. Karen

    November 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I used to live in Seattle area. Loved it and miss all the culture and the theaters. Thanks for a walk down memory lane.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      November 30, 2015 at 12:11 am

      Oh how nice! 🙂 Seattle is really beautiful. So beautiful that I’ve considered moving there. No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

  9. Beth | Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere

    July 21, 2016 at 5:06 am

    What a great list! I haven’t been to the Space Needle since I was a little kid, but your pictures make me want to finally go to the top on my next visit. The clam chowder looks tasty as well!

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