My friend Elizabeth gave me just the right kick in the rear this morning. As we wandered the downtown farmer’s market, she excitedly turned to me and exclaimed, “You just got back from Seattle! We’re going on Wednesday, and I want to hear all about what you did.”
Mixing Work and Pleasure in Travel
One of the pleasantly surprising things about this later segment of adult life is how the hubby and I have treated work. Once the youngest kid flew the nest, I took a full-time office job while he enjoyed a sabbatical. In 2014, I needed a break, so James eased back into the grind with some small start-ups. Just this year, he landed a new job with a big company.
He’s got a lot of travel with this fabulous position, so I’m committed to freelancing, a work environment that means I can travel with him. As long as I have my laptop, I’m good to go.
By mixing pleasure and business in his trips, we turn work into a perk.
We tested this concept with a trip to Redmond, Washington. Though James has been making regular trips to the home office, I’d never been to Washington. And now that I’ve experienced it, I’m planning to visit once a quarter, especially during Austin’s hot summer.
We barely scraped the surface of fun things to do in Redmond and nearby Seattle, but Elizabeth, here’s what we did over our long weekend in the Evergreen State.
10 Fun Things to Do Around Seattle
This was a wonderful home base: the hotel was conveniently located, with great access to restaurants, shopping, outdoor amenities (more about those later) and Seattle, a short drive away.
I really liked happy hour by the fireplace. The staff nicely accommodating my request for a vase and always greeting us with a cheery “welcome back!” Plus, I love a good hotel room bathtub.
Next Time: check out one of the free bikes for a ride
Oh, Redmond and Seattle are truly a friendly place for pedestrians and cyclists. We took a short walk together on the trails, and then I explored on my own (about 14 miles, round trip). It’s possible to go from the hotel in Redmond, through Marymoor Park, and all the way into Seattle on this particular trail system.
Paved, clearly marked, and dotted here and there with public facilities (restrooms, fishing docks, observation points), it was a highlight of my trip.
Next Time: find the Hollywood Winery District and plan to go farther on the trail
I only had time to wander through on the connector trail (joining Sammamish River Trail with East Sammamish River Trail), but wow. I’ll say it again — Wow! There’s a model plane field, a jillion soccer pitches, climbing wall, playground, and – wait for it! – velodrome within this jewel of a park. You can swim in Sammamish Lake and even fish for salmon.
Next Time: explore the Clise Mansion and windmill
I quite enjoyed our morning in this funky Seattle neighborhood. First stop was breakfast at The Dish, a tiny little café with really good food and a hipster vibe. My yummy breakfast was called “the Slacker.”
Afterward, we drove to the neighborhood’s downtown area, parked the car, and strolled. The area is full of cool public art, including the famous Troll. Located under the Aurora Bridge on what has become “Troll Avenue,” the sculpture is something of a tourist destination.
On our way back to the car, we ducked into PCC Natural Markets. I love to check out local grocery stores, and I found some local bath salts (remember that hotel room tub?).
Next Time: hit the Fremont Sunday Market for funky shopping
We didn’t let overcast skies and a splash of rain keep us from the Arboretum, a lovely botanical garden overseen by Washington University and the city of Seattle. There are a few miles of trails to wander, such as the Azalea Way, and we leisurely covered most of them. The rhododendrons were coming into bloom, which was simply stunning.
Next Time: stroll the second botanical section, the Center for Urban Horticulture, located across Union Bay
Designed by the Olmstead brothers of architectural landscaping fame, this park was mere minutes from the Arboretum and a pleasant drive through the lovely Capitol Hill neighborhood. The weather had turned a bit nasty, so we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a warm, dry indoor option. Oh, the plants — contained within five distinctly themed rooms in a Victorian-era greenhouse — were gorgeous!
Next Time: visit the Olmstead Interpretive Exhibit in the water tower and take time for a kitschy photo of the Space Needle through the park’s circular art installation
The temperature all weekend hovered between 50 and 70ish degrees F, with intermittent rain. Clothing layers (including a light, water-repellent jacket; nobody carries an umbrella) were crucial, as the weather fluctuated frequently and quickly.
From Volunteer Park, we drove to the South Lake Union area for a warm drink and afternoon snack. Note – we are probably the only people in the world who studiously avoided a very popular coffee place that originated in Seattle.
Next Time: pay homage to one of Seattle’s iconic businesses, REI
One of the reasons I went on this trip was to make sure James’ birthday was special. We love a fabulous meal out, so I’d done some research on restaurants. We decided to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island to eat at Hitchcock.
The ferry adventure – everything from crossing Puget Sound to watching cars unload to a spectacular return view of Seattle’s night skyline — was lovely, and the restaurant was a leisurely walk from the port.
Our meal was celebration worthy: some of Seattle’s fabulous oysters, local wine, and a pork chop that had me gnawing at its bone. Magical.
Next Time: plan a day trip to Orcas Island (aka the Emerald Isle) to try out its soaking tubs and hiking in Moran State Park
How could we not go to Seattle’s famous fish and flower markets? We slept in on Sunday before driving to the wharf area, parking at Target (there’s a discounted parking rate with a purchase of $20, so we bought local wine and sundries) and making a short trek to Pike Place Market. We wandered for as long as I could take the crowds. We saw the seafood market guys toss fish; we marveled at beautiful produce; and the inexpensive, gorgeous flower bouquets took my breath away.
A quick rest on a bench overlooking Elliot Bay followed by soup and sushi (and quiet time) at Japanese Gourmet Restaurant on Stewart St. had us refreshed and ready for an afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium.
I’ll be honest: the aquarium was my least favorite outing. While the facility is world class and I love sea life, the Sunday crowd was some of the rudest, worst behaved parents and children I’ve encountered in a public place. It’s expensive ($23 dollar admittance for 13 and older), so go during the week to avoid the hordes.
Next Time: spend time at the beautiful Chihuly Garden and Glass near the wharf area, next door to the Space Needle
I’m gluten free and that can be a problem when traveling. But Redmond and Seattle have a wonderful fresh, whole food focus, so it was easy to find places with menus that accommodated my dietary needs. There are lots of Thai places (James’ favorite is Thai Ginger in Redmond Town Center, conveniently near the hotel). We even discovered tasty Mexican food at The Matador, though a Mexican martini was a foreign concept. I even found a delicious gluten free birthday treat at PinkaBella Cupcakes. I couldn’t go wrong with local seafood, simply prepared, and fresh fruits and veggies.
Next Time: shop Redmond Town Center Saturday Farmer’s Market for goodies to take on a picnic at Sammamish Lake (there’s a covered picnic table and grill near the fishing pier)