Looking for food and drink options outside of downtown Seattle? Head 19 miles south to Kent, where you'll find a diverse selection of eateries and beverage producers. From craft beer and liqueurs, to a Mexican steakhouse and Asian and Eastern European snacks, here are several places to eat and drink in Kent, Washington.
If you've lived in Seattle long enough, odds are you've at least heard of Tulalip Resort Casino. For us, it's been the radio ads publicizing Tulalip's summer concert series that gave us awareness of the resort. We've even driven by many times during our semi-annual trips to Seattle Premium Outlets and Skagit Valley. But it wasn't until a weekend in July that we actually set foot inside of Tulalip Resort Casino.
While in Southern California this July, we decided to embark on a long weekend road trip from San Diego to Palm Springs. Our dream route had all the makings of an epic, incredibly diverse road trip, with stops at the beach, mountains, and desert. In reality, our limited time and the 100+ degree heat cut our grand plans in half. But we still managed to do and see quite a bit. In this blog post, we'll share our SoCal Road Trip highlights, along with the stops we missed and will have to revisit another time.
Washington state is home to some of the best natural displays of fall color in the world. Around mid to late October, the trees begin to turn vivid shades of yellow, orange, and red. It's a photographer's paradise! While there are many places to see fall color around downtown Seattle, you can also take a day trip and see even more impressive displays of fall foliage. A few weekends ago, we took a road trip to Olympia to see their autumn trees. This past weekend, we decided to go east toward Wenatchee to see the fall colors of the mountains. Our route started in Seattle and followed Highway 2 out to Index, past Steven's Pass, and on to Leavenworth. Along the way, there were plenty of places to stop and admire the beauty, particularly at the Tumwater Dam. We then continued on to Peshastin, taking small country roads through the many apple and pear orchards and grape vineyards. On a whim, we stopped by Wedge Mountain Winery to taste some wine. We ended up taking home a bottle of their delicious 2014 Estate Lemberger wine (highly recommend!) and were delighted when owners were kind enough to let us explore their apple orchard and even take a bag of freshly picked fruits home with us. From Peshastin, we went a bit further to Dryden before heading back to Seattle via Highway 2.
We snapped many photos along the way and even created a video of our trip. Check out the photos and video below, and see our whole driving route.
If the video isn't loading, click here.
Click here to see the map in detail.
Fall Colors in Washington
Looking for a great weekend trip from Seattle? Just an hour south of the Emerald City is Washington's state capital, Olympia. It's actually one of our favorite getaways in Washington state. While it has its fair share of government buildings, there's plenty more to see and do. Downtown has a good number of parks, vintage shops, and dining options, all within walking distance. Venture outside of downtown, and you'll find even more natural gems. If you're planning a trip to Seattle and wondering what else to visit in the area, consider a road trip to Olympia. Be sure to pack your camera and hiking boots, as it's a nature lover's paradise. Check out our travel guide for ideas on what to do, and scroll through the photo gallery below to get inspired to visit!
Olympia Photo Gallery
See our full photo gallery here (external link).
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Ever since Martin and I purchased our new car in May, we had been dying to break it in on a proper road trip. Our shiny Subaru Impreza Sport was the first brand new car that either of us had ever owned, and we were stoked to take it out on the road. With this in mind, we began devising plans for our annual 4th of July trip. Instead of heading out of state, we decided to stick (somewhat) closer to home and explore more of Washington. After pouring over Google Maps one evening, Martin devised the perfect route. Over the course of 4 days, we would take our new car into uncharted territory for all of us by hitting up Tri-Cities in eastern Washington, and Bend, Oregon. What followed was a pleasantly relaxing trip around the Pacific Northwest.
Travel Mission: Explore the Tri-Cities of Washington and Bend, Oregon.
Our Trip By the Numbers
- 4 Days
- 800 Miles driven
- $350 Cost per person
- 16.39 Miles walked
- 50,594 Steps Walked
Many First Times
This trip was full of first times for both of us. We were thankful to have two cameras with us to document these moments. Half of our photos were taken with a Canon 6D camera, and the other half with the Olympus Tough, which was great for taking jet skiing and inner tubing.
The Pacific Northwest had been experiencing a freak heat wave and early summer, with temperatures in Seattle creeping up to and even slightly surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And this was all prior to July, in a coastal city. Thus, we were expecting record heat when we headed inland, and yet the 100+ degree heat hit us like none other.
Our first day and a half in Tri-Cities saw sweltering temperatures at 110 degrees. It was pretty much inevitable that we would end up touching the chilly, refreshing Columbia River. But I not only wanted to jump into the water, I wanted to jet ski for the first time. Luckily, we found an affordable, friendly local business conducting jet ski rentals at the river's bank, and thus Martin and I ended up jet skiing together, pushing our poor machine its limit of 60mph.
A summary of our first times:
- visiting Tri-Cities and Bend
- experiencing 110-degree heat
- riding on a jet ski
- inner tubing down a river
- touching the Columbia and Deschutes Rivers
Our trip began bright and early Friday morning when we drove directly east to the Tri-Cities. A mid-sized metropolitan area east of Seattle, Tri-Cities encompasses the three cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. All in all, the Tri-Cities make up the fourth-largest metropolitan area of Washington. Tri-Cities have been getting national recognition lately for being among the top 10 best places to raise a family, as well as one of the areas for the best gains in housing value. Thus, Martin and I were curious to visit this part of the state that neither of us had ventured to.
We used Airbnb to find lodging, staying overnight in a guest room on the lower level of what looked like a nearly brand new 4+ bedroom house in West Richland. Seeing this new house from the inside as well as exploring the virtually brand new neighborhood it was located in made it apparent as to why this area appeared to be a middle-class American mecca.
It was ultra suburban, yet still on the newer side, with warmer, less rainy weather than Seattle, as well as decently priced homes. Young families could afford the "American dream" style middle-class houses that at the time seem so out of reach in other parts of the country. Overall, we really enjoyed the Tri-Cities, yet were sad to not be able to fully experience some of its outdoor activities due to extreme heat.
Falling Head Over Heels in Bend
After leaving the Tri-Cities, we made a beeline for Bend, Oregon. Sadly, many of our desires to indulge in outdoor activities were again squashed by the heat. Staying in an immaculately Southeast Asian designed cabin not far from Sunriver Resort, we fell fast and hard for Bend. As the largest city in Central Oregon, Bend has become a paradise for young adults and lovers of outdoor activities and sports such as fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, rafting, skiing, and more. It also has a strong microbrew industry and affordable housing market, making it more than obvious why so many college students and young Millennials flock to Bend.
Despite the fact that we hauled our bicycles to Bend to take advantage of its many biking trails, we never rode once due to heat. Instead, we opted for a "lazy" experience of inner tubing down part of the Deschutes River. We quickly discovered that when it's windy, inner tubing can be hard work.
Ask any rock climber in the Pacific Northwest where the best place is to go climbing, and Smith Rock is bound to come up. Towards the end of our trip, we took a detour to Smith Rock to finally see the popular national park in person. Pro tip: hike up the Misery Ridge trail to get some epic panoramas. The climb is steep, but the views are breathtaking and the path isn't terribly long.
Our 4th of July weekend was the perfect opportunity to explore parts of the Pacific Northwest for the first time. We plan to return, perhaps during the winter to experience a whole other world.
Check out some photos from our adventures below.
Believe it or not, but the Pacific Northwest has quite a few islands that offer supreme weekend getaways. The San Juan Islands in Washington get the most attention and thus tend to be packed during peak seasons. But head just a bit north of the San Juans and you'll find hidden gems offering much more intimate experiences. For our annual 4th of July road trip, we decided to head to one such place: Gabriola Island. Having spent many weekends in downtown Vancouver and Whistler, we hadn't spent much time in or around Vancouver Island, so this was our chance to finally do so! Want to see more photos of Gabriola Island? Click here.
Where is it?
Gabriola Island is a small southern Gulf Island located in the Salish Sea that separates Vancouver Island from mainland British Columbia. The easiest way to get here is taking a 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo, a small city on Vancouver Island. You can also take the super scenic route by flying in a float plane from Vancouver Airport. For our weekend trip from Seattle, we drove north to Vancouver, BC to a small town called Tsawwassen. From here, we loaded our car onto a BC Ferry and set sail to Swartz Bay (Victoria). It was a pleasant and scenic 90-minute ferry ride.
Overnight Stay in Victoria
Given the amount of land and water travel we did on day one, we made a short pit stop at an Airbnb rental in Victoria. The capital of British Columbia, Victoria is a lovely, picturesque city located on the southern end of Vancouver Island. There is lots of visual evidence of the city's British colonial past in the form of Victorian architecture. You can easily spend a whole day wandering the streets of Victoria with a camera in hand, marveling at the building designs. If you prefer outdoor activities, there's also an abundance of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, zip lining and even bungee jumping (which I may have done in Canada in my younger years).
What to Do in Victoria
- Walk through Beacon Hill Park, the city's main urban green space that has a petting zoo
- Visit Butchart Gardens, a designated National Historic Site of Canada
- Enjoy high tea at the iconic Empress Hotel
- See the Neo-baroque British Columbia Parliament Buildings light up at night
- Go hiking, biking, zip lining, or bungee jumping
- Take an Orca whale watching tour
Days 2 & 3
Head to Gabriola Island
The next day, we departed Victoria for Nanaimo harbor. We loaded our car onto a ferry and enjoyed a 20-minute ferry ride to Gabriola Island. The ferry pulled into Descanso Bay, and from there we headed to our accommodations. Marina's Hideaway is bed and breakfast that we found on Airbnb. We occupied an upper-level guest suite attached to the property's main house and absolutely loved the comfortable atmosphere and delicious home-cooked breakfast. But perhaps best of all was the view! Sitting out on the deck or in the outdoor hot tub gave you the most stunning view of Nanaimo in the distance. It's the most beautiful place to watch a sunset. We recently discovered that Marina's Hideaway has been sold; hopefully the new owners are still running it is a bed and breakfast, but we can't say for sure.
What to Do on Gabriola Island
With a population of just over 4,000 people spread over 22 square miles, Gabriola is pretty sparse in terms of people. However, the residents that live here are tightknit and have a lovely community established throughout the island. You'll find nicely paved roads, restaurants, shopping centers, museums, and lots of art. After all, Gabriola is known as the "Isle of the Arts" and holds three large annual arts events throughout the year. Even if you're visiting during a non-art event weekend, many artist studios are open and welcome visitors.
In addition to the arts, there are many public beaches and forests offering lots of hikes and opportunities for nature photography. There are three provincial parks on the island: Gabriola Sands Provincial Park, Sandwell Provincial Park, and Drumbeg Provincial Park. There's also Descanso Bay Regional Park located near the ferry terminal. We visited all of these parks during our two-night stay in early July. The weather was a bit wet and chilly for summer. But considering that it was a peak travel time, there were very few travelers that we encountered. This was a huge change from our previous trips to Orcas Island, which is generally packed during this time of year.
The lack of people made it feel as if we were on our own private island. We would walk hours on the rocky beach shores without encountering a soul. Instead, probably due to the lack of people, we saw an abundance of wildlife. There were banana slugs as big as our hands, flocks of cormorants gathering at sunset, families of harbor seals playing incredibly close to shore, more deer than we've ever seen in the Northwest, and our very first sighting of a large, lone sea otter in the wild. The nature viewing was spectacular.
We ended our last day on Gabriola with one last home-cooked breakfast at Marina's, and then caught the BC Ferry back to Nanaimo. From here, it was a long wait to board a ferry back to mainland Canada, and an even longer drive back to Seattle. This was likely because we were joining the flocks of people traveling after a long weekend. As a result, we highly recommend leaving ferry travel in the Pacific Northwest to non-weekend days.
Gabriola Island is a special getaway from Seattle and Vancouver that actually isn't much further than other popular island destinations. It has significantly fewer visitors, which gives you a more intimate, private experience. Have you visited Gabriola Island or any other islands in Canada? Let us know in the comments below!
The Southwestern United States is a region of the country that until recently we had not been very acquainted with. Long fascinated by Wild West tales and history, the Southwest has been an area of intrigue that we finally got to properly explore during a long weekend escape in November 2014. Booked a mere month in advance, we found decent travel and accommodation deals and were able to enjoy our 4 day trip with efficiency and leisure. We wasted no time, packing in a full day of touring from the moment we arrived, speeding up to the Grand Canyon and making it down to Sedona all within a matter of hours. Overall, we left Sedona highly impressed and determined to return again soon.
Weekend to Explore Sedona and see the Grand Canyon.
- 2,930 Roundtrip miles traveled on this trip.
- $465.60 Total cost per person when split two ways.
- 3 Hikes
- 4 Days Total time of our trip
- 26.81 miles walked
Modern West Photo Shoot
The mission of this trip was to step foot into the American Southwest for the first time and take in the majestic Grand Canyon and red rocks of Sedona. Our theme was heavily influenced by Martin's admiration for Mad Max and desire to simulate some Mad Max-inspired photo shoots in the desert. The night before the trip, Martin visited the barber's shop and shaved his full head of hair into a mohawk; he then donned a black leather jacket and black pants throughout all of our hikes in Sedona for the sake of the photo shoots.
Route and Itinerary
- Friday (Day 1): Flight from Seattle to Flagstaff. Arrive in Flagstaff and drive to Grand Canyon, then to Sedona.
- Saturday (Day 2): Day hiking and overnight stay in Sedona.
- Sunday (Day 3): Day hiking and overnight stay in Sedona.
- Monday (Day 4): Drive to Flagstaff for lunch and fly back to Seattle.
Driving to the Grand Canyon
From the Flagstaff airport, we picked up a small rental car and drove 90 minutes northwest on route 180 into Red Rock Country. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is a natural landmark that is an easy day trip from Flagstaff or Sedona. It's ideal to spend at least a full day here, to do the historic Watchtower climb and explore the lesser known East Rim Drive. However, if you're like us and don't have much time to spare, an hour or two or exploration is well worth the trip.
The South Rim is one of the most popular viewpoints at the Grand Canyon. Open all year, the area has paved walkways and is accessible by all. Just be careful how close to the edge you get as there are certain areas without railings that can be potentially hazardous.
Traveling to Sedona
After a stop at the Grand Canyon, we ventured 2 hours (about 108 miles) south on US-180E to Sedona. This scenic desert town is very distinct as it is surrounded by red-rock buttes and steep canyon walls. Maybe it's the dust in the air, but Sedona truly feels magical. There are lots of outdoor activities to do here such as hiking, biking, off-roading, or visiting scenic vistas.
Sedona has a moderate climate, so it is great to visit at any time of the year. However, spring and fall are the best and most popular times to visit thanks to the mid-60s to low 80s temperature. Summer tends to be much hotter in the mid-90s, while winter can even bring snow.
We spent our entire stay in the luxurious Diamond Resorts of Sedona Summit, a modern resort tucked away a few miles from the main town. Normally reserved for timeshare guests, we found an amazing deal here for only $119 per night. Our accommodations were a spacious studio with a King sized bed, couch, dining room, and full kitchen. The grounds were incredibly spacious and well-kept with 7 pools and hot tubs on site and a game and entertainment room.
Things to Do in Sedona
Go for a hike
There are over 200 trails in the Red Rocks National Park. Easily the most photogenic and popular hikes in the area include Courthouse Rock, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Bear Mountain.
Drive to Oak Creek Canyon
Take a short drive northeast on Highway 89A for a scenic, unforgettable drive to Oak Creek Canyon. This river gorge lies between Flagstaff and Sedona and is located within the Coconino National Forest. There are several campgrounds and picnic areas in the canyon, as well as many miles of hiking trails. Many fishermen also venture here to fish the 49 miles of creek teeming with several types of trout, bass, and catfish.
Shop for Art and Souvenirs
Sedona boasts 80+ art galleries and boutique stores carrying mystic and New Age products. If you're seeking a rhodochrosite, chrysoprase or other crystals that promote metaphysical well-being, you'll definitely find them in here. The shops and galleries along Highway 89A are a great place to start. Also be sure to hit the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, a colonial-style shopping center with plenty of shops.
Seek Out Spiritual Vortexes
Speaking of spirituality, Sedona is full of vortexes, where the earth radiates physic energy. Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, taking a guided tour or exploring vortexes on your own is a popular activity. One such vortex also contains another worthy attraction that was built on top: the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This modern chapel looks like something out of a science fiction film and offers spectacular photo opportunities.
Sedona doesn't have much of a nightlife, and many of its restaurants and bars close rather early. So take advantage of the city's restrictions on light pollution and turn your eyes towards the heavens and enjoy the constellations.
Rent a bike, ATV, or Tomcar
Off-roading is another popular activity in Sedona, with miles of backcountry roads to traverse. Most companies offer half day or full day vehicle rentals that will send you off the day with a map to choose your own adventure.
Take a Helicopter or Hot Air Ballon Ride
The Sedona valley is stunning from a high viewpoint, which you can reach by hiking or man-made vessel. Helicopter tours run frequently, as do hot air balloon companies. Aim for a sunrise or sunset ride for the most spectacular, photo-worthy experiences.
Over To You
Have you visited Sedona or the Grand Canyon? Share your travel tips below!
Looking for a quick trip out of town from Seattle for less than a day? Consider Samish Bay! This northern region of Washington state is home to a number of local attractions including the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. But beyond the buzzy events, there are plenty of other attractions that you can enjoy without the crowd. Here's a summary of a spontaneous food-based day trip we did to Samish Bay, specifically the charming town of Bow-Edison.
One weekend, I was skimming through a hard copy of Seattle Weekly and was enraptured by one article: "Quest for the Perfect (Oyster) Picnic: A road trip to Bow-Edison". Where was Bow-Edison? I honestly didn't know but was sold on the idea of oysters. With the article as our guide, we headed north to Bow-Edison.
Where is Bow-Edison?
Located in the northwest corner of Skagit Valley, Bow and Edison are pretty small farming towns with tons of flat farmlands that make for awesome landscape photos and lots of opportunities to pull over for fresh organic produce. With our own garden in full bloom with more veggies than we could handle, we skipped the produce stands and headed straight to the small town of Bow to Breadfarm, the first recommendation in the article. We certainly were not disappointed!
First stop: Breadfarm
The warm bakery was filled with more freshly baked bread and pastries than our eyes could imagine. Maxey recommends the cherry lemon loaf, olive baguette, Skagit Valley potato bread, and hazelnut cookies. Although they all sound fabulous, we go for a large loaf of multigrain bread and threw in a fluffy piece of focaccia bread at the last second. My favorite had to have been the focaccia. It was flat, chewy, and perfectly seasoned. I savored every bite.
Second Stop: Slough Food
If not for Maxey's advice, we would have easily picked up more food at Breadfarm, but her next recommendation sounded too delicious. After stocking up on carbs, we ventured next door to Slough Food. This small delicatessen and gourmet convenience store felt very European. In fact, the idea of collecting various pieces of our feast at different stores also felt very European, something that made the day's itinerary seem more fun than going to just one destination for all of our food needs. At Slough Food, we picked up some sausage to go with the bread. As an afterthought, we also grabbed a cannoli, as strongly advocated by the article. Two words for you: holy cannoli! Must. Have. It.
Third Stop: Taylor Shellfish Farms
By now, we had a cannoli, hunk of bread, and several sausages. All that was missing were the featured entrees and the whole point of the trip: fresh oysters! Our final piece of the meal was picked up a short drive later when we arrived at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Samish Bay. If not for Maxey's advice, we would have stopped at one of the many tempting oyster bars along the way. But the real treat is at the end of the road.
After a sharp left turn past the oyster bars, drive down past the railroad tracks to Taylor Shellfish's shop at the water's edge. Not only is there a store to purchase fresh shellfish, but there are also picnic tables next to the ocean. Jackpot!
The next challenge is figuring out what you want to eat. Since we didn't bring a grill or any condiments or cooking supply with us, the crab, mussels, clams, and geoducks were out, so we were left with two choices: Kumamoto or Shigoku oysters. We were partial to the Kumamotos for their "beautifully fluted shells and plump meats with a hint of honeydew in both flavor and color."
We bought two dozen whole Kumamotos, adding a small jar of Tabasco and a shucking knife to our purchase for a grand total just over $40. Not too shabby. It's nice that the store sells the knife and extra condiments, as it didn't cross our minds to bring our own. Next time, I'm definitely bringing lemon, cocktail sauce, and horseradish so we can make our own fresh oyster shots! Figuring out how to shuck the oysters took a bit. But once we got it down, we slurped down the whole lot very quickly. How were they? To quote the couple next to us who were BBQing mussels, "Those were amazing! Honey, why haven't we done this before??"
Fourth Stop: Larrabee State Park
When the oysters were devoured, the sun finally decided to poke its head out and we spent a while exploring the surrounding area of Taylor Shellfish Farms before heading off to our next destination. After lunch, the article suggests a trip to Larrabee State Park, which is what we did. Further research declares the park to be the first established in Washington state, and we enjoyed basking in the sun to let our meal digest.
To charge up for our drive back home, we sought out a coffee shop. No java stops were mentioned in the article, but we were lucky to drive by the Japanese Gardens Coffeehouse on Chuckanut Drive. Curious about the blend of a Japanese Garden and espresso, we were charmed by the place, sipping our java while enjoying the zen-like atmosphere of the garden.
Last Stop: Snow Goose Produce
Just as we began to GPS our way back to Seattle, the last paragraph of the article caught my eye: "Once you're sufficiently satiated, get back in the car and stop by Snow Goose Produce in Mount Vernon for Lummi Island strawberry ice cream..." Ok, ice cream. You win. But perhaps slightly better than our sweet treat was the way we got there.
Hopping onto Best Road, we passed by an alpaca farm and a miniature donkey farm. The first one raised our eyebrows, but the second made us downright giddy. We'd seen donkeys while traveling in Belize last winter, and something about them just stole my heart. Not to mention, these weren't just donkeys--they were miniature! This we had to see. We turned around and backtracked to the J.F. Miniature Donkey Ranch and watched the little guys from the road. Too cute and completely worth the pit stop.
Not far from the donkey ranch, we found Snow Goose Produce, marked by the huge line of people waiting to order ice cream. There are at least 20 ice cream flavors on the menu, and the scoops are enormous! If you want two flavors, it means ordering a double scoop. I made the impossible decision of choosing an ice cream flavor, ending up with a tasty blueberry cheesecake. About half of it was consumed before my stomach said no more. Besides ice cream, the roadside market also lots of fresh produce and Snow Goose Products. Be sure to pick up salsa, pasta, and pasta sauce.
All in all, this was a delightful summer road trip that we were glad to have made on a Sunday. We headed out of Seattle at 10 am Sunday morning, making it up to Bow-Edison without encountering much traffic. Our drive back was a little less fortuitous when it came to traffic as we caught the Everett jam on I-5 around 5:00 pm, but it definitely could have been much worse. This will definitely be a repeat trip sometime very soon!