Washington state must see places?
September 6, 2010 8:51 PM   Subscribe

We have four days in October to spend in the Seattle area, what should we not miss?

We are flying into Seattle and renting a car there. Plan to spend one full day hanging out there then would like to go explore more of the state. Where should we go? I'm thinking some of the mountains, some of the coastline. What should we check out? I'm a photographer, so we don't need to actually "do" a lot, just driving and seeing is good for us.
posted by slowtree to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (27 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
For eats, I would go to Serious Pie downtown. Their pizza is delicious.
posted by smorange at 8:57 PM on September 6, 2010

If the skies are clear enough, skip the space needle and go to itty bitty Kerry Park instead. It's outside and free.
posted by germdisco at 9:03 PM on September 6, 2010

Definitely check out the public library, if you're at all into architecture.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 9:06 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Olympic National Park is gorgeous. You take your car on the ferry, which was an experience in itself for me. You can see the ocean and/or Canada on some trails. I was there in summer though; I imagine it's a lot different in October.
posted by serunding at 9:24 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Anyplace in particular we should check out in Olympic National Park?
posted by slowtree at 9:34 PM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: Rent a couple of bicycles and ride up the Burke-Gilman trail. It goes, roughly, from Gasworks Park (a good place for kite-flying, overlooking Lake Union) to the top of Lake Washington and on to Lake Sammamish.
I think Greg's Greenlake rents bikes. Start there and go around Greenlake (another park) to Ravenna Ave., then up Ravenna to 17th (a better route than up Univ. Way.) Turn right and go to the U-District and through the Univ. of WA.
The trail is at the far end of UW. Go right to Gasworks Park (a short distance) or go left to ride the bulk of the trail. It goes through a lot of residential areas, but is fairly separate from street traffic. The trail is for hiking, running and biking, not car traffic, with the exception of a bit of it as you near Gasworks Park.
In the movie "Sleepless in Seattle", when Meg Ryan finally makes it to Tom Hanks' houseboat (on Lake Union) and just misses Hanks as he and his son set off in a boat, he and his son are on their way toward Gasworks Park, from the other side of Lake Union.
posted by noonknight at 10:22 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anyplace in particular we should check out in Olympic National Park?

If the skies are clear, drive up to the Hurricane Ridge observation center. You can see the Olympic range for some distance, weather permitting. It's about a 2.5 hr drive from Seattle via Bainbridge ferry to Port Angeles — so that region would be a day trip, essentially.

Port Angeles is along the water and has a few sights. Michael's is a good place to go for lunch or early dinner. To extend your day trip, you could take the ferry from PA to Victoria, if you have your passports and want to visit Canada for a bit.

Sequim is along the way, a little before PA. Taking a walk on the Dungeness Spit could be fun if it isn't too cold or windy.

The Pacific Northwest is generally wet, grey/dark and windy during the fall, winter and spring. But you might luck out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I second Kerry Park

Theo Chocolate is definitely worth hitting if you like chocolate at all. They have a tour, but I've never done it (I only make it over there when we have people in from out of town, and we never plan far ahead enough to make the tour) -- just going to the store and tasting all the amazing things they have is great.
posted by sharding at 10:27 PM on September 6, 2010

Go to Pike Place Market. It is downtown and has a lot of shops selling many types of goods, including crafts. Buy something portable to eat (try Turkish Delight for a good lamb turnover) and walk to the end of the street where you find a small park overlooking Puget Sound. The Olympic Mtns. are a cross the sound, Mt. Ranier is to the left with the smaller Cascade mountains.
You will see two totem poles in the park.
For dessert, I used to like a double cone from Hagen Daaz, which is near the park.
If you want, you can go down the Pike Place Hill Climb to the waterfront. The Seattle Aquarium is down there. If you are there at the right time, Salmon will be returning to the aquarium.
posted by noonknight at 10:32 PM on September 6, 2010

If you like sports, Seattle has pro football, baseball and basketball.
the new baseball diamond is nice.
posted by noonknight at 10:34 PM on September 6, 2010

Are you a wine lover? Plenty of wine touring opportunities in the southeastern part of the state, from Yakima to Walla Walla. Zillions of wineries, plus the weather should be better than in the Seattle area (much drier and sunnier here, though the temps tend to be less mild). You can take a drive down through the Columbia River Gorge--lots of photo ops there--and stop at the Maryhill Museum near Goldendale, complete with its own version of Stonehenge.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:35 PM on September 6, 2010

Drive to Mount Ranier. It's a good day trip.
Another place to consider is a bit farther: Mount St. Helen.
posted by noonknight at 10:39 PM on September 6, 2010

Response by poster: Any recommendations on a quaint cabin on a lake experience?
posted by slowtree at 10:44 PM on September 6, 2010

Take in a MLS soccer game.

The Seattle Sounders FC have plenty of home games in October, and they're always a blast. They play in Qwest Field.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:05 PM on September 6, 2010

The University of Washington has a beautiful campus and is a magnificent subject for photography. See especially Suzzallo Library.
posted by macinchik at 11:40 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Any recommendations on a quaint cabin on a lake experience?

Point No Point is over the border by way of the Black Ball ferry that runs from Port Angeles to Victoria. It is something like what you ask, through it overlooks the Juan De Fuca strait into the Pacific Ocean, instead of a lake. Amazing views, very quiet, very romantic. A bit pricy, a bit out of the way, but well worth it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:40 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you like beer, stop by the Boundary Bay brewpub in downtown Bellingham for one of the state's best IPAs, IMO. About 1.5 hr north of downtown Seattle. Great food, too, and a good place to stop if you want to do some hiking around Mt. Baker.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 PM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: Important Thing To Know: Washington is a BIG state. Four days is not enough time to see Seattle, ocean, rainforest, Eastern Washington. It's a good 4 hour drive each way from Seattle to the Olympics and the ocean; more if you're going on a ferry. It's 6 hours each way to Eastern Washington, more if you hit snow in the pass. You need to do some serious filtering.

What don't you have where you live, that you'd like to see? Water? Mountains? Different cultures?
Water: take a ferry, for sure. You can take a simple trip from Seattle, or drive 1-1/2 hours to Anacortes and take an amazing, stupendous trip through the San Juan Islands. I love the Washington coast, but it's a long way to go unless you're really, really interested.

Mountains: if you love volcanoes, the long trip to Mount St. Helen is indeed worth it. I'm not too fond of the drive to Mt. Rainier, but it is close. Or go north and then go as far east as you can on the North Cascade Highway (it may be closed by snow by October, but the odds are good it'll still be open). Or drive to Bellingham and head towards Mt. Baker, the birthplace of snowboarding.

Seattle has a huge variety of different people and their various stores, restaurants, hangouts. Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Native American, Black American, grunge, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, computer geeks, Norwegians. Drive to Redmond to gawk at Microsoft. Drive to Lake City (a suburb of Seattle, actually) to eat the best Ethiopian food outside of Ethiopia. Go to Daybreak Star Indian Art Gallery, sponsored by the United Indians of All Tribes, to see a former military base transformed.

In downtown Seattle I'd enthusiastically second going to the Pike Place Market and the Seattle Waterfront, and then up the hill to the Rem Koolhas-designed public library. Driving across the floating bridge to very upscale Bellevue might be fun for you, or going to the Ballard Locks to watch the ships lifted up and down from fresh to salt water.

Western Washington is full of lakes, big and small, but finding a quaint cabin on a -- presumably fairly private -- lake isn't possible without driving a loooong way.

Another Important Thing To Remember: what Blazecock said. By October 15th the sun rises at 7:30 a.m. and sets at 6:15 p.m. You might indeed have some glorious days, but more likely it will be overcast. Maybe some rain, but gray. And chilly. It's an easy climate to live in, but some people take some getting used to it.

Good luck! And I hope you have fun!
posted by kestralwing at 12:05 AM on September 7, 2010

If you like caves, Ape Cave on Mt St Helens is a lot of fun.
posted by Tenuki at 2:16 AM on September 7, 2010

Drive out to Snoqualmie Falls and hike to the bottom. Climb down off the wood walkway and onto the rocks - the view of the falls from below is totally worth it.

Take the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, then drive down to Bremerton to take a ferry back to Seattle. Total time is only about three hours, leaving plenty of time in the day to do other things. The view of the Seattle skyline from the ferry is amazing.

For food, check out Gordito's at 85th & Greenwood (burritos the size of your upper arm, and absolutely delicious) and Jalisco at 15th & Republican on Capitol Hill. Jalisco is a small chain, but this location is the first and has a small, cozy feel the other locations don't have. There's also lots of great places to eat along Broadway. A few Thai places, and a decent pizza joint called Pagliachi.
posted by eratus at 6:03 AM on September 7, 2010

If you've never been to Seattle in October, you should be prepared for it to be overcast and possibly drizzle for all four days. Bring sweaters, rainproof jackets, and shoes that are suitable for rainy weather. Expect it to be a damp chill. I cannot tell you how many times I warned family visitors about the chill and they brought a light jacket/t-shirt and shivered the entire time.

If the weather turns out to be sunny and nice, you can be pleasantly surprised.

Sights to see:

The Sci-Fi Museum is worth a look if you're a popular science fiction fan. It's attached to the Experience Music Project, which could be a fun stop if you're into popular music history.

If you've never been to Seattle before, you really must go to Pike Place Market. I also recommend the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square. They do a great job of presenting Seattle history in an entertaining way.

The Smith Tower observation deck is right around the corner, and offers great views at a more reasonable price than the Space Needle. The Chinese Room is also beautiful to see. I seem to recall being offered a package ticket for Smith Tower/Underground, but I'm having trouble finding anything on the internet.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:50 AM on September 7, 2010

If you don't mind the drive from Seattle (I think it's around 1-2 hours by car), if you're looking for the quaint cabin on a lake experience, I'd recommend Lopez Island - it's one of the San Juan islands mentioned above. You can take a ferry out there - it's absolutely beautiful, and the island is really cool. I'm not from Washington, but my best friend lives there -- I took a four day trip up to visit her in Seattle and we spent about 2 days in the city and then one night on Lopez Island - it was amazing. I'm not sure about lodging, but there must be plenty!
posted by pazazygeek at 6:52 AM on September 7, 2010

Response by poster: We decided that we will spend two and a half days exploring the Olympic Peninsula and two days in Seattle. Any more advice?
posted by slowtree at 8:56 AM on September 7, 2010

Best answer: I think I am starting to sound like a broken record with this recommendation, but...
(Note: this was an answer I gave to a previous similar question, with the difference being that the asker wanted a recommendation for her "taken" but in-Seattle-for-an-extended-stay boyfriend. The answer still applies though)

He may want a way to fill some evenings as a solo (but attached) guy. I would recommend the Zig Zag Cafe. It's a cocktail bar tucked away down below the Pike Place Market. It's small, but lively, and is considered one of the city's (and country's) best bars. There are plenty of good bars around, so that isn't really the heart of the recommendation. The Zig Zag is the kind of place that really sums up our city.

The Owners are behind the bar every night, but the star of the place is Murray Stenson. Besides being featured in Playboy as one of the best in the country, he's a Seattle legend. Just tell him what kind of tastes you like in a drink and he will concoct something original for you. Your own drink. Come back a year later, and he will ask you if you want the same thing. But more interesting to your situation, he holds court for some of the most interesting conversations to be had on any given night. It is a fascinating place to go by yourself and just take it all in. Newcomers completely welcome here...hospitality is their thing. Most people there are there by themselves and at times, it has a salon-like feel. Many of the city's movers and shakers (artists, writers, techy folks) retreat to this place for happy hour or late (late) nights.

I lived in the same building for a number of years, and I can tell you that I learned more about Seattle and many of it's more colorful folks by hanging out at ZZ than I did in my previous 15 years here. The food is great, they have happy hour, and despite being crowded at times, it's never got a pick-up/cruise-y vibe. Good luck.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:25 AM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you decide to circle the whole peninsula, you won't see as much of the ocean as you might expect, but you will see lots and lots of trees. You will also drive through Forks, which is pretty amusing, depending on your irony level. A dying logging town turned into Tourist Heaven. Even the local Indian tribe has a sign at the edge of the res: No vampires beyond this point. ( I suspect you had to know Forks from its earlier days to really appreciate the change, though.)

I love Crescent Lake and the Crescent Lake Lodge, although I'm not sure if the cabins will be open in October. The Lake Quinault Lodge is also a very nice place to stay, and the cabins at Kalaloch Lodge are ocean front. None of them are luxury class, but all three are lovely and clean and friendly.

I'd recommend taking the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton and heading out from there. It brings you home up the I-5 corridor, but it's not too bad. Usually.

Echoing fleebnork: it will be chilly. Especially near the water, it will be chilly. And probably damp. No need for heavy arctic wear, but layers of clothes and a nice warm hat and gloves, and something light and waterproof on top. Hard to appreciate scenic beauty -- of which you will get an overdose -- if everytime you hop out of the car you're miserable.
posted by kestralwing at 1:42 PM on September 8, 2010

re: the cabin on the late question from above - I have my family stay in the Canal Cottages when they're visiting Seattle. The cabins themselves are wonderful, quiet, and private but it's probably not exactly a quaint, isolated experience as they're located along the Puget Sound side of the ship canal in the Ballard neighborhood.

Scenery at the cabin is nice though - you look out directly over the water and can watch the many boats coming and going through the locks (and maybe watch seals fishing if you're lucky). You're definitely in town though, so this may or may not appeal for that reason.

Ballard has its charm and is probably worth a visit for the farmer's market on Sunday and for several of the neighborhood restaurants.
posted by owls at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just got back from a trip out there! Three women and one teen girl in an RV, seeing 3 shows at the Gorge, then Packwood (near Mt Rainier), then Seattle, then to Port Angeles, Forks, La Push and back to Seattle again. Frankly, even the Best Westerns are cute in Washington, and everywhere you turn is mountains and trees and water. Pike's Place was wonderful, Forks was LAME (and we are Twi-geeks, so that's saying something), Lake Crescent and La Push are stunningly gorgeous. There was a waiter at the 5 Spot in Seattle that we all wanted to take home with us.

And now we're scrambling to find a way to go back and stay forever.
posted by MeiraV at 11:04 AM on September 15, 2010

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