What to do in the Pacific Northwest next week?
November 28, 2007 10:48 AM   Subscribe

What should I do in Seattle, Portland, and points between, during the first week of December?

I'll be in the Pacific Northwest December 5-9 (so, next Wednesday through Sunday). My current plan is to spend the 5th in Seattle, then drive down to Portland for the 6th and 7th, and be in Tacoma on the 8th. I leave from Seattle again on the 9th around lunchtime. (A whirlwind tour, I know, but it has a purpose.) I will have a rental car to take me wherever I want to go.

Are there any special events I should make a point of attending? Any fun winter/holiday/December-related activities I shouldn't miss? Any great and not-overly-expensive restaurants/coffee shops/stores I should visit? Any especially gorgeous scenery I should take in?

I'm a pretty outdoorsy, casual girl who would prefer a nice hike (weather permitting) or hour spent wandering a good bookstore, compared to visiting the trendiest bars. I do love a great meal, but I'm not likely to dress up too much for it. I spent a day in Seattle a couple years ago, so I've got the space needle and Pike Place market checked off my list. What else should I check out?
posted by vytae to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Seems like you ought to meet up with this guy in Portland and let him show you around.
posted by briank at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2007

Hmmm..."gorgeous scenery" and a "casual girl who would prefer a nice hike". Sounds like Snoqualmie Falls to me.

The Salish Lodge (at the top of the falls) has a nice restaurant or you can try The Attic Bistro.
posted by pallak7 at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: briank, I saw that thread right after I posted this. I'll certainly be keeping an eye on it!
posted by vytae at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2007

Since your last visit to Seattle, a couple of neat sites have opened:

(1) The Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor sculpture garden along the waterfront (about a mile north of downtown). Very enjoyable place to kill an hour, especially if it's a sunny-ish day. And it's free!

(2) The new Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Lots of great art (strongest collections in my opinion are the Modern and American, as well as Northwest native art), and a really sweet building-- the lobby has a bunch of early 90s Ford Tauruses hanging from the ceiling with fiber-optic lights sticking out of them. Lots of fun. Located right in the middle of downtown, at 1st and Union (about a block south of Pike Place Market).

Both are very enjoyable.

For coffee, I recommend Vivace in Capitol Hill... fantastic place.
posted by stilly at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2007

You should visit Multnomah Falls. Drive east from Portland on I-84 and take the only left-exit between Portland and the Idaho border, and park. (The highway divides and the parking lot is between the sections; that's why it's a left exit.)

You can hike to the top of the falls and there's a viewpoint allowing you to look down it.

Multnomah Falls is the second tallest waterfall in North America, and it's amazingly beautiful. Pictures don't do it justice, but this will give you an idea.

(Here's the map location.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:43 AM on November 28, 2007

Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

Powell's City of Books in Portland.

Lots of other things that I can't think of off the top of my head.. but I lived in Portland 15+ years and now am in Seattle so feel free to message me.
posted by hannahq at 11:51 AM on November 28, 2007

Seattle: Discovery Park, Two Bells Tavern, Elliot Bay Book Company, Ravenna Third Place Books, Ravenna Park, University District Farmers' Market, Asian Art Museum (and Volunteer Park), Globe Bakery and Cafe, Wayward Cafe, Lake View Cemetery, Lake Union and the Center for Wooden Boats, Monorail Espresso, Left Bank Books. Get up early in the morning and watch the sun come up over the Sound from Pike Place, then have a breakfast at Three Girls Bakery.

Portland: Reading Frenzy, Portland Art Museum, Forest Park, Paradox Cafe, Cup and Saucer Cafe, Hawthorne Boulevard Books, Muddy Waters Coffee House, Zell's. Seconding Mount Tabor (the view from the Pittock Mansion is also great). Take a walk across the Broadway Bridge or the Steel Bridge early in the morning before the traffic gets started.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:02 PM on November 28, 2007

It's been mentioned many times before, but you simply cannot miss Powell's. Simply the most amazing bookstore ever, if not a little overwhelming. An hour won't even get you started.
posted by cgg at 12:11 PM on November 28, 2007

Do you like thrift stores? The Seattle Goodwill is the biggest and best.

Seconded on volunteer park. Also go up to the Columbia Tower observation deck for the best view of the city for $5.

In Chinatown, check out the Panama Hotel Tea House.

Walk around upper Capitol Hill and look at the big houses around volunteer park - a must!

On your drive to Portland, stop in Centralia for Mexican food at La Tarasca, the best Mexican food anywhere in the Northwest in an assuming place.

I'm a native Portlander, but I've been away too long to tell you about anything but the obvious - go to Powell's Books.
posted by iamck at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2007

I second SCDB's Multnomah Falls suggestion. From there you can go east or west (mostly west for ones close to the road) on the Columbia River Highway (not the interstate--it will be obvious) to several other falls with parking lots and trails that you can go on for as far as you want. If you want to you can go all the way back to Portland (more or less) on the historic highway. It's a nice little drive. On a weekday you'll probably have most of the falls (except Multnomah) mostly to yourself. 100 yards up most any trail you'll definitely find some solitude. Bring a waterproof jacket and shoes if you have them.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
posted by sevenless at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2007

You must try Crema for the yummy spanish lattes, Manchego & Mushroom corn biscuits or Ginger Orange scones...(I wished they shipped!)
posted by Asherah at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2007

Experience Music Project.
posted by cashman at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2007

The underground tour is a lot of fun, especially if you go at night.
There's the troll under the bridge in Freemont.
Taking a ferry ride back and forth across the sound can be nifty, especially if you time your return trip to occur at night.
posted by nomisxid at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2007

Everywhere you go to eat a meal in Portland is pretty casual. There are a ton of good restaurants. I suggest eating a lot while you're there.
posted by Packy_1962 at 3:07 PM on November 28, 2007

Thirding Powell's. On your way to Portland, stop by Cannon Beach. The weather'll probably be lousy this time of year, but it sure is pretty.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:12 PM on November 28, 2007

2nding Crema! They've got the tastiest pastries in town.

As others have said, there is no reason to feel like you must dress up at all to go to any restaurant in portland. Go where you want to go no matter how you're dressed. No one will treat you poorly because of your clothes.

If you like Thai food then go to Pok Pok. Totally different than any other thai food you've ever had. The Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings are simply amazing.
posted by J-Garr at 3:52 PM on November 28, 2007

Response by poster: Ooh, you guys are great! I'm going to compile a big list to take with me, and see as much as I can. I also really appreciate the notes on not needing to dress up in Portland - sounds like my kind of place!
posted by vytae at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I checked out Multnomah falls (it was on my way from Seattle to Portland, via the 7 1/2-hour I-5 detour), the Museum of Glass, Powell's, and the manchego & mushroom biscuits at Crema (oh my GOD so tasty!), among countless other attractions. I really regret missing the Olympic Sculpture Park, but hopefully I'll be back again sometime soon. It was a great trip. Thank you all for your suggestions!
posted by vytae at 10:47 AM on December 12, 2007

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