This year, I surprised Kevin for his birthday with a trip to Seattle (including the nearby San Juan Islands and Mt. Rainier). It was a big birthday year for him. You know, the kind of birthday where some people stop counting (or in LA, where we start subtracting!). To avoid the reality of getting older, we love celebrating our birthdays in style. Check out our itinerary below — perfect for any special occasion. It covers a lot (per usual!) but we guarantee you won’t get bored.
Friday – Day 1:
- Late afternoon – arrive in Seattle. Compared to LA, there is virtually no traffic so you’ll still have your night to see a lot of stuff
- 5:30 PM check into your hotel for 1 night
- We stayed 1 night at the Ballard Inn – definitely not for everyone. It’s a tiny European style hotel with shared bathrooms.
- It’s quite a deal though. Rates can drop as low as $100 a night (unless there is a big event, which then it doubles).
- Ballard is a fantastic area, slightly removed from the tourist hub, but full of boutiques and restaurants. The hotel also includes a fancy 24-hour health club (Olympic Athletic Club) across the street.
- 7:00-8:30 PM Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Tours run daily every hour. Cost $22 per adult.
- By far, this tour was our favorite activity of the entire long weekend. And that says a lot! The tour is led by a guide who will share hilarious stories about some pretty bad decisions made by Seattle’s early politicians and leaders (involving a lot of sewage jokes!). You start off on street level, before venturing below the sidewalks (once the actual ground level of the city). Seattle literally rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889.
- 9:00-10 PM, After the tour, walk over to Pier 57 – home to a giant Ferris wheel, carnival games and other fun activities. We rode the “Wings Over Washington” ride. It’s impressive – like the “Soarin’ Over California” ride at Disneyland if you ever rode that (and one of my faves!). Cost: $17 for adults (with discounts for children and senior citizens)
- 10:00 PM – midnight, it’s getting late (we know!). But we couldn’t pass up a chance to hit up a movie at Seattle AMC 10.
- The theater, a 15 minute ride from the pier, was part of the high-end Sundance Theater chain (recently bought out by AMC). But it still feels pretty similar, including a full menu of food and wine by the glass or bottle.
- 1 AM – go to bed! Obviously this itinerary can easily be shifted earlier though.
Saturday – day 2:
- 8 AM quick workout in. We’re crazy, but it was included with our night at the Ballard Inn. And the gym was just too fancy to pass up.
- 9:30 AM Grab some coffee, and head over to Kevin’s other favorite place of the weekend: Museum of Pop Culture (where we spent 3 hours!)
- 10 am – 1 PM We could have easily spent more time here. There was so much that Kevin loves: science fiction, fantasy, Star Trek (where I nearly fell asleep. No offense to any Trekkies out there!).
- 1 PM Hop on the futuristic monorail and ride it to downtown Seattle where you can walk to Pike Place Market for lunch.
- 4:00 PM arrive at the Kenmore Air terminal along Lake Union to board a pontoon airplane (!) for the San Juan Islands
- 4:30-5:00 PM Flight to San Juan Islands ($325 per person round trip)
Sunday – day 3:
- 9 AM wake up, our first “sleep in day” if you want to call it that. And grabbed some coffee and shopped in downtown Friday Harbor
- 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, hop on a boat to see killer whales in action, one of the easiest places to spot orcas. Read about our full experience in our previous blog post here.
- 5:30 PM, take the Kenmore Air flight back to Seattle, just 30 minutes away and the best views of the Space Needle
- Check into the Kimpton Monaco Hotel – 1 night (rates vary, but range from $200-$400 a night)
- Since it was Kevin’s birthday, they even gave us free champagne and dessert at their bar!
- 7:30 PM if you timed your trip to arrive on Sunday, you must visit the Pink Door Restaurant. They offer live trapeze performances every 45 minutes. You can eat your pasta while performers swing overhead. Let’s just hope they don’t drop anything! They also offer Tarot card readings if you arrival early. It’s such a lively place!
Monday – day 4:
- 9:00 AM pick up the rental car at the airport and drive 2 hours south to Mt. Rainier National Park
- 11:00 AM -12:30 PM, hike Grove of the Patriarchs
- A very easy, and flat 1.5 mile hike. It can get REALLY busy, but well worth it. The loop trail leads you through one of the country’s most outstanding examples of old-growth giants – Douglas fir and red cedar trees from thousands of years ago that reach a height of 200 feet!
- After the hike, we planned to visit the Summit House Inn for lunch (where you can only arrive by a gondola!). But severe fires shut down the resort and we got diverted to nearby Enumclaw. It’s a cute town and had a surprising amount of good food options. We ate at Kelly’s Mercantile, which hit the mark. Especially since it had mac n’ cheese (Kevin’s favorite!).
- 3 PM, drive 45 minutes north to Snoqualmie Falls, a spot you might have seen before if you’ve watched the TV show Twin Peaks. There are a variety of trails that go from 200 feet (basically walking from the parking lot) to very steep trails that lead to the base of the falls. We hiked here for about an hour (and got super sweaty!).
- We’re sadly nearing the end of the long weekend. Drive back to Seattle to do what Seattleites do naturally. Hang out with a cup of coffee. And where else to do it? The massive Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which is the first of its kind. Inside you’ll find multiple stations offering various “experiences” (or translated, expensive coffee). Not sure I’d make this my regular coffee spot if I lived here, but was fun to visit as a tourist.