IN AND AROUND SEATTLE
Seattle is surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers and the ocean. It is a place where available outdoor outing choices are unlimited that too within a 50 mile driving distance. We therefore decided to put Hiking on top. The other must see attractions follow after Hiking.
Please make a note while driving around Seattle. Seattle toll roads does not have toll booths.
The two HOV left lanes of Interstate, I-405 are toll lanes. Be careful not to use the left two lanes without a “Good to Go”, otherwise a hefty bill will show up in the mail.
The bridge across Lake Washington connecting Bellevue and Seattle downtown on State Highway, SR 520 is a toll bridge. Again a hefty bill will show up in the mail. Use Interstate I-90 bridge to cross Lake Washington from Bellevue to Seattle downtown.
Listed below a few hikes with comments below along with links to Washington Trail association website which will have descriptions on it. The main link www.wta.org is for the whole state, that makes it an overwhelming collection of information. If you are not familiar, then you will be at a loss to find the right trail. If you select a hiker icon on the map and keep on clicking on, it zooms in and at the end you find all the details.
1) North Bend:
Hard: Rattlesnake ledge http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rattle-snake-ledge
Alternate: Poo Poo point http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/poo-poo-point-chirico-trail
Medium: Little Si : http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/little-si
Easy: Twin Falls: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/twin-falls-state-park
2) Mt. Rainier National Park
Several trails are present depending on which side of the park you start. Since most people go to Paradise, would suggest the following:
Lakes Trail Loop, via Reflection Lake. 5 miles round-trip. 1300' elevation gain. Average hiking time: 4 hours.
The loop intersects the road or the Skyline Trail at several points at or near Paradise and Reflection Lakes.
Consider parking at Reflection Lakes and hiking up to Paradise, then returning downhill to your vehicle.
Bench and Snow Lakes. 2.5 miles round-trip. 700' elevation gain. Average hiking time: 2 hours. The trailhead is located on the south side of the road, 1.5 miles east of Reflection Lakes. The trail is a succession of gradual ups and downs as it crosses a series of low ridges. The path first reaches Bench Lake after 0.75 mile, then continues another 0.5 mile to Snow Lake. The lakes may not melt out until late July.
Usually detailed information and maps are available at the visitors center. Check with the Rangers, since the conditions may vary. sometimes snow is on the ground till July.
From Sunrise Visitors center, would recommend visiting Tipsoo Lake and the Naches Trail.
3) Mt. St. Helens
It's a long drive (3-4 hours) and therefore, would not suggest doing any long hikes. There won't be enough time. Would suggest limiting it to visiting the visitors center and the observatory.
Mt. Rainier is about 2-hour drive from the hotel. It is a volcanic mountain; last eruption was in 1894. It is a majestic mountain worth driving up to the popular Paradise visitor center which is at 5,420 feet. You can walk further up the trails until you hit snow. Paradise visitor center is the most visited center. You will see the Narada Falls on the way up, which was named after Narada the Hindu sage. Though there was a sign describing why the name was chosen, in our recent visit that sign got removed. A rainbow at the bottom of the falls is a constant sight.
On your way up you will see Nisqually Glacier. Due to global warming, Nisqually Glacier which use to flow right to the bridge receded 4,500 ft. from 1857 to 1951. It's been "retreating" since then, is still going on today, no greater or lesser than the receding has been since the early 1900.
The Sunrise visitor center may not be open in early July. It has a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains.
Mt. St. Helens
On May 18, 1980, a major volcanic eruption occurred at Mount St. Helens. It is still live. The crater is spewing lava, and smoke until recently. During the 1980 to 1986 and the 2004 to 2008 eruptions—Lava oozed onto the crater floor, building domes taller than the Empire State Building and restoring 7 percent of the volume lost in 1980.
It is about 3-hour drive from the hotel. You will see terrains swept by lahar while driving up to the crater and the visitor center. You should not miss the two visitor centers, the Forest Learning Center and the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The visitor centers have lot to see and learn.
The two mountains, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens are on Interstate I-5. If you are driving to Seattle on I-5 North, then you can stop by to visit the two mountains.
Mt. Olympic National Park is a Land of Beauty and Variety.
With nearly one million acres, Olympic encompasses several distinctly different ecosystems and protects a rich mosaic of natural and cultural history. Untamed rivers flow from glacier-capped peaks through valleys of old-growth forests, waves crash against a shoreline rich with life, and only trails traverse the vast interior of this internationally recognized wilderness.
With over seven miles of wilderness trails and 534 acres of forests and meadows, Discovery Park is the perfect place to get away from it all - and it's right here in the city! To visit the south beach and/or the lighthouse, your best bet is to stop in first at the Visitor Center, where they can direct you to the walking trails that lead down to the beach and lighthouse. The trip back up the bluff from the lighthouse can be a bit strenuous, so if you're not in decent physical shape, or you've got small kids in tow, there's a shuttle bus that will take you down to the lighthouse from the Visitor Center.
Deception Pass State Park
The most popular of Washington's State Parks, Deception Pass State Park has it all - beaches, horse trails, fishing, bird watching, old-growth forests, abundant wildlife, 38 miles of hiking trails, over 300 campsites, crabbing, clamming, boat rentals, and so much more - all on 4,134 acres with stunning views and beautiful wilderness at every turn.
While visiting the park, you'll want to be sure you venture out onto the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands. Park your car in the small lot at the south end of the bridge and walk out along the pedestrian walkway on either side of the bridge for some stunning photo opportunities.
Beautiful Alaska is best viewed from a cruise ship. Seattle is a busy port in summer for an Alaska trip, trips should be booked as early as possible. These are 7 day cruises. You can plan the cruise prior or after the convention. The best day to plan the cruise trip will be July 5, 2016, after the convention as several cruise lines have cruises on this date. You can go to www.cruisesonly.com to search for available cruises on the dates you prefer. You can also try other travel agents or internet travel sites, like expedia, etc.
There are two shopping Malls within walking distance from the hotel, the Bravern, and the Bellevue Square Mall. Opposite Bellevue Square Mall is the Lincoln Square Plaza with a Movie Theater and a Games Arcade. The entrance has a colorful chandelier of famous glass artist Dale Chihully. Nearby is the Bellevue Arts Museum.
Please note that you can visit Seattle downtown by Metro bus. The main Metro bus terminal is very close to the hotel, a 5-minute walk. Use the Metro link to find the bus routes. Once you reach Seattle downtown, you can take the Monorail to see the Space Needle, Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum, Pacific Science Center, and the Dale Chihully Garden and Glass. From there you can visit the Ballard Locks.
The link Seattle Waterfront/Ferries/Shopping/Dining has all you want to know about Seattle. We are listing below the important ones for easy finding.
Pike Place Marketis a tourist attraction site of downtown Seattle. It is real fun to see the fish throwers. The Mountain and Ocean view is breathtaking. The first Starbucks is right there with a big line of coffee drinkers. Below the market is the waterfront walk along the Piers with the Ferris Wheel, the Aquarium with an octopus. The local sightseeing boats are all located there. The Alaska cruises starts from one of the Piers.
Within walking distance is the Seattle Art Museum , the Seattle's Underground Tour and the Westlake Center for a ride on Seattle Monorail, a quick and easy transport to Space Needle from downtown Seattle.
If you want to know about the wine making process up to bottling ready for sale, then the link below is the place to visit. At the end of the tour, you get an informative talk on wine tasting and of course get to taste about five different types of wine.
The Museum of flight and the Boeing factory visit will be an educated tour for children and adults. In the Museum of Flights, you will be able to go inside a retired Airforce 1 and a retired commercial supersonic Concord. You would also like to get inside a simulator and feel the ride.
Other links to places of interest are provided below.
The Ballard Locks , Must not miss the Ballard locks, a US Army Corps of Engineers design completed in 1917. Officially known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the Ballard Locks is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist attractions, especially during the sunny months. The grounds also feature a Salmon fish ladder and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden — one of the most beautiful park settings in Seattle.
Snoqualmie Falls. The Snoqualmie Casino is close by on the way.
If you are planning to go for Alaska Cruise, you should plan early as the tour dates and availability in July is on very high demand.
Below is the list of boat tour vendors. Argosy also has one day or two days’ tour to Victoria Island in Canada.
Argosy has tours to Tillicum Village adventure. A cruise to historic Blake Island — legendary birthplace of Chief Seattle.
You can go directly to San Juan Island if you drive to Anacortes and take the ferry with your car. You can also go to the Victoria Island in Canada by ferry from there. Once you are in San Juan Island, you can take a local Killer Whale watching tour or sit by the Lighthouse and wait for the whales to swim by two times a day (a luck factor is involved here on seeing the whales swim by).
Portland is about 170 miles’ drive (3 hours) from the Seattle Marriott Bellevue hotel. Your trip to the beautiful Northwest is not complete without a trip to Portland, Oregon, when you are in the Seattle area.
Portland is situated at a 90 minutes’ drive away from the Ocean, the Mountains and the Desert in various directions. There is so much to do that a day is not enough. However, depending on your interest, you can design your tour to do at least a few must dos.
The city has a wonderful public rail system, the Max. It also has the Portland Street Car which is a tram that is free to ride and runs within downtown Portland, saving you the hassle of having to park every time.
Portland, the city of roses, is located in the Pacific Northwest at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. It is one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the world because of its high walkability, large bicyclists community, farm-to-table dining, large public transportation options, and 10,000+ acres of public parks. Its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and chilly, rainy winters. Portland is located 70 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, and the Oregon Coast is a popular travel destination due to its scenery, wildlife, and history. To the west of Portland lies the Oregon Coast Range, and to the east lies the actively volcanic Cascade Range. On clear days Mt. Hood, Mt St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier are visible in the horizon. Portland is about 3 hours’ drive from Seattle, and here are some of the best attractions around Portland area.
- Washington Park is just west of downtown, and is home to the Oregon Zoo (Same area as the Rose Test Garden), the Portland Japanese Garden, and the International Rose Test Garden. It houses over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties. The roses bloom from April through October. It exemplifies Portland’s nickname, “City of Roses.” Portland is also home to Lan Su Chinese Garden.
- The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres, running from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes River and spanning southern Washington and northern Oregon. The famous waterfall Multnomah Falls is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.
- Trillium Lake is a lake situated 7.5 miles (12.1 km) south-southwest of Mt. Hood which is popular for fishing, camping and photography, often clearly reflecting Mt. Hood.
- The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) includes many hands-on activities for adults and children. It has Chemistry, Physics, Technology, Life, Paleontology, and Watershed laboratories. OMSI also offer many other unique attractions, such as the USS Blueback submarine (used in the film The Hunt for Red October), the OMNIMAX Dome Theater, and OMSI's Kendall Planetarium.
- Portland has the most total breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world. The notable Portland brewers include McMenamin brothers, Widmer Brothers, BridgePort, Hair of the Dog, and Hopworks Urban Brewery. Visit OregonCraftBeer.org for more information.
- The Willamette Valley is a wine lover’s Shangri-La, particularly in the northern Yamhill and Washington counties between Interstate 5 and the Oregon Coast where incredibly rich soil is perfect for growing Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
- Powell's City of Books, the largest independent book store in the nation, is housed in Portland Downtown. It has one of the largest collections of new and used books.
- Portland Saturday Market. Although it is called the Saturday Market, it is on both Saturday and Sunday. It is a vibrant open market with Artisan’s showing of their work from crafts to food.
- Tom McCall Water Front – Willamette River front. Situated within walking distance of the Saturday Market. There is a walking, biking, pedal bike (rickshaw) trail along the Willamette River around this park.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
- Willamette Valley wine tours
- The Tide Pools
- Crater Lake – If you have the time, this is one of the must see attractions in Pacific Northwest. It is about a 6-hour drive south of Portland.
- Mt. Hood – The second most climbed glaciated peak is only an hour and half drive away from downtown Portland.
- Dog Mountain is a popular hike due to its easy access in the Gorge, beautiful views, and relatively short distance.
You can also book a Segway Tour of downtown and also take the aerial Tram to get a bird’s eye view of the city on the OHSU tramway.
Sights Neighboring Portland
Just a 30 minute drive from downtown, on the I 84 East towards Hood River , takes to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. On the way you can stop to see Mutnomah Falls.
Although it is no Napa Valley, the Willamette Valley has its famous Pinot Noirs and is dotted with many little wineries and vineyards.
If you are looking for something special for the children, the Oregon Tide pools on the pacific coast are a treat. The rocky coast is home to many small sea creatures that can be seen and touched at low tide. This activity has to be planned according to tide timings. Ecola state park is only 2 hours from downtown.
Outside Portland. Oregon is considered the outdoors capital of US.
Find more information on hikes, visit www.TravelOregon.com/hiking
Cycling – Oregon is a land of bicycling bliss. You can choose from
- Mountain biking
- Road cycling
- Gravel riding
Find and plan your bicycling adventure on RideOregonRide.com
Vancouver is about 140 miles drive from the Seattle Marriott Bellevue hotel. It is a must see if you are in the Seattle area. A beautiful cosmopolitan city with scenic beauty all around. Below are the places you would like to visit.
Stanley Park is designated as a national historic site of Canada.
The Totem Poles, the Aquarium, the lighthouse, the easy walking paths, the playgrounds, the beaches, the bike trails, there is definitely something for everyone here.
If you want a true Vancouver experience, run, walk or bike the seawall. You'll get a sense of the outdoor passion that a lot of Vancouverites have. Because it's flat and safe, people of all ages use the seawall area. It's a real family place and a way to get away from traffic snarls and honking horns. It's also close to bike rental outlets and, being flat, safe and accessible, it's perfect for a bike outing with the family.
Bike the Sea Wall for an unforgettable memory of Vancouver and its beauty.
Capilano suspension Bridge
This is a great little side trip that is close to downtown. Just minutes from downtown Vancouver, you'll be able to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and learn about this unique environment, while also getting a real kick of adrenalin. If you are uneasy doing heights, just stay home, or hang out in the gift shop for the hour it takes to walk around.
Known as both a resort and an attraction, Grouse Mountain is a popular North Vancouver year-round mountain playground. There’s no better view of Vancouver’s North Shore and the city of Vancouver than the one you’ll see from the famous Grouse Mountain Skyride, an aerial tram that ferries visitors up the mountain 365 days a year.
It is a very fun and educational place with a good hands-on element to it. When you go you will need to pick the right time as it can get very busy and there are usually a lot of kids there.
The right place for the science Kids.
The aquarium is very interesting for young and old. The aquarium is large and easily a 2 to 3 hour visit will allow you to see everything. Well worth it.
English Bay is one of the most relaxing areas of Vancouver. The walk alone is absolutely beautiful. You can see almost anything you desire. The beach is very wide and the city has put logs every so people can rest against them and relax, read, people watch, or just enjoy the view of the Bay and the ocean beyond.
Great place to show off the Vancouver City. Fantastic market. From the great buskers to the glass blowers, to the artist studios, to the market, to the water park, this place is always hopping. Lots of native Indian Art to purchase. There is also a children's play store. It's a unique place with true character. The architecture and urban planning used here really capture the industrial past. A must visit place when in Vancouver.
A beautiful place to wander around, visit shops, stop in a cafe or just sit on a bench and wonder at the beauty of Vancouver. There is so much to watch - the Olympic Flame, the cruise ships, the boats, float planes, the Heli-pad...and the people.
Robson is always worth a walk, whether to look in shops and dream, eat possibly great food, or just enjoy the vibe. Always crowded, you must be able to handle lots of people. The sights/smells and sounds of the city make this place happen. Yes Robson has some good shopping. However, for true fashionistas, Alberni Street (steps away, one block over) and the one block of Burrard Street between Robson and Alberni must be included. It's only steps away.
One of the most British cities in North America, but there's more to Victoria than tearooms, antique shops and galleries (though there are plenty of those). Victoria boasts of the World famous Butchart Gardens and many other attractions. The breath taking Ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria is unforgettable landscapes.