USA trip 2015: Pacific Northwest Part 2

Part 2 is here!

We had spent quite some time in Washington’s and Oregon’s nature, so it was time to get back to the city. Although I will say, Portland is the perfect combination of city and nature.

Portland

After another outlet mall stop we arrived at the Mark Spencer Hotel, a very cool and hip place with a kitchenette in the rooms. Not that we planned on eating in our room, but it just shows that the rooms were huge! They’re actually renovating now, so it’ll get even better. Breakfast is included, but it’s quite basic.

We explored Portland: the University area, the waterfront,… This place is so pretty, cool, relaxed all at once. I loved it.

Portland

Our full day in the City of Roses, and the only rainy day,was spent at the International Rose Test GardenPittock Mansion (both visited by car, it’s quite far to do on foot), ChinatownPearl District,… It was also Voodoo Doughnut day for us: crazy donuts, but a must!

Portland

Portland - view from Pittock Mansion

The  next day we were already leaving Portland again, but to be honest, you don’t need to spend 4 days here so I did feel we spent enough time here. Great place for people who love city life but also like going for a hike without having to drive for an hour first: check out Forest Park! Some foodie tips: Henry’s Tavern (those Poutine Waffle Fries, oh my!) and Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen are both close to the hotel we stayed at and Portland is food truck central, so there’s something for everyone here. And for those among you who love books: head to Powell’s!

Next stop: Astoria! After checking into Best Western Lincoln Inn we drove to the Astoria Column, which was closed, unfortunately. So no going up the steps for the best views, but you get some lovely views anyway, so do drive up there.

Astoria

You’ve probably never heard of this place but I’m quite sure you’ll have seen it before. It’s where The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy and many others movies were filmed. And in a curious case of impeccable timing, because the universe was working in our favour, it was the Goonies 30th Anniversary Weekend!

Astoria - Goonie Central!

Such a great kids’ movie, definitely watch it if you haven’t seen it yet.
We drove up to the Walsh house, checked out the Anniversary HQ where there were all sorts of activities and because of the Goonies Bonfire we ended up at Cannon Beach for a beautiful sunset. Thank you, Goonies!

Cannon Beach

About the hotel: we really really like Best Western, we’ve always been very pleased with their hotels and they offer a nice breakfast as well. Great place!

Time to hit the road again and to visit Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier

We were very lucky with the weather, skies were bright blue, perfect to admire Mount Rainier. You can never see too many volcanoes, so why not gawk at this one? If you want to see glaciers, forests and divine waterfalls this is where you need to be.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park - Wildlife!

You can visit all the parks, but you’ll never get bored with the stuff you see there. Stunning!

That night we stayed at the Peppermill Empress Inn in Centralia, which was in fact the cheapest of our trip and quite a decent one: the rooms were lovely, breakfast was included and it was really good!

We were now leaving Oregon and driving back into Washington, the Evergreen State. We were driving to another lake, but we made a stop first. A grunge stop at Aberdeen. It’s where Kurt Cobain was born, spent his young years and where they dedicated a, tiny, park to him. As the welcome sign says: Come As You Are.

Aberdeen

Another day, another lake, another lodge: Lake Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park.

Olympic National Park

Lake Quinault is at the most southern end of Olympic National Park and where we started our exploration.

The lodge is beautiful, smaller than the one at Crater Lake, but just as charming. The outdoor area was breathtaking: a beautiful green lawn with deck chairs and views of the lake. Amazing! Again, a beautiful dining area with awesome views (dinner reservations are recommended here as well), a gorgeous fireplace. This is the good life, people.

Lake Quinault Lodge

Olympic National Park has some very diverse areas: there is the Olympic Peninsula coastline, it has rainforests, alpine areas, lakes,… Yes, it’s huge!

We did some trails again, but this park is more difficult to discover by car. Most parks have a loop drive you can follow to see the major sights, and several roads through the park, but this one doesn’t.

So we spent the first day in the Lake Quinault area and the second day we drove all the way to Port Angeles, which is at the north end of the park. On our way there we stopped at Crescent Lake, which was much busier than Lake Quinault and you can also stay at the lodge here. Definitely a great place if you want to bring your kids. Lake Quinault was more relaxed and quiet, which we did appreciate. At night they made a fire by the lake where we could make s’mores, very nice.

Crescent Lake

In Port Angeles we stayed at the Red Lion again. And after that we were back on our way to Seattle, making the circle round!

Time to drop off the rental and head to our last hotel: The Maxwell. This hotel is located in the Queen Anne area and this is a great hotel! Huge rooms, pineapple cupcakes, movies, popcorn, great beds and duvets, a nice restaurant,… Highly recommended by yours truly.

We still had that big Seattle landmark on our to do-list: the Space Needle. And since we were so close to it this time we got some great views of it, but as I said, we didn’t go to the top. The Space Needle is located in Seattle Center, a park where there are lots of interesting things to do and see.

Space Needle

Our first stop here was the Pacific Science Center, we love this kind of museum: you learn something, you get to act like a kid thanks to all the interactive stuff, just a good time! We got the ticket that included an Imax film and chose Humpback Whales 3D. Such a beautiful movie and the 3D experience just added to the beauty. Now I really want to go Alaska even more, to see these magnificent creatures. About Imax… We went to see another Imax movie (I think it was in Eugene), San Andreas (entertainment value through the roof), but the sounds was horribly loud, I watched the entire movie with my hands over my ears and still heard everything, absolutely insane and so bad for your ears!

But we were talking about Pac Sci. There’s a butterfly house, a dinosaur exhibit (just in time for Jurassic World, which is awesome) and many many more interesting things. Kids (actual kids or the big kids like us) will have a great time here!

Pacific Science Center

The food court is worth mentioning here, at the “center of the center” (Seattle Center that is) you’ll find the Armory and its many food options. Pizza, burgers, seafood, subs,… Everything! And not the usual mediocre found court quality but food truck quality, yum!

Another place you should visit when in Seattle is the EMP where you can find exhibits about sci-fi and music. At the Sound Lab you can let out your inner rock star. There are guitars, drum sets, etc for you to try. Some of ’em are even in sound proof rooms, so you can jam with your friends. They’re hooked to equipment that offer tutorials. Yes, a lot of time was spent here. No, I do not have any musical talent whatsoever, but fun was had.

There was an exhibit on horror movies, one about fantasy movies. Both had props and costumes, very cool to see. Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Hostel and many more movies and series were represented.

For the rock fans there is the Guitar Gallery and there was a Nirvana exhibit on at the time. A Jimi Hendrix one is coming soon.

Again, just a great place and it also has an awesome shop with all memorabilia a music and/or sci-fi fan could want.

Our third stop (not all on the same day though!) in this area was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Yup, Bill Gates and Microsoft are very Seattle, just like Starbucks and Nordstrom (oh la la, this gives you an excuse to shop there, it’s a Seattle landmark!). The Gates Foundation supports and offers grants to initiatives around the world that improve education, health and just life in general. You can’t visit the foundation itself (I liked the building though) but there’s a Visitor Center where you can find out all about what has been done, what needs to be done, what they are working on,… Very interesting to see, it’s not very big, but it’s well executed.

And that’s about it, our Pacific Northwest journey. We saw some beautiful parks, mountains and lakes. I didn’t fall in love with Seattle, but it did redeem itself in the end. Portland however… yes!

If you want to read up on some other USA trips, I present to you: New York CityWest coast Honeymoon and Northeast.

Of course we’re already thinking about the next trip… I think we might head to the South.

Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest or do you plan on going? Tell me about in the comments!

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One thought on “USA trip 2015: Pacific Northwest Part 2

  1. Pingback: Random Roundup | Beauty... and the rest

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