Monday, January 21, 2013

Seattle Mini-Vacation Recap

Last Wednesday, Sourabh and I headed down to Seattle for a one-night mini vacation. A vacation within a vacation, I guess? Visiting family never quite seems like a vacation, though. Unless family lives in St. Croix or Hawaii, of course!

Growing up in a rural area, visiting Seattle (100 miles away) or Vancouver (50 miles away) was always a big event. It's not quite the same feeling when you live in New York, but I was excited to share the city with Sourabh.

We started the day by going full-on tourist and having lunch on the Space Needle!

The restaurant at the top rotates slowly, so that you complete a full rotation approximately once every hour. Since tickets to go to the top are $19 each and most entrees are ~$30, we reasoned it was a pretty good value for a great view.

Clockwise from top right: Olympic Peninsula and Olympic Mountains, Mt Baker in the distance over Lake Union, Cascades and East Seattle, and Downtown Seattle 
And the views are beautiful (on a sunny day). However, even with the saving on a ticket up the Space Needle, we just weren't very impressed with our food.

Sourabh got a lamb burger with fries (that's goat cheese on the fries)

I had a $27 salad
I think for lunch this works out to be a decent deal. They have a minimum $25-per-person for lunch, so if you get something for under $30, the meal is only $35-40 after you subtract the price of the tickets. BUT there are a lot of great restaurants in Seattle, so if you're going to spend that much on lunch, it shouldn't be for mediocre food.

Instead of the Space Needle, I recommend going up the Columbia Center for only $5 (the view is well recapped here). Especially if you're traveling with more than two people, the Space Needle is just too pricey and isn't even the best view in town!

After our lunch, we headed down to Pike Place Market, the semi-open air market that operates year-round (this is why it's only semi-open air!). Pike Place has a wonderful fish market where they throw fish around, tons of fresh produce, and lots of fun specialty items.

Across the street are restaurants, bakeries, and hole-in-the-wall shops that make everything from delicious Chinese buns to fabulous French pastries (Le Panier -- go there, it's delicious).

We walked around Belltown as the sun was setting, then headed back to our hotel to nap for a bit before having a late dinner at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. I'd heard about the restaurant when I sat next to one of their sommeliers on my flight to Washington in October. We'd really hit it off and chatted for much of the flight -- she was a fellow runner who seemed extremely knowledgeable about food and wine, so I figured we couldn't go wrong by stopping by!

the wine "cellar" is the circular staircase in the middle of the restaurant!
Sadly she wasn't working Wednesday night so I couldn't say hi, but the restaurant was still a great pick. We were still pretty full from lunch and snacking our way through Pike Place, so we split a few appetizers and the lobster mac and cheese (so good!!) and had a few of their delicious champagne-based cocktails.

The next morning was unfortunately totally foggy, so we decided to head back to my parents' house early, but it was a great little trip.

One thing that stood out to me was that, while it was fun to walk around a different city, most of what makes the Pacific Northwest a wonderful vacation destination for someone living in a big city is its natural beauty. In the winter, while you can admire it from afar, you can't really hike up the mountains or boat along the waterways.

passing ferries 
We had fun, but when you live in New York, having a dinner out or walking around a city just doesn't have the same allure.  I want to return to Washington with Sourabh when the weather is warm and sunny (so, basically, August and September) so that we can take full advantage of the things the Pacific Northwest does best. We're hoping to take a hiking trip to Washington in the next year or two so that he can fully experience the state. Ok, and so I can continue to feed my mountain obsession!

What's the last place you went on vacation? If you live in a city, do you find visiting other cities loses some of its appeal?


  1. The last vacay we went on was to see my parents in Indiana. Where the only traffic is cows. And I loved it.

    It's true about the cities though, once you live in one (ESPECIALLY a city like NYC, you can't beat NYC) you just want to see the countryside. I find that I miss nature more often than not, and am dreaming of a camping trip this summer already

    1. I don't like camping because I hate feeling dirty (but not sweaty? weird...), but I totally agree about getting out into nature. I think it's different if you're visiting say a European city or a foreign country. We're looking forward to planning a hiking road trip for the late summer!

    2. Staying in hotels I'm assuming? ;) I guess it's sort of like camping. With a shower... And a bed.... Yeah, it's a stretch

    3. Hah yup, hotels all the way. I have a few camping horror stories I should share sometime, involving frigid rain in tents and drunken cowboys!

  2. I LOVE Seattle! Where did you stay? I can't wait to share my engagement photo shoot that we did there!

    1. We used Hotwire and stayed at the Westin. Can't believe I forgot to include that detail! It was only $100 so a great deal for its location (right by Westlake Mall, a few blocks from Pike Place), but the hotel itself was very corporate feeling so it wasn't special in any way. Still, give me a clean room, comfy bed, and a good location and I'm happy :)

  3. I really want to go west to visit California and Washington State--and see the Pacific Ocean! NYC has definitely raised my standards, so it's difficult to not be even a little disappointed when traveling somewhere. The last true vacation I took was this time last year when I went to Sanibel, FL with my family. It's getting so cold here now; I'd do anything for a trip to a beach. :)

    1. I've heard Sanibel is gorgeous! That's on my must-visit list. My must-visit list is very long haha.

      And you MUST visit CA and WA! Perhaps a triathlon or race there? I want to run the Lululemon Sea Wheeze in August...

  4. I'm so happy to hear that you had a great Seattle vacation! A mini vacation every once in awhile is a great way to get away from the daily stresses of life. It sounds like the restaurants were fantastic!