When it heats up in the Bay, we all need a cool escape. Seattle is an easy and inexpensive destination from San Francisco, San Jose, or Oakland airport. In just two hours you can find yourself in the refreshing Pacific Northwest.
Visiting Orcas Island
During our last visit to Seattle, we decided to get out of the city for a bit and visit Orcas Island. After landing and renting a car at the airport we drove a couple of hours to the small town of Anacortes. Here you can find the ferry terminal that can take you to the three the San Juan Islands. These islands are the perfect place for a little R & R. They exude a casual mellow island vibe and in the summer you can expect cool 70 degree temperatures.
Riding a ferry is a Seattle and Washington bucket list must. Even if you can’t make it to the San Juan islands, there are a variety of islands you can access from the Seattle Ferry terminal as well. Since we drove to Anacortes, we reserved a car spot ahead of time and got in line about an hour before departing. The ride to Orcas Island takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. During your ferry ride you can grab a snack at the cafeteria, enjoy the views from the deck, or grab an indoor table to get some rest or read a book.
Turtle Back Farm Inn
Once we arrived on Orcas Island we drove to our home for the next couple of nights, Turtle Back Farm Inn. This quaint B & B style Inn is set in the valley and offers seven bedrooms, each with a private bath. Or choose to stay in their private Orchard House with four spacious bedrooms, each with full baths and private decks. The land is meticulously cared for and you are free to walk around the property and check out the sheep, chickens, ponds and lush greenery. In addition to the amazing scenery, they also serve an award-winning breakfast!
Whale Watching with Orcas Island Eclipse Charters
One of the highlights from our trip was our whale watching tour with Orcas Island Eclipse Charters. This tour was very informative and we learned about the different species of animals that call the San Juan Islands home. During our tour we spotted several seals and plenty of Mike Whales. From the deck of the boat we would wait in anticipation for the whales to breach and were amazed by these beautiful animals.
Moran State Park
If you are up for a little hiking and nature, head to Moran State Park during your stay on Orcas Island. We drove up to the Mt. Constitution Peak, the highest peak in the San Juan Islands. The view is certainly breathtaking! If you’d like to see some waterfalls, we recommend hiking to Cascade, Rustic, Cavern, and Hidden Falls. To see all of the falls it is roughly a 1.5-2 mile round trip hike and we found it very rewarding. If you are a camper, Moran State Park has some gorgeous sites right on the lake.
Explore the Historic Eastsound Village
The main town on Orcas Island is about a 15 minute drive from the ferry terminal. Here you will find most of the Island’s shops and eateries. It’s a cute place to poke around during the day, but many shops close around 5pm, so it’s best to explore before then. Make sure to stop by Brown Bear Baking for a morning pastry and Clever Cow Creamery for an afternoon treat!
After a few days on Orcas Island, it was time to get back to city life. Although Seattle is considered a metropolitan area, there is still a casual, relaxed vibe to it. We decided to stay in the city center since it was easy walking to most destinations.
For a bit of luxury in the heart of downtown, a stay at the W Seattle won’t disappoint. The rooms are trendy, but modern and relaxing. Some rooms even offer views of the Puget Sound. We loved the lobby decor and if you are hungry, their restaurant Trace is just steps away. You can expect top-notch service here, like all other W Hotels. Valet parking is available for a fee as well.
Hotel Andra is a sophisticated boutique hotel with a Pacific Northwest charm. As you walk in you are welcomed into their “living room”, perfected with high ceilings and a grand fireplace. We loved the rooms here, as they were very spacious and comfortable. It’s also conveniently located within walking distance to Pike Place Market, Seattle Center and the Space Needle
Chihuly Garden & Glass
Visiting Chihuly Garden & Glass is a remarkable experience, especially for art lovers. It’s located right next to the famous Space Needle, so you can’t miss it. The artist, Dale Chihuly is a Washington native and has been at the forefront of glass blowing for decades. He creates large, billowing sculptures that awaken your imagination and his works have been featured in installations around the globe. We loved walking through the museum, in to the atrium and last but not least the glass garden, which is like something out of the pages of Alice in Wonderland.
For a deliciously elegant meal, head to Heartwood Provisions. This was one of our favorite meals while visiting Seattle. The ambience is perfect for any occasion and their bar area is impressive. If you are a cocktail drinker, like me, you will appreciate their unique food and beverage pairings. Each cocktail is designed to complete and enhance the flavors of its paired menu item. Start out the meal with some decadent Jamon Iberico De Bellota, order an exquisite raw dish, and for your main course you can’t go wrong with some scallops or grilled lamb loin.
No trip to Seattle is complete without a trip to this famous market. It’s always a lively and colorful experience. Make sure to come with an empty stomach, there are so many treats to indulge in. Some of our favorites were Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, and of course Pike Place Chowder.
Gas Works Park
For a different view of Seattle, head to Gas Works Park and stretch your legs. It’s great place for the whole family to spend some down time. There is a play area with a large play barn, and big hill popular for flying kites, Lake Union, and a panoramic view of the city. This park is full of interesting history as well, so you can make your visit a bit educational if that’s your style.