We're no strangers to the one day itinerary and when the Edgewater Hotel invited us to spend a night literally on top of the water, we jumped at the chance to film our perfect day on the Seattle Waterfront. As per our typical trip, we explore as many parks as possible, walk an urban trail, and dine on the most delicious local offerings - all with our pup, Parsley, in tow.
Let's just start with a disclaimer up front.
I'm a snobby, dedicated, north Seattleite and it takes quite a lot of motivation me to be willing to cross one of the many bridges over Salmon Bay, the Fremont Cut, Lake Union, or Portage Bay into the central Seattle area. There's the chaos of a higher quantity of tourists, erratically driving taxi cabs, crazed bike messengers, and the terrifying price of parking. All that being said (written), there are still a couple of things to do, shops to frequent, and meals to eat that make all the crazy of the central downtown core worth it. So, when The Edgewater Hotel invited us to spend the night, we seized the opportunity to experience some of our favorite Seattle waterfront activities and eats.
Walk the Elliot Bay Trail
While in general, I spend my free time at home walking many other less urban routes - the Elliot Bay Trail remains a favorite of mine for experiencing my city. Carving it's way along the water, this accessible paved trail crosses through three parks; the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Myrtle Edwards Park, and Centennial Park. The entire route is somewhere between 7.5 and 12.5 miles depending on what source you consult, but I enjoy just walking from the very southern edge of the Sculpture Park up to Pier 90. It's just under a mile and half (one-way) of grassy fields, beaches, and plenty of picnic tables.
Brunch at Local 360 in Belltown
Much to my disappointment, there are not a whole lot of safe lunch options along the waterfront for the gluten free among us. Fortunately, as a very walkable city, options can be usually be found within a 10-15 minute walk. My favorite, reliably safe spot, is Local 360. True to their name - they source most all their food from within 360 miles and share many of their suppliers with you on their website. What I enjoy the most about their menu how it's cooked like real food - you won't find strange filler ingredients here. Instead, creative pairings like clam chowder with a dukkah crusted pork rind and highlights of local ingredients like a chickpea cake with goat's yogurt.
If you are gluten free, let your server know how severe your needs are and they can advise you accordingly. For instance - no granola for me since they don't use certified gluten free oats and no fried goodies since it's a shared frier. While their website no longer shows you the gluten free options, be assured, they cook real food and many of their options will be friendly for you. When we visited in late May 2015 their print menu did indicate items which either are or can be made gluten free.
Grab a Tasty Beverage at Rachel's Ginger Beer in Post Alley
Not a crowd person? Neither am I, however if you are still looking for a reason to check out the craziness that is Pike Place Market - let it be a stop at Rachel's Ginger Beer. Located in the little nook street of Post Alley, Rachel's serves up creative flavors of this long-time stomach healing beverage like Mango-Mate and Pineapple Thai Basil. You can pick up a half or full growler or try out a custom cocktail or ginger beer float. One thing I love; they keep all their current flavors on tap - so a freshly filled jug is just an ask away.
Perhaps I'm a traditionalist when it comes to flavors, but the original is still my favorite with blood orange pulling in a close second. On my list to try though; hibiscus and the extra strength ginger!
Picnic Among the Art in Olympic Sculpture Park
A classic Seattle activity to be sure, but picnic in Olympic Sculpture Park can be a pleasing enough activity for just about everyone. For the art lovers there are plenty of modern sculptures to be pondered, for those more interested in the environment the views across the bay to the Olympics are superb, for the boating enthusiasts there's always ferry watching, and the park is also dog friendly - so no need to leave the pup at home. There are a couple of shady spots amongst the young trees to throw a blanket and some sculptures are also large enough to cast a shadow for a spot to beat the heat.
If you're into people watching, the Sculpture Park is a prime location for engagement and wedding shoots - so there should be plenty of bridesmaid dresses to judge and photography gear to gawk at. Oh wait - is that last one just me?
Watch the Sunset from Pier 70
In late May, the sun sets in a northwestern position from the waterfront - so you won't catch a straight on western view over the Olympic Mountain Range. However, from the northern tip of Pier 70, that's the last pier you'll pass on your way to the Sculpture Park and the Elliot Bay Trail from the waterfront, you'll get an unobstructed view as the sun sets over the Magnolia neighborhood.
Again, if you're like me, and enjoy gawking at photography gear, you should see plenty here. Although, fair warning, selfie-sticks and iPhone-video-self-narrating-tourists may also make an appearance. Like I said, it's a good spot.
Settle Down for the Night at The Edgewater Hotel
A big thank you to the folks at the Edgewater Hotel for hosting us for a night's stay and dinner at the Six Seven Restaurant.
I'd be hard pressed to suggest any other hotel on Seattle's waterfront to rest your head for the night. As the only over-water hotel in the city, the Edgewater clearly has the edge (yes, pun-intended). However, that's not to say that they lean on that attribute in any way to make up for some other deficiency. The Edgewater takes the Pacific Northwest vibe seriously to the extent of fuzzy bear footstools in it's immaculately furnished and pet-friendly rooms. Inside, the Six Seven Restaurant defies the bland reputation of most hotel restaurants with highlights of local flavors and artistic presentation. For more of my take and my tips on spending the night at the Edgewater, head on over my review here.
The quiet places are the ones I love the most.
Amidst the bustling tourist hub of Sintra, the Santuario da Peninha sits apart. It's hilltop location offers 360 degree views of the surrounding area looking south all the way to Cascais. Just a couple of days post-concussion this was exactly the place I needed to be. The Santuario itself was closed but no matter, we had the courtyard of the lower canary-colored building, along with it's views, to ourselves.
You can read a bit more about the history of the site in this post.
Are you now or have you ever been a geology nerd?
In my freshman year of high school, I enrolled in an "Earth Science" course and fell for the romantic notion of working outdoors as a geologist. Most of this credit of course goes to my teacher, who taught me the differences between mica and obsidian and gave me a different way to look at the natural wonders our planet has to offer. (Fun Fact: This was also the course in which I met the guy who would become my husband many years later. He spent his time competing with me for the top grade and flipping paper footballs over my head.)
So, if there is any part of you that also secretly or not so secretly loves geology - you better start planning your trip to Eastern Oregon because it's a geology lovers paradise. We based ourselves out of Bend for a little over a week and day tripped out to some of the most amazing natural wonders I've ever seen.
Adventure #1: Smith Rock State Park
Initially formed by deposits of volcanic ash and debris, filled in with basalt lava, and finally carved out by the Crooked River - Smith Rock ranks as one of Oregon's Seven Wonders. We spent our time wandering up the Misery Ridge Trail, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the top, and taking our time walking down the Monkey Face, Mesa Verde, and River trails from golden hour until past dusk. As we walked the last few steps up the trail to the opposite rim of the river carved canyon, we watched planets gleam in the sky and the headlamps of climbers continuing to work their way up the rock. Magical is the best word I can think of to describe the experience.
Adventure #2: Newberry National Volcanic Monument
While researching our adventure options, I read somewhere that if Crater Lake had never existed the area around the Newberry Volcano may have very well been designated Oregon's sole National Park. We took in just a small tidbit of the over 56,400 acres of land to explore, and already have plans in the works to return for a camping trip.
The easiest spot to start in Newberry is with a walk up to the top of Lava Butte; a cinder cone situated alongside the main highway running through the area. From the top you can take in views of the lava fields and even walk the rim trail around the crater. If you have a capable four wheel drive vehicle and the skills to navigate dirt roads, snow, and mud - there are some well maintained Forest Service roads which can bring you up the bases of Paulina and East Lakes before the main road opens for the summer. We drove up to East Lake and marveled in it's quiet volcanic beauty - and then promptly got ourselves just a little stuck in some snow! Thank goodness for a capable car and it's very off-road competent driver!
Adventure #3: Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
While it's almost two and half hours away from Bend, the area included in the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument was fascinating to explore. Around every bend in the road, the most colorful and dramatic rock formations appear out of the hillsides. We walked the 3.8 mile Blue Basin Loop to take in some of the best views of the blue-green clay stone originally formed by volcanic ash.
Adventure #4: Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
I think of the Painted Hills as one of the more well known natural wonders of Eastern Oregon, after all it does rank as one of the Seven Wonders and it is simply stunning. The Painted Hills Unit is a touch closer to Bend than it's Sheep Rock Unit counterpart - coming in at around an hour and half drive. There are a couple of short trails in the park, so less exploring to do, but it's still a photographers dream. We timed our visit to check out Painted Cove Trail before setting up and cooking dinner with a view of the Painted Hills during golden hour. As my husband already said; best dinner date ever.
Adventure #5: The Oregon Outback
We've driven through the Oregon Outback a couple of times before, but being based in Bend, we took the opportunity to focus on visiting some of the absolutely amazing volcanic features out in this high desert plateau. It's a two plus hour drive out to the farthest site we selected, the aptly named "Crack-In-The-Ground." It's a volcanic fissure which reaches depths of 70 feet and runs under the surface of the plateau for 2 miles. Crack-In-The-Ground was hands down the most exciting area we explored on our whole trip to Eastern Oregon. The trail at the bottom is well kept and there's just a little bit of scrambling involved to navigate along the bottom.
Before heading back to Bend, we walked around the interior of Fort Rock - a tuff ring from a long ago era when this area was filled with a lake and active with volcanoes. There's a spot towards the middle of the rim with an easy walk up to a high section to really take in the views of how large the formation is.
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When you close your eyes and dream of being somewhere other than where you are in that moment, where do you go?
Thinking about it logically, I would think my brain would take me to the places that I talk about wanting to go back to the most - spots like Tofino, Hanalei Bay, and most all New Zealand. However, that's just not the case. When I close my eyes and dream of being somewhere else, I go places which have left a strong impression on me. Typically these are places where I had a chance to slow down and spend my time walking around the area in which I was staying. I find walking gives me just about the best experience in a new (or not new) place.
We spent three nights in Soajo, Portugal, staying in Casa da Barreira, built with traditional granite blocks just like all the homes around it. The streets were skinny cobbled alleys with cattle moving down them, most often followed by widows dressed in black. We spoke with our neighbors in a combination of broken French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese. One evening we were enjoying the sun on our balcony while listening to a widow and her care taker sing out their front door. Grapes here are grown along overhead trellises, above patios set up for barbecuing fish and enjoying the sun with furry companions. Coveted golden hours were spent wandering the streets and visiting the most famous grouping of espigueiros (granaries). Soajo is a place I imagine I'll be returning to in my mind over and over again.
Tips For Visiting Soajo:
- Stay in an AirBnB or rent a traditional granite block home - hands down, it's the best way to experience Soajo.
- Soajo makes a good in-between base for day trips to the northern, less visited, portion of Peneda-Gerês National Park for rock strewn highlands and down to the southern end for forests and waterfalls.
- If you day trip out, make sure to get back early enough to experience golden hour and sunset in Soajo amongst the espigueiros - it's a beautiful site.
- Don't miss the almost natural pools just above the city on the way to Peneda. It's a wonderful way to cool off after a hot day and to enjoy some laughs with the locals as everyone takes turns jumping off rocks into the pools. They're hard to spot from the road, but they're right across the road from a picnic area with a fantastic view.
- There are two small grocery stores around the main square, but neither have any signage up to indicate so. One is tucked in in a skinny street running directly off the main square and the other sits across from a cafe on the main road running through the town.
- Watch your feet! With loose cattle, dogs, and cats on cobbled streets - let's just say there are plenty of opportunities to accidentally step in something!
Photography By: Adina Marguerite Pease & Fugue Photography