Seattle: With Adjustments
Adjustments are just a normal part of vacationing. But how do you balance your travel adjustments so that you can still accomplish all the things you want to see in a location? What do you do when your plans seem to be slipping away from you and your adjustments are beginning to take over your vacation? I suspected that when I had the opportunity to visit Seattle, I would be in for a planning challenge. I just didn’t realize how many adjustments I would have to make.
My wife, daughter, and I visited Seattle during the last week of April 2018. Our reason for going there was mainly for my wife to attend a conference. My daughter and I thought we would take advantage of this situation and see as much of Seattle as possible. We had about four days for sightseeing. One of the great joys of traveling for me is to plan an itinerary so that I can see all the things I want to see in a location.
But I was puzzled as to how I should plan for a place like Seattle where it is so hard to predict the weather? In fact, the weather forecast for the length of our stay in Seattle was for four rainy, drizzly days with the potential for some clearing in the afternoon. I was worried that we wouldn’t even get a view of Mount Rainier or any of the mountains that surround Seattle.
Our home for four days was the conference location at the Westin in downtown Seattle. This was a great central place to venture out into the city. On our first day, Saturday, we made some plans to visit friends who lived in the Redmond area to the east of Seattle. They planned an itinerary that included Bellevue, the small town of Medina, west Lake Washington, the Microsoft campus, and Snoqualmie Falls. All of this sounded great to us.
Having the luxury of being in a car and having someone drive us around who knew the area was a great treat. We started around 1 PM, but the weather soon began to deteriorate. We had just made it to Bellevue and west Washington Lake when the rain began. It just got worse throughout the afternoon. First, it started as a slow drizzle and then became harder. It teased us a little by becoming softer again, but it never really stopped. By the time we got to Snoqualmie Falls, the drizzle had turned to a steady rain.
We enjoyed seeing the region from the car, but as the day went on, we were less inclined to get out of the car, and eventually, we were just happy to get to their house for a nice relaxing dinner. We weren’t overly disappointed, because we decided that we would have to live with some adjustments during our visit to the Seattle area. We are experienced travelers after all? We did begin to rethink how we were going to plan for the next few days. The weather forecast was for similar weather.
Seattle Center and the Space Needle
The next day, Sunday, started with a morning drizzle, but eventually, the clouds began to break by noontime. This seemed like a great opportunity to see the Space Needle and the Seattle Center park area of the city. This turned out to be a good decision. The downtown monorail station was very close to our hotel, so we purchased a round trip ticket and began our journey.
Surprisingly, there were no lines at the Space Needle. But when we got there, we found out that that Seattle’s main attraction was being refurbished as part of an initiative called the Century Project. The observation deck was open with limited access, but the restaurant was closed. Time for more adjustments.
We decided that we would take the elevator to the top because we really didn’t know when we would get back to Seattle again. Some parts of the deck allowed for outside viewing and some for inside. Of course, the outside area that was open was to the north and east, and the obstructed inside views were of the city and west. It was a little disappointing, but okay – we’re seasoned travelers, we just chalked it up as another adjustment.
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
Our next stop was the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum which turned out to be a great experience. We especially enjoyed the fact that they had a narrated tour, complete with videos, that we could access on our cell phones. The entire process helped us to learn a lot about the work of Dale Chihuly and appreciate his unique talents even more. After the Chihuly Glass Museum, we only had a little time to stroll around the park area, because my wife had to be back for the beginning of her conference.
If you are planning to visit at least 3 of Seattle’s top attractions (listed below) you can save money by buying a Seattle CityPASS. The pass is $99 for an Adult and $79 for a child.
The Seattle CityPASS Admission Includes:
- Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour (or upgrade to a 2-hour cruise)
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) OR Woodland Park Zoo
- Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum OR Pacific Science Center
My daughter and I made a stop at the Public Market. We had a good time exploring the many food stalls, and we also checked out the original Starbucks while we were in this area. Eventually, we made our way to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle for a good meal of wood-fired pizzas at a small bistro.
Afterward, we had a nice walk and some excellent ice cream at Molly Moon’s. We also made the decision that we would rent a car and head up to Skagit Valley for the last day of the Tulip Festival. Whether it rained or not we were determined to see this famous festival.
Skagit Valley & the Tulip Festival
Our third day began with more drizzle, cool temperatures, and gray skies. Nonetheless, we were focused on heading to Skagit Valley. It was the last day of the month-long tulip festival, so we weren’t sure how many tulip fields would still be in bloom. The agent at the car rental facility told us that the spring had been late, so we were still likely to see many tulips. We were glad that we went.
The weather was not great, and there was a time period in late morning as I was sinking into the mud in the middle of a tulip field, that I really questioned why I was here. But regardless of the drizzle and mud, the tulip fields and the displays were beautiful. We paid to enter the display at Roozengaarde and Tulip Town farms. Each location presented the tulips in a different manner, and both were worth the price of admission.
Amazingly, as we were heading back to Seattle, the rain stopped and the weather began to clear. We decided to make some adjustments to our schedule and head for some sites in the north of Seattle.
Our goal was the Fremont neighborhood, where we saw the Lenin statue, the Fremont troll sculpture under the Aurora Bridge, Gas Works Park, the Theo Chocolate factory, and the Chittenden (Ballard) Locks. All of these sites were a short distance from each other and well worth seeing.
Pike and Pine Neighborhood
After we returned our rental car, we headed to the Pike and Pine neighborhood where we ate dinner at a burger restaurant. On our walk back to downtown Seattle, we stumbled across the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. We were very impressed and decided that we would return the next day for lunch.
May Day Protests
Our last day for sightseeing was May 1st, May Day. There was only a slight drizzle, and the forecast was for some afternoon clearing. We figured that maybe this was the break we had hoped for. Unfortunately, we noticed that there was an unusually heavy police presence throughout the city. We were unaware that there had been some major protests in Seattle the previous year. The reports on the television seemed ominous but we were determined to at least see a few sites.
After breakfast at the famous Biscuit Bitch at Caffé Lieto (where we enjoyed some delicious and unique biscuit breakfast sandwiches), we headed to the waterfront. We figured that we had to get on the water at least once during our visit.
We booked an hour-long harbor cruise that left at 11 AM. Prior to that, we enjoyed a new attraction at the waterfront called Wings Over Washington. It was really just a copy of Disney Park’s famous Soarin’ ride with a Pacific Northwest theme. Nonetheless, it was fifteen minutes worth of fun, even though it was kind of pricey.
Our boat ride was a good experience. But, it was too cold to be outside. The dramatic dark skies did make for great photographs, and a small patch of clear weather did seem to hang over the harbor, even though it was obvious it was raining in other parts of the city. The boat tour guide did an excellent job of telling stories and providing information about the city. He was just a delight to listen to.
By the end of the boat ride, we were hungry, so we Ubered it Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Little did we know it would be time for more adjustments. When we arrived there, we didn’t easily identify the place. The entire building was encased in plywood. Apparently, Starbucks believed that many of their facilities would be a main target in the May Day protest marches, so they completely boarded up the building to prevent the possibility of damage to their prized site in Seattle.
After a few sighs of disappointment, we adjusted our schedule and tried a very nice restaurant that was called Oddfellows Cafe, because it was housed in a former Odd Fellows lodge hall. It was actually a nice play to enjoy lunch. After this, we walked back into a town that had an incredible police presence. We had wanted to head to Pioneer Square, but we realized that our touring was done for the day.
Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments. All in all, we enjoyed our stay in Seattle even though we had a lot of adjustments. We definitely experienced many fine attractions and enjoyed some unique places to eat. It wasn’t perfect, but it was not a total disappointment. Our patience and tolerance for adjustments allowed us to accomplish some of our agenda each day.
All in all, our experience fit our definition of successful travel. We try to see most of the things on our agenda, and we adjust for the things we cannot control. We always remind ourselves, that in the end, it is the experiences: good, bad, and in-between that we bring back. We also like to believe that we may return again someday so that we can pick up where we left off.
Of course, the day of our departure was clear and sunny. And the view of those mountains as our plane took off from the airport, definitely will motivate us to adjust our travel schedule to return again soon.
More Information About Seattle
For more information about what to do in Seattle read If You Visit Seattle the First Thing to do is… or listen to Travel to Seattle, Washington – Amateur Traveler Episode 502.