5 things to help you enjoy your vacation in the Pacific Northwest

We had been looking forward to returning to the Pacific Northwest as a married couple.

And in July, we did!

Mister grew up in Seattle, graduated from high school and completed his undergraduate degree there (at University of Washington) before moving to Texas to pursue his graduate degree in Environmental Science and eventually work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I’d only been to Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest – aka the PNW) once before – last fall when he took me there to meet his parents; one month before proposing.

He knows and truly loves the area.

For months he spoke about our return and asked me to weigh in on planning our vacation but because I didn’t have much experience there and he truly can be trusted to plan things I enjoy, I left it to him.

vacationing in the pacific northwest - air alaska
Air Alaska showing off beautiful Mt. Rainier
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - seattle + clouds
we welcomed the cooler, overcast weather – we left temps in the low 100s (happy exchange)
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - coffee shop
Mister left some things open – one of which was choosing coffee, lunch spots that I might enjoy; this place was great inspiration for the retreat planning part of my business
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - macchiato
it was beautiful and tasty – can coffee drinking be considered a love language?

1 | COFFEE + FOOD CHOICES ARE BOUNTIFUL 

There are so very many choices of places to eat great food and grab every kind of coffee imaginable.

Since there are, be sure to build in time to make an experience out of it. I opened a Yelp account so a few of the coffee + food experiences we enjoyed were things I chose or we had recommended to us by the locals or friends who had visited/lived there before hand.

I so don’t want to feel like a complete tourist when on vacation, so it’s important for me to see how the locals live – to imagine myself implanted there. It’s prime-people watching and also exposes me to things I wouldn’t get or think to have while at home; things native to the area. So there was a lot of Marionberry + seafood in my diet the week we visited the Pacific Northwest.

vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - U of Wa
ladies + gentleman, the beautiful, jaw-dropping Suzzallo Library
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - U of Wa
I’m a little emotional in this shot thinking of Mister studying in this library 30 years ago – neither of us knowing the other was on the planet and that we’d be together someday
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - U of Wa
being silly – just because; but really – so much to laugh and smile about doing life with him
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - U of Wa
this library y’all, for real – we took a ton of photos of the University of Washington’s campus – just a lovely, lovely experience
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - U of Wa
it’s a thing for me + my Theta sisters to visit other Theta chapters/houses – even if no one is there

2 | RENT A CAR

There is so much to do in the Pacific Northwest.

We were mostly there to vacation + visit family, but the main reason for our visit was a wedding. The wedding was a lovely intimate backyard wedding in Spokane, but since we knew we’d spend most of our time in/around Seattle, it was easiest for us to rent a car. A little mid-sized Hyundai from Fox Car Rentals; easy breezy – a perfect, affordable fit for us.

There is so very much to see in the PNW that being able to get out of the bustling city allowed us to get to another city as well as visit with family, friends and to do some things on our own, just the two of us.

The freedom that came with the car rental was a joy! And though we both were drivers on the contract, Mister drove the entire time. I know, ain’t he sweet?

Vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - coffee + adventure
coffee + Spokane Riverfront adventure wheel
visiting the Pacific Northwest - Sutters
the morning view from Mister’s sister’s back deck (in Spokane)
visiting the Pacific Northwest - log cabin
the view from Mister’s sister’s log cabin deck (in Idaho)
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - boating
on the speedboat in the lake in Idaho
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - speedboat lessons
Mister’s turn driving the speedboat – he did great!
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - wedding
my wedding date + me
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - beauty
downtown Spokane, simple beauty
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Ruby Red
the Ruby Red was good to us; a simple hotel right next to a set of railroad tracks – no horn, but still…
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - bikes
biking the very breathtaking Spokane Riverfront
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - riverfront
taking a moment to rest + play, be silly sometimes (in public) – because of this moment, we met and talked with four or five strangers; interesting…
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - riverfront
worth the $2 (each) to ride the newly relocated carousel
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Spokane
would not recommend this newly opened coffee shop; a couple of blocks off of the main strip in Spokane – big, beautifully, simply decorated but really no variety for getting the kind of coffee you want

3 | WILDFIRES ARE A REAL THING

You must be cognizant of the weather.

I hardly ever check the weather here in Texas. I just figure, it’s Tuesday sooooo…it’s going to be hot; really hot.

In the Pacific Northwest, it was important for us to know about wildfires and their impact on our travel. We landed on a Friday with plans to play in Seattle (specifically on the University of Washington’s campus) and then drive the four hours to Spokane in time for the wedding rehearsal dinner.

We left Seattle around 1p and did not get to our hotel in Spokane until 10p. The detour from the road closings added an additional 3 hours to our trip.  We added an additional two hours from stopping at the Suncadia Resort  to stretch our legs, get some great food (their honey + lavender ice cream with deep fried chocolate donuts was an incredible boost) and take in some stunning views over their golf course.

The weather in the Pacific Northwest means being flexible. Also, being aware that many residents in that area do not live with air conditioning. So when we were there and it was 80 degrees (just lovely for us Texans) many of them were sweltering in their version of summer. It also means knowing how your skin may respond to two different cities in the same state – Spokane: dry, itchy, scaly skin less than 24 hours after arriving, Seattle: on the mend to normal, the humidity in the air actually helped my skin retain moisture, so glad we spent more time in the western part of the state.

Watch the weather and be flexible, also layer your clothing – even in the summer!

vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - sightseeing
Columbia River Lookout – good history lesson about the Wanapum Indians; simply stunning
visiting the Pacific Northwest - scenic overlook
taking it all in
visiting the Pacific Northwest
gotta get my Mister some sunnies

4 | DO (some of) THE TOURISTY THINGS

I sort of jokingly tell our friends that I saw the entire state of Washington in our time there. We did so many wonderful things – which led to a mini-meltdown toward the end of the trip – and experienced the appeal of the Pacific Northwest.

Though I consider myself a non-traditionalist in many ways, I thought it was important to go along with seeing and doing many of the touristy things.

To be fair, they were all things I enjoy – books, baseball, great food, wine + coffee…

So it wasn’t like it was a punishment. But, I needed more of the stillness, time to reflect, more introverted quiet things (like the day we went to the Fay Bainbridge Beach – ahhhh…).

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and do the things that make you a little uncomfortable. If crowds make you completely uncomfortable, choose 1 or 2 days to be in the crowds to gain the experience. If you don’t enjoy long lines, prioritize one or two things you’ve heard great things about and develop your patience.

Had I only wanted to be away from others and do none of the touristy things, I would have missed out on the blackberry + lavender ice cream from Mora’s or would have needed to pass on experiencing Safeco Field on a Wednesday afternoon at an almost sold-out game between the Mariners + the Giants (yes, I did wear my Brewers ball cap). If I’d only wanted to be with Mister and avoid meeting and interacting with people (how I like to retreat) we would not have sat on the viewing deck of our Spokane hotel or gotten photos taken of the two of us that were not selfies.

It’s good for you – go do the touristy things. To practice for your time in the Pacific Northwest, I encourage you to try being a tourist in your own city right now. It may not be the same, but it’s good to work the muscles now so you can hone in on the experience of a place you may never get to experience again.

vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Mora's
I took multiple photos and they all had Mister staring at his ice cream; can you say serious sweet tooth?
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Washington Ferries
one of our many trips on the Washington Ferry System – to/from Bainbridge Island + Seattle
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
views from the Great Wheel in Seattle
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Safeco Field
The Mariners take the field!
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Safeco Field
And the Mariners WIN!!!
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest - Fay Bainbridge Beach
taking some time to put my feet ON the sand; not the beach I was expecting, but still breathtakingly beautiful
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
my most favorite souvenir from this vacation to the Pacific Northwest (Fay Bainbridge Island Beach)
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
full of coffee + feeling cute
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
a little educational part of our trip; I so appreciate learning this way
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
Mister’s folks; 78yo + 83yo (and they still hold hands) – we’re following them to a weeknight church service for the homeless + transient population where Mister’s dad serves every week
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
the calm before disembarking from the ferry
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
so very grateful for the time I got to spend with this sorority sister + fellow book lover
vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
watching a group of Native Americans on their annual trek to reunite with others from their tribe; we sat on a log and listened them to chant + sing as they moved along the coast

5 | MAKE PEOPLE A PRIORITY

Since Mister grew up here – there were a lot of folks on our list to visit with.

We got quality time with his sister + her husband, his daughter + her boyfriend, his folks, his aunt, nephews, friends from school and even one of my sorority sisters.

This is why I think it’s so important to get a car when you get to the Pacific Northwest; you want to be sure to see what God has done to the landscape (the greens and blues – so many shades, so stunning!) but you also want to engage + connect with the people.

You won’t regret making the time to drive 40 minutes one way to get 40 minutes with a friend face-to-face; it matters.

I gained so much assurance in knowing the man I’ve married by spending quality time with the people who’ve known him most of his life. It was affirming to know that I had a pretty good idea of the man that is my leader, my provider and my partner. It solidified something in my heart.

Invite yourself into a sliver of their schedule – you’ll be glad you made the time.

vacationing in the Pacific Northwest
my traveling partner; thank you Mister!

It was such a wonderful trip + experience.

We learned more about ourselves and one another while seeing some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. It was a great vacation and fun travel experience to the Pacific Northwest.

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