Traveling is always exciting. The anticipation of a new city, or even returning to a well loved city you haven’t seen in a while, researching all the places to eat, things to do, sights to see. I love planning out travel (detail oriented over here) and making itineraries (you should see the one I put together for Disney World). But, with our recent trip to Seattle we used Pack Up + Go and let me tell you, it’s even better when someone does it all for you.
MoPop Museum + Monorail
Just to get this out of the way, this is not a sponsored post in any way, shape, or form. We just really loved the experience and wanted to inspire some of you dear readers who I know are equally control-freaky about traveling or have anxiety about unknown quantities to embrace your adventurous side and go for it.
If you’re curious, the way it works is you fill out a survey on their website about your interests, tastes, and what you typically like to do on vacation, including cities you’ve recently traveled to and cities you are planning to hit up in the near future so that those won’t be considered. A week before you go, they send you an email with super vague and really not so helpful hints, but that allowed us (and all of our friends) a week of guessing where we might be sent. Then you get an envelope in the mail that has all the goodies (and a warning against being a big fat cheater pants) that you open when you’re on the way to the airport. Based on the clues, my (Sarah) first guess was Seattle. Dave’s was Nashville. We were actually both fine with any city because it meant getting a weekend away, just the two of us, which had not happened in quite some years. But we poured over their suggestions for activities and food while we waited for our plane, enjoying our giant soy lattes and Fiji (my go-to for airplane travel). Pack Up + Go provided us with an Uber voucher, which was helpful getting to and from the airport but we also had a few excursions that were more than the couple of miles we wanted to walk.
Yes, it rained the whole time (I knew you’d ask) but something we both noticed about the culture here is that it doesn’t really phase anyone. No one complained about the weather and almost no one actually carried umbrellas. You pop your hood and plough on with your day. One of our Uber driver’s actually called the day “sunny” because he only had to use his windshield wipers intermittently instead of regularly. Uber driver humor at its best.
Down to the nitty gritty of what we actually did. I can honestly say I recommend everything we did and everything that Pack Up + Go recommended. They had three pages of options for how to spend the days we had here and, just on principle, we didn’t really deviate from that list. Our first day was spent meandering around downtown Seattle, the second day exploring a few of the city’s neighborhoods, and the third day was a relaxing meander around Pike’s place and pretending to be locals. This town is full of the hipstery-est hipsters around and I mostly felt like the least cool person in the room but they were all incredibly friendly, helpful, and provided excellent service.
We stayed at the Kimpton Palladian, which was a total delight. The lobby is full of portraits of celebrities in epaulets and look ever so serious, and our bed had a pillow with Leo DiCaprio in similar fashion. The girls at the front desk were incredible, so helpful, so friendly, and had great recommendations for us. We even got upgraded to a suite because it was my birthday, so I spent a rainy afternoon soaking in the claw-foot tub with a giant bath bomb and some bubbly. Dream life.
First thing we did, naturally, was get something to eat. Traveling makes me super hungry, whether it’s plane, train, or automobile. I always arrive just ravenous. We hit up Biscuit Bitch for some biscuits and gravy and some saucy attitude. It lived up to my expectations, and I have high expectations for biscuits and gravy. I went with their most popular item (Gritty Scrambled Cheesy Bitch) and Dave went a little spicy (Smoking Hot Bitch).
We wandered over towards the Space Needle after that, took some Space Needle selfies, and got some culture at MoPOP (the Museum of Pop Culture). We got lucky; February is museum month in Seattle so tickets were only half price. They had a traveling exhibit featuring Jim Henson, which was truly incredible to learn about his genius. We also both enjoyed the Bowie exhibit, and the Star Trek, sci fi, and fantasy exhibits got to our inner nerds.
Dinner in downtown that night was Loulay, which we cannot recommend enough. For an elegant french dinner, the price was not more than what you’d pay for a less fabulous middle of the road restaurant, and the food was all melt in your mouth amazing. We shared everything, because more tastes of all the things make me happy, and had crab beignets, duck confit sliders, risotto, and a deconstructed cheesecake and chocolate tarte for dessert. I was weirdly far too busy enjoying the food to take pictures here, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination.
Ballard, Greenwood, & Fremont
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. So when I get a recommendation for a breakfast spot, I’m there. The Fat Hen lived up to the hype. It’s a tiny, sweet little breakfast nook in the Ballard neighborhood. They make all their own breads and pastries and a housemade ricotta that is to die for. You absolutely have to get there first thing when it opens or be prepared to wait because they only have maybe 20 seats in the place. We waited about 20 minutes and saw no less than 35 dogs walk by. I think people have dogs here instead of babies. I especially recommend the Levain toast with ricotta and jam and the pancetta benedict. We walked off our breakfast through the adorable neighborhoods in Ballard and had fun photographing some of the local choices for decor.
Greenwood has a crazy cute little main street area with so many fun shops. We couldn’t fit them all in, but ducked into a few here and there. A sweet little gift shop/post office, Phinney Books, a random estate sale, Terra Bella florist (who had some incredible arrangements and succulents), and Herkimer Coffee where we rested our feet and dried out and watched the dudes in the back roast coffee. Fun fact about Greenwood: it’s built on a peat bog, so the sidewalks and roads are constantly shifting around and changing shape. I’m blaming my constant tripping on that, not my natural state of clumsiness.
After Greenwood, we wandered over to the Fremont neighborhood. Fun fact about Fremont: someone at some point decided it was the actual center of the universe (really more like the center of Seattle) and space references abound. As does conversation provoking artwork. The Fremont Mischief is a super cool steampunky distillery where we had a whisky and other fine spirits tasting; I’m not a whisky girl, but their whisky was not bad in my opinion (really really good in Dave’s opinion) and their gin is divine. They send some of their whisky out on Deadliest Catch ships for a few years at a time.
After the mischief, we had pie for lunch at Pie. I’m just going to drop a picture here. It tastes even better than it looks.
More fun shops abound in Fremont. We also hit up an amazing bookstore that just kept going up and down with staircases of doom. There is also a troll living under a bridge in Fremont (this neighborhood is seriously quirky). So we did the obligatory selfie there as well and climbed a few more butt-busting hills. Point of order. I love walking, but Seattle is really hilly compared to my hometown of Chicago. If you go, plan to walk because it’s delightful, but bring some super comfy shoes and be prepared for a sore tuccus.
That afternoon, we retreated to the hotel where I had a good soak and we took a nap. Our friendly neighborhood hotel concierge recommended I get a bath bomb from Lush; I did and she was a genius. Funny thing about vacations when you’re parents…taking an uninterrupted nap is just as good as any kind of sightseeing.
Back to Downtown
Dinner was at Tanaka San. When I say that it was our least successful dining experience on this trip, that really says something about the quality of food in this town. The food was so, so good, and we sat at a bar that allowed for direct chef/prep observations, which excited our foodie selves. Dave chatted with the chef about several techniques he was using to make some crazy lacey crispy topping for dumplings and the Bonito topping for a seafood pancake. We highly recommend the griddled rice cakes and the ginger soda.
Pike Place Market
Travel day is always a little wonky in terms of schedule, so we opted to stay relatively close to the hotel and meandered through Pike Place Market for breakfast. And second breakfast. Piroshky Piroshky pastry selection is what my dreams are made of. We grabbed coffee at the original Starbucks, because why not, and ate our pastries (a smoked salmon piroshky and a cinnamon cardamom twist) overlooking the water. The rain and haze was starting to burn off (of course our last day would be sunny) and we could see the mountains in the distance. It was maybe an ideal Sunday morning. The market itself is always worth a trip and both Dave and I wish we lived closer to something like it. I would much prefer to do all my shopping at a market every few days instead of the typical suburban shopping stockpile, but these are the life goals. For second breakfast we hit up Honest Biscuits and shared a butterhole with pimento cheese (if you’re not on the pimento bandwagon yet, you should be) and a sweet potato biscuit with honey. Biscuits as big as your head, yo.
After checking out, we hung out at Mr. West Cafe, which if I lived in Seattle, would be my choice for work spots during the week. The best way I can describe it is a sit-down coffee shop and wine bar, but with so many house plants and decorations and huge windows. I loved it.
Seattle: Stellar Vacation Spot for Those Who Love to Eat
In sum, we loved Seattle as a vacation spot. For people who love good food and love to eat, it was a perfect destination for us. So many, many amazing restaurants. And so many fun sights to see as well. Seattle is such a walkable city that it’s easy to spend your time just meandering around, window shopping, people watching, and water gazing.
We also loved getting away from our kids and reconnecting as a duo, which is such a necessary thing for married people to do. We have left this weekend so refreshed and with a renewed fun in our relationship. I think most married couples really do like spending time together having fun, it’s just hard to find the time to do so with the little people running around all the time. We determined we’re going to try much harder to find those little times (even if it’s just sending the kids to the grandparents for an overnight) to get quality chunks of time by ourselves. It’s good for your relationship, it’s good for the kids to see parents connecting without them and actually liking each other, and it’s good for the kids to spend time outside the house and with other people, gaining new experiences. So we encourage you to stretch you wings, try Seattle or try Pack Up + Go! Let us know if our recommendations were helpful to you in your travel planning!
p.s. If you decide to take a Pack Up + Go vacation, tell them we sent you!