Retreat to the Pacific Northwest

** I originally wrote this post for the Prana Journeys blog (http://pranajourneys.wordpress.net); I’ve adapted it slightly, and some of the photos belong to Simona Cassius of Prana Journeys and are credited in the captions. **

Ask anyone to describe Seattle and you’ll be overwhelmed with a plethora of outdoor, culinary, and cultural suggestions at your fingertips. This Pacific Northwest city, home to avid hikers, an abundance of local produce, and of course, the renowned regional wine and emerging craft beer scene, makes a perfect trip for a wide array of travelers. Seattle begs a longer vacation than just a few days, but this time we made the best of a short time in the Emerald City.

The Hotel

We stayed at Hotel 1000, a perfectly situated hotel that lies just steps from the Waterfront, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and Pioneer Square, making it an ideal spot for just about any traveler. Though Hotel 1000 is located in the bustling downtown district, the Virtuoso property is a relaxing escape, boasting a small spa with a nice selection of services, heat-detecting sensors in the rooms (so that housekeeping won’t knock on the door if you’re still there), and even a large, majestic bathtub that fills from the ceiling. From the microfiber bath robes to the “smart” bar that signals staff when you run out of your favorite treats, Hotel 1000 has made sure no stone is left unturned to create a memorable stay.

FirePlace

Hotel 1000 – Photo Credit: Simona Cassius

Travelers with kids and pets—don’t fear! The hotel has a kids’ welcome wagon with gifts for the little ones to choose from, and even special pet amenities for the furrier members of the family. Additional amenities for the whole family include complimentary car service within a two-mile radius of the hotel and a restaurant with a diverse and delicious menu, to be enjoyed inside or outside if the weather is nice.

The Sights

There is no end to the unique sights that Seattle has to offer— the Underground Tours offer a colorful history of Seattle, while the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, in the shadow of the Space Needle, is a gorgeous respite from the bustle of the city. The ferries to Bainbridge Island or West Seattle boast stunning views of the downtown Seattle skyline, and once you’ve arrived, both areas offer bike rentals and a nice selection of restaurants and shops to occupy your time, while simultaneously making you temporarily forget you’re visiting a humming metropolis.

BikingWestSeattle

West Seattle

Of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market, which brings us to…

The Food

It’s no secret that Seattle was on the farmers’ market bandwagon long before most of us were. The abundance of locally produced treats here, from cheese, to chocolate, to beer, could hold a traveling foodie spellbound for weeks.

PikePlace

Pike Place Market – Photo Credit: Simona Cassius

Pike Place Market is a logical first step for those interested in the Seattle food scene. One of the oldest continuously operated farmers’ markets in the country, Pike Place is teeming with tourists and locals alike. We particularly enjoyed Piroshky Piroshky Bakery, the sweet-and-savory hom bao at Mee Sum Pastry, and the enormous cheese tub at Beecher’s Homemade Cheese, though it feels impossible to pick just three. Our recommendation? Visit Pike Place Market without an agenda and soak in the vibrant life of the market.

Wine

Bar Upper Ferdinand, Capitol Hill

One can hardly discuss the Seattle culinary scene without taking a moment to appreciate that nectar of the gods, wine. Chateau Ste Michelle winery, located in Woodinville just a short drive from Seattle, offers tours and tastings daily as well as various concerts and events throughout the year. This particular trip, an in-the-know friend suggested we visit Bar Upper Ferdinand, a trendy wine bar in Capitol Hill. We ordered a delicious red along with two small plates that our knowledgeable server recommended, and enjoyed every last bite (you’ll notice that we couldn’t even wait for the photo).

If you’re of the beer persuasion, Seattle has an almost impossible number of breweries; so many, in fact, that we picked one at random, Two Beers Brewing Company, and were thoroughly impressed. Two flights, one of beer and one of cider, gave us the chance to try uncommon concoctions such as their ciders infused with peppers or basil. The gorgeous weather and stylish, dog-friendly front porch made it a perfect place to enjoy our Saturday afternoon.

Brewery

Two Beers Brewery

Another culinary delight we stumbled upon in Seattle was the Theo Chocolate Factory in Fremont. Somehow, learning the ins and outs of the chocolate-making process and industry, and knowing that Theo Chocolate is a true bean-to-bar, fair-trade company made actually eating the chocolate that much more enjoyable. A tour of the factory, which includes a fascinating talk about cacao and its journey to becoming chocolate (of course mixing samples with the history lesson), is $10 and an obvious stop for chocolate lovers. I picked out the intimidating ghost chili-dark chocolate bar, the only chocolate bar I’ve stumbled upon thus far in my life that I haven’t been able to devour all at once. I finally met my match at Theo Chocolate.

Theo

Theo Chocolate Factory

At some point, you have to put down the fork and head outside to enjoy…

The Great Outdoors

We were lucky enough to experience a Lindblad/National Geographic expedition to the San Juan Islands, a haven for so much of the Pacific Northwest’s wildlife including killer whales, bald eagles, and harbor seals. The morning stretching, yoga, and qigong class each morning is a perfect precursor to a busy day of wildlife-spotting, hiking, and kayaking; for those that need a massage after a long active day, Lindblad/National Geographic offers a variety of treatments on board. The guides provide expert-level knowledge of what you see each day, and on our expedition, they even dove for video footage that they showed us on board. For those wishing to escape the city for an inspiring retreat into wildlife, we can’t recommend a Lindblad/National Geographic Expedition enough!

SeaLions

San Juan Islands – Sea Lions – Photo Credit: Simona Cassius

Prana Journeys would love to plan your next trip to the PNW – for clients that we book in Hotel 1000, we are able to ensure that the hotel extends you extra amenities such as an upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability, full daily breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, and possible early check-in and late check-out. Contact Simona (simona@pranajourneys.com) to get started!

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