Quick Trip to Seattle- #LayoverLife is not Dead
Looking to get away for the weekend? Somewhere both fun and beautiful? Seattle is the perfect place to take in all the perks of a big city and all the fresh, lush nature you can handle. Read on for a guide to a quick trip to Seattle.
Travel isn’t what it used to be. But despite surges in the pandemic and the probability of more restrictive measures going back into effect, many of us are finding our lives looking a bit more like “normal” these days. For those of us who work in aviation, work from home isn’t an option. Flight attendants and pilots are out there in the skies, on the road, and getting daily practice in navigating this new normal. And while it comes with risk, I have to say there is also part of me that feels very lucky to have this privilege of movement that so many are lacking right now.
Things are different, with curfews, restaurant rules and social distancing guidelines to manage, but there is still fun to be had if you know where to look. I recently had two long Seattle layovers that proved that #layoverlife is not dead. You can have some serious good times in a 48-hour span. I’m going to walk you through a quick trip to Seattle, perfect for a girls’ trip, solo weekend getaway, or a layover that will knock your socks off. You’ll be missing that drizzly morning gray and fresh air when you get back!
View from Kerry Park, Seattle
Some Recommendations for your Seattle Layover or Quick Trip:
Rent a car.
This isn’t New York, and while the city of Seattle has a dope vibe and is worth spending time in, the thing that really makes Seattle shine is the lush nature surrounding it. If you have more than 24 hours, you must get out of the city and into the nature. Get yourself a car and you can drive to a hiking trail, the beach and see downtown, all in a day.
Skip the chains.
(I recommend this in every destination, but in some cities it is harder feat.) Seattle has a vibe all its own. The coffee shoppes alone is worth making a trip to the drizzly city, and the food scene is outta control good. Asian eats and seafood, vegan treats and cured/aged meats. Alright, I’m done rhyming. My point is there is so much good, local flavor that there is zero excuse to be sitting yourself in a Chili’s or Ruth’s Chris. Starbucks is only acceptable here because it’s where the global chain originated. But really, if you can resist it, there are hundreds of other (and many would argue better) local coffee shoppes.
Bring your sneaks and a rain jacket.
Yes, the rumors are true, it rains a lot. But it’s mostly misty mornings and spits of afternoon showers, and not the downpours and misery you might be thinking of. Still, it is good to have a protective layer just in case. The sneakers are because you’ll be hiking. I’m telling you, your Seattle quick trip will not be the same without getting in some time on the trail.
Things to do on your Quick trip to Seattle
Visit Mt. Rainier
Mount Rainier is one of the most delightful parts of flying into Seattle. On decent, seeing it’s white peak poking through the clouds lets you know you’re nearly there and the long flight is almost over. (We’re all East Coasters right?)
Mount Rainier is the undeniable star of the show here. If you have 48 hours or more in Seattle, it is well worth a trip to this majestic mountain. Mount Rainier is not only an active volcano, but is also the most glacier-covered peak in the US, doubling the badassery and making it my number one recommendation for a quick trip to Seattle. I visited Mount Rainier with a couple co-workers on a layover and we had an awesome day, driving around, hiking, and gawking at all the incredible vistas.
We did a scenic drive that circled around Rainier. In total, the Circle loop is 5 hours of driving time, but plan on more than that for stops. This was an easy way for us to get the most bang for our buck in a short time. We covered a lot of ground and were able to choose which stops to get out and explore, which were worthy of a quick pic, and which to drive on by.
Loop 1: Circle Mt. Rainier Drive is what we did.
The driving route and National park that encircles Rainier begins in Enumclaw. The drive is free, but entrance into the actual National Park costs $30. NOTE: This is per vehicle, not person. So for the three of us, we each paid $10. It is good for 7 days, and there are several entrances for stops along the way that will require payment. Don’t let this deter you. For one thing, the fee helps to preserve the National Park, and for another the best views and hikes are within these boundaries. You’ll end up paying eventually, so just do it on the first stop.
I won’t get into every stop we made, but I’ll mention a couple of favorites worth writing home about.
The views at Sunrise are well worth the drive.
This was the first stop that we spent time at, and where we paid our entry fee. Note: Keep your entry receipt somewhere easily accessible, like the glove compartment or the middle console. Try not to lose it, like we did, because pleading for re-entry without a receipt was kind of annoying for everyone involved.
VisitRainier.com says Sunrise is like a trip to the heavens with postcard views. There is no lie here. This stop was breathtaking. You’ll drive up a steep set of winding road and end up at a viewpoint so impressive you have to park and get out. The weather happened to be perfect the day we went, making it even better. There are a couple trails right by the parking lot but continue on for the main attraction. Once you reach the large visitor’s center and parking lot, you’ve arrived at Sunrise. There are several hiking trails in varying levels of difficulty and time commitment. We chose the Sunrise Trail, an easier hike, but be warned, the altitude was noticeable, even on a quick loop!
hiking with friends
and hugging trees
We almost skipped this stop due to its being toward the end of the journey, but holy hell I’m glad we didn’t. you cannot possibly see from the road how impressive this view is, but trust me on this one, you’ll want to stop. Get yourself a nice pic with Rainier painted on the surface of the water.
Paradise is one of the biggest tourist attractions at Mount Rainier. The view is great, and we were recommended to stop by for sunset. I can’t throw any shade, because the beauty is undeniable, but it was insanely crowded—like full parking lot, long lines waiting for snacks, people everywhere crowded. We did not stay here for long. The other views we witnessed throughout the day made us feel like we could skip this part. But I would certainly want to try again on my next visit to Rainier.
Stop to reflect (or at least snap a pic) at Reflection Lakes
Can’t decide between getting your outdoorsy fix or seeing the city? Great news—you don’t have to! Discovery Park is a 534-acre park right in the city. Trails zig-zag through the park, there are open grassy knolls for a picnic or game of soccer, cyclists ride on paved paths and hikers jaunt through the trees. The park overlooks Puget Sound and has two miles of protected beach, complete with lighthouse and picturesque views. We got to see seals splashing around just off the shore, and found some nice pieces of sea glass, walking along the beach. Start your day here walking the trails and the shoreline before you move on to the city vibes. This is the perfect compromise for a short 48 hour getaway to Seattle.
More on Discovery Park at Seattle.gov.
Go on a Whale Watch
If you haven’t checked out my post on Whale Watching in Victoria, BC, then you probably don’t know how InCrEdIbLe my experience seeing Orcas off the coast of Victoria was. Great news for you—we can’t travel to Canada, but you can still visit J-pod and other Orcas on a whale watch from Seattle. As a matter of fact, you can actually sight whales from some of the beaches on Seattle’s coast. Holy smokes! There are several companies you can use for your whale-watching, Orca-spotting pleasure.
For more info on tickets, admission & COVID restrictions, check out Whale Watching 101 by visitSeattle.org.
The beach at Discovery Park
Pike Place Market
But, of course. A quick trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Pike Place Market. Cliché it may be, but even locals can’t resist the fresh seafood and mind-blowingly cheap bouquets of flowers. If you’re in the market for pretty, pick yourself a bunch for half the price you’d pay at home and 10x the quality. A fellow flight attendant gave me the tip to buy dried flower bouquets while in Seattle. They last forever, she says, and look just as nice. If the bouquet she brought back on the plane was any indication, then this is certainly correct.
Spend some time browsing merch from local artists, bakers, jewelers. Sample the local flavors at one of the dozens of restaurants within the market or in the vicinity. Maybe even try your hand at catching a fish! 1912 Pike Place, aka the original Starbucks store is here, and Pike Place Market is also where you’ll find the famously disgusting Gum Wall.
Have your mom crash your layover!
There is good food everywhere you turn around in Seattle. Since I only had two quick trips to Seattle, I have a limited of food recommendations. If you’re a foodie going for a weekend getaway to Seattle, check out THIS article by theinfatuation.com, which includes COVID-related restaurant updates, or THIS overwhelming list from Eater. With that out of the way, some things I can recommend are noodles, soups, fish and sweets.
I love a good pho, and while there are a billion places to get it, I can only attest to the place we chose. It’s called Long Provincial Vietnamese, and I’m sorry to say as of the end of October it has permanently closed. Sad reminder that things are far from normal, especially in the restaurant industry.
Again, you’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to good sushi. My crew and I ate at a cute little sushi joint near our hotel called Nami Sushi.
If you’re staying in the city, don’t leave to come here, but if you’re on a layover, there’s a good chance you’ll be in Federal Way or Tacoma. Then the choice might just make sense. If you do end up at this place get the boyfriend roll and watch out for the fresh roll—the spice is REAL!
Cinnamon Works! Located in Pike Place Market, this little stand packs a big punch—in flavor. Cinnamon Works makes cookies, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goodies, and they have gluten-free and vegan options. Wooooo! At $5.50 per cookie, they’re not cheap, but they are sweet, tasty and HUGE. I tried a gluten-free monster cookie (monster= every ingredient known to man.) and a chocolate chip. Yes, I had two, save your judgements. Both were good, but the monster definitely took the cake.
This is where you find the money shot. Kerry park is a tiny little stretch of grass up a steep hill and a bunch of stairs that gives KILLER views of the Seattle skyline. Head up there for sunset on a clear day, or basically any time of day since a clear-day sunset is never guaranteed in Seattle. Even with a little rain, this view is worth a stop.
Seattle's skyline is truly unique.
And there you have it.
And there you have it!?
I know. If this list seems incomplete or short, that’s because it is. There are a hundred million things to do in Seattle, but I only had two 48-hour layovers to partake in the drizzly-crisp air, lush green trails, and tasty treats. The items on this list are perfect for a quick trip, weekend getaway, or long layover in Seattle. With any luck, some of the senior flight attendants who are outbidding me month after month for Seattle layovers will find this post and make good use of it. And the next time I’m in town, I’ll be sure to expand my palate and knowledge of the area through new activities and local flavors.
What are your favorite things to do in Seattle? Any foods I MUST try next layover? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks everyone, safe travels, and have a great weekend!