Monday, June 15, 2015

Trip Itinerary - Seattle - Olympic National Park - Mount Rainier

This is my first travel post. I always write a gist of my travel as a draft and save it in my mail. It helps me to forward the draft, when my friends ask about the trip plan. This has become an usual habit. So I thought, why not compile the drafts, make it a bit pretty and post it in my space. So that's what I am doing right now. I thought I would start with our latest travel as it is still fresh.

We were looking for possible places to travel with our 2.5 year old during the Memorial day weekend, ended up booking tickets for Seattle. It was a 5 day trip, I have written our detailed trip report with all the details that I could remember.

Day 1:
Flew into Seattle Airport in the morning. Landed there around 11 AM. Rented the car from Enterprise. We have always had good experience with them. It was a bright and sunny day. So the first stop on our plan was Snoqualmie Falls. Drive around 50 minutes. Had a nice picnic lunch by the falls. Got beautiful views of the falls. Clicked some pics, of course!

There is a trail, which can be taken. It was kind of steep, and my son was sleepy, so we skipped the trail and headed to Seattle Downtown. It was sunny in Seattle, and we didn't want to miss the opportunity.
Started around 2 PM and drove to Seattle Downtown. Parking as usual was a problem. We had to make few rounds until we found a good parking garage. We parked at the Pikes Market Parking garage. I can give it 5 star hand down. It was safe and affordable. There were elevators from the parking garage which takes you straight inside the Pikes Market. We had a nice stroll, enjoyed the locals. Don't forget to taste some fresh seasonal fruits, they are fresh and delicious. We walked through the full market, had a coffee at the First Starbucks.  Got some flowers and don't forget to buy the tasty Jalapeno Jam. Its super yum!

After having a fun time, we took our car and drove to Kerry Park. Friends said that we would get magnificent view of the entire Seattle Downtown with the Mount Rainier in the back - on a clear day. Even though the day was sunny, I guess it was not sunny and clear enough to see the Mount rainier. Nevertheless we had an amazing view of the downtown and took pictures with the Space Needle!
Many people told us that we could not see the beauty of the space needle when we are inside it. Agreed! So we skipped going inside and opted to drive to Kerry park to enjoy our view. Its a short drive from the Pikes Market. It is a proper residential area, so offers limited road side parking. We were lucky it was a weekday evening and got a sweet spot. Enjoyed some time there clicking pictures. There is a small play area near the park, and my son enjoyed some time with the slides and swings.

We left around 7, and headed to meet a friend for dinner. Chaat House in Bellavue is where we had dinner and the food is yum! Headed back to our hotel for the nights stay. We stayed in Kent, that night, as we were driving to Olympic National Park the next day.

Day 2: Olympic National Park
Rise and shine for a bright new day! We got ready and as usual packed some picnic lunch for us. Grabbed a bite of breakfast and started by 8:30. We took the WA16W, WA3N, WA104W and US101N for the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. It was a 2:15 minute non stop drive.
Took a quick break at the visitors center, collected the maps and details. Then drove to the Hurricane Ridge. 45 minute drive from the Visitor Center. It was a cloudy day, so we couldn't get picture clear views, but the views were nevertheless majestic! There was a visitor center on top of the ridge with tables. So we had a nice lunch there and took a break. There were many trails and hikes. We opted to take the Meadow Ridge Trail which starts opposite to the visitor center, its a 0.5 mile loop with paved road.

Then we headed back to Olympic national Park Visitor center - 45 minutes drive. From there we headed further on 101 N to Madison Falls, 15 minutes drive. There is a short trail which takes you to the falls.

Then the next stop was the Lake Crescent Lodge, 25 minutes drive. We were lucky enough to stay here, in-spite of the busy season. This was such a beautiful place, that we spent the remaining evening here. Our room was just beside the lake and green meadows. My son enjoyed the lake and the ducks. We took a stroll by the lake and enjoyed the beauty of nature.
We went to Marymere falls, 0.5 mile from the Lake Crescent Lodge. How I wish we could have stayed there for few more nights.

Day 3: Olympic National Park
We started around 9, and headed straight to Sol Duc Hot Springs - 40 minutes drive. There is a natural hot springs present here, and you have to pay around $10 per person to enter the hot springs. Since we were not aware and not prepared to get wet, we skipped this. We took a trail to Sol Duc Falls. Its a bit of a walk around 40 minutes each way, but the falls was very beautiful.

Next stop was the Hoh Rain Forest - 2 hours drive. It is beautiful Rain Forest, so green and fresh. The smell of the moisture in the air makes you feel so energetic. There were picnic tables available there and we had a nice picnic lunch by the gigantic trees. We took a trail which takes you around the rain forest - around 1 hour loop.
Next we headed to the Ruby Beach - 1 hour drive. Its a small hike down to the beach. The beach was filled with pebbles and looked so pretty. We could literally see the horizon and it was beautiful to look at.
 Next stop was the Quinalt Lake - 40 Min. We just stopped for a coffee break and didn't do anything else.
After a refreshing coffee, we headed straight to Olympia, for our nights stay.

Day 4: Mount Rainier National Park
We left around 8 AM after a nice breakfast and packed a good picnic lunch to enjoy in the mountains.
It took us around 1 Hour 30 Minutes, and we entered from the Nisquilly Entrance.
First stop was at the Longmire, where we collected the Park maps, and took a small trail - Trail of the Shadows - 30 minute loop.
There were many vista points on the way. Also there was a place where we could get down to the River bed.

Next we headed to Christine Falls, and had lunch at the Narada Falls. It is a small hike to view the Narada Falls, but the hike is worth it for the view.

Our Next stop was the Paradise. There was a huge parking lot, but it was a crowded day and finding a parking spot did take some time. We took the Nisquilly Vista Trail which took around 45 minutes. Since it was just the beginning of summer, the trail was covered with snow, which made the sight even more beautiful.
We enjoyed playing in the snow and spent some time here. Next we walked over to the Paradise Hotel for a coffee break. Wow the hotel was so beautiful, if you get an accommodation here, be sure to stay here for a night. We were not able to get it so had to head back to the city for the night.
Next stop was the Reflection lake. You are supposed to see the reflection of the majestic Mount Rainier in the lake hence the name. But since it was a pretty cloudy day, we just got unlucky.
Next stop was the Grove of the Patriachs Trail. It is a 1 hour loop trail, beautiful walk in the woods.
Now, if you  want you can turn back and exit the park through the Nisquilly Entrance the same way you entered , or you can drive around the Mount Rainier and exit via the White River Entrance. Its pretty much the same time and distance. We opted to go around and exit the other end. So we continued down the road. We were very happy we chose this side of the road when we saw the beautiful Mount Rainier. It looks so majestic wherever you see it from!
Now who would miss just a beautiful sight, snow capped mountains! Wow!
We exited the park via the White River Entrance. If you are visiting in Summer, then you can take the road to Sunrise. But at this point of the year (May) that road was closed and we had to skip that.
We headed back to Kent, for our nights stay.

Day 5: Museum of Flight
We had kept this day a kind of relaxed. Went to Museum of flight and spent a good 5 hours there. It was pretty interesting and informative. Met up with friends in the evening and headed back to our hotel.

Day 6: Back Home!
End of our trip, and time to get on the flight. Home Sweet Home!

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