Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Glance at Seattle's Magnificent Magnolia

Every neighborhood in Seattle has its own vibe. Magnolia, just north of downtown, kinda feels like a small town that somebody just threw into a bigger city. The traffic here is minimal, the local businesses are fun to check out, and natural beauty abounds. Here are some of my favorite things about this Seattle sweet spot.

Discovery Park

Image via Flickr by La.Catholique

Discovery Park is the largest park in Seattle, featuring more than 500 acres of natural beauty. I love to walk the 2.9-mile trail that takes you past gorgeous sound views as well as through peaceful open green spaces and tree-sheltered path. You can pick up a map when you arrive so you  know exactly where to find the visitors' center and the bathrooms.

The site is that of the former Fort Lawton, so there is some history involved here, too. It house artillery and other such ugly thing. It even served as a POW camp during WWII.

The Walkability

Even if you don't take Discovery Park into account, Magnolia is still a great place to take a stroll. The exhaust from passing cars won't choke you, and some of the houses are older and have charm oozing from their orifices. Plus, the views are great. There are a few places, like Ursula Judkins viewpoint, that offer up a stunning view of downtown.

Finn's Bakery & Cafe

The reviews on this place are mixed, but I can't help but throw my two cents into the bucket. The coffee--delicious. Worth losing a battle in my war against caffeine addiction. They sell Stumptown Coffee, a local brand that will make you wonder how the Starbucks down the street stays in business.

The baked goods are a dream. The selection changes from day to day, but from the few things I've tried, I'm convinced that everything there is delicious. Sure the prices are little steep, but if you have to, you can always sell a kidney to buy something at Finn's.

Where to find Finn's: 3204 W McGraw St Seattle, WA 98199

The bottom line on Magnolia? It's magnificent!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Score Sweet Deals at Ski Spots Across the US

Hi there! Sometimes I do contract writing for travel websites, including Hipmunk. Here is a link to a piece I wrote as part of one of those campaigns:


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What Happened in Wenatchee

Washington state is kinda two different worlds. On the west side of the mountains, you have trees that never end, rain that never ends, and traffic that never ends. It is beautiful and frustrating and possibly one of the most gorgeous places on the planet if I do say so myself. On the east side of the mountains, there are tons of small towns, less traffic, fewer trees, and a different kind of breathtaking scenery.

I recently visited Wenatchee, a town that is about a two and a half hour drive from Seattle. I enjoyed my sojourn there. Here are a few highlights.

The View

Image via Flickr by ebis50

Wenatchee is in a valley, so everywhere you look there are mountains. When I visited, some had a lovely dusting of snow while others were bare but still beautiful. Honestly, I couldn't stop staring. Plus, the weather was pretty much perfect when I went -- warmer than usual for this time of year and packed with sunshine.

Outdoor lovers can't get enough of central Washington. You can go skiing at Mission Ridge, take an exhilarating hike on Saddle Rock, or just find a nice place to sit and take in the tranquil view.

The Food

Wenatchee is a small city; about 30,000 people live in the area. As such, you might not expect it to have the best dining options, but there is plenty here to delight the palate. I visited Carlos1800. It's a Mexican restaurant--and I usually avoid Mexican food if I can--but I was pleasantly surprised with the fare there.

I dug the vibe at Cafe Mela. It's a Starbucks-esque cafe, but with tons more charm than your typical corporate coffee shop. The brick walls, cool ambiance, and great coffee make the place worth a visit. Sometimes they even have live music there.

Cafe Mela is right downtown, which is a thriving part of town that is nowhere near as overwhelming or scary-people-ridden as downtown Seattle. There are cool vintage shops and quaint botiques that are worth a look. I didn't have the time to fully explore downtown Wenatchee, but that is something I'd like to do on my next visit.

Also on the subject of food, Glaze. It's a donut shop. Go there.

The Drive

Getting to and from Wenatchee was an experience in itself. I wasn't driving, so I could gaze out my window at the snow-dusted trees, waterfalls, and cool rock formations that adorn the path to Wenatchee.

A Very Mini Mini Mart

Oritenal Mini Mart on South Mission Street is possibly the smallest Asian grocery store in existence. Well, okay, it isn't really a grocery store. it's more like a collection of comestibles stuffed into a tiny room run by a friendly and outspoken Filipino lady. If you're in the mood for a snack -- or you just want to see what is possibly the world's miniest mini mart, stop by.

For Next Time

I was only in Wenatchee for a couple of days, and I know I didn't get to see all the best of what the town offers. I would like to to go there during harvest season so I can sample the area's famous fruit. I'd also like to check out the outdoor recreation options because, well, I just need to spend more time outdoors in general.