Even though Pike's Market isn't a natural attraction, when it's bustling, this is a quintessential Seattle must-do activity and is basically the state's most famous farmers market. It's for this reason (which we found out by direct experience) that if you want to be part of the energy and action, you'll have to come here during the day (say mid-morning to mid-afternoon) on weekdays or even into early evening on Saturday when this place gets real busy.
Come on a weeknight and you'll wonder what the fuss is all about as most of the stands close until the next morning. Speaking of stands, mornings are best for their extensive floral displays, fresh fruits, as well as fresh catches of the day. There are also a couple landmarks within the market in addition to shops, stands, and cafes, and they are the gum wall as well as a pig statue.
As for Kerry Park, if you're looking for a good place to view Mt Rainier along with the Seattle Skyline, this is a great place to do it on a clear day in the late afternoon. One thing to note is that it's a residential park that has become a somewhat of a famous lookout spot (much to the chagrin of homeowners there).
The reason is because it sits on the hill overlooking the Space Needle with the rest of downtown Seattle's skyline behind it. Only on clear late day can you see Mt Rainier, but it tends to be too hazy to see it until the late afternoon (near sunset) when the volcano gets the warm glow of the setting sun or even the pink tinge of alpenglow. The obscure park is about a block or two west of Queen Anne Road not far from the Fremont area.
We only wished that the weather was better when we were here, but even then, we still appreciated the scenery as you can see in the photos here. The other caveat to this beach is that you'll probably be needing a wetsuit as the waters at this latitude are typically very cold.
The seaside town fronting the beach manages to maintain a more or less laid back feel to it despite its proximity to the city. Though it is becoming increasingly popular and developed and is becoming Oregon's version of Carmel on California's Central Coast.
If you want a different perspective of Cannon Beach, check out Ecola State Park just to the north. There, you get more vistas looking southwards at Cannon Beach as well as a surprising waterfall spilling onto Crescent Beach. There's also a sea lion rock there featuring an arch through it though it's not easy to get a view through its span.
The city does tend to get a lot of rain, but that means you get to see gardens galore. We got a chance to experience the compact but beautiful Chinese Garden as well as the Japanese Garden. There are many others in the city. Also, there are cherry blossoms that bloom if you're here in early April, and we were fortunate to experience this on our trip.
On a clear day, this city also boasts breathtaking vistas of volcanoes such as Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, and of course, the conical Mt Hood. We were fortunate to experience such a good day when we were here as we managed to get ourselves tremendous views from the Japanese Garden as well as the Council Crest Park where you not only get views of Mt Hood, but the other three volcanoes on the Washington side as well.
If you're looking for something a little more happening than gardens and vistas, we managed to find it at the Saturday Market. Here, there are numerous arts and food stalls, and it was amazing to see such a happening scene considering how quiet the city seems to be elsewhere.
This is certainly a worthwhile excursion when exploring the northern Oregon Coast with at least a half-day to spare. In our case, we actually had to improvise and retreat to the coast after persistent rains caused snow problems in the mountains. And we think it was a good thing we got to see more of the coast than we had originally planned.
This is one of Oregon's major attractions and it easily gets busy as vacationers from around the world come here to gaze upon a sight that seems too beautiful to be true. There are plenty of lookouts, hikes, and even a boat tour on the lake itself so indeed there are many ways to experience this place.
There are two entrances to the monument. The west entrance takes you to the Lava Dome Observatory directly within the path of the pyroclastic flow that occurred here. There are facilities as well as a direct view of the still active lava dome. The east entrance takes you to Windy Ridge where you can see the scale of the destruction of the blast zone as well as get a perspective of where the famous time sequence photographs were taken of the actual eruption itself (the largest landslide ever documented live).
On a good weather day (like what we were blessed with upon our visit), you could see in almost all directions around you enabling vistas of Mt Adams as well as Mt Hood. It's difficult to visit the monument from both entrances in a day due to the amount of driving and winding roads. So give yourself time or an excuse to come back to see how violent yet beautiful Nature can be.
Cutting right through the heart of the park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Unfortunately for us, it was closed on our visit, but even for the parts that were open, there were beautiful vistas and shapely peaks capped with snow along with turquoise-blue lakes not to mention numerous cascades and waterfalls to be seen.
And that road isn't the only thing the park has going for it. There were also a pair of other sections of the park in Many Glacier and Two Medicine Valley that were quite dramatic in their own right. Plus, there was always the chance to see wildlife in person whether it was the majestic grizzly bear or moose to some of the more common elk, deer, or bighorn sheep.
While we came here for waterfalls, there were plenty of vistas as well as trails leading to glaciers. Some of the vistas even included tarns and lakes offering a chance at taking that photo with the mountain reflected in the water. Plus, some of the meadows are havens for wildflower displays in addition to more vistas. And with the intact ecosystems due to the conservation mentality in National Parks, let's not forget the chance of spotting wildlife such as bears and eagles.
Is it too far away? Well, it's technically only about 60 miles from downtown Seattle to the Nisqually-Paradise part of the park (i.e. the well-visited touristed side). But if you allow time for rural surface streets and some traffic as well as queues, then it's probably between 2 to 2.5 hours each way so it might be worth a stay closer to the park to see the mountain's other faces at Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, Carbon River, Mowich Lake, etc.
When the weather's good like it was the day we were here, it could be a spiritual experience as well as one that could move you to tears. It's that breathtaking, and when you figure in the significance of the ice (especially with what they're telling us; e.g. with regards to Global Warming - it's real folks and we're the cause) along with the chance to spot wildlife like otters, harbor seals, whales, grizzly bears, and bald eagles among others, you know it's a special place where for once we could see on a large scale what happens when Mother Nature is allowed to operate without interference from us.
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