Snoqualmie Falls

Located about 35 minutes East of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a must-see for anyone in the Pacific Northwest. A great part about visiting the falls is the gorgeous drive there and the beauty of the mountains and lush green forests that surround you.  Make sure to check the weather ahead of time, we were lucky enough to go on a warm sunny day. There’s a lot of hiking and fun things to do in the area but we wanted a short trip with the kiddos so we pretty much stuck to the falls.  We got there around 10:30 on a Sunday and the parking lot was filling quickly.  We had to park in the lot across the street but luckily there is a small bridge over the road so you don’t have to worry about dodging cars and it’s pretty entertaining for the kids.

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The Salish Lodge is located to the left of the park.  I’ve heard it’s a great (but pricey) place to stay.  To the right are restrooms and the gift shop with t-shirts, trinkets and coffee. Head up a set of stairs to get to the falls. There are 3 viewing points at the upper falls.  It got a little crowded but there were plenty of chances to get good pictures.  There is also a trail where you can hike down to the lower falls but the little ones weren’t very cooperative so we didn’t chance it. You are also able to drive to and park at the lower falls but we were told there are about 20 spots and they fill rather quickly.

After gazing at the beauty of the falls, we stopped off at the Snoqualmie Brewery for some pizza and then let the kids loose at the nearby Sandy Cove Park.  Located along the river, Sandy Cove is a small, natural spot with an open grassy area, perfect for picnics and letting the kids run around.  Apparently there are 35 parks in Snoqualmie so check out The city of Snoqualmie parks site before going, to plan your picnic.

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How to Spend a Day in Tacoma

We started our day in Tacoma by going to Shake Shake Shake.  I’ve had it on my list of “restaurants to visit” for a while and it came highly recommended by several friends.  We walked in and I instantly loved the decor of this retro-themed restaurant.  After perusing the menu, I decided on the Nutella shake (I obviously had to order a milkshake) and it was love at first sip.  We arrived as they were switching over to lunch, around 11, so we were able to order from the breakfast and lunch menu. The burgers were good, the breakfast was awesome and their shake was fantastic. My daughter ordered the waffles and they tasted like a yummy and crispy donut/waffle hybrid.  From their friendly service to their crispy shoe-string fries, I loved everything about this place and so did my kiddos.  I can’t wait to go back. I totally get what all the hype is about.

Stadium High School was our next stop.  Just around the corner from Shake Shake Shake, this Tacoma landmark looks more like a castle than a high school. You might recognize it from the movie “10 Things I hate about you”. It has a huge stadium (hence the name) with lots and lots of stairs.  There is a nice big parking garage with plenty of parking (as long as school’s out) and a good view for taking pictures.  There were a lot of people working out, going up and down the stairs and running around the track/football field.  My kids had a blast racing around the track, just be careful on the stairs, you wouldn’t want to fall down those!

After our workout at the stadium, we took a drive down Ruston Way and found a little store on the waterfront called Northern Fish http://northernfish.com/retail-locations.  They have fresh fish to take home or you can order a hot meal like fish and chips, to eat at one of the nearby picnic tables.  If you take a left as you are walking out of the building, you will quickly find a nice beach and a little further down is the Chinese Reconciliation Park http://www.tacomachinesepark.org/.  This is a great area to explore, whether you’re walking hand in hand on a date or with your kids who insist on playing in the sand and throwing rocks in the water.  It was a perfect way to end our day.  Have you been to Tacoma recently?  What places would you recommend?  

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

I was talking to a friend, telling her how excited I was about going to the Tulip Festival.  “So what’s the deal with the tulip festival anyway? Do you get to pick flowers?” Well, no. “Do you do anything besides look at flowers?” Not exactly.  I understood her lack of enthusiasm.  I had just moved to Washington when the Tulip Festival started last year.  I had no intentions of going and didn’t understand what the fuss was about, then I rode through the Skagit Valley when there weren’t beautiful fields of blooming tulips and I got it.  It’s a beautiful area that would be nice to visit any time of year. The tulips are the icing on the cake.

tulip fields

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival lasts about a month and brings in over a million visitors each year. It typically starts the beginning of April, but started a little earlier this year due to weather.

According to the Skagit Tulip Festival site  “Our festival is designed as a driving tour for the visitor as there is no one “site” that you go to for your visit. The fields of tulips are scattered throughout the Skagit Valley as are the many events and activities that comprise the festival. The tulip fields are the crops of RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulb Co., Inc. and Tulip Town and the fields are different each year due to crop rotation. Both RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town also have displays of tulips in gardens for visitors to view and photograph.”  Get more info here: http://www.tulipfestival.org/

We chose to visit Roozengarde. It is located in the town of Mt. Vernon and has over 100 tulip varieties along with daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, iris, & specialty flowers. They have a beautiful dispaly garden, a 25 acre tulip field along with a 15 acre daffodil field (The daffodil field was done blooming by the time we visited but I imagine it’s beautiful.) The cost to get in is $5 per person, children 6 and under are free. Parking is also free.  Typically the fields are pretty muddy, rain boots are highly suggested although we were lucky to go when there were several warm, dry days in a row and didn’t really need them.  Also, because of the large crowds, it’s good to show up early or late afternoon.  Make sure to check the hours of operation ahead of time.

More info for Roozengaarde: http://www.tulips.com/tulip-festival-information

15867 Beaver Marsh Rd. Mount Vernon, WA 98273 1-866-488-5477

Unfortunately, because of the strange weather this year, the fields are finished blooming and are being plowed, but the display garden blooms awhile longer and is worth checking out all on it’s own.  Although I was skeptical before, I plan on attending the festival as long as I live in Washington, and might consider a trip even if I don’t.