Atlanta in a day

  
The perfect day in Atlanta starts off with Sublime donuts!  This are the best donuts I’ve ever, ever had. I did not get paid to say that, in fact I paid them, for their amazing donuts. Nutella and strawberries and cream are my favorites.  They are the softest and most amazing donuts I’ve ever had and I’ve tried many places including Voodoo in Portland (those were good, these are better!)
  
Next we headed to the beautiful Piedmont Park. With walking trails, several playgrounds, a dog in park and public pool, there’s something for everyone at this amazing park!

  
After working up an appetite we headed to The Varsity for lunch.  Their burgers, hotdogs, fries, onion rings and shakes are an Atlanta staple and a must for anyone visiting The ATL.

  
Our next stop was the High Museum of Art. They had a cool kids installation and the kiddos loved playing there.  The grown ups got a chance to check out some art too.  This was perfect way to cool off and get in a little culture too.

  Next, we headed to Centennial Olympic Park to let the kids run through the fountains. This is always a big hit for the kiddos and it’s close to so many fun tourist stops along with having a great playground and restaurants within walking distance. The only downside: finding parking. 
 Our last stop of the day was at Stone Mountain park for their laser show.  For $15 a car, this is a pretty good deal.  Watching a laser show on the side of the mountain, mixed in with a little history lesson and fireworks, this was the perfect way to end our day in Atlanta!

Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands

I love traveling but I have to admit, ferries give me a little anxiety, what time does it leave?  How much will it cost? Will I have to wait hours to get on (like some of the horror stories I’ve heard)?  So when I found out there are some nearby islands I could drive to, I was excited to say the least.  The first chance I got, I talked my husband into taking a trip to Fidalgo and Whidbey islands and I’m so glad I did!  This trip is another to put on your Washington bucket list for sure!  The first major spot we decided to visit was Deception Pass. Check out my more detailed blog about it here.  Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  We then just kind of wandered around and went back to our hotel room (not a great hotel, it was kind of grungy and overpriced so I will not be recommending it here.)  We woke up the next morning and planned to be at Eerie Mountain (on Fidalgo Island) at sunrise but we got there just a little after, which turned out to be a good thing, the ride up would probably have been dangerous in the dark.  It turned out to be the perfect time to go and the views were magnificent!

Next, we headed up to the quaint town of Anacortes.  We stopped and got snacks at the grocery store and it began to rain.  Luckily we were rewarded with a rainbow.  We chased it through the town and suddenly we saw where it ended, over the Puget Sound!

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We didn’t do much exploring around Anacortes, but I hear it’s a charming town and plan to go back.  Check out more info here http://www.cityofanacortes.org/.

Next we drove down to Whidbey Island.  We didn’t really have much of a plan, which could have turned out badly but luckily we happened upon a beautiful lighthouse next to the beach. Check out the website for the Admiralty Head Lighthouse for more information.

It would have been great to drive back up through the islands and go back the way we came, but we ended up next to a Ferry and decided to check when the next one was leaving.  We happened to be able to make the next one that was about a 30 minute wait.  It ended up being less expensive than I thought (around $16 I believe for our truck, 2 adults and 2 kids) and saved a lot of time.  We also were able to drive through the amazing town of Port Townsend and get home a little before schedule. These beautiful islands are less than 2 hours from my house and I had no idea they existed!  Washington is amazing, and you never know what you’ll find when you get out and explore. So get out of the house, explore, and capture adventure!

The Mystical Mount Rainier

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Standing 14,410 feet tall and located about 2 hours South of Seattle, Mount Rainier stands like a giant in the sky-line. It’s the 5th highest peak and tallest volcano in the lower 48 states and I’m lucky enough to be able to see it everyday that the weather is clear.  I love how majestic and mysterious it is.  You can be riding a long on a nice day, look over and suddenly you see a very large, breathtaking mountain in the distance, then just as suddenly it appeared, it disappears behind the trees as you’re driving. I love to watch the way it changes through the year, from bare spots showing to almost completely white, the landscape is ever evolving. The only thing better than seeing the mountain from afar is seeing it up close and in person. Mount Rainier has 5 regions, Paradise, Longmire, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh and Carbon River.  We’ve always entered from the Snoqualmie entrance to Longmire. It takes a little while before we come across an interesting spot to stop on our drive but the landscape on the way up is beautiful and momentarily changing as you catch glimpses at peaks, valleys and cliffs.

Some of the best photo ops on “The Mountain” are the waterfalls. Christine Falls is always the first spot we come to on our trip up to Paradise.  It’s a beautiful 69 foot tiered waterfall with parking nearby so you can get out and take a photo. Next is the beautiful Narada Falls, a 188 foot waterfall.  There’s a little bit of a trek to get down to a good picture taking spot but we’ve taken our children along with us down the path and they did fine.  Also, remember to bring a water bottle or empty gallon jugs to fill up with fresh water from the spout in the parking lot.

The aptly named Paradise at Mt. Rainier has a new welcome center with clean restrooms, a gift shop, a limited (and pricey) cafeteria along with general information.  The Paradise Inn that offers lodging, but closes for the Winter.  Also located at Paradise are is a ranger station and the Climbing Information Center where you can obtain climbing permits and hiking and backcountry camping information.

It took a little exploring before we found some of the lakes, the mirror lakes are beautiful and although I haven’t made the hike to Snow Lake, I hear it is spectacular. We didn’t come across Tipsoo lake in our adventures yet but it’s top on my list for next visit.  Also be warned that there is no cell signal around the mountain so having a map is a good idea! There are all kinds of hikes and sights if you have time to explore.  Every trip to Rainier is different, every day brings different weather and views and snow accumulation, but every trip is spectacular.  I would advise to avoid high traffic times like weekends during the Summer and to try to arrive in the morning to avoid afternoon crowds.  Whether you live in the Northwest, or just plan on visiting it, you must put Mt. Rainier National Park on your bucket list!

Need help planning your trip to the Mystical Mountain?  Check out the official Mt. Rainier site.

Deception Pass

Deception Pass is another place to put on your Washington bucket list for sure!  We decided to take a roadtrip through Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, and this was one of the first major stops we came across.  Wow! So incredibly beautiful. Go over the bridge and stop at the parking lot for amazing views (requires a Discover Pass, fyi)  After just a short hike down to the beach you are rewarded with more amazing views, giant trees, and a great place to entertain your littles by letting them explore, find interesting rocks and examine the driftwood.  We really only scratched the surface of what this place has to offer, but you can be more prepared by checking out their website at http://www.parks.wa.gov/497/Deception-Pass. I hope you get a chance to visit and you love it as much as we did.

Under the bridge Deception Pass
Under the bridge,
Deception Pass

Tumwater Falls

Bridges at Tumwater Falls Park
Bridges at Tumwater Falls Park

Located right off I-5 at exit 103 near Olympia is the beautiful Tumwater Falls park. This half-mile scenic trail runs along the Dechutes river.  Experience waterfalls, along with scenic flowers and trees as you walk along the trail and over bridges.  This free park has ample parking, picnic tables, restrooms and a small playground.

Cape Flattery

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 Considered one of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest, Cape Flattery is a must see. Located in Neah’s Bay, Washington, it is the most North Western point in the lower United States and well worth the trek to get there. It’s 42 miles from Forks to give you a reference and located on land owned by the Makah Indian Tribe. At the trail head, follow a combination of a cedar boardwalk and groomed earthen trail for about 30 minutes until you reach 5 observationFullSizeRender (2) points with cedar decks and guard rails. Make sure to bring some snacks or a picnic, water and a camera. Heed the warnings to stay on the trail, there are sheer cliffs and drop offs on either side.  Because of the dangerous area, I don’t recommend this hike for small children.  Other than feeling like I could possibly fall off the cliff and die at any moment, this has been my favorite Washington trip and a must for your bucket list!