Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mt. Rainier National Park and Seattle

Mt. Rainier National Park

For my birthday (in the fall), I wanted to visit a national park. I figured one of the ones near Seattle (Mt. Rainier, Cascades, or Olympic) would be good for a weekend due to the ease of direct flights to and from Seattle. Originally, I was leaning toward Cascades National Park, but then realized that Cascades National Park is gigantic and would require a long weekend to see in its entirety. Thus, we landed on Mt. Rainier National Park, an easy hour and 45 minute drive from Seattle.

We landed in Seattle late Friday night and checked into the Hotel Monaco, one of my fave hotels (and not only because it's dog friendly).

The gold fish in our room at Hotel Monaco
Saturday morning (my birthday) began with us renting a car and driving to Cascades National Park. We started off at the Longmire Visitor's Center where we did two short hikes - Trail of the Shadows and Twin Firs Loop Trail. (Neither were "must sees.") We did not anticipate how much colder and foggier the park would be than Seattle so we ended up having to buy sweatshirts at the visitor's center - dress in layers if you go to the park!

After lunch at the Paradise visitor's center. (Tourist tip - the food at the visitor's center was not very good; we should have eaten outside of the park.) We spent the afternoon hiking the Nisqually Vista Trail and Morraine Trail to see the glacier. Although we only spent the afternoon in the park, we felt as though we got to see what we wanted in the park and did not feel rushed.

We returned to Seattle that evening, enjoyed dinner, and spent the next day exploring Pike's Place market, the glass blowing museum, the first Starbucks, and the city in general. (Note - one of the best tourist sites in Seattle is the underground tour, something I did on a prior trip. Another good thing to do is the gold rush national park site.)

Space Needle Reflecting In A Glass Museum Sculpture 
Glass Museum
Glass Museum

Glass Museum

Glass Museum

Deja at the first Starbucks

All in all a great trip - easy to do on a weekend. Perhaps I'll spend my birthday this year at Cascades or Olympic national parks.

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