9 day road trip, traveling through Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada. We started in Southern Oregon, Medford, and made it all the way to Seattle, close to 450 miles in one day! On the way we stopped in Centralia, WA at the McMenamin’s Olympic Club featuring a restaurant, bars, movie theater and hotel to get some “passport” stamps and visited over 13 brew pubs.
The McMenamin brothers came up with this brilliant marketing idea, for information check out their website www.mcmenamins.com/Passport. After checking out the property we headed to McMenamin’s Spar Cafe in Olympia, Wa where we had a pint of their own brewed beer and got another passport stamp. Oh, I forgot to mention, this trip was inspired by getting our stamps, but also to explore Washington and Canada together. Next stop, Seattle, Wa where we were staying the night. We have each been to Seattle on separate occasions, but this was the first time we have visited together, exploring new places. We booked a room at Hotel Five because it was within a 15 minute walk to Pike Place Market and other shops and it had very reasonable parking prices. This turned out to be a great choice, very clean and modern, convenient and has “pineapple hospitality” including slippers, a robe and a cute dog on our bed when we arrived. Not a real dog, a stuffed animal!! You must stay here to get the full experience. Visit www.hotelfiveseattle.com for more information.
By the time we arrived in Seattle it was close to dinner time, so we headed to Pike Place market. The market itself has mostly shut down at this time of day, however, Pike Place Brewing is open and busy! www.pikebrewing.com
We lucked out and got a couple seats at the bar, I ordered a pint, my husband ordered the sample tray to get the whole experience of many of their beers. This is a fun stop, the food looked really good and the beer is worth stopping for, however, we wanted to check out more of the city before deciding on a place for dinner. It also is lively and hard to carry on a conversation at times. We explored some of Post Alley, which was new to me, lots of shops and restaurants just up from the original Starbucks. We decided to go to The Pink Door, a “secret” restaurant in Post Alley that has no sign. My husband had found out about this place from a recommendation from hotel staff on a previous work trip.
Here we learned this cool technique from the waiter, the foil is cut just so and perfectly holds the cork. I have never seen this done before, we had to take pictures so we can remember and hopefully perform this for our wine loving friends! The wine we had was Mazzei 2012 Poggio Badiola Toscana a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Merlot from Italy, a very nice smooth and easy to drink wine with dinner. After our great dinner we decided to visit the waterfront to take in as much as possible for the one night we are here in Seattle. This is what we saw,
Stunning colorful Seattle Great Wheel. As the wheel turns, the colors change as well to create this beautiful reflection. No rain either, we lucked out! We walked around to the other side by the wheel where there are shops and restaurants to enjoy, that will have to be another trip. Our next and last stop for the night, Hard Rock Cafe! We have to visit while we are here, a must for those who love the Hard Rock.
Great looking bar and Elvis is playing on the tube. A nice end to a great evening, we definitely packed in a lot of fun, food and drinks. After a pint of beer each and a browse around the Cafe to see all the memorabilia, we called it a night and headed back to Hotel Five.
The next morning we headed to breakfast, a coworker told me about The Crumpet Shop and we had to give it a try, it was only about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. What a sweet place for brunch! They make the crumpets fresh each day and are made to order right in front of you. There are both sweet and savory crumpets, great for the whole family and of course they have amazingly good coffee, I had a mocha with my crumpet “Rob’s Favorite”. Reasonably priced and delicious. Visit www.thecrumpetshop.com for more information and address.
Now we are ready for the day, back to the hotel to check out then off to our next stop, Chihuly Garden and Glass. On our walk back Hotel Five, we found Seattle Glassblowing Studio, right across the street. Beautiful blown glass available to purchase, made right at the studio. There is a wide variety of colors and shapes and styles to choose from, sea themes, animals, bowls almost anything you can imagine is here. We even got to see some glass blowers creating their next piece.
Glad we could watch them crafting their art, especially since we were headed to see Chihuly Art glass. The exhibit is right next to The Space Needle, visit www.chihulygardenandglass.com. This is a must see when visiting Seattle and especially when you plan to visit The Needle. Here are a couple photos I took, but there is so much more to see and appreciate, it is just breathtaking. Plan on spending at least an hour to an hour and a half here.
It’s beer and passport stamp time, 3 McMenamins in downtown Seattle, quick and easy stops then we headed north to get one more stamp at the furthest one from us, McMenamins Mill Creek. The prize for completing this section of the passport is one of their fantastic burgers, we had to have a pint of their beer too. Next stop, where we are staying tonight…..
The newest McMenamins Anderson School in Bothel, Wa, so exciting!! Each of the guest rooms have en suite bathrooms, which are not common in most of their properties. The amenities include a bar upstairs in the “Principle’s Office”, outside the “Shed” bar w/ fireplace, VERY cozy and inviting, a movie theater, a pool hall/sports bar, a large restaurant and the largest pool I have ever seen, the North Shore Lagoon. But the BEST part is upstairs from the pool a tiki themed bar that is so perfectly done, it feels as though you are on vacation at the beach instead of Washington state.
Very fun night at Anderson School, if school were really like this no one would ever leave! We checked out the gift shop before we hit the road and bought some of McMenamin’s great wine, Black Rabbit White and Black Rabbit Red and we filled our growler w/ their beer too. We headed to Edmonds, WA to take the ferry over to Kingston, WA, an inexpensive and much shorter way to get where we wanted to go, Port Angeles, WA. Our weather for the drive was beautiful, mostly sunny, no rain, on the way we stopped for lunch in a cute town, Port Townsend. After walking through the town, we found Sirens www.sirenspub.com , a quirky pub with chowder, beer and outdoor seating with views of the water.
Now on to Port Angeles. We booked this night at an okay hotel, Super 8 motel, an inexpensive place for the night and only minutes from the ferry we are taking early the next morning. Super 8 isn’t glamorous, but it met our requirements for location and price. We talked to the gal at the front desk and she gave us lots of ideas for restaurants and we chose to stop for a beer along the way at Barhop Brewing www.barhopbrewing.com then we went to Next Door Gastropub www.nextdoorgastropub.com. The place was packed with people, which is always a good sign arriving at a new restaurant.
Dinner was SOOO good, melty, cheesy, crab cake sandwich with their bleu cheese fries all paired with Nitro Mojo IPA from Boulder Beer Co. www.boulderbeer.com , my mouth is watering writing this now! Would absolutely come back the next time I’m in Port Angeles, WA.
The next morning, bright and early on Day 4, we were in line for the Ferry for the next leg of our trip, Victoria, BC.
Just under a 2 hour ferry ride, we arrived in beautiful Victoria. Just off the ferry, you are right in town and next to the British Columbia Parliament building and the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel, perfect photo-op time. If you have time, you should definitely visit and for the true full experience at Empress, enjoy their traditional daily Afternoon Tea, for information and recommended reservation visit, http://www.fairmont.com/empress-victoria/dining/afternoontea/.
We visited some nearby gift shops as well as Chinatown a fun, quick stop visiting Fan Tan Alley made famous in the movie Bird on a Wire, before we headed to our destination, Duncan, BC.
Time for lunch, after walking and shopping I’m hungry. Our choice, Spinnaker’s Brew Pub, big surprise!! Not! We have both been to Victoria and had to come back to Spinnaker’s for their great food and beer.
My choice was their local waters Shrimp melt with fennel, red onion, ale cheese and creamy, comforting seafood chowder paired with a pint of their own Cascadia Dark Ale (CDA) named in honour of the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson, BC the owners, Kootney’s first craft beer focused pub. http://www.spinnakers.com
Off now to Duncan where we are staying with family Jo and Jack during this part of our trip, yep saves money and creates memories with relatives we don’t get to see very often. I’m excited since I have never been to Duncan and look forward to visiting after hearing all about it from Chris. Just a quick drive, about 50 minutes depending on traffic, we arrived and had a wonderful dinner at their home and stayed up way to late catching up! The following day Jo and Jack were our tour guides, taking us to see the Raptors. http://www.pnwraptors.com/ I had no idea what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by all the amazing birds of prey. There are owls, eagles, falcons and hawks to name a few. We walked through the property and ended with an educational talk and demonstration of what these birds can do. The trainer came out and informed us of how they will use the birds at airports, industrial sights (landfills, mills, buildings) and agricultural sites to clear the areas of problem species like gulls, starlings, geese and many others. Besides the show was really cool to see them in action. One thing that really impressed me was these birds are released during the day when they aren’t “working” to fly free, but they return every evening. They know where they are fed, here at the center.
Our next stop, Nanaimo, BC for lunch, what could be there, you ask?! Another pub, but not only just any pub, Chris’ grandfather’s favorite pub he would frequent, a lot I have heard. This pub is The Crow and Gate, http://crowandgate.ca/ an English style pub located in the country.
When you walk through the dark wood door and enter, you immediately feel the coziness of this English inspired pub, low ceilings, dark wooden beams, and lots of art with scenes of horses, hounds and Englishmen. I had a pint of Smithwick’s beer with a large Brat, veggies and a cup of their delicious chowder. After lunch we checked out the beautiful grounds and gardens. I love the quirky crow with the crock of beer! What a great day we have had so far. On our way back to the house, we drove through the town Chemainus, BC and were amazed at all the murals on many buildings throughout this historical city. Beautiful way to tell the stories of this town and it’s people.
Day 6 our last full day on Vancouver island…
Chris and I went to downtown Duncan, BC for the afternoon. Duncan AKA “City of Totems” is a very walkable town. The best way to see this city is to take the Totem Tour, there are painted feet on the streets throughout the town. The totems each tell a different story that help to tell about the people and history of who lived here and who carved them as well. They have so much detail and color, such impressive creativity.
All this walking, I’m parched, ready for a beer, easy to find a pub in town Craig Street Brew Pub, located on Craig St. smart marketing that name! http://craigstreet.ca/
Great atmosphere and great beer, we were meeting up with Jo and Jack and having lunch with them, or we would have eaten here for sure, next time.
They took us to The Shipyard Restaurant & Pub located at the Maple Bay Marina. http://www.shipyardrestaurant.com/ Great views from our table of the yachts on the water through all the large windows. So glad we came here, the food was great. We definitely love pubs, but we have really been spoiled on this trip since we have locals as our guides.
Last stop and a quick one, close to closing time, my first cidery. Merridale Estate Cidery http://www.merridalecider.com/ Lovely property and so well kept, I wish my yard looked like this. We shared a flight and enjoyed their offerings, I am not a big cider fan, however there were a couple I liked, they weren’t overly sweet.
Day 7, back to the states.
We decided to take the early ferry from Victoria, so we got up early and loaded up the car and said our good byes and thank yous for such a wonderful time with Jo and Jack. We pulled up to the line of cars, only to discover we didn’t get there early enough, three cars in front of us were being turned away, the ferry was full. Plan B, we called Jo and she directed us to a different ferry from Nanaimo to Tsawwassen (Vancouver, BC) that left with in the next 2 hours. This means a lot further north than Port Angeles, more driving, however, part of the adventure, Canada/Washington border here we come!
We thankfully didn’t book a hotel for this night. We hadn’t planned exactly what we were going to do, luckily. So, I pulled out my smart phone to see what vacancies there may be at a Mcmenamins on the way, we had earned a free night with their frequent stay program, let’s use that opportunity. The best option to get us closer to Portland, Oregon where we were staying the next night was The Olympic Club! Even though we had already visited this property, we get to really experience it now and spend some time there. I posted on Facebook where we were at this point and missed our ferry and got a message from one of Chris’ good friends, Perry who lives in Tumwater, Washington, just 20 minutes from the Olympic Club. We now had dinner plans with Perry and his wife Lara at there favorite Mexican restaurant. After being stuck in traffic for hours, we finally made it in time to meet them and went back to their home to finish catching up. Then, back to the Club, luckily we aren’t early to bed kind of people, because our room was directly above the movie theater showing a late night movie.
I love the history of the people and places I learn about from McMenamins. Our room was Jack Scuitto a bootlegger known in Centralia, WA, a perfect place since it is right off the railroad tracks, making for a quick get-a-way.
Back to Oregon, heading to Portland to meet up with friends and a rock concert. Oh, and another McMenamins, Crystal Hotel for the night, great location to get to our concert and enjoy Portland’s “Beer Blocks”.
Each room is named after a rock band, even more perfect since we are in town for a concert. The venue Bossanova Ballroom http://www.bossanovaballroom.com/ a historical building with 20 foot ceilings, the ballroom stage overlooks a 2,000 square foot dance floor and there are two bars, one upstairs and one downstairs to enjoy. On to have a pint with our friends who are meeting us at 10 Barrel Brewing http://www.10barrel.com/, there brand new location.
The concert, Queensryche!! http://www.queensrycheofficial.com/home they were AWESOME, rocked the house!
Intense fun way to end our road trip. Back to reality, the drive home. Always great to leave town and this trip was a lot of fun and we packed in many activities in 9 days, always good to be home. Until our next trip, cheers! Would love to hear about a road trip you have been on or are planning in the near future!