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Five Excellent Hikes Near Seattle

One of the wonderful things about the Pacific Northwest is its close proximity to the outdoors. Whether it’s lakes, beaches, mountains, or forests, the Pacific Northwest has it all, and many of these outdoor spots are relatively close to Seattle. If you’re into hiking and the outdoors, here are five hikes near Seattle that you need to check out.

Hoh Rainforest at Olympic National Park
The Hoh Rainforest is unique as it is one of only a few temperate zone rain forests in the world. While you won’t find any monkeys or elephants here, you will find an abundance of lush evergreens, as well as deer and elk that call the rainforest their home. The park is accessible by way of Port Angeles, and there are several drive up camping locations for those interested in a relatively easy camping experience. If you’d rather opt for a more rugged experience, you can hike further into the park and do some back-country camping.

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Hiking trail at the Hoh Rainforest

 

Whidbey Island
The Puget Sound is home to a number of islands off the coast of Seattle. Whidbey Island, just west of Seattle, has several state parks that visitors can enjoy, including Deception Pass State Park, Fort Ebey State Park, and South Whidbey Island State Park. These parks offer stunning beaches and views of the Puget Sound. Additionally, Penn Cove, which is located in the northern part of the island, is known for its seafood, particularly mussels. Whidbey Island is accessible by ferry ride from downtown Seattle. However, if you’re wanting a more scenic route, you can head north of Seattle and then west towards Deception Pass. Going this route will take you through some quaint towns, including La Connor, a small yet historic seaside town in western Washington.

Snoqualmie Falls
For a more well-trodden yet breathtakingly beautiful hike, head east of Seattle along I-90 towards Snoqualmie Falls. The falls is a favorite among locals and visitors. The hike towards Snoqualmie Falls is relatively easy, and once there, you can dip your feet in the water and enjoy the spray from the 269 feet high waterfalls. This is a popular hike for kids and families.

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At the base of Snoqualmie Falls

 

Leavenworth
Also east of Seattle, along Highway 2, is the town of Leavenworth. Set within the mountains of the Cascades, and known by tourists as a Bavarian village, the locals know it as a great starting point for nature hikes. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from. Visitors can go along the Hidden Lake route, or follow the old trail of the Great Northern Railroad. For a more challenging hike, follow the Icicle Ridge trail, which increases in elevation to give you aerial views of the town and its surroundings.

Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park
One of the most beautiful hikes in the Pacific Northwest is the area known as Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. Paradise is located on the south side of Mount Rainier, at about 5,000 feet, and is accessible by car. The area is known for its stunning views of Mount Rainier peak, as well as its peaceful alpine meadows. Several trails heading up and around the mountain begin at the Paradise Jackson Visitors Center. From the visitors center, hikers can choose to hike to Pinnacle Peak, where they can get better views of Mount Rainier or Mount Adams. Or if they want something a little easier, they can hike laterally towards the nearby Myrtle Falls.

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A gorgeous view of Mount Rainier peak

 

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to experience the outdoors, and one popular outdoor activity is hiking the many parks in the area. With so many national parks and state parks to choose from, finding great hikes near Seattle is an easy task to accomplish.

Looking for more ideas for outdoor and travel activities? Check out and download the LeafCanoe App.

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Six Seattle Parks Activities For Sunny Days

Seattle is known for its rain, but locals know that the best time of year for Seattle is the summer months between July to September. That’s when the weather is at its best, and the sun shines brightly on the Emerald City. On sunny days, locals head out to the local park to take advantage of the sunshine. Here are six Seattle parks activities that you can do on a sunny day.

Fly a kite at Gas Works Park

The best place to fly a kite, and consequently, the best place to catch a view of the city, is on top of Kite Hill at Gas Works Park. The hill, which features a giant sun dial at the top, is man made and was created by the city of Seattle when they turned the former gas plant into a city park.

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Visitors flying a kite at Seattle’s Gas Works Park

 

Play volleyball at Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is a hub for outdoor sports and activities. With plenty of baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and even a putting green, Green Lake Park has virtually everything for everyone. A favorite sunny day past time among locals is to play volleyball. With just a net and a ball, and some enthusiastic teammates, you can have a rousing game of volleyball just about anywhere at the park.

Rent a paddle board at Green Lake Park

If land activities are not your thing, you can also tour Green Lake by boat, to enjoy views of its idyllic waters and lush trees. The Green Lake Boat House offers kayaks, pedal boats, canoes, row boats, and stand up paddle boards for rent. Sailboats are also available for rent through the Boat House.

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Lake Union Park in Seattle

 

Go canoeing at Lake Union

Another boating option is to rent a kayak or canoe and tour Lake Union. There are plenty of companies along the lake that offer kayak and canoe rentals including the Northwest Outdoor Center, Moss Bay, and Agua Verde Paddle Club. However, the best value is to go through the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center and rent a canoe or rowboat. Hourly rentals for the general public are $9 on weekdays, and $11 on weekends, a fraction of the cost of the other companies.

Hike to the light house at Discovery Park

With over 500 acres of land, Discovery Park is a favorite among locals for hiking within the city. A focal point of the park is the West Point Light House, which has been guiding ships along the Puget Sound since 1881. Visitors love Discovery Park, with its many trails, as it affords them a refuge from the sights and sounds of the city.

Watch boats go by at the Ballard Locks

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known as the Ballard Locks, are a popular spot for tourists, regardless of whether it’s sunny or rainy. Children and adults alike enjoy watching the engineering marvel of the boats rising and falling through the sheer force of water, as they make their way through the locks. The Ballard Locks connects the salt water of the Puget Sound with the fresh water of Lake Union. During the summer months, visitors can see salmon making their way up the fish ladder as they journey from the sea on to their spawning grounds in the Duwamish River.

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“Salmon Waves” sculpture at Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle

 

Despite being subject to rain nine months out of the year, Seattle is quite a beautiful place to spend a sunny day. With its lush greenery and scenic views of water and mountains, it’s no wonder the locals can’t get enough of the outdoors. On a sunny Seattle day, the best thing to do is to go out into the city and try one of these Seattle parks activities for yourself.

Looking for more travel ideas? Check out the Leaf Canoe App for tips about Seattle and other cities.

 

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Sweet Escapes At Seattle Ice Cream Shops

Nothing makes you feel more like a kid than digging into a heaping scoop of ice cream. Molly Moon’s, one of the best Seattle ice cream shops, has been making people feel like kids since 2008, and shows no sign of stopping. With stores in six locations throughout Seattle, an ice cream truck, and partnerships with local businesses, Molly Moon’s has established itself as a Seattle institution.

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Molly Moon’s Ice Cream Shop in the University Village

A walk through Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, the site of Molly Moon’s first store, provides you with a glimpse of Seattle’s diverse character. Gasworks Park, a former gasification plant that has since become a city park, is a popular spot for spending a sunny Seattle afternoon. Beautiful views of Lake Union hint at Seattle’s nautical past. While the selection of restaurants, from American style diners, to Southern barbecue, to Japanese sushi, represent the various cultures that have made its home in Seattle.

Within this neighborhood is Molly Moon’s, whose mission is to bring joy to the people of Seattle through ice cream. With milk sourced from local dairy farms, and 90% of its other ingredients locally sourced as well, Molly Moon’s brings a touch of sustainability to its sweet treats.

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A selection of specialty toppings on display at Molly Moon’s

A visit to Molly Moon’s starts with selecting the right flavor of ice cream. Besides classics like Vanilla Bean and Melted Chocolate, Molly Moon’s also offers up unique flavors like Honey Lavender, Balsamic Strawberry, and Earl Grey. If you’re interested in taking some ice cream home with you, many of the flavors are available in pint-sized containers. Molly Moon’s also sells a selection of non-ice cream items such as specialty ice cream toppings, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and a cookbook with all their popular flavors.

Despite the ice cream trend being on the wane, Molly Moon’s is still going strong, with long lines going around the block on any given day. It’s not hard to see what the appeal is to Molly Moon’s. Their ice cream is tasty, and their flavors are unique and whimsical.

But there’s more to Molly Moon’s than just good ice cream. They partner with other business, like Hello Robin Cookies and Trophy Cupcakes, to expand their customer base and complement their ice cream with other sweet treats. They donate to local non-profit organizations who work towards ending hunger. They also treat their staff right, providing benefits and supporting staff in their creative endeavors. However you look at it, Molly Moon’s does a great job of making you feel good.

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Molly Moon’s famous logo

Molly Moon’s is not the only place to get ice cream in Seattle, even though it’s certainly one of the best. Here are three more Seattle ice cream shops worth visiting.

Bluebird Ice Cream
Bluebird Ice Cream has at least three locations in Seattle: Fremont, Phinney Ridge, and Capitol Hill. In addition to being an ice cream parlor, Bluebird Ice Cream also functions as a brewery, serving local beers along with their ice cream.  Bluebird Ice Cream partners with pie shops like Pie in Fremont and A La Mode in Phinney Ridge to serve up the perfect pie a la mode.

Cupcake Royale
Originally just a cupcake shop, Cupcake Royale has now started offering ice cream to go with their delectable selection of cupcakes. Cupcake Royale has locations throughout Seattle, including West Seattle, Ballard, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill.

Full Tilt
Branded as an ice cream parlor and pinball arcade, Full Tilt serves up some unique flavors of their own, such as Thai Iced Tea and Ube.  Full tilt has new and vintage arcade games in their four locations throughout Seattle.  Offering beer in addition to ice cream and pinball, Full Tilt is a great meeting spot for gamers.

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The perfect scoop of Salted Caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s

Need some more ideas of where to go in Seattle? Explore more of Seattle by downloading the Leaf Canoe app.

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Ten Family-Friendly Seattle Center Activities

Seattle is a great place for families.  With its many parks, museums, restaurants, and shops, finding an activity to do with your family is not difficult.  One of the local favorites, the Seattle Center, offers many activities for families to enjoy.  Here are ten family-friendly Seattle Center activities worth checking out.

Go to the top of the Space Needle

The Space Needle is a popular attraction for families.  Visitors can catch panoramic views of the city from the top of the needle, situated over 500 feet in the air.  Or they can enjoy a delicious lunch at the SkyCity Restaurant, which features fine regional cuisine.

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The Space Needle, a popular family-friendly attraction

 

Marvel at the glass art at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Local artist, Dale Chihuly, is world-renowned for his work with glass.   At the Chihuly Garden and Glass, visitors can see his work on display in both indoor and outdoor exhibits.  With its colorful and whimsical glass sculptures, the glass garden is sure to delight kids and adults alike.

Play music at the Experience Music Project

The Experience Music Project has a number of interactive musical exhibits, but one of the favorites among families is the Sound Lab.  Here, kids can practice jamming on drums and guitars, or try their hand at being a dj.

Hang out with a Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center’s family-friendly exhibits are both educational and interactive. Permanent exhibits include a butterfly house, a dinosaur exhibit, and a model tide pool.  The Pacific Science Center also houses an IMAX theater, laser dome, and planetarium, that offer thrilling and exciting shows.

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The Sonic Bloom exhibit at the Pacific Science Center

 

Catch a show or a game at the Key Arena

The Key Arena is home to Seattle’s WNBA team, the Storms, as well as their roller derby team, the Rat City Roller Girls.  With a seating capacity of over 17,000 people, the Key Arena is also a great place to catch a show.  Past performers have included U2 and Diana Ross, as well as Selena Gomez.

Explore and learn at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum, located in the Armory building, is an excellent place to take young kids. With exhibits such as the Global Village, where kids can see how life is like in other parts of the world, and Cog City, where kids learn about the mechanics of pulleys and vacuums, the Children’s Museum encourages kids to explore in a very hands on way.

Splash around at the International Fountain

A favorite past time for families during the summer months is to play at the International Fountain.  The fountain consists of a 10 feet tall, 27 feet wide dome with over 270 water shooters that are synchronized to music. Surrounding the fountain is a bowl that is 220 feet in diameter where children can play in the spray from the fountain. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.

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Families playing at the International Fountain

 

Watch a play at the Children’s Theater

The Seattle Children’s Theater is known for its professional programming geared towards younger audiences, and recognized as leaders in their field by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal. Their shows are characterized by stories that both empower kids and encourage them to explore the world.

Check out a festival

Throughout the year, the Seattle Center hosts a number of cultural, musical, and culinary festivals. Festal is a yearlong celebration that highlights a region of the world each month, with free presentations of music and dance. Another popular festival taking place in the late summer is Bumbershoot, a music festival that brings in some of the best new bands in the United States. Other festivals worth checking out are the Northwest Folklife Festival, Bite of Seattle, and Seattle PrideFest.

Watch a free concert at the Mural

During the summer months, local radio station, KEXP, hosts outdoor concerts at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater.  These events draw crowds of families and adults interested in listening to local music.  The concerts are free, and all you really need is a nice picnic blanket to enjoy some good music.

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Free concerts at the Mural Amphitheater, hosted by KEXP

 

Looking for more family-friendly activities to do in Seattle?  Download the Leaf Canoe app for more tips.

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Tasting Seattle: Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village

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A view of Seattle’s Waterfront

Every year, thousands of tourists come to Seattle, flocking to popular spots like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village tour, however, is a lesser known tourist activity that can offer insight to the rich culture and history of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Tillicum Village on Blake Island is a sightseeing cruise offered by the tour company, Argosy Cruises, located at Seattle’s waterfront neighborhood. The island houses a replica of a traditional Native American longhouse, where you can learn about the Pacific Northwest’s Native American culture, and its role in shaping Seattle’s history. The visit also includes a traditional salmon bake dinner as well as dancing from the regional tribes.

A trip to Tillicum Village begins with a scenic boat ride, hosted by a guide from Argosy Cruises. As the boat leaves the pier, you are treated to stunning views of the city, including the Great Wheel, the downtown skyline, and even the Space Needle. During the ride, the tour guide shares interesting tidbits of the surrounding scenery, and also shares traditional Native American stories. Upon arrival at Tillicum Village, you are greeted with an offering of fresh steamed clams, as you make your way up the path to the long house.

Inside, you can watch salmon being prepared through a technique of smoking the meat around an open flame.  This traditional method takes several hours to cook, but yields meat that is both tender and flavorful. As the salmon cooks, you can browse art work created by Native American artists, and even watch them create traditional art like weaving or carving.

The highlight of the trip is the salmon dinner, accompanied by a performance of story-telling and dance. Story-telling plays an important role in Native American culture, and in this show, the story-teller’s stories are accompanied by dancers who interpret his words into movement. The show ends with a masked dance, with men donning heavy wooden masks representing birds such as eagles and crows. It is a spectacular sight watching these dancers move, mimicking the giant birds and snapping the heavy beaks open and closed.

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Traditional preparation of salmon

A trip to Tillicum Village is certainly worth putting on your list of things to do in Seattle, as it affords you a rare glimpse of the culture that is native to this region.  Once back on dry land, be sure to visit the other popular tourist sites of Seattle. Below are few additional sights that are worth visiting.

The Waterfront
Walk along the Waterfront to enjoy views of the water and the Olympic Mountains. The Waterfront stretches from Elliott Bay all the way up to Shilshole Bay. In the downtown area, you can find a variety of shops and restaurants, including Ivar’s Restaurant, Elliott’s Oyster House, the Crab Pot, and Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. For more sight-seeing activities, visit The Great Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Pike Place Market
Further inland from the Waterfront is Pike Place Market, which has the privilege of being named one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States. Created in 1907, Pike Place offers fresh produce and meats from local farmers and sellers, as well as arts and crafts from local artists. A number of restaurants, cafes, and food stores are also in the area, including Beecher’s Cheeses, the very first Starbucks store, and Lowell’s Restaurant, made famous by the movie, Sleepless in Seattle.

The Gum Wall
Just below Pike Place Market, at Post Alley, is the famed Gum Wall, a wall on the side of building plastered with colorful pieces of chewing gum. Originating from the early ’90s, when patrons of the nearby Market Theater would stick pieces of gum on the wall while waiting for a show, The Gum Wall is now one of the quirkier attractions of Seattle that still manages to attract throngs of visitors.

Looking for more attractions to check out in Seattle?  Download the leafcanoe app for more tips and tricks.

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