Earlier this month, I rode the Coast Starlight, an Amtrak bi-level Superliner, from San Jose to Seattle. The entire route goes from LA's Union Station to King Street Station in Seattle. Each way, the trip from San Jose to Seattle takes around twenty-four hours and costs about $111 each way. Certainly, it's a longer ride than flying and costlier, but there's a certain romanticism attached to train travel. The slow and steady chug of the wheels, the sweeping vistas that in a car you're passing too quickly to truly absorb. But there are other reasons to take the train beside great views.
I love reading negative reviews on Yelp, Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, etc., especially restaurant reviews for places I've enjoyed eating at. A feeling of self-righteousness fills me: well, I had a good experience there. You must have done something wrong, ordered incorrectly, or just plain don't have good taste if you didn't enjoy it. My favorites are things like, "I went to a super popular brunch place on Sunday at 11 am and we had to wait forty-five minutes even though the hostess told us it would be forty minutes!!!! One star!!!" or "There were no healthy options at [restaurant known for its decadent menu options and has all menus available online for preview]. I couldn't eat. One star."
There are the typical tourist activities like Pike's Place Market and the Space Needle, which you can read more about here. But together those won't take more than half a day. There's food tours, underground city tours focusing on the seedy underbelly and dark past of Seattle, and the colorful Chihuly exhibit right in the shadow of the Space Needle. Here are my recommendations for what to do in Seattle.
If you find yourself in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a great way to spend a few hours is to explore the collections from A to Z at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The hours are Monday & Wednesday through Saturday 9-5, Tuesday 9-8, and Sunday 12-5; the cost of admission: $10 for adult non-residents and $5 for children non-residents).
Located on the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan in Leelanau and Benzie counties near Empire, Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the United States. A visit to the dunes in summer, spring, and fall is good for camping, swimming, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking. In winter, visitors can snowshoe, cross-country or downhill ski, or snowboard.
Milwaukee most likely does not come up in your mind as a hot, trending destination, but it has a lot to offer. Walkable, full of great Ethiopian and Hmong food, and a fantastic collection of art both inside and outside of museums.
I visited Milwaukee in April of 2017 for the Women in Travel Summit. While I wasn't attending conference sessions, I wandered around the city with my camera. I found old brick buildings, plenty of artwork, and a scenic river.
I discovered that Milwaukee is pretty cool.
I’m infatuated with the Pacific Northwest. I loved my trip to Seattle last January, aside from the whole trip to the urgent care, and can’t wait to go back to explore. Portland is always fun to visit for a short amount of time. A road trip I took through the Olympic Peninsula sticks out in my mind for some of the most beautiful terrains in the United States. On that same trip, I drove through the town of Astoria, Oregon. Best known for the iconic 1985 film The Goonies and the whole Lewis and Clark thing, Astoria is an example of the coastal Pacific Northwest: gloomy, woodsy, and quaint.
I have a confession to make: travel fills me with dread. No matter how many times I get on a plane, I'm still worried that I will be late (even if I'm two or three hours early), I forgot something important like my visa, or I will be the victim of a terrible disaster. One of the reasons why I travel is to overcome these anxieties and prove to myself they're unfounded. Normally, things go smoothly.
But sometimes things don't go the way we expect them. I would say that this is where we have our best moments when traveling but as I sit here with a wrist wrapped in a brace and a couple hundred dollars in medical bills from my most recent trip, I would say that's a bald-faced lie. Some mistakes and mishaps turn into adventures. Others turn into trips to the urgent care.
Chances are if you are from the west coast like I am, Meijer will be an unfamiliar beast. It's a supercenter akin to Wal-Mart or Target but with a better grocery store than either. The regional chain opened its first stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I spent my Christmas holiday with family.
But I'm not really here to talk about the Meijer supercenter chain because I've only been in one maybe twice and it's not really an experience that warrants much attention in a blog post, but what I do want to go on about here are the Meijer Gardens.
If you haven’t already realized, I like food: eating food, taking pictures of food, how food gets made, politics around food, etc. I also like to drink beer. Over my holiday vacation with my family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I enjoyed both these things in bunches. Grand Rapids, Michigan in western Michigan brings down to earth midwestern charm to the microbrewery trend.