Top 10 spots between Portland & Seattle

Portland & Seattle Part II

So this post is about 2-3 weeks late due to an unfortunate run-in with Salmonella in Seattle. Now that I've recovered and can remember all the good parts of the trip, I'm ready to divulge our top 10 faves from our Pacific NW adventure! 

Disclaimer: this post is PACKED full with content & photos. I wanted to be sure and capture the full trip! 

Announcement: Chris & I (mostly Chris) have started a VLOG. Check it out, be a friend, know all that good stuff. We'll be putting up at least one new video per week. Right now, you can watch 3 episodes from the trip!

1. Our Airbnb - a "Wes Anderson inspired, historic apartment"

Paul & Sarah's Airbnb felt like a true Portland experience to Chris and I. We were so happy we chose to stay in the N. Mississippi (thanks to a tip from my friend Scot) area. Their home was filled with trinkets and art, and overflowed with great design intellect. Sarah thought of every last detail including a vintage record player with an even better record collection. To top it off, they had local brews, bagels, cream cheese, juice and coffee waiting for us when we arrived (the only thing that could have made it better is if we had sent them a VacayBox!) There was also a nice wine collection offering a first bottle on them, and a cigar box to leave a $10 bill in, if we chose to drink another one. While we didn't actually take advantage of the offer, I thought it was a very nice touch! Portland was such a unique and vibrant city and I think we did it the best way possible in a short 48 hour window! We highly recommend their listing if you're planning a trip to the Pacific NW! 

IF you're looking for design help - check out Sarah's IG. She's the owner of Vault Co Designs and her home is her best portfolio piece!

2. Meesen Thai Eatery

We ate at Mee Sen because our airbnb hosts recommended it saying it was one of their fave local spots. I especially loved the vibe of N. Mississippi where the restaurant was located. We immediately felt like locals in this area - something we're always striving for on our trips! Back to the food - we tried the Peek Gai Tod (fried chicken wings with basil sauce) and the Khao Soi Gai. All I can say is that the Peek Gai Tod was like crack (just like the waitress told us they would be) and the Khao Soi Gai was the best bone noodle soup I've ever had. The chicken fell right off the bone and the broth was incredible. Everyone told us we needed to try Pok Pok, but we didn't have enough time and IMO, this was a perfect alternative and according to their reviews, is just as good if not better.

3. Salt & Straw

We tried this place our first night and I've been craving it ever since. The staff was so kind and made the long line enjoyable! One of the staff members took the time to let Chris and I try multiple flavors while also recommending some other spots to try during our visit (including Sizzle Pie. We tried it the next day and the vegan pizza was de-lish!). 

To my Austin-readers - you may remember Salt & Straw visiting during SXSW. Here's to hoping we'll get another badass Portland spot in Austin sometime soon! 

4. Blue Star Donuts

I believe all of the locals out there (thanks again to Scot for the tip). This place was truly better than Voodoo Doughnuts. I know. HUGE shocker for all the Austinites out there, it's still all the hype...but this place. I can't. even. The Buttermilk donut was one. of. a. kind. We also tried their famous Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut. While it was decadent and beautiful, I'm a purest and loved the B-milk donut best. Must be the midwest in me! If any additional PDX donut shops are planning on open in Austin, please God let this be the one! 

 Money shot taken by the hubs! 

Money shot taken by the hubs! 

5. Portland Japanese Garden

I bought Chris passes to the Japanese garden for our anniversary. Here's the deal about this place: it's been around since the 1960s. Portland became the sister city to Sapporo, Japan in 1958, and the garden has been flourishing ever since in what used to be the Portland Zoo! It's one of the largest and most authentic Japanese gardens in the U.S. I couldn't believe the lush gardens, the Japanese woodwork, the mock-tea rooms and the bonsai exhibit overlooking the city skyline. Oh and by the way - these bonsai trees were somewhere between 180-500 years old! Mind. blown. Enjoy the photos. 

I also want to mention the Rose Garden (right next door to the Japanese Garden). Y'all. I've never seen roses this big in my life! All different kinds. Vibrant with color and scent. It's free and it's a must-see. Not to mention the gorgeous homes surrounding the area as well... 

6. Pearl District re: Anthropologie

Changed my life. Enough said. Visit my previous post here.

7. Amtrak from Union Station - Portland to King Street Station - Seattle

Initially, our plan was to rent a car and drive to Seattle for a more scenic route but after finding out that renting a car in one city and returning it in another was fairly cost-prohibitive, we decided to take the train! Pro tip from my friend Amy! 

The train ride was so enjoyable. We had entire table to ourselves (4 seats) with a big window. We bought a beer, and some cheese and crackers, vlogged, and enjoyed the views. It was only around $100 round trip total for both of us to ride - you can't beat that. 

8. Hotel Monaco & Hotel Tonight

Let me start this off by saying that I am a total believer in Hotel Tonight. Chris and I have used their app on several trips, and this one was the cherry on top of the cake! The first hotel from the app ended up not working out. Mostly because the hotel was overbooked and didn't have any great rooms available. Hotel Tonight promptly took care of us, and hooked us up at Hotel Monaco.

The staff at Hotel Monaco ALSO knocked it out of the park. When we arrived, we were treated like royalty. They took our bags and sent us over to the bar while they got our room ready. To our surprise, we were sent to the penthouse floor and were given a primo king suite. We loved it so much that we stayed an additional night (through the app). We had initially planned to do Airbnb at least one of the nights, but it was just too nice to leave! They ended up giving us the king suite for 2 nights in a row. We've been raving about Kimpton hotels to everyone we know - even on our vlog! 

All I can say is that even though I had Salmonella (BTW I had no clue this is what I had while we were there...), it was the most comfortable and luxurious stay we could have asked for. I immediately joined the Kimpton loyalty program and will forever support all of their hotels, whenever and wherever I can! 

For anyone with upcoming travel - do yourself a favor and download Hotel Tonight. Get $25 off your first @HotelTonight room with my code: AOLFERS (if you spend $135 USD before taxes&fees)

9. Pike Place Market - duh

While this was the most stereotypical, touristy thing we could have done, we had to do it! Highlights included: FLOWERS upon flowers upon flowers, fried seafood, Beecher's Handmade Cheese (the mac & cheese and the cheese curds would have any midwest girl in her happy place), clam chowder from Pike Place seafood, Chukar Cherries (my personal favorite), City Fish Co. (yes, the fish throwers), donuts pretty much wherever you looked, Mee Sum Pastry (omg yum, the real deal), and local brews from Old Stove Taproom.

10. Tsukushinbo

I mean honestly, look this place up for yourself. The reviews speak for themselves. This place was like a little hole-in-the-wall, sorta dive-y little spot right outside of downtown. 100% worth the Uber ride. MAKE. A. RESERVATION. We saw several people get turned away. Luckily, we had received a pro-tip from one of Chris' coworkers regarding this spot and had called ahead. Anyway, I had Tempura Udon, we split sushi and a beer, and Chris had soba noodles. We didn't get any photos at this place simply because we wanted to enjoy the experience. It's a hyper-local hotspot and it was less than $30. An absolute must. 

Okay - 3 more favorites that are not in Seattle:

1. Alki Beach

Next time I visit Seattle, you'll find me tucked away in a cute Airbnb in Alki beach. Like, how did we not visit this place until our last day in town? We only had 10 min. to check it out, but it was breathtaking. I'm a total sucker for a good beach town, and I initially thought this place was too over-hyped during my pre-trip research. I'm so glad we checked it out anyway!

2. Boeing Factory Tour

Anniversary gift #2 for Chris. Honestly, had to check this out for myself to pay homage to my dad's love for all things aviation. This tour was incredible. Photos & phones weren't allowed for obvious safety/security reasons but we did capture the below photos on the way out. As an American, it feels like this is one of those things you just have to do. You wouldn't believe the detail that goes into each plane build. Other fun facts: they have over 35,000 employees onsite and 20,000 parking spaces. ALSO the place has like 9-10 cafes JUST for staff. Can you believe that?! Quite the production. Located about 30-40 min. outside of Seattle and well-worth the drive. 

3. Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, WA

The only reason we trekked out to Cle Elum was for one of my bestie's weddings. This part of Washington is truly remarkable. The fog, the trees, the mountains, the bodies of water surrounding the's like something out of a movie. Take in the view in the wedding photos below!

To close, I don't know when the heck we'd ever be up in this area of the country again, but I'd definitely go back if the opportunity arose! It was a total adventure and there is still so much more to see and do. Endless waterfalls, hikes, boat name it. If you're looking for a unique, educational trip that will leave a mark on you or your loved ones, you should start planning your trip to PDX & SEA today.

Some other fun photos from the trip: