Simply Seattle in an RV
Despite the rain, Seattle is a beguiling city to enjoy in an RV. As a tourist destination it’s a little off the wall, but with a skyline impressed upon a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains, it’s also one of the most beautiful.
Nicknamed the Emerald city and located just 100km south of Vancouver and the Canadian Border, the city has hues of evergreens and is flanked by remarkable views of the mountain ranges. Getting out of the city is just as much a part of Seattle as the architecture. It’s a cosmopolitan metropolis with a thriving art scene, swanky restaurants and boutique hotels. It may be a new facade the city is trying out, but it seems to be fitting well.
It can be a good idea to rent an RV and start a West Coast road trip to Los Angeles, stopping in Portland and San Francisco along the way.
A unique environment
Cascade Mountains edge the east, while the jagged Olympic Mountains rise to the west. Sprawling parks and sweeping forests make Seattle one of the most beautiful cities of the north-west.
In contrast, Seattle’s downtown is dense and easier to travel on foot than to cope with traffic. The hills are particularly steep, so be prepared to ride the clutch if driving a manual. Seattle is located on a tangle of fault lines that run like rivers in the Earth’s crust and earthquakes are not unusual.
Needle, Market and Tours
High above Seattle’s Centre Park – the site of the 1962 World’s Fair – is the aptly named Space Needle. Take the lift 605ft up to a 360-degree glass observatory and take in the whole city. Looking out you can see all the way to Mount Rainer, 54km away.You can’t go to Seattle without experiencing Pike Place Market. This is a well-trodden tourism destination, but for good reason. Fishmongers perform the choreographed art of throwing salmon to each other and talented chefs turn these into exquisite dinners.
Olympic Sculpture Park is an inspiring way to while away the afternoon. Free to the public and open every day of the year, it has permanent and visiting sculptures and installations. Go subterranean on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Starting at Doc Maynard’s Public House, the tour winds through three blocks of passages that were once the streets of Seattle.Enjoy people watching over coffee on Ballard Avenue on a Sunday morning and soak in the atmosphere of a bustling weekend market.
Settling down for the night
Near Mt St Helens, with spectacular views of the towering volcano and a mile of shoreline, Seaquest State Park offers the perfect getaway-from-it-all experience. Lake Sylvia State Park is a rustic and beautifully quiet camping park less than two hours from Seattle city, while Vasa Park Resort is only a short distance to downtown.A family-friendly camp with great swimming and attentive lifeguards.
Trailer's Inn RV Park is located at the Eastgate and I-90 interchange, which while close, is still a decent walk to any public transport for the city. For better access to city buses, try KOA campground east of the airport. If you want to meander around Seattle just for the day, the Zoo offers RV parking at $15.75 a day. Park up and take the bus into Seattle, only five miles away. There’s also parking near the Marriott Hotel LK Union.
Varied menu of Seattle restaurants
Seattle is a foodie paradise, with talented chefs showcasing the incredible north-western seafood and local produce. Favourite spots have that balance of character and quirky ambience, with sumptuous foods. Try The Walrus and the Carpenter, Wild Ginger, Sitka & Spruce and Lark. And for something a little more homely…Ivan’s Salmon House. Opposite the original Starbucks, Lowell’s Restaurant has impressive views of the water and a tempting breakfast and lunch menu.
If you’re looking for cheap eats, you’ve come to the right place. Seattle is heaving with frugal foodie delights. Corazon Taqueria has the best urban burritos for just over $5; on Capitol Hill you can find Malaysian at KedaiMakan for just under a fiver;and at La Bodega for only three bucks you can feast on a delightful empanada. Food trucks also roam the city with delicious treats. My Sweet lil’ Cakes sell waffles on a stick stuffed with things like green apple, caramel and pecans. Summer Dog is clearly in a league of its own though, delivering fresh hot dogs by boat.
Hike somewhere – anywhere
Mount Rainer is the perfect day trip, with climbs over glaciers in the summer and guided snowshoe walks in the winter. The ski resort is only a short drive away, too.
Trails in the Cascade Mountains are easy to plan. They offer the most stunning views in the state and aren’t too strenuous for the kids.
Green Lake is one of Seattle’s best-loved parks. A three-mile hike loops around the lake and is an easy trail for beginners.
Cougar Mountain National Park has a variety of trails for different levels of fitness.
Snoqualmie Falls. Just 45 mins from the city, the falls drop 270ft and are impressively striking.
Easy Pass has a deceiving name. Despite being a little difficult, this hike will offer some of the most amazing alpine views of the North Cascades and Ragged Ridge.
Harry’s Ridge is a must-do hike. It’s an eight-mile round trip up the Volcano to the site of the Mt St. Helen eruption of 1980.
Interested in wildlife? Well park up the RV and get to Olympic National Park- a sanctuary where the Roosevelt elk run freely in the forest. More than 200 different animals can be found in the Northwest Trek Park. Covering 723 acres, there are also nature trails and tram tours to help you spot the fauna. Howl-ins at Wolf Haven are also not to be missed.
The people of Seattle
First impressions in Seattle can feel rather icy. The people are reserved and conservative, but guards are easily dropped after a round in the local. It’s a city of expats and stereotypical software engineers. Very few people who live in Seattle actually grew up there. Seattle is most literate city in America and the fourth safest.
A city of contrasts
With nine months of rain and over 200 overcast days a year, it’s a wonder Seattle enjoys such booming tourism. Locals don’t use umbrellas; so unless you want to announce you’re a tourist, brave the elements with a hood! May through October is the most popular time to visit, with perfect summer weather throughout September. Heavy rain and cold temperatures mean hotels are cheaper in the winter – perfect for snowboarding holidays, skiing and snow trekking on Mount Rainer.