Thanks to the companies linked to below for hosting us on this trip.
Last weekend we took a quick mini-vacay to the Seattle Southside. To be honest, I've never really considered that area as a vacation destination--unless you count starting a vacation by leaving from SeaTac Airport. But when we were invited to come stay for the weekend and explore, we couldn't turn down an excuse for a little getaway. And we had a blast! I was impressed with how many fun, family-friendly activities are there. Plus it was a nice, affordable launch pad for visiting the overall region, and less hectic than staying in downtown Seattle. In addition to our planned activities, we were able to meet our new nephew Seth (who was just born last month), see Ben's parents, and buy a few things from IKEA (Spokane doesn't have one yet). Worked out perfect!
We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard right by Southcenter Mall. It was a convenient location, clean and modern inside, and their hotel breakfast was really good...instead of a continental buffet, they had made-to-order French toast, eggs and bacon, avocado toast, etc., plus Starbucks drinks. It was also located right by iFly, an indoor skydiving place that Ben has wanted to try. We didn't do it this time because of Ian (you have to be at least three), but maybe in the future!
Our first morning there, we visited the Des Moines Farmer's Market, which is right on the harbor. Supposedly there's a great view of Mt. Rainier, but it was still really smoky in the air from all the fires in the Northwest so we couldn't see the mountain at all (thankfully it's rained since then and the air is MUCH clearer now). The farmer's market was really cute and reminded me a lot of the one in Edmonds, where we used to live: a charming waterfront community market with seasonal local crops, inexpensive bouquets of fresh flowers, and yummy food trucks. We got some hot kettle corn and a twice baked almond croissant, and I ogled the gorgeous dahlias.
Then we headed to Redondo Beach, which is a short and scenic drive from Des Moines. We walked along the beach, Ben tried to teach Ian how to skip rocks (haha), and we visited the free aquarium (Ian loved seeing all the fish!).
The aquarium is right next to Salty's, where we got to eat their famous brunch. I'd never been there before, so I didn't really know what to expect...otherwise I would have tried to come hungrier! There was SO MUCH good food: pesto clams, fresh oysters, crab legs, salmon, clam chowder, prime rib, plus tons of yummy sides...and everything was all-you-can-eat. Not to mention, you can get made-to-order pastas, crepes, and unlimited coffee or soda. Oh, and there was a huge dessert spread too complete with a chocolate fountain! We ate a ton, and we still didn't try half of what they had.
After that, we got to take a tour at the Seattle Chocolates factory in Tukwila. Seattle Chocolates is my favorite brand of chocolate (they have the most delicious flavors and their packaging is gorgeous), so it was fun to learn more about the company and see where the goodness is made. For example, I didn't know that they're 100% woman-owned, their ingredients are GMO-free, and their cocoa is Rainforest Alliance Certified. The tour included lots of chocolate tasting, from a melted chocolate shot to trying the raw ingredients, to eating samples of the finished truffles and bars. I had never tried the jcoco brand before, which uses more high-end foodie ingredients, and it was delicious! They had a white chocolate bar with cayenne and Veracruz orange which was soooo good and unlike any white chocolate I've ever eaten. I highly recommend the tour if you're a chocolate-lover! Super fun and yummy.
We spent Saturday evening with Ben's family, catching up with everyone. I put my camera away and didn't take a single picture (oops), but needless to say meeting little Seth was the highlight of the trip. I'm excited that Ian will have several cousins close in age to him; it's going to be fun to watch them grow up and start playing together!
Sunday it poured, but luckily all our activities were indoors. First, we went to the Museum of Flight! Ian has been really interested in airplanes lately, so it was the perfect activity for him. He loooved looking up at all the planes on display there, and we got to go inside a number of decommissioned planes too, including a Concorde, a Dreamliner, and the first Air Force One that carried Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. There's also a new space exhibit which has a full-scale mockup of a space shuttle. And the museum has SO many other things to see too (you could easily spend all day there). We had a great time! It's kind of funny that I lived in the Seattle area for ten years, but this is only the second time I've been to the Museum of Flight. It was nice being visitors this time, and shamelessly doing all the "touristy" things!
Then, we had a nice lunch at Bahama Breeze, which is known for fresh seafood, Caribbean-inspired dishes, and handcrafted tropical drinks. Ben got fish tacos and I got the jerk chicken pasta...both were yummy. And we got drinks served in pineapples too! After that, we met up with some friends at the new IKEA in Renton, where we checked out their kitchen cabinets (we're thinking about using them for our kitchen remodel), sat in some sofas (didn't find any we loved), and got a few things we need for the house. After that, we headed home!
We packed a lot in one weekend and had so much fun. We would totally go back to explore more of the Seattle Southside sometime! I especially thought the Des Moines/Redondo Beach area was a hidden gem, and I was surprised that I'd never been there in all the time I lived nearby. A waterfront town near Seattle that still feels quiet and charming and undiscovered...now that is rare!