weekend open thread -- June 15-16, 2024 (2024)

If they’re taking I-90 I’ll put in a plug for spending the night in Spokane as their last night before Seattle, maybe even an extra day’s stay if they like the list below. It’s about a 5-hour drive from there to Seattle (depending on the last bit where they’ll hit Seattle traffic).

I lived there for many years. The Spokane River runs through the heart of downtown with beautiful falls (more dramatic in spring at high runoff). Riverfront Park straddles the falls with multiple pedestrian bridges so you can stand on one and feel the spray if they’re there in spring. Plenty of good restaurants, shopping, and the Centennial Trail running along the river is a great place for biking, walking, roller-blading. The park system was designed by the Olmsted Brothers and that area is the last green space they’ll see for quite a while as they drive across 300 or so miles of agriculture lands.

Spokane is surrounded by dozens of lakes so if they’re traveling at summer playtime they may want to check one of those out. I would have said Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, once upon a time (I lived there for many years too) because it has a beautiful lake and nice beach, but depending on their race and politics they may be more than uncomfortable. Some would say unsafe. Makes me sad as a native Idahoan.

After Spokane they can make a pit stop at the Thorp Mill, which sells local agricultural products, wines, dried fruits and nut/snack mixes, lots of gourmet seasonings and the like (overpriced but hey, you’re already there). They’ll want to get Winegar’s ice cream, which is full fat and proud of it, made with milk from local cows. They truly cannot miss the building from the freeway and it’s also a spot to gas up and get coffee or a latte. The big metal building has two full floors of antiques and old stuff upstairs so if that’s their thing they’ll end up spending some time.

If they want to stop again, Cle Elum Bakery has great apple fritters and it’s a pretty easy on/off from the freeway. The Italian restaurant there is supposed to be good although I haven’t checked it out; there were lots of Italian immigrant coal miners in the area back in the day. If they were of an age to have watched Northern Exposure I’d also point out that Roslyn, WA, is where that was filmed, and the Roslyn Cafe was turned into Roslyn’s Cafe for the show. The Cascade Mountains are really stunning to drive through; lots of jaw-drop factor. At one point they’ll go under a big bridge that straddles the freeway and wonder what it’s for; it’s a big wildlife overpass that has more activity at night than during the day but they might spot something. WSDOT has cameras on the freeway for and they can look at those to get an idea of traffic, weather if it’s the time of year when they need to worry about the passes, and the animal-watching (very cool shots if you’re lucky; if you liked the documentary “Night on Earth” this is for you).

Yes, I’ve made this drive many, many times over the years. Several of my siblings live in western Washington and I visited them often, then moved west myself so now I drive the other direction to visit friends and family back in Spokane.

If they take a route through Oregon and up the coast then I’ll put in a plug for stopping at my current hometown, Olympia. It’s the state capital and has a funky hippie vibe often attributed to Evergreen State College being here (design your own study of program). The town sits on the south end of Puget Sound and the downtown has a great farmers’ market, lots of little shops (no chains in downtown, *no Starbucks*), and a boardwalk along the waterfront where they can stroll, look at public art, watch boats. Depending on the time of year there may be outdoor concerts or festivals. Bike lanes and trails and pretty friendly drivers IME (I mostly bike for transportation); Capitol Forest is supposed to have good mountain-biking if that’s their jam. The time estimate from Olympia to Seattle varies wildly depending on day of the week; they can expect a big slowdown around Tacoma and Joint Base Lewis-McChord but it is what it is.

Or they can stop in Tacoma and go to the Glass Museum, which has a bunch of Dale Chihouly work and live glass-blowing demonstrations with visiting artists. Another waterfront experience here with a waterfront trail, good restaurants in downtown, Washington State Historical Museum, and if they like cars the LeMay Automotive Museum. Or maybe they time it to go to a concert at the Tacoma Dome. We go there for day trips.

No, I don’t work for any Chamber of Commerce; I just really like boosting towns with interesting things to do, local businesses, a sense of place, and nice people.

weekend open thread -- June 15-16, 2024 (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Golda Nolan II

Last Updated:

Views: 5566

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Golda Nolan II

Birthday: 1998-05-14

Address: Suite 369 9754 Roberts Pines, West Benitaburgh, NM 69180-7958

Phone: +522993866487

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Shopping, Quilting, Cooking, Homebrewing, Leather crafting, Pet

Introduction: My name is Golda Nolan II, I am a thoughtful, clever, cute, jolly, brave, powerful, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.