Dec 182018

One thing I love about Seattle is all the great outdoor spaces and outdoor activities but in the winter time those options are not realistic. It’s cold, gray and rainy; sometimes windy. So, I was looking for more indoor options and found Seattle Spheres on Facebook and decided to check it out.

What Are The Seattle Spheres?

Street View 
2111 7th Ave

The Spheres are a work space for Amazon employees in the heart of Seattle. It is 3 connected spheres that houses over 400 plants from countries all over the world. It is a mini 4 story rainforest in Seattle! Which is cool!

So much to see!

When is it open?

This new iconic structure is open to the public on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month from 10:00a.m. to 6:00p.m.  The Spheres are easy to get to.  I walked from Westfield Mall and it took about 10 minutes.

How much does it cost and how do I make a reservation?

Admission is free and if you visit this link

On the “Visit the Spheres” tab “Book a Visit” will be highlighted in blue on the right under the picture.

Here are a few things to know about reservations. 

  • You must bring government issued photo id for everyone over 18. 
  • If you have to change a name-especially if you are changing the name of the original person who booked it you MUST email the spheres with all name changes. 
  • You can bring in drinks. I would definitely bring water. The Spheres is a fairly tropical climate; kinda hot and a little muggy. They do serve water on the 2nd floor but it is lukewarm and they only have tiny cups.

What will I see?

Plants are marked  with small round tree wood markers.

I can not describe all various plants there are, so I won’t try, but what I will say is that each area, while distinct flowed seamlessly into another that continuously draws the eye to interesting displays.

Seattle Spheres are more than a collection of plants and flowers that are from exotic places like Africa and Asia, it is a well laid out space; filled with tall trees, inventive seating areas, and let’s face it, the building is so freaking cool!

Other things to know:

  • You are not allowed to touch the plants; pictures are allowed-no flash photography.
  • It is self guided. I like this option. I want to explore at my own leisure.
  • There is a 4 story living plant wall that is 50ft. high.
Take pictures of the wall at each level to capture more of the foliage.

Other things that I loved.

The Seattle Spheres is a great plant to visit a small rainforest in a really greatly designed building but that was not all that is cool about the Spheres. 

The seating spaces throughout were really fun!


You can even take a nap!

Check out the Crows Nest!

Things to keep in mind:

  • It is warm inside. I know I said this in the beginning but if it’s 30 degrees outside and 78 degrees inside it feels super hot! So dress in layers and bring that water bottle.
  • There are 4 flights of stairs. The Seattle Spheres is easy to navigate and laid out extremely well! The stairs are not steep and there are plenty of places to relax if you have bad knees or whatever, but you will be climbing up and up.
  • One of the thing I liked best is that all the levels looked over the other levels so you could see everything under you. Keep this in mind if you are afraid of heights.
There are views from everywhere!

The Seattle Spheres is a quick, fun and free way to add value to your time in Seattle. I would definitely recommend a visit.

Amazon HQ is right next to is and you can book a visit to this famous place of business.

Jun 242018

Seattle is home to the Puget Sound; a picturesque waterway that is crowned with the breathtaking Olympic Mountains and trimmed with an outstanding waterfront. I have been up and down the piers in Seattle a hundred times and I still love it every time! It’s fun, lively and beautiful. It is a cruise ship mecca for cruises to Alaska and for other sailing excursions, such as the Victoria Clipper Ferry that goes to Canada. Surprisingly, it also seems easy for cruise ship passengers to end up at the wrong pier or even the wrong address altogether. So let’s review. If you have done your pre cruise check in and have the address written down you can still read on to see what is close to your pier.

Norwegian Cruises offer fun and free style cruises.

Pier 66 Bell Street Pier: Address: 2225 Alaskan Way. This pier is  centrally located and very close to some great restaurants; like Anthony’s Pier 66 and one of my faves, the Crab Pot! This vibrant waterfront is a great place to rent a bike, watch the ships and ferries come in and out, experience the amazing street artists; whose creativity I envy. On the boardwalk is the best place for these street performers and pop up vendors. Sometimes you can spot Darth Vader or  Spider Man. You can get your picture taken with them, just be nice and tip. The Aquarium and Olympic Sculpture Park are within walking distance. The Washington State Ferries go out every 30 minutes to Bainbridge or Bremerton from Pier 52, Colman Dock.  The Great Wheel is also right on the waterfront and although it’s okay I don’t know if it’s worth price; maybe at night. If you get a chance check out Magic Mouse Toys(601 1st Ave S) it seems like a tiny little corner store-and it is, on the first level. But it has hidden levels and secret sections and actually goes on forever!   Lego rooms, Puzzle rooms, walls of stuffed animals and  some really cool books. The waterfront is where you will find Wings Over Washington,  a state of the art “flying theatre” and 2018 Distillery of the Year winner Copperworks on Alaskan Way  Other cool spots are the Seattle Pinball Museum and Paramount Theatre.

The International Fountain will always be one of my favorite spots.


If you have a little bit of time travel up to Pike Place Market where there is a smorgasbord of fresh farm vendors, fish, flowers and all sorts of eclectic stores. There is always someone playing music. Don’t miss Beechers Homemade Cheese(1600 Pike Pl). Not only can you see the cheese being made you can get free samples of all the product; major yummy! The market is very busy and packed; full of shopping-and people and fish smells but it’s a great and authentic Seattle experience. I love to come here and get samples from the vendors and buy fresh bouquets of flowers.

FYI, Seattle is built on a fairly steep hill. If walking up hill isn’t for you you can bus it or get a cart pulled by a bike to drive you. Beware-they drive like crazy people nevertheless, they are friendly and fast Just try it once.

Even Darth Vader hangs out here!

That being said, only 4 ships depart from Pier 66. Oceania’s Regatta and NCL’s Pearl, Sun and her newest vessel the megaship Bliss.  Most cruise ships depart from Pier 91. The piers are only 3 miles apart, but traffic in Seattle can be a travesty. The map says 8 minutes,  I wouldn’t count on it. One Saturday night it took us over 30 minutes to go 5 miles. Keep traffic conditions in mind. Also, because of all the highway traffic and the hilly terrain I wouldn’t recommend walking either. Seattle does have a pretty decent transit system though. Personally, I prefer Lyft.

Pier 91 Smith Cove Terminal:Address: 2001 W Garfield Way. The busiest cruise port in Seattle-and the largest is located further north from the Airport than Pier 66 and the starting point for the vast majority of Alaska cruises.  Unlike it’s sister port once you walk outside the warehouse structure of the loading terminal there is nothing right outside the door. Smith Cove is reached by Magnolia Bridge and crossing it back to the city is the only way to reach all the attractions. The Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, the International Fountain and Seattle City Center are all packed together and is a mere 2.2 miles away. The City Center has a indoor stage that will have concerts and performances that are always free. The food is expensive and most of them are chain restaurants but tucked in the corner you can find Seattle’s Fudge which should definitely be tried! The Children’s Museum is also in the complex. If it’s nice though go outside the kids have free playground and the International Water Fountain is always entertaining and cool-figuratively and literally. The Space Needle recently had a glass floor put in, which is bold but it would be jarring if you are afraid of heights.

Chihuly Glass Garden is a Favorite Spot in the Emerald City

The Chihuly Glass Garden is better than I thought it was going to be. I was just bitter because they tore down the outdoor carnival like area I use to take my kids to when they were young. It had a carousel, putt-putt golf, laser tag and bumper cars! My boys loved it, but it’s now gone to show off glass art! But, I have to say, it is quite impressive! I have been twice and I would highly recommend it.  Bring a good camera! It’s both an indoor and outdoor exhibit with demonstrations. If you are a Washington resident you get discount.

The Monorail is a quick train from the Space Needle to Westlake Shopping Center and the heart of Seattle and brings you to the transit tunnels which run all through the city. If time affords, take the light rail to the University of Washington. The campus is absolutely beautiful! The very old world architecture, stunning grounds and expansive areas are inspiring.  Discovery Park is another not to be missed outdoor area and is 3.4 miles from the ship terminal. Most of the places to explore in Seattle should really be done the day before or after the cruise so that you have more time to really get to make the most of your time in the Emerald City.

What the ports offer: So, this was actually the hardest part to find out. The sites for the ports are generally vague on details and when I called I got different answers so I emailed the CTO OPS and they were very helpful. So here is the exact answer on luggage storage: Both terminals offer luggage storage on cruise days only from 7:30a.m. to 3:30p.m. on cruise days only. Luggage storage is found at the concierge area in both terminals and is $3.00  a bag. Bags are not checked through to the ships for embarking passengers. Check with your cruise line when your check in time begins-sometimes it’s on your boarding pass.  Generally, it’s 10:00a.m.  A great service that is offered by the Port of Seattle is a luggage valet service post cruise. It’s a complimentary service that you sign up for on your ship and get your luggage straight to the airport when the cruise is over. It’s so convenient, seamless and helps de-stress post vacation. Click on the link for specifics:

Pier 91’s services include: Complimentary shuttle from parking to terminal, RV and trailer parking, a rental car kiosk, cell phone waiting area, wheelchair, scooter and oxygen rentals. The equipment can be delivered directly to the state room. The drop off/pick up area is pretty smooth compared to some other places I have seen.

Pier’s 66’s services are pretty much the same. Special needs equipment works the same, the parking is a garage, not a lot and a shuttle is not needed. Drop off and pick up is also the garage. Recreation and restaurants are much more accessible here, but there is no rental car kiosk and no rv or trailer parking.

Explore Pike Place for unique shops

Another popular pier to catch a ship is Pier 69. Home of the Victoria Clipper, a high speed ferry from Seattle to Victoria BC. However, Victoria Clipper also offers some great vacation packages that include hotel stays, whale watching, food and wine tours, golf and nature packages. The Clipper Vacations can include jaunts to San Juan and Vancouver. The pier address is:2701 Alaskan Way. Parking is at the Bell Street Pier Garage and they do validate. Next to the luggage check in is a small cafe that offers beverages, coffees, snacks and meals. The Clipper Ferry itself is seasonal, as are the packages so book early.  This pier is really close to the Bell Street Pier so is also close to many things. FYI, I absolutely LOVE the Victoria Ferry area! It is so charming! The Empress Hotel is majestic and lights up at night that reflect in the Harbor. The whole area is pristine and beautiful and worth checking out.  If you take a cruise to Alaska the ships dock at Ogden Point terminal in Victoria and you can walk to the Inner Harbour/downtown area, or you can take a bus in. We walked and found a fun park where wild peacocks were roaming freely and the tall trees were begging to be climbed.

Back to the reason that the address for these pier is so important. Both Princess and Holland have corporate offices in Seattle. So if you are Google searching for Princess or Holland make sure you go to Smith Cove Terminal NOT the offices!

If you have any comments, questions or want to add any info please add a comment or you can leave your email and I will respond.

May the wind always be at your back!

The Ferris Wheel of Seattle is on Pier 57

Note: I am a licensed travel agent with Expedia and have included a link to my site to help you get quotes for Alaska cruises. Another great port for Alaska cruises is Vancouver, CA. The Disney Wonder sails out of Vancouver for 5, 7 and 9 night sailings.

Apr 042018

We all work hard-hence, we want to play hard. My vacation dreams take me to the rocky coast of Ireland, the white sand beaches of the Polynesian Islands or the mighty peaks of an Alaskan mountain range. Then reality slaps me right up side the head. The same thing has probably happened to you.

The Fountain at Seattle Armory

The first problem is money, or lack of to frolic your week away in Barbados. Sometimes the problem is time. Not enough time off from work or school, or like with my family, our vacation times never lined up. My kids have spent holidays and vacations with my parents or my sister because I couldn’t get one lousy day off while they were on break. For our anniversary one year, my husband and I weren’t even in the same state-he traveled a lot then. A real bummer.  But, one snowy February weekend when my kids had and 4 day weekend I took 2 extra days off and booked us a nice hotel in Seattle. It had an indoor pool, cool touch games built into the coffee tables. The boys had room service and we were 1 block away from a giant arcade.  They got extra desserts and in room movies. It was only two days and it was about 30 degrees and snowed, but they had a great time.

So, how can you make the best of your “staycation”? Planning and optimism. And some key elements.

Have your house in order: First of all, you can’t relax if your house is a mess, so have everything clean. Next, pick a theme and decorate. Don’t spend a lot. Go to the dollar store, pick up colorful vases, fun flowers, gold serving plates. String a lei, get some tiki torches and beach chairs for the backyard. If you want to spend a little more you could even buy framed pictures of mountains or beaches or wineries, whatever you are in the mood for. A cheaper alternative it to take an old calendar and put them is some frames. It’s a good way to temporarily decorate a space to match your mood. To avoid to many dishes, have paper and plastic for the duration. I like the beach, so I make a centerpiece out of seashells in a glass bowl  and find recipes on line for tropical drinks.  Which leads me to my next tip.

Set up a “Decorate your cupcake” activity

Have a menu: The best thing about vacation is NOT cooking! So, get some quick and easy recipes for your theme. I can make frozen coconut pie in 5 minutes, freeze it and done! Anything you can make ahead and will keep, do that.  Fresh made breads and fresh squeezed juices are great, but try new things. I had Baked Alaska on my first cruise and I loved it! Not the easiest to make so I always practice the recipe first; They don’t always turn out.  Splurge on your favorite treats from your local bakery-you know they’re good and no hassle for you.


Here are few of my favorite links for tropical drinks and quick desserts.

Make it fun: Let your kids make your whole living room a fort and let them sleep there-or set up tents in the back yard. I love this one! Roast marshmallows, name the constellations; no t.v., no phones or i-pads. Makes for great family time. Or throw a big party! A backyard BBQ is always a hit-make it fit with your theme. Have everyone learn a hula, or bring wines from Tuscany or chocolates from Denmark. Have a trivia contest about your region-door prizes for winners.

Go on excursions: Search your local area for free festivals or events or museums. If you can swing it spring for a professional sporting event or a theme park. Great Wolf Lodge is a perfect example. There is one past Olympia, so close; very expensive-bring your own food or drive a short distance into town to eat out. I can not stress this enough! The indoor park it totally worth the price of the room; it is so much for families and I felt like a kid again. The Pacific Science Center is also great. So is the International Fountain-that is free and there is a free playground right by the Mo Pop Museum. What is it you like to do? Start with that then figure out what you want to spend money on and what you can do for free. Check local papers and online sites for free festivals and things in your area.

Dogs love to have adventures too.

Do treat yourself: Get dressed up and go out for a fancy meal. Order dessert and an appetizer! Go to movie and buy popcorn and a drink, go to a wine tasting event or a play! Maybe get a massage. Check on Groupon for these things. We got a great deal on a wine and chocolate pairing event. Stay in your pajamas at least one of the days! No phone, no computer, just chill out with your companion or family all day! No responsibilities.

Travel agents should have a myriad of vacation literature for you.

Plan your next vacation: This year is my 25th wedding anniversary, we will be able to go Red Robin this year. I know, it’s tragic. But, there is always next year! I have a load of travel magazines and have list of my top 3 spots to visit. So, I have a destination board so I can visualize it. So break out your calendar and keep some things in mind.  1) The time of year. Europe is great, but not in the summer. Hawaii is awesome and outrageously expensive in the winter months. So keep the climate and expense in mind. If you can book in off season, do it. 2) What do you love most about these places? Prioritize what you want to see most when you visit somewhere. Is it the food, the culture, the sights? 3)Know your budget. Have a plan for how much it will cost and set goals for how you will save that money. Less coffee? Less shoe shopping? Maybe less dry cleaning? Keep a ledger of how much you save each month.  4)Keep your eye out for price drops and last minute deals. This can be time consuming but worth it. Some places will let you sign up for price alerts.

Sleep!  You know you need more of it. Stay in pj’s , watch movies, clean up your email. Nap, often. It is good for you and you know you want to.

A staycation can be a good thing. No packing, no costly airline tickets, no worrying about trip insurance or lost documents. It can be relaxing and exciting! It’s a great time to pamper your pets! One time we drove our dog around to different parks for 6 hours.  So, time away can be whatever you make it, you just have to make it what you want.

Mar 042018

There is no end of fun venues in Seattle for St. Patrick’s Day to be enjoyed by everyone! Music, parades, beer, free stuff-that’s the best. Whether you need family fun, 21+fun, music, free fun; are looking to connect with your Irish roots, want to be active, want to eat too much, whatever. Seattle is a great place to get your Irish on! And not just on March 17th but there are celebrations before and after the big day. So, settle in with a Guinnes and start looking forward to a marvelous St. Patrick’s Day!

  1. St. Patrick’s Day Parade: March 17th at 12:20p.m. Raising of the Irish flag with the Irish and U.S. anthems at the King Co. admin. building. The Parade begins at 12:30p.m. at 4th&James, ending at Seattle Center at 2:30. This is a free event full of fun and frivolity! Good for all ages, so don’t miss it.
  2. Irish Festival: March 17th 10:00a.m.-6:00p.m. and March 18th from noon to 6:00p.m. at the Seattle Center (Seattle Armory).  Free admission on both days. Chock full of entertainment, food and drink, singing and dancing, Celtic and Irish product to buy, art, cultural displays, etc.  Also great for kids with games and contests. You can attend the Irish Reels Film Festival, a genealogy workshop on the 18th or win a free vacation to Ireland-drawing is on the 18th.
  3. The Landing of St. Patrick: March 16th at South Lake Union. St. Patrick was brought to Ireland by pirates, this year St. Patrick will be brought to Seattle by the Pirates of the Emerald Isle. You will even be able to climb on board at Pioneer Square. A free, kid friendly event that will probably be packed, because, Pirates! I want to go this for sure! Ahoy, all ye Irish and Irish and at heart.
  4. St. Patrick’s in Bell Street Park: March 17th 4:00-7:00p.m. Grab your freebies such as chocolate coins, bead necklaces and coupons for discounts at local restaurants. Get your picture taken with Lucky the Leprechaun.

Fun for those of us over 21: Drinking, dining and singing are just about everywhere! I found that Trip Savvy has a great list.

For the active: St. Patrick’s Day Dash:March 17th. Event starts at 8:00a.m at 2nd&Mercer and has timed and untimed waves. Packet pick up time is 6:00a.m at the Fisher Pavilion. There is a lap option for kids and participants are encouraged to dress up(costume contest!) At the end of the race they have a beer garden. There are buses too, if you don’t want to park 

For the devout: Mass for Peace luncheon at St. Patrick’s Church on March 16th and in Tacoma’s Little Theatre you can catch “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

Fun on the water: Waterways St. Patrick’s Day Trivia Lunch Cruise from 11:30-1:30. They offer military and senior discounts as well as children rates. On March 17th they offer a 21+ party cruise from 8:30pm-11:30p.m. The cruise sails Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Go Big! Plan a trip to Ireland. There is a tour company that offers a 10 day trip to Ireland that include r/t airfare from SeaTac. You could book a cruise that includes stops in Ireland; some will offer overnights in Dublin. Sorry, there are none departing from Seattle though.

So, with so many options it’s time to plan on having a outstanding time! I am not Irish but for a few days I could be; and so could you!

Jul 252017


My husband and I have been going to Bainbridge Island  for  about six years.  It is a quick ferry ride from the Seattle Waterfront.  Pier 52, the Coleman dock; 801 Alaskan Way, 98121. The ferry runs every hour or half hour and runs all day and most of the night. The ride over to Bainbridge is about 30 minutes. Link to the ferry schedule

The view leaving Seattle is pretty great. The Puget Sound is beautiful. You can see the cruise ships, the space needle and the mountains.  No matter how hot it is out on the water is always cool.  The Seattle Ferries are large with different decks, many viewing areas. Some are sheltered too for windy days. They do have a snack/lunch counter.

We always walk on, it’s really convenient and easy.  Once you get off the ferry you can walk into town in about 10-15 minutes. Just like Seattle, Bainbridge is a slope. So walking there is easy, going back is all uphill. And  Winslow Way is a long street, so getting from A to B  is a trek if you have mobility issues. The other main street is Madison-it runs down to the waterfront.  Right off the ferry there is the Waterfront Park and Trail. It’s not terribly uneven or a hard walk.  There is a bike rental close to where the ferry docks.

People who would enjoy the picturesque town of Bainbridge:

  1. Photographers-especially if you like flowers. Bainbridge has many different types and floral and fauna everywhere you look. Many of which are not local but varied and charming. In fact right before town following Winslow Way they have a nature/sculpture area that fits in nicely with the vibe of the island.
  2. You want to feel like you’re away without having to go far away and don’t have a lot of time. Bainbridge feels far away and secluded and laid back but it is easy to get too. It’s perfect when I just want to go somewhere quiet and pretty and don’t have vacation time.
  3. You like dessert. Bainbridge does not have a whole row of restaurants close together and very little seafood places. Which is surprising considering the Marina is right there, but that’s okay because they have plenty of places for anyone with a sweet tooth. And I certainly do! Mora Ice Creamery is probably my favorite. They have so many great flavors. Mexican chocolate, mint shaved chocolate, Irish coffee, even marsala wine custard. The place is always clean; seating is limited. There are at least 3 bakeries, we usually go to Blackbird. Another must visit is Bon Bon confections. It’s a candy and fudge shop but the real treat is that there is an entire wall of different chocolate bars from around the world. All types and flavors from Argentina, Brazil,  the Congo, you name it. Many local chocolates too like Theo and Seattle’s Best Chocolate.
  4. You’re mindful of your budget. I can spend the day in Bainbridge get great photos of beautiful flowers, walk around the Marina, go to the Museum of Art which has free admission, get some ice cream and go home. If you want some great gifts the island boasts a pretty cool lavender store Pelindaba Lavender 

So, if you have a day in Seattle and don’t want to do all the ultra-touristy things and/or you are in town for a cruise and have spent a ton of money already Bainbridge will fit your needs.