Wine Tasting in Woodinville, WA

JM Cellars

JM Cellars

Off to Woodinville!!!! When booking our trip to Seattle, we really wanted to do something “adult” since we were without the kids. We

Welcome To Woodinville Sign

Welcome To Woodinville Sign

called the Seattle Sheraton and the concierge highly recommended Evergreen Escapes!!! So we called and booked a wine tasting tour through Woodinville. The tour takes you on a beautiful ride in a Mercedes van to Woodinville. The tour guide was very knowledgeable, born & raised in the local area. The price is $125 per person which includes a 6 hour tour that takes you through 3 wineries. http://evergreenescapes.com/woodinville-wine-trail-experience

Elsom Cellars

Elsom Cellars

Woodinville, WA: Woodinville is located in King County, Washington. The population is approximately 10,938. Woodinville is part of the Seattle metropolitan area. There is a much larger population in Woodinville when including the adjacent areas of King (Cottage Lake) and Snohomish (Maltby) counties. Woodinville has waterfront parks on the Sammamish River, sweeping winery and brewery grounds, and densely wooded residential areas.

Woodinville’s economy is a mix of light industrial, retail, and tourism. Woodinville is commonly known for its local wineries, which showcase wines from grapes grown in Eastern Washington including Chateau Ste. Michelle, which is well-known for their popular summer concert series, Columbia Winery and dozens of other smaller ones. The Woodinville Tourist District is also home to the Redhook Ale Brewery and several fine restaurants including The Herbfarm “destination” restaurant.

Until July 2007, the north end of the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train’s route was at the Columbia Winery. Talks are currently underway to restore service, but running from Woodinville north to Snohomish, instead of south to Renton.

Elsom Cellars

Elsom Cellars

Eat a big breakfast before heading out on the 6 hour tour. We walked to Pike Place first and had a great breakfast at Bacco Bistro prior to taking off to Woodinville. The tour company will provide a meat and cheese platter at one of the wineries. However, I highly recommend bringing snacks so that you don’t get too woosey. Ha! We packed our beef jerky and granola bars (very posh) to snack during the ride. Bring enough to share!!! The tour take anywhere from 2-10 people. Our tour had a group of 8 from all over the U.S. It was fun chatting it up with a group, laughing along the way.

Evergreen Escapes:

Just outside Seattle lies Woodinville wine country, boasting nearly 100 wineries and tasting rooms. On this half-day quest, visit three award-winning wineries that deliver on elegance but leave the pretense at the door. Meet winemakers, tour wineries and taste fine wine, while our expert guides give a lesson in viticulture. You’ll clean your palate with local meats and cheeses, and shuttle this all-inclusive experience in one of our plush bio-diesel Mercedes vans.

First stop, Eslom Cellars!!!! Everyone’s favorite that day was the 2009 Columbia Valley Isabella (red) and the Road to Hell (white).

Elsom Cellars

Elsom Cellars

Wine Tasting Menu

Wine Tasting Menu

Red Wine Blend!!!! Be sure to ask for this one.

My husband’s second favorite was the 2009 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. The tastings at this winery were primarily reds. The staff was personable, knowledgable and fun!!! Be sure to ask for Erich!!He took us back to the barrels where we were able to sample directly from the barrel.

For more information be sure to visit

their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elsom-Cellars/106846303129

Elsom Cellars is located in Woodinville just around the corner from Redhook & Chateau St. Michelle Winery.  Tasting Room open Saturdays and Sundays, 12-5! www.elsomcellars.com http://elsomcellars.wordpress.comTwitter/: @elsomcellars

We were thrilled to be able to experience a tasting from an additional winery that day called Celaeno Winery.  Brian was very accommodating and described the details of his amazing wine- Road to Hell. The benefits of wine tasting from two wineries all in one place!!

Elsom Menu

Elsom Menu

As people who don’t typically drink white wine, we were blown away by the flavor and body of the white wine “Road to Hell”. Brian offered a taste of two different versions of his white wine. Both wines were the exact same grape and made at the exact same time. The difference in the two was that one was in an oak barrel and the other was in a stainless steel tank. We couldn’t believe the difference in the two. The wine from the stainless steel was a softer wine that left your palate immediately, while the “Road to Hell” had a bold flavor that lasted well after the taste. In addition, you were able to get a really good taste of the oak; it wasn’t overwhelmingly oaky, just perfect. The Road to Hell would be excellent with good chicken or seafood.  We even asked the owner if we could have another glass – which he was nice enough to give.

Be sure to check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CelaenoWinery?ref=br_rs

JM Cellars

JM Cellars

Our next stop was JM Cellars located up in the hills of Woodinville.

JM Cellars

Barrels at JM Cellars

Driving into the winery was amazing. The trees were so tall and you can smell them immediately stepping out of the van. The property and winery itself was absolutely beautiful. It has a very classy feel. When we walked up the path to the entrance there was a table setup with the wine glasses and a very

John at JM Cellars

John at JM Cellars

nice lady standing behind waiting to pour our drinks. Before pouring though, she began telling us about the property, the owners and the wine.

JM Cellars pouring

JM Cellars pouring

The introduction was very educational and had us all eager to try the wine. The ambiance and setting at this winery was quite  inviting. After our second tasting of the wine, John the owner took us in the back of the winery to show the barrels and explain where the wine was made. John took the time to explain their vineyards, the process, and THEIR style of making wine. Oh yeah, he also gave us two tastings of the wine right out of the barrel!!! We learned more about the process of wine making in the 15 minutes in the back of JM than ever before. We learned about the different kinds of oak barrels and why they use the ones they do. After he was finished explaining, we went to the next room for tasting. This is where we tasted our favorite JM wine the 2010 TRE, which is named after their three sons. The wine was amazing and something we wish we could have all of the time – for when we have company or just eating steak. This was a great wine!

John mentioned monthly family dinners that are held at the winery. I contacted the winery to find out more information.

“We hold what we call “Family Dinners” each quarter.  These are usually for our wine club members and guests featuring a local chef who will cook on site and share the process with the guests as the evening progresses.  They are intimate groups of 40 and we always have amazing food.”
Contact Brenda Butler at brenda@jmcellars.com if you have questions regarding the family dinners.

JM Cellars

JM Cellars

JM Menu

JM Wine Tasting List

JM Cellars is a family-owned winery in Woodinville, Washington working in
partnership with a diverse collection of the Columbia Valley’s
best vineyards to produce high quality wines styled for balance, power,
dimension and finesse. Best known for blended reds (we make four), many regard

Tre (formerly Tre Fanciulli) as JM Cellars’ “signature”
wine.
Production of all our wines is limited and so too is availability.
The wines are sold through our tasting room in Woodinville, our mailing list and in select wine shops

and restaurants. We hope your family will enjoy drinking them as much as our
family has enjoyed making them.
http://www.jmcellars.com/

Group wine tasting

Group wine tasting at Kestrel Winery

Kestrel

Kestrel

Final stop, Kestrel Winery.

Kestrel Winery

Kestrel Winery

We opened our winery in early 1999 on three acresin the Prosser Wine and Food Park.Our winery building is 15,000 square feet, which includes a 13,500 square foot cellar, tank, warehouse and barrel area as well as a 1,500 square foot tasting room, gift shop and office.We opened our doors as a 3,000 case winery and are now at approximately 35,000 cases.We are predominately a red wine producer with 90% of our production in Lady in Red, our red table blend, as well as our red varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The remaining 10% is in Platinum – a blend of Gewurztraminer and Viognier, as well as Chardonnay and Viognier varietals.Barrel aging plays an important part in our wine production. Our wines are aged one-to-two years in the finest French, American and Hungarian oak barrels and provided bottle aging prior to release.http://www.kestrelwines.com/aboutus/

Kestrel wine tasting was located in a warehouse setting and was definitely the most commercial of the three wineries that day. As the tour guide said, “The wineries in the warehouse industrial area are like the Disneyland of wine tasting”. The tastings were in a room with tables which seemed to cater to larger groups. A marketing woman stood up and presented each wine to the table and then moved on to other tables. She was very knowledgable, while sales focussed at the same time. The two other wineries seemed to be more informative as we got to drink directly from the various barrels. Kestrel would be a great place to go wine tasting with a large group, as it was not an intimate setting. To be honest, we were loving the meat and cheese tray at the time. This was the only winery that day which passed out an order form for their wine. Not sure we really cared for that. Our view about wine is – if we LOVE it than we will buy it, we don’t need an order form. We were thankful that they had complementary water and lemon aide as well as live music.
Meat and Cheese Platter

Meat and Cheese Platter

$$ saving tips: Highly recommend booking a tour for several reasons. You can wine taste at numerous wineries and not worry about driving. Although the wine tastings were only about $10 per person, you will save money booking the tour because you wont have to rent a car, deal with GPS, hire a driver nor pay for gas. Also, the tour guides are so knowledgable and you don’t have to choose which wineries to visit when there are over 100 in Woodinville. The tour guides encourage feedback from the clients. We had an exceptional tour guide who kept us laughing while educating the group about each winery.

Thank you Angie!!!! Bring snacks and bottled water. The guide will provide snacks at the last winery which is about 5 hours into the tour.
Advertisements

It’s Vegas Time!!!!!

Bartolotta at The Wynn

Bartolotta at The Wynn

VEGAS – THE WYNN – THE VENETIAN – CELINE – LE REVE – PHANTOM OF THE OPERA- MARIO BATALI – CAESARS PALACE – FASHION SHOW MALL – BELLAGIO – SLOTS – GONDOLAS – CAPTAINS AND PINEAPPLE –

Living room in Venetian suite

Living room in Venetian suite

Vegas, Vegas, Vegas where to begin…first thing first – book your hotel!! I personally love

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool

the Venetian Hotel and you can get pretty good rates by signing up in advance for their Club Grazie (it’s free!). Sign up to be a Grazie member at http://www.venetian.com/Grazie-Loyalty-Program/ They will send promotions and specials about room packages throughout the year. I have stayed at the Venetian three times and love it more each time. It can be expensive if you don’t book the room on a special – it would not be a great hotel to book last minute. Most of the

Venetian Suite

Venetian Suite

IMG_2802

Venetian’s Piazza San Marco

hotels in Las Vegas have a club or membership to sign up for, mainly for gambling purposes but also for room specials. By booking in advance the rooms can be as cheap as $159.00 per night which is really cheap considering all rooms are suites!! If you split that cost with a friend than you are only paying $80 per night!! The suites have large sunken living rooms with huge windows and a bar area. The bathroom has double doors with a separate toilet room, bath, and a vanity separate from the double sink area. The rooms are over the top

Venetian

Venetian

amazing and not expensive! In comparison to the Wynn or Bellagio where the average cost of rooms is

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

about $300 per night for a smaller room – not a suite.  It is not easy to choose a hotel room when you consider Las Vegas has 152,275 rooms in 355 hotels. While Las Vegas is not the city with the most hotels in the U.S. it is the city with the most rooms in the U.S. Las Vegas hotels are massive!! Phoenix has the most hotels with Orlando in second place among U.S. cities.

We were celebrating a birthday while at the Venetian and the rooms are spacious enough to really hang out and have a small celebration. The living room really adds to the space and makes the room so open.

Venetian Suite

Venetian Suite

Gondolas at the Venetian

Gondolas at the Venetian

Gondolas:

“No trip to Venice — or The Venetian — would be complete without a graceful and romantic glide

Gondolas

Gondolas

down the Grand Canal in an authentic Venetian gondola. Float beneath bridges, beside cafes, under balconies and through the vibrant Venetian streetscape as your singing gondolier sweeps you down the Grand Canal for a ride like no other.” For more information visit http://www.venetian.com/Las-Vegas-Activities/Gondola-Rides/

All reservations must be made in person. Ticket sales open daily at 9:30 a.m. for the indoor ride and 10:00 a.m. for the outdoor ride.

 
Gondolas

Gondolas

The Venetian is a great choice if you love food!!! Or shall I say if you love Italian and Mario Batali??? Vegas is all about the Food Network Stars!!! Mario has two restaurants at the Venetian and I have eaten at both! B&B Ristorante is a fine dining restaurant. When we ate there, compliments of the chef continued to come out. It was an absolute experience that we reveled in for hours sipping the night away.

DSC05732

B&B Ristorante

IMG_2905

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

Chef Mario Batali and his partner/ winemaker Joseph Bastianich are bringing their award-winning New York City based Italian restaurant expertise to the other city that never sleeps. B&B Ristorante will feature the duo’s acclaimed blend of exquisite Italian food and a casual elegance that “captures the soul of an Italian grandmother dancing the tango with pop rock hipsters”. http://www.venetian.com/Las-Vegas-Restaurants/Fine-Dining/B-B-Ristorante/

On the more casual side – try Mario’s Otto Enoteca Pizzeria located in Venetian’s Piazza San Marco. Otto has 100 bottles under $100. Customers can order a taste by the ounce from the Enomatic Wine Preservation System or buy a Enomatic Card and create their own personal wine tasting experience. The menu offers Sicilian eggplant caponata and caprese salad, mixed affetati plate with prosciutto di Parma, house cured salumi, and cheeses, pizza, pasta, and piatti. I could eat at this restaurant every day while in Vegas. The selection of cheeses alone is worth the visit. Highly, highly recommed Otto!!

12750_174935696837_7185635_n

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

About the hotel: The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino is a luxury hotel and casino resort. It is located between Harrah’s and The Palazzo on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel tower is 36 stories and rises 475 feet. The Venetian is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The Venetian also is the location of the corporate headquarters for its parent company. This hotel features a lifelike replica tower of St Mark’s Campanile in Venice, Italy.

Ceasars

Caesar’s Palace

The Las Vegas Strip is a 4.2-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. The Strip is actually not

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool

located within the City of Las Vegas but it passes through the towns of Paradise and Winchester. Bet you didn’t know that! Most of the Strip has been designated as an All-American Road. The strip comes alive as a scenic route at night. Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 62,000 rooms.

Las Vegas’ cityscape is best known for its use of dramatic architecture. Vegas is one of the most popular destinations for tourists due to the hotels, casinos, restaurants, and residential high-rises on the Strip.

Fashion Show Mall

Fashion Show Mall

Fashion Show Mall is located across from the Wynn – there is a bridge which connects the mall to the

Fashion Show Mall

Fashion Show Mall

hotel. Fashion Show Mall is unlike any mall I have ever been to. It is one of the largest enclosed malls in the world. The mall has over 250 stores, 7 anchors, an elevated stage, a fashion runway and “The Cloud.”

We were walking along shopping when the stage suddenly popped up, the screen came down displaying a countdown until the runway show began, and the music started. Fashion shows take place in the mall every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The local models are free to watch. During the Winter months, the mall has scheduled snow storms inside. Santa Claus also makes special appearances, even giving a high-energy performance on the runway with his group of elf helpers.

IT’S SHOWTIME!!!!!!!

The number one reason I go to Vegas is for the shows!!!! The Venetian has a number of shows in the

Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera

hotel. Another wonderful reason to stay at Venetian. The theater at the Venetian was built

Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera

for Phantom of the Opera.

The theater costs 40 million dollars to build. Wow!!! The 1-ton chandelier is made of hand-strung crystal hurtles down amid pyrotechnics from above only to stop a mere 10 feet above the heads of some in the audience. When the chandelier fell, I screamed and felt my throat tighten up. It was intense! That’s just Vegas style.

Vegas doesn’t have to worry about space constraints such as Manhattan or London and they have the money to build from the casinos.  A single Vegas showroom can cost more than the combined budgets for all new Broadway productions for a given year. Phantom in Las Vegas was by far the best theater experience I’ve had.

Sadly the show left the Venetian in 2012.

Celine Dion

Celine Dion

CELINE!!!!!!!!! When my girlfriend asked if I wanted to head to Vegas to see Celine Dion for her b-day- that was a no brainer! I had seen concerts before in The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace and loved the concert hall. Celine was amazing in concert, her range is unbelievable and she will not disappoint!

Celine is the second residency show by the Canadian recording artist. Celine has 70 performances per year. The show ranked 26th in Pollstar’s “Top 50 Worldwide Tour”, earning over 20 million dollars.In 2011 over 200,00 people saw the show. Dion the “most profitable music act in Las Vegas” since Elvis Presley.

Dion has extended her residency contract to 2019.

“I’m coming back home to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and I’m very excited about it. With the orchestra and the band we’re going to be able to perform our songs like never before. The repertoire is going to be extraordinary…a mix of timeless Hollywood classics, along with all the favorites that my fans like to hear me sing. It’s going to be a very beautiful show, and I think we’ll be raising the bar higher than we’ve ever done before. There’ll be some truly wonderful moments……I can’t wait” Celine Dion

The Colosseum is the main entertainment venue for Caesars Palace. Deemed the Home of the Greatest Entertainers in the World, the theatre hosts numerous residency shows by Cher, Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Shania Twain. The venue seats 4,100 and is inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome. The cost of the theatre totaled $95 million,

Celine sign

Celine sign

becoming the most expensive entertainment venue in Las Vegas.

Bette Midler

Bette Midler

Bette Midler- The Showgirl Must Go On…..I was fortunate enough to see Bette Midler in the short time that she was at Caesar’s Palace. Bette’s show was more of a variety show and less of a concert which was disappointing, as I love her voice. She still sounds amazing and sung most of her popular songs. The show catered to senior citizens and therefore; I really didn’t get the show. The jokes were about medications and there was even a number where Bette and her show girls came out in wheelchairs. Overall, I was disappointed in the show but grateful that I got to hear Bette sing live.

Bette Midler is also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M. She is an American singer-songwriter, actress, comedian, film producer and entrepreneur. In the past 50 years, Bette Midler has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and won three Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a special Tony Award. She has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

The Showgirl Must Go On was a show at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas that starred pop diva Bette Midler from 2008-2010. Bette Midler signed for 300 shows from 2008 to 2010 at a pace of 100 performances a year. Shows were presented five nights a week with the house dark on Mondays and Thursdays.

The show included The Staggering Harlettes, 20 female dancers called The Caesar Salad Girls and a 13-piece band. The show played its final performance on January 31, 2010, and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special in 2011.

Le Rêve – The Dream

Le Rêve – The Dream

La Reve Sign

Le Rêve – The Dream

Le Rêve – The Dream: Le Reve shows at The Wynn Hotel Friday through Tuesday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and is performed in an aqua theater. The theater guarantees a great view no matter where you sit as it is tiered seating in a circular layout. Le Reve is more of an adult show, as it is both gothic and erotic. The music is very loud and gothic while displaying a romantic love story. The acrobats and diving are impressive and similar to Cirque de Solei. We purchased tickets the same day and got a great deal. Sometimes shows are cheaper in Vegas the day of.

Le Rêve – The Dream was voted “Best Show in Las Vegas” for three years running by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association. “Discover a new realm of stunning performers, provocative choreography, artistic athleticism and breathtaking aerial feats that will take you on a romantic journey into an aquatic world, where fantasies and dreams become reality.”  For more information about the show visit http://pages.wynnlasvegas.com/lereve/?WT.mc_id=ppc_google&WT.srch=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=paid-search&utm_content=lereve&utm_term=brand&gclid=CMDd7azW87gCFS6CQgodZREAUw

Mesa Grill, Las Vegas

Mesa Grill, Las Vegas

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill: Before the Celine concert, we wanted to grab something quick

Mesa Grill, Las Vegas

Mesa Grill, Las Vegas

but yummy. We decided to try Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill which opened in 2004. I highly recommend making a reservation for the popular restaurant. Bobby Flay has a passion for bold and innovative Southwestern food. Bobby developed his signature style of American cookery, marrying the flavors of southwest with his love of grilling at Mesa Grill.  On he menu you will find New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Chile Sauce, Sweet Potato

Mesa Grill

Mesa Grill

Tamale, Crushed Pecan Butter, Chiptole Glazed Rib-Eye with Red and Green Chile Sauce.
“Las Vegas’ proximity to Mexico gives the restaurant access to some of that country’s highest-quality tequila and mezcal offerings, and the expansive wine list has a global reach yet maintains an emphasis on top American wines.
The combination of Mesa Grill’s magnificent decor, the exciting vibe of the casino atmosphere and Bobby Flay’s stunning range of textures, flavors and colors incorporated into his menu continue to electrify diners year after year.”

http://www.mesagrill.com/las-vegas-restaurant/about.php

There are three Mesa Grill locations: Las Vegas, New York and on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Bartolotta: This is the first restaurant I have eaten at where the fish is priced by the

Bartolotta

Bartolotta

Bartolotta

Bartolotta

ounce! AND I have experienced many five star and fine dining restaurants.

The fish menu is quite impressive with seafood options flown in daily from the Mediterranean. Fish, fish, fish……is the main thing there, mostly whole-roasted ones. Sea bass, purple snapper, big eye and turbot are the English names, and there are others. Occasionally the chef will make one in a salt crust — a technique to seal in the juices that doesn’t make the fish salty at all — or alla Palermitana (green olives, garlic and tomatoes.)

Paul Bartolotta has over 20 years of culinary experience, culinary expertise and strengths in new business development. Paul and his brother Joe, the co-owner of The Bartolotta Restaurant Group, combined fused vision to open their first restaurant, Ristorante Bartolotta, for a casual yet authentic Italian cucina in 1993.  Today, The Bartolotta Restaurant Group owns and operates 8 award-winning, fine-dining restaurants, and 2 fast-casual concepts. Reservations are recommended. I have listed some of the seafood options below.

PESCE ~ whole fish

15.00 per 100 grams (approximately 3 ounces.)

orata…

 gilthead sea bream

branzino…

 sea bass

san pietro…

 john dory

dentice imperiale…

 imperial snapper

rombo…

 turbot

sogliola…

 northern Adriatic sole

pagello…

 pink snapper

occhiona…

 big eye red sea bream

pagaro…

 snapper

CROSTACEI ~ crustaceans

astaco…

 Mediterranean blue rock lobster 22.00 per 100 grams

cicala imperiale

 slipper lobster 22.00 per 100 grams

aragosta…

 spiny lobster 20.00 per 100 grams

$$ saving tips: There is so much to do in Vegas for free!! Walk around, people watch, search for the moving trees, grab samples of food and products (diamond cream). First thing, book your room way in advance. There are great deals for rooms in Vegas but don’t book around a huge event (like I did) such as the World Rodeo Championships!!! When all of the hotels are sold out for a large event- you will not get a deal even if booking far in advance. There are so many rooms to choose from. Don’t just pick based on price, look at the square footage of the room. The Venetian offers large suites for half the price and 30% more square footage then some of the other hotels. To find the square footage of the rooms, go to the hotel website and click on room information. Choose your shows before booking the room. Then, either book your room where the show is or close to the show so that you can walk. Otherwise you will be standing in long, hot lines and spending money on taxi cabs. In Vegas, taxi’s do not go anywhere fast. You will sit in traffic on the strip at night forever, while the meter is running and then be dropped off far away from your destination. Then you will look up and notice that your hotel was right across the street! Don’t always purchase show tickets in advance. For headline concerts such as Celine- purchase in advance to guarantee a ticket but for smaller hotels shows such as theater, save money and purchase the day of. That is when there are great deals because they are trying to fill the theater. Travel to Vegas outside of June-August. One reason is it will be cooler and less crowded but that is also when special room rates are offered.

This page is dedicated to my Vegas Girl!!!!

Birthday Celebrations at Disneyland

Party on Main St

Party on Main St

Birthday Sticker

Birthday Sticker

Every child dreams of visiting Disneyland ~

After all, It’s Where Dreams Come True. So why not step it up a notch and have your birthday party on Main Street at the Plaza Inn??? For our son’s 5th birthday we decided to take him to Disneyland and party it up on Main Street. Upon arriving at the resort, tell a Disney associate as you pass through the gates about your special day and receive a Happy Birthday sticker.

Pat E Cake

Pat E Cake

Stop by City Hall on Main Street at Disneyland or Guest Services at Disney California Adventure Park to pick up a special birthday button to wear. Receive special greetings all day long while wearing the birthday button and/or sticker!!!!

The party will be hosted by Mr. Patrick Edward Cake (AKA Pat E Cake).

Two Disney characters will be sure to join the party. The celebration includes a Mickey-shaped cake with frosting and candy decorations, a party hat, punch in a special Happy Birthday cup and Mickey Mouse Plate.

Mickey Cake Decorating

Mickey Cake Decorating

Mickey Cake

Mickey Cake

Celebrate your special day at the most magical place on Earth!!!!!! Birthday Parties on Main Street are not currently available at the resort at this time, but there are new ways to celebrate in Disney style. The Mickey Mouse shaped cake is still available!!

Cake Time!!!!

Cake, cake cake. Kids and adults love to celebrate their special day with an amazing, decorative cake!!  Disneyland offers an array of custom cakes which can be delivered to any full-service Disneyland theme park restaurant. So go for it~ surprised your loved one on their special day with the delivery of a custom Disney cake. Rest at ease and let Disney handle the planning. Contact a Disney Vacation Specialist at (714) 781-3463 (DINE) for more information.

Choose the cake~

There are three types of cakes to choose from ~ Mickey or Minnie Mouse-shaped cake, Disney Princess Cake or Disney Signature Cake. Custom design the cake for that special person in mind by choosing from a variety of cake, filling, frosting options and a personalized message.

Celebrations while staying at the Disneyland Resort

Birthday Dining

Birthday Dining

Mickey & Minnie

Mickey & Minnie

The Disneyland Resort offers special birthday celebrations which include an individual party cake to be delivered for room service or while you are dining at their full-service restaurants. The birthday boy or girl may choose from a Disney Princess Jewelry Box or Disney Pirate Treasure Chest individual-sized party cake. Regardless of which theme you choose, your little one will receive a special surprise along with the cake! Still want more celebration??? Have your hotel room decorated exclusively by Disney for your special day.

Disney Resort also offers a themed gift basket which may be delivered directly to the hotel room of the birthday boy or girl. This is a great option if you know someone who is going to Disneyland for his/her birthday but you will not be with them. Just call up a vacation specialist and have the basket delivered to the room!

You can never go wrong with a Disney Gift Card to say “Happy Birthday!” Disney gift cards can be used at the Disneyland Resort for merchandise, meals, park tickets and special experiences.

Digimax A50 / KENOX Q2

Disneyland offers special arrangements for graduation night, weddings and picnics

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

Washington D.C. in the Spring

DSC07069

U.S. Capitol

Fun times in D.C.

Fun times in D.C.

I have had the pleasure of visiting Washington D.C. twice. D.C. is really exciting because there is always something going on. I love touring all of the buildings and taking in the history. This is a place that I would love to explore with the kids.

First stop- the Capitol!! I wish I could just run right up those stairs but of course I had to stand back and take a picture from the sidewalk. It really is an experience to see it up close rather than on TV. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the U.S. Congress, the legislature of the U.S. federal government. The Capitol sits on top of Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. It was my starting point of a walking trip for the day up and down National Mall.

The Capitol, like the federal buildings for the executive and judicial branches, is built in the distinctive neoclassical style and has a white exterior.

If you are interested in touring the historic U.S. Capitol building- they do offer free tours. You can obtain this information at the visitor’s center or on line at  www.visitthecapitol.gov  where reservations are highly recommended. The Capitol grounds are open 24 hours-a-day every day of the year, with the exception of special events. Other venues on Capitol Hill offer guide-led and self-guided tours including the Library of Congress and Supreme Court.

Smithsonian

Smithsonian

Growing up people would always mention the Smithsonian. I remember hearing of the ruby slippers locked in a case within the Smithsonian. Until visiting D.C., I didn’t realize that it was many museums and many different locations. The Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”. It is a group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government. The Smithsonian has been referred to as “the nation’s attic” due to the 137 million items. It’s not just a museum!!! The Smithsonian is inclusive of nineteen museums, nine research centers, and zoo. Additional Smithsonian facilities are located in Arizona, Maryland, New York City, Virginia, Panama and elsewhere, and 168 other museums are Smithsonian affiliates. It is truly unbelievable that the museums are all free!! 30 million people visit the Smithsonian annually.

To find out more information on the Smithsonian, visit http://www.si.edu/.

U.S. Botanical Garden

U.S. Botanical Garden

U.S. Botanical Garden

U.S. Botanical Garden

I stumbled upon the United States Botanic Garden when roaming around near the Capitol.  It is located on the grounds of the

Capitol near Garfield Circle.

U.S. Botanical Garden

U.S. Botanical Garden

It is open every day of the year, including federal holidays. It is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States.

There are many gardens consisting of roses, orchids, along with plants from the rainforest to the Mid-Atlantic, rare and endangered plants to the latest in home gardens. There are also permanent exhibits and gardens. There is always something beautiful in bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory, the National DSC07077Garden, and Bartholdi Park.

The museum allows photography and you can even apply for a permit to sketch while in the gardens. It smells amazing when the wind blows through. During the summer there is a childrens garden which gives kids a chance to get hands-on in a courtyard garden where they can gently explore plants in bloom and play with gardening tools to learn about plants. For more information on the gardens visit http://www.usbg.gov/

National Museum of American History
National Museum of American History

Julia Child's Kitchen

My favorite of all the museums is the National Museum of American History by far. I could wander around in there for days and days. It is my favorite because it is fun, exciting, relatable and memorable.

The first-floor exhibits are mainly science and innovation. They include

Julia Child's Kitchen

Julia Child’s Kitchen

Science in American Life featuring Robots on the Road and Bon Appétit! Julia Child’s Kitchen. Spark!Lab is a hands-on exhibit of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. The Vassar Telescope is the one of the main artifacts.

Kenneth E. Behring Center displays the heritage of the United States including social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Among the items on display are the original Star-Spangled Banner and Archie Bunker’s chair. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue.

It originally opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology. It was one of the last structures designed by the architectural firm McKim Mead & White. The museum was eventually renamed The National Museum of American History in 1980 which represents the mission of the collection.

Museum of American History

The Star Spangled Banner

Ruby Slippers

Ruby Slippers

Probably the most moving display is the original Star Spangled Banner Flag which inspired Francis Scott Key’s poem. It is located in the center of the second floor. The flag has been conserved and is on display as the centerpiece of the renovated museum. It is housed in a climate-controlled room which does not allow photography.

The infamous ruby slippers are also on display in the museum. The shoes were worn by Dorothy, who was played by Judy Garland in the 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of Oz.

Ruby Slipper Sign

Ruby Slipper Sign

The ruby sippers are among the most treasured and valuable of film memorabilia due to their iconic stature.There were multiple pairs of shoes made for the film; however, the exact number of pairs made is unknown. There are five pairs which remain. One pair was stolen in 2005 and has never been recovered.

In L. Frank Baum’s original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the shoes were actually

Ruby Slipper snowglobe

Ruby Slipper snow globe

silver. Due to Technicolor, the creator decided to change the color of the shoes for the film.

There is a gift shop at each of the museums – of course!!! Since my daughter collects snow globes, I picked a ruby slippers snow globe for a souvenir.  The slippers even have glitter on them. Very affordable, fun and probably not something she could buy elsewhere.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution. It is also located on the National Mall with free admission. The museum opened in 1910, as one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities. The museum employees 1000 people and has 350,000 square feet of exhibition.

What will you see in the museum? There are plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts. This is a museum I will definitely take the kids to!! It is family friendly and very interesting.

Also, located on the National Mall is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I highly recommend researching the museum prior to

U.S. Holocaust Museum

U.S. Holocaust Museum

touring. Had I known exactly what would be displayed, I would not have chosen to tour the museum. It is laid out very well, starting off with volunteers handing each visitor a card with a picture and the story of someone who lost their life during the Holocaust. The museum is several levels directing the visitors through each level. By the time I reached the third floor which was the level about children of the Holocaust I felt physically ill and couldn’t continue. As a parent, it was beyond what I could have imagined and I couldn’t bare to see anymore. There are barriers which stand about 3 feet tall to prevent children from viewing the displays. Much of the items in the museum are from Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. I am grateful for the museum and the education provided here in the U.S.

“A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors.”

For more information about the museum, visit http://www.ushmm.org/

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world.

The museum is family friendly with planes hanging from the ceiling and offers so much to do. There is a really fun gift shop with aircraft toys.

NASA Spacesuite

NASA Spacesuite

I bought my son a NASA spacesuit from the gift shop to wear for Halloween. If you are unable to visit the gift shop at the museum- shopping is available on line at http://www.smithsonianstore.com/air-space/

The museum is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

and geophysics. Almost all of the space and aircraft on display are originals or backups to the originals.

Some of the objects on display include 1903 Wright  Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, and a lunar rock that kids can touch. Daily tours and educational activities are offered for both children and adults.

There are many displays to pose with for a picture and things to climb on for kids.

For more information visit http://airandspace.si.edu/

Captiol Hill Brewery

Capitol City Brewing Co

After walking around all day and touring museums- you will work up an appetite!! The first place I stopped at was Capitol City Brewing Co. They have a great bar menu and large portions.

Capitol City Brewing Co. opened its  doors in 1992 as the first brew pub in our nation’s capitol since  prohibition, thus giving its citizens and its many visitors the freedom  to enjoy some of the finest hand-crafted beer in the country. On the  front of our menu is the symbol of freedom, the Lady Liberty, a statue  found atop our namesake, the United States Capitol.”

They have four signature brews: Capitol Kulsch, Pale Rider Ale, Amber Waves Ale, and

Food Truck

Food Truck

Prohibition Porter.

While in D.C. everyone has to grab a hot dog from a food truck!! So easy, just grab and go. You will be on the go from museum to museum site

seeing- so why waste time sitting down? There were so many food trucks and so many options at each truck.

Papa Razzi Restaurant

Papa Razzi Restaurant

I found some time to shop as well!!! Check out the 140 shops and restaurants at Georgetown Park located on Wisconsin Ave NW. I walked all around from shop to shop and eventually ended up eating at an Italian Restaurant for dinner.

Union Station

Union Station

Be sure to visit Union Station Washington D.C. located at 50 Massachusetts Ave. There are 13 restaurants in Union Station and tons of shops!! I had the pleasure of eating at one of their restaurants at night in the noisy, alive and happening Union Station.

Union Station is more than just eating and shopping. It is a major train station, rail hub, and leisure destination. 32 million people visit the station each year. The

Union Station, D.C.

Union Station, D.C.

train station is one of the busiest train stations in the country, served by Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail services as well as by Washington Metro subway trains and local buses. Union Station is the headquarters for Amtrak.

History: “On September 29, 1988, Union Station reopened its doors with a gala celebration.  A public/private partnership funded the $160 million restoration of

the Station per legislation enacted by Congress in 1981 to preserve Union Station as a national treasure.  It was the largest, most complex public/private restoration project ever attempted in the United States.” http://www.unionstationdc.com/info/infohistory

Amtrak announced in July 2012 a $7 billion plan to revamp and renovate the station over the next 15–20 years, which will take place in four phases. It is expected to double the number of trains and triple the number of passengers in glass-encased halls.

$$ saving tips: D.C. is an easy place to get around for free because you can walk from museum to museum on National Mall. There are so many places to walk if you stay near the Capitol. Most of the museums are free. The only museum that I paid to observe was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and I believe the entrance fee was minimal.

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine

Paella, Paella, Paella

Pealla on the Wharf in Barcelona

Pealla on the Wharf in Barcelona

Europe - 41.5

Le Meridien Barcelona CentOnze Restaurant

Our son fell in love with Paella while in Barcelona!!!! He loves seafood and rice- so this was a dish come true for him. What exactly is Paella?

Paella is a Valencian rice dish which came about in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain’s national dish.  Most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols. So it is a dish shared amongst many regions and many people but commonly served in Spain.

This dish is named after the two-handled pan it’s cooked in. The 15-inch paella pan has a wide surface area which ensures that the rice cooks in a thin, even layer.There are three common types of paella: Valencian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. The key to this dish is the crusty caramelized layer of rice, called socarrat, that forms on the bottom of the pan. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat  such as: rabbit, chicken, duck, land snails- beans and seasoning.

CentOnze, Le Meridien Barcelona

CentOnze, Le Meridien Barcelona

Seafood paella includes seafood and usually doesn’t have beans and green vegetables.

Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. The key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.

Le Meridien Barcelona CentOnze Restaurant

Le Meridien Barcelona CentOnze Restaurant

Our son was on a mission to try Paella all over Barcelona. Each version greatly differed. The first place that he ordered Paella was at the Le Meridien Barcelona Hotel on La Rambla. While this is a Jean Georges restaurant which is usually 5 Star and quite pricey, their portions were large and not too expensive considering we sat in the window on La Rambla. We love to sit and watch all of the passerby’s at night. Of course in Spain, dinner doesn’t really start until 9ish and goes until very late!!! The Paella at CentOnze was € 22.50 for a large, adult sized portion. Pretty reasonable for the amount of seafood in the dish including a giant crustacean on the top. We highly recommend this restaurant for price, ambiance and food quality.

About Jean Georges Vongerichen: He was born in the Alsace and studied in France. He started his career in le Méridien Singapore and very soon after, he open 10 restaurants in the same area. In 1985, he decided to go to New York and he won 4 stars of The New York Times when he was only 29 years old.

He opened restaurants in Boston, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Chicago, London, Paris, Bahamas and Shanghai. Currently he possesses 12 stars in The New York Times thanks to his 4 restaurants in New York (Jojo, Vong, Jean Georges and The Mercer Kitchen).

Fast Food Paella

Fast Food Paella

The Fast Food of Paella- GROSS!!!

Don’t make the same mistake we did. Our son wanted Paella one last time prior to leaving Barcelona, so we went looking for it. As we walked down a street in Barcelona that the bus dropped us off at, we came across a sign with a picture of Paella. After walking quite a ways and so hungry, we just stopped off at a pizza place which also served Paella. That was probably our sign- pizza and Paella? When it came out, it looked like sticky yellow rice with a bag of frozen peas and a disgusting chicken drumstick. We were actually afraid to let him eat it but he was so hungry. The restaurant was clean, very metro and the rest of us had great food. The Paella was comparable to fast food. Paella in Spain is much like “wood burning stove pizza in Rome” every restaurant swears by it. We paid about € 12.00 for it and it wasn’t worth € 2.00. It actually made us sick looking at it. Most Paella has mussels, shrimp, clams and other seafood such as fish, calamari or crustaceans. As you can see from the picture – this Paella had none of those- just a chicken bone.

Tapas Sign

Tapas Sign

“Mejillones” (mussels) in Barcelona are everywhere!!! After having his fill of Paella, he moved on to mussels.

How to eat mussels

How to eat mussels

Spain has tapas everywhere -so we took full advantage of sampling tapas around town. As you can see in the picture of the Tapas sign- mussels were only € 3.30. That’s so cheap!!! Many of the restaurants in Spain have menus posted on the sidewalk and many of them offer outside seating.

In Spain, mussels are consumed mostly steam cooked, boiled in white wine, onion and herbs, and served with the remaining water and some lemon. Mussels are commonly served as “tigres” in Spain, a croquette using the mussel meat, shrimps and other pieces of fish in a thick bechamel then breaded and fried in the clean mussel shell.

Mussels are also used in other varieties such as rices or soups or commonly eaten canned in a pickling brine made of oil, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves and paprika.

Done!

Done!

Patatas Bravas: also called patatas a la brava or papas bravas, is a dish native to Spain and often served as a tapa in bars. It is made up of white potatoes that have been cut into about 2 centimeter irregular shapes and then fried in oil and served warm with a sauce such as a spicy tomato sauce or a mayonnaise. In the picture you will see that they were served with a white cream dollop which was similiar to a crème fraîche (lighter, less sour than our sour cream in the US). This dish is commonly served in restaurants and bars throughout Spain, where it is traditionally paired with a shot of orujo or a glass of wine. It is one of the most spicy dishes served in Spain. Yummy is all I can say!!!

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

$$ saving tips: Tapas can be extremely pricey!!! The first place that we sat down to for tapas in Barcelona handed us a bill for € 150.00 (times that by .30 for US dollars). What not to do when ordering tapas- if the waiter ask or tells you “I will bring a sampler of tapas” say no! Be sure to look at the menu prior to entering a tapas restaurant. We were drawn in because it looked like a happening place, dishes clanking, lots of people inside, wine glasses and smelled great. We didn’t look at the menu first and accepted the tapas sampler. We had just gotten off of a plane, tired after traveling 22 hours. Won’t make that mistake again. The menu in the picture indicates that there are affordable places which have a vast variety of tapas. Tapas are great because they are small and not really filling so we can restaurant hop along the side walk cafes and try all kinds of food. Tapas are also cheaper during the day!

Paella goes well with Sangria!!! Be sure to check out the Sangria page of the blog by choosing the link in the right hand column called “Sangria”. When ordering Paella, look at the quality as well as the price. We happened to find great Paella in a high end restaurant affordably prices and equally as good Paella on the waterfront in Barcelona. In our experience, if there is a picture of the item on the menu – it is probably more a fast food type of Paella. Try Paella in Spain and then make it yourself at home!!

Easy Chicken Paella Recipe

Original recipe makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, salt and black pepper to taste, 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces, 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, 3 cloves garlic, crushed, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice, 1 pinch saffron threads, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped, 1 quart  chicken stock, 2 lemons, zested, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 Spanish onion, chopped, 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped, 1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled, 1 pound  shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-paella/

Seattle in June

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island

The great thing about Seattle is if you stay downtown, you can pretty much walk all around the waterfront, shopping, ferry boat rides, Pike Place Market, aquarium, Space Needle and have access to great restaurants. We stayed at the Seattle Westin which is located downtown. It was the perfect location if you don’t want to rent a car.

Space Needle

Space Needle

Seattle, Washington is so pretty in June!!

Space Needle

Space Needle

We were expecting slightly better weather as everyone said June is summer in Seattle, but not so true. We were there mid-June for one week and it was sunny one day. Fortunately, it was the one day we chose to ride to the top of the Space Needle via the elevators which travel 10 mph. The trip takes 41 seconds to reach the top and some tourists wait in hour-long lines. On windy days, the elevators slow to 5 miles per hour. It was really crowded at the top of the Space Needle. We walked all the way around to see the

Telescope views from top of Space Needle

Telescope views from top of Space Needle

various views. It is definitely a tourist trap and not that affordable for a family of four. We were not up there more than 15

Kids at Space Needle

Kids at Space Needle

minutes but the views of downtown Seattle skyline, Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay, and surrounding islands were very pretty.

History: The Space Needle is an observation tower in Seattle, Washington. It is a landmark of the Pacific Northwest, and a symbol of Seattle which is built in the Seattle Center. It was originally designed for the 1962 World’s Fair, which drew over 2.3 million visitors. Nearly 20,000 people a day used the elevators to ride to the top of the Space Needle. The Space Needle used to be the

View from Space Needle

View from Space Needle

tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, 605 feet high, 138 feet wide, and weighs 9,550 tons. Amazingly, the Space Needle was built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. It also has 25 lightning rods. The observation deck is at 520 feet and there is a gift shop with the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 ft. On April 19, 1999,

Kids at top of Space Needle

Kids at top of Space Needle

the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board designated the Space Needle a historic landmark.

Interesting fact: Six people have jumped off of the Space Needle using parachutes to break their fall as part of a sport known as base

Monorail

Monorail

jumping since its opening, but this activity is only legal with prior consent. Four jumpers were part of various promotions, and the other two were arrested. No thanks, we will not be attempting this activity nor recommending it on the blog.

Tickets are $1.00 cheaper when purchasing on line and you will also save time by bypassing the long ticket lines. The Space Needle is open until midnight during the summer. We took the monorail to get to the Space Needle from our hotel.

Seattle Center Monorail is the nation’s first full-scale commercial monorail system which provides a fun, quick and convenient link between downtown Seattle and Seattle Center.

Seattle Center Monorail departs approximately every 10 minutes from two stations: Westlake Center Station, at 5th Avenue and Pine Street and Seattle Center Station, adjacent to the Space Needle. For more information about the monorail visit http://www.seattlemonorail.com/

Prices are as follows:

Regular: $21 up early (8am-9:30am) or up late (6pm-close): $17

Senior (ages 65+): $18 up early (8am-9:30am) or up late (6pm-close): $15

Youth (ages 4-12): $12 up early (8am-9:30am) or up late (6pm-close): $10

Child (age 3 & under): Free

Purchase tickets on line at http://www.spaceneedle.com/visit-the-needle/tickets/

I caught the fish!

I caught the fish!

Pike Place Fish Market

Pike Place Fish Market

Pike Place Market: Pike Place is somewhere that everyone should experience….it is an

Pike Place Fish Market

Pike Place Fish Market

experience and difficult to explain. We loved walking around and observing all of the people shopping, the noise, the fresh, long-stemmed flowers, the aromas of the open-air market and tasting our way through. We didn’t actually stop to eat, we walked and kept eating along the way. Of course, we had to stop off at the world famous Pike Place Fish Market where people come from all over the world to see the crew of fishmongers throwing fish and having fun with customers. My son would absolutely say that this was the highlight of our trip to Seattle!!!

Pike Place Bakery

Pike Place Bakery

About the market:

Pike Place Market is a public, open air market which overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront

Bakery

Bakery

in Seattle. Pike Place Market opened on August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. The market is actually a place of business for small farmers, craftspeople and merchants. Pike Place was named after the central street, which runs northwest from Pike Street to Virginia Street, and remains one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations.

Lobsters in the market

Lobsters in the market

Pike Place is built on the edge of a steep hill. It has several levels located below the main level, each consisting of a variety of unique shops such as antique dealers,

Uli's in Pike Place

Uli’s in Pike Place

comic book and collectible shops, small family-owned restaurants, and one of the oldest head shops (tobacco) in Seattle. The upper street level contains fishmongers, fresh produce stands and craft stalls operating in the covered arcades.  The mission of the Market and it’s founding goal is: to allow consumers to “Meet the Producer”.

There are also residences within the Market. Nearly 500 residents live in 8 different buildings throughout the Market. The Pike Place Market receives 10 million visitors annually. Check out a list of all of the retailers by going to http://pikeplacemarket.org/

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium: Off to the aquarium!!!!! The aquarium is located on the waterfront as

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

well. It is a public aquarium which opened in 1977 and is located on Pier 59 on the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle.

This was our first time seeing the Tufted Puffin in person. They were so cute and so much fun as they dove down in the water in front of us in a glass tank.

2010-06-16 14.16.56

Marine Life at Seattle Aquarium

The aquarium is active in promoting marine conservation and educates over 800,000 visitors each year regarding the impact on marine life. The aquarium is also involved with marine life research. In June 2007, it opened an 18,000-square-foot expansion that

Front of Aquarium

Front of Aquarium

includes a new 2,625-square-foot gift store and café and two new exhibits which are the Window on Washington Waters and the Crashing Waves. The Crashing Waves Exhibit is a 40-foot wave tank that is similar to the Washington shores from the intertidal zone to a depth of about 5 feet. The Window on Washington Waters is a 120,000-US-gallon tank . that replicates the coastal waters of Washington state from about 5 to 60 feet. It is home to native marine life such as: salmon, rockfish, and sea anemones. Several times per day visitors will see divers wearing special masks to converse with visitors from inside the tank. For more information please visit http://www.seattleaquarium.org/

Prices are as follows:

Adults (ages 13 & over) $21.95

Youth (ages 4-12) $14.95

Ages 3 & under are free

The Crab Pot - Don't Mess

The Crab Pot – Don’t Mess

The Crab Pot

The Crab Pot

The Crab Pot Restaurant & Bar: Walking along the Pier there are so many restaurants to choose from.

Crab Pot Seattle

Crab Pot Seattle

The Crab Pot sounded great and looked like a lot of fun. The menu includes: Salads, Seafeasts, Burgers, Sandwiches, Seafood and Chips, Grilled Seafood, Ribs and Chicken, Cioppino, Crab Combos, Seafood Market, Desserts and of course a Kids Menu. You must try the Seafeast!!! What is a Seafeast you ask? The Crab Pot takes a variety of fresh seafood, steamed with mouth-watering spices, and pours it out on the table on butcher paper, give you a mallet, bibs & let you go at it! It is for two or more people.

Sit back, put your apron on, grab a mallet and get ready for a greasy chin!!! There are several options for the Seafeast which include:

The Cove $15.95 per person Steamed clams, Pacific mussels, shrimp in the shell, andouille sausage, corn on the cob & red potatoes in their jackets

The Westport $25.95 per person Dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp in the shell, steamed clams & Pacific mussels, andouille sausage, corn on the cob & red potatoes in their jackets

The Pacific Clambake $32.95 per person Steamed clams, oysters, Pacific mussels, dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp in the shell, a salmon skewer, andouille sausage, corn on the cob & red potatoes in their jackets

The Alaskan $38.95 per person King crab, dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp in the shell, steamed clams, Pacific mussels, andouille sausage, corn on the cob & red potatoes in their jackets

The Crab Pot Seattle

The Crab Pot Seattle

We ordered our food and took in the gorgeous views from the restaurant. We looked

The Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle Waterfront

around and watched people hammer away at their food. When the waitress came out, she dumped the hot pot on the butcher table and a corn on the cob rolled off the table onto my son’s lap. That was pretty funny, as they were shocked that she dumped it out the food let alone corn rolling off the table. It’s pretty wild.

Seattle, WA:  (206) 624-1890 1301 Alaskan Way Pier 57, Seattle, WA

Spaghetti Factory

Spaghetti Factory

The Old Spaghetti Factory since we don’t have one on Kauai. Growing up in California, we would eat there often and we wanted to let our kids have the same experience. It is located at 2801 Elliott Ave near the Waterfront. We walked there from our hotel. It is such a family friendly restaurant and very affordable. Of course- I had to have their famous Mizithra Cheese. Mizithra is a traditional Greek cheese with Protected Designation of Origin. For thousands of years, Mizithra has been manufactured in Greece. It is manufactured from whey derived from sheep, goats, cows or mixtures of milks in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Ionian islands, Aegean island and Crete island.

“A meal at The Old Spaghetti Factory is more than a meal. It’s an experience. We invest meticulous attention to our décor, so our guests feel as though they’re stepping into another world. Every location is adorned with antique lighting, intricate stained glass displays and an old-fashioned trolley car that doubles as centerpiece display and dining hall. With our expansive kids’ menu, special treats and fun activities, we want families to feel as at home in our restaurant as they do in their own dining rooms.”
Westin Seattle

Westin Seattle

We stayed at the Westin Seattle located at 1900 5th Avenue. It was a perfect location to

View from room at Seattle Westin

get around town without having to rent a car. Being there in June, it was quite interesting that the sun did not set until very late. It was difficult for the kids to go to sleep because it was so bright in the hotel room. It seemed to be light until 9-10 p.m. The hotel had an indoor, heated pool and a sundeck, which offered a great view of Seattle. All of the rooms have huge windows and our room happened to have a view of the Space Needle. Pretty cool. Some of the local attractions include: Seattle Waterfront, Victoria Clipper, International District, Pioneer Square, Experience Music Project, Lake Union, Pacific Science Center, The Space Needle, Argosy Cruises, Underground Tour, Tillicum Village and Tours, Woodinville Wine Company, Muckleshoot Indian Casino, and Emerald Queen Casino. For more information on the Westin Seattle visit http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1055

Ferry ride to Bainbridge

Ferry ride to Bainbridge

Bainbridge Island: When visiting Seattle, pick an island to go and visit.

Ferry Boat

Ferry Boat

Bainbridge Island is a city in Kitsap County, Washington. This is the name of the island in Puget Sound on which the city is situated. The population is approximately 23,025.

CNN/Money and Money magazine named Bainbridge Island the second-best place to live in the United States in 2005.

The local newspapers are the weekly Bainbridge Island Review and the daily Kitsap Sun.

Inside the ferry

Inside the ferry

The roundtrip fares on the Washington State Ferries are quite inexpensive- adults are $7.70 and kids $6.20. The

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island

Washington State Ferries leave about every 40 minutes starting at 5:30 a.m. through 10 p.m. We chose to visit Bainbridge Island which is only a 35 minute ride each way. Bring a jacket- we were there in June and still froze when the wind kicked up. The island felt very safe as we walked around the various streets. We went to a local candy shop, ice cream parlor, ate lunch in town and visited the most beautiful park on the water. The kids

Candy Shop

Candy Shop

ran around and played at the park for quite awhile. The island is very green with beautiful trees everywhere. It was nice, cool and breezy in June.

For more information about Washington State Ferries, visit http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

$$ saving tips: When eating at the Crab Pot order the Seafeast for 2 and share with 4

Kids first laundry mat experience

Kids first laundry mat experience

people. It is a lot of food, plus they bring bread to the table again and again. We ordered one appetizer and the Seafeast for 2 and it was plenty of food for our family of four. The kids meals were are only $4.95 but our kids wanted to eat the seafood and experience the Seafeast.

Don’t bother renting a car! Seattle has so many options for public transportation. It is a very walk friendly city and as long as you stay downtown – you will be sure to get around just fine.

This is really funny. We had laundry to do and the hotel we stayed at only offered dry cleaning services. Laundry mats within hotels is kind of a thing of the past. Since the four of us were in a hotel room, we found a local laundry mat. The kids could not believe it!!! They had never even heard of a laundry mat much less been to one. They were nervous to leave our clothes there and walk around while we waited for the clothes to wash. We gave them the coins and asked them to go up to the counter to pay the attendant and then my daughter asked- why do we have to pay for soap and to wash our own clothes?? It was a learning experience indeed. Then they decided to have a little fun while pushing each other around in the laundry carts. Hey- it’s all about saving money!!!

5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine