5 Fun Facts: Washington – Westlake Center in Seattle

Vacation and travel always seem to incorporate a fair amount of shopping into them. I, like most of the residents of the Pacific Northwest, love going to Seattle. When there, some of the best shopping can be had at Westlake Center. Here are five fun facts about that very cool shopping attraction.

Plenty of Room to Shop
Westlake Center is home to 369,000 square feet of retail floor space.

What’s in a name?
Westlake Center is right across the street from Westlake Park. It was named though for Westlake Avenue which ends just north of the mall. Westlake Avenue once ran two blocks further south, all the way to Pike Street.

Get Your Order in Fast!
Westlake Center Plaza is home to the second busiest Starbucks in North America.

Changing Names
Westlake Center is home to the flagship Nortstrom store. Prior to Nordstrom, this was the flagship store of the Frederick & Nelson chain.

Don’t Drive There
Westlake Center welcomes thousands of shoppers every day. The facility has available parking spots for 300 vehicles.

Rent a Vacation Home in Bend, Oregon

When on a road trip, I enjoy all sorts of accommodations. Camping, motels, condos, and bed & breakfasts are all appealing in their own way and for their own individual reasons. Sometimes though, especially for a bit of an extended stay, there is nothing like renting a vacation home.

What I like most about vacation home rental is that it really can feel like home in a very short time. You get a feeling of independence a little more than in almost any other kind of vacation stay. If you’re like me and you like cooking, vacation rentals also help accentuate that fun part of travel.

The town of Bend in Oregon has been a vacation mecca for years. The sunny weather, loads of options for getting out and being active, and the close proximity to the mountains have made it extremely popular with a great many people. I love Bend. I love everything about Bend. It is a first class destination and at the same time very much retains its feel of being a small town.

Bend Vacation Rental

When I was in search of a vacation rental in Bend, I went right to BendVacationRentals.com. Their website is very easy to navigate and it was extremely fast to search through the available homes there and check for availability. Once I found the home that I was interested, it took just minutes to reserve and arrange for my stay.

BendVacationRentals.com seems like the go to place for vacation rentals during a vacation in Bend. Staying in a first class home sure did help us enjoy our stay there even more that we otherwise would have.

Bend Vacation Rental2

Enjoying Brunch at the Wild Fin in Issaquah, Washington

WildFin American Grill

WildFin American Grill

Located just east of Seattle, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the city of Issaquah has grown a great deal in recent years. If you are heading into the city, this is a nice last stop before reaching the huge metropolis. If heading into the mountains, this is a great place to stop off for one last shopping adventure or some other time spent in some sort of diversion.

Issaquah is also a nice place to stop for a bite to eat on the way out of the city. This can help you to keep better time as you don’t have to account for the congestion of the city streets or any kind of event that may be taking place inside the city.

Our last visit to Issaquah was just for this reason. The place I chose to eat at on our way out of the Seattle area was the WildFin American Grill. We showed up just in time for brunch and the selection of seafood, as well as everything else, was phenomenal. In fact, in many ways, the selection was better than a couple of seafood places we had tried in the city.

We dined outside on the patio which was a nice way to end our time on the west side of the mountains. The stylish design elements of WildFin really do add to the experience.

We all left WildFin with full bellies and a look of satisfaction on our faces. As great as the food was, oh and it was, I also loved the relaxed atmosphere there. This was not only accomplished by the decor in the dining area but also by the friendly faces that the servers were wearing.

I love finding a good locally owned eating establishment that is a little off the beaten path. The WildFin American Grill qualifies for that and has the added benefit of being absolutely superb. Brunch there was a lot of fun and very tasty. It put this place on my radar as something in the future we could try for dinner.

You can bet that I will be back to eat at the WildFin at least one more time.

Spokane’s Landmark Davenport Hotel

The Davenport Hotel in Spokane is a local treasure and if you get the chance on a road trip through the area, you really need to experience it.

Davenport 1

First, a little history, this amazing building is on the National Register of Historic Places and originally opened in the early 1900s. This hotel has several firsts associated with it. This was the first hotel in the United States with air conditioning. It was also the location where the popular dish Crab Louis was served.

The hotel deteriorated in the latter half of the 20th century, but a complete renovation took place starting with the then vacant building being purchased by new owners in 2000. It has since been restored to the grand hotel that it had been in the early to mid 1900s. The gold leaf around the central fireplace is notable and a detail that is worth checking out.


I was lucky enough to stay at the Davenport Hotel on my way through Spokane and found it to be an experience that was far different from anything I’ve had before. Many of the visible areas throughout the hotel feature museum quality pieces of art. The rooms are modern and luxurious, but there are enough nostalgic touches there and throughout the public spaces that make it easy to imagine what it must have been like to stay there during the building’s prime.

I also loved the location of the Davenport Hotel. We walked out the front door and many of the best of what Spokane has to offer was right there within walking distance.

The service, cleanliness, and atmosphere cannot be beat in the region. My stay there made me really feel like I was staying in an honest to goodness landmark. Because I was.

Ski Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass
If you’ve traveled across the Cascade Mountains on Highway 2, you’ve passed right beneath the Stevens Pass Ski Area. This amazing ski area sits right on the crest of the Cascades and receives an abundance of snow. If it’s dumping snow in the mountains, you can be sure its dumping at Stevens Pass.

The ski area has lots of great runs to take advantage of and in recent years has really gone above and beyond in its efforts to add a terrain park featuring some of the best and biggest jumps in the state of Washington.

I went to Stevens Pass recently during the warmer months, which some people might not understand. What is just becoming more and more known though is that Stevens Pass, after the snow melts, has transformed its once dormant summer season into a haven for mountain bike enthusiasts. There are a few great trails to check out, along with some wonderful obstacles and park features as well. If you’re feeling a little weak in the knees, you can even avoid the hard climb up the mountain and take your bike up to the top on a chair lift ride and then just ride back down.

Another part of the summer offerings at Stevens Pass is a disc golf course which is great fun. Combine that with the restaurant and snack bar offerings and you have yourself all you need for a fun day away from the city.

A road trip across the mountains can be a lot more fun with a stop off at Stevens Pass, no matter what time of year it is.

Waffle Gone Wild is a Can’t Miss in Vancouver, BC

Vancouver is one of those cities that it is hard to stay away from. Every once in awhile, I find myself drawn back there and the surrounding area for a road trip. It’s just irresistable.

The last time I was there, I found a place to eat that just knocked my socks off.

Have you ever found a great breakfast spot? The kind you have to share with friends or show off when family visits? Something that special?

If you go to Vancouver, that kind of place exists and it’s called Waffle Gone Wild.

Vancouver - WaffleGoneWild2

Great name, right?

And it fits what they offer there perfectly.

I ran down to Waffle Gone Wild one morning and picked up an order to bring back for everyone. These fresh baked Belgian waffles hit the spot and everyone of us on that trip raved about them. I had the Black Forest Ham & Cheese Waffle. This was a sandwich that substituted waffle for bread and was filled with perfectly cooked ham and cheese. Delicious!

Other orders in are group came with names like Strawberry Heaven, Japanese Okonomiyaki, Banana Split, and Creamy Potato.

It’s so nice when an unusual and eye catching eating establishment also pleases the tastebuds too.

The worst part about our experience with Waffle Gone Wild was that I didn’t go there until the morning of our last day in town. If I’d only gone there earlier, we could’ve eaten there more than once.

We will definitely make a point of seeking out Waffle Gone Wild on our next visit to Vancouver… which could happen at any moment.

Vancouver - WaffleGoneWild

Vancouver’s Legendary Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel

A lot of times when out on a road trip, I find myself skimping and saving. You know, a lot of money is going into that gas tank and you’re always pressed for time. This means going through the drive thru one too many times or even packing a lunch from home to be eaten on the road. Nothing wrong with that either because sometimes a picnic along the way or that extra time in the car can bring out better conversation and camaraderie.

Other times though, it’s nice to splurge.


On my most recent trip to Vancouver (B.C., not Washington), I did just that and stayed at the famous Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. This is one very special place to stay.

The Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel sits right on the water and there are incredible views it seems in every direction. Watching the activity out on the water is very relaxing, whether you’re doing it from your hotel room, down by the pool, or from one of the many sitting areas.

Inside the hotel, it was equally special. The rooms are first class with only the highest quality features. From the bathroom to the beds, I was very impressed.

There are multiple places in the hotel to get food and drink too which is very nice. There is a fitness center, the best business center I’ve ever seen, and plenty of meeting space. The pool is awesome, featuring private cabanas and a large hot tub. Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, and I really enjoyed looking out on it while having a drink on the large outdoor patio.

I’m used to staying somewhere for a short time and moving on down the road. This was one hotel that was truly hard to leave though. I love Vancouver, but it was almost tough to tear myself away from my accommodation in order to have a look around the city.

I will always remember my time at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel very fondly. I won’t have to dwell on that memory though because I know for a fact that I’ll be back. Yeah… just try and keep me away.


You Can’t Go Wrong at Higgins Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon

Portland is a large city but has a unique feel to it that you cannot find in other places. One of the city’s biggest strengths is the diversity that can be found there. It is exactly this diversity, and the feeling that you can always find something new there, that always makes me happy to come back to Portland.

Going out to eat while in Portland is one of the best parts about visiting the city. It doesn’t matter what I’ve been hungry for at different times in Portland, I’ve always been able to easily find what I am wanting.


Sometimes picking a place to eat when it is more than just you is tough because everyone you are with may want something different. One of the cool places I ate at during my last stay in Portland was Higgins Restaurant and Bar. This friendly establishment had the look of quality, and best of all for us that night, it not only offered the seafood I was looking for but also the Italian and American dishes that others dining out with us were wanting.

The service at Higgins Restaurant and Bar was awesome. Very friendly, in fact. I always appreciate it when the server is not afraid to share their personality and have a little fun. It can really add to the amount of fun you have.

I loved our time at Higgins Restaurant and Bar. It really made our stay in Portland that much more fun. I couldn’t imagine not going there again the next time I’m lucky enough to be in Portland.