The Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell is the gateway to Glacier National Park and all that it offers. This is one of the most popular national parks in America, and it doesn’t take too long to figure just why that is. From the unique history of the place to the incredible scenic beauty, Glacier National Park is a pure treasure.

Kalispell - Red Lion2

We went to Kalispell because of the national park not too long ago and were rewarded well. A great thing happened during our trip though. Glacier National Park was a lot of fun and an unforgettable experience. But Kalispell itself, and its immediate surroundings, ended up being a lot more fun than we had expected too.

While in Kalispell for a few days, we stayed at the Red Lion Hotel. What a beautiful setting there is there and the staff was top notch, being both friendly and knowledgable. They may have even convinced me to come back during the winter months with their bragging about what the local scenery and views looked like then.

I really enjoyed being able to see so much of the community on foot, right from the front door of the Red Lion. Walking around the town was a lot of fun and I found some great eating options located very nearby. Knowing that I was just a short stroll away from returning to my room was a nice feeling too.

Another thing I liked about the Red Lion in Kalispell is that it did not feel like I was staying in a chain motel. The whole place had a unique feel to it, it very much was a Montana lodge. The coppers, granites, and timber beams used throughout the facility really add to the experience. It did feel like it was an escape to a different part of the world, or even a different time.

Kalispell - Red Lion

We went for the fireplace suite and that was a great decision. Yet another great touch that added to the experience. We enjoyed the small private patio, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and more. The channel selection for TV was nice and the free wireless internet access, as always, was a welcome feature. The swimming pool was also a plus, as well.

Staying at the Red Lion Hotel during our visit to Kalispell and Glacier National Park was a very good decision.

Astoria, Oregon’s Fort George Brewery + Public House

Astoria - Fort George Brewery

Sitting on the south side of the famous Astoria-Megler Bridge, Astoria welcomes thousands of travelers from Washington into Oregon every day. It’s a gateway to the Oregon coastline for many. It also is a fun place to explore and spend some time in too.

Before settling in for a night in Astoria, we were looking for a fun place to go out and eat. A place that appeared to show off part of the city’s identity.

The place we stumbled upon, quite literally, had the appearance of a nostalgic building. Our choice for dinner and a drink that night was Fort George Brewery + Public House. Walking inside the Fort George building was a very welcoming experience, both when looking at the decor and atmosphere, as well as from the impression of the staff.

I had the Chile Verde Burrito which was simply awesome. I had been torn on what to order, because the selection of sausages looked really impressive. I was save though because also at our table was someone who ordered the French Garlic Sausage. I was able to sneak a taste and that would’ve been a great choice too.

The beer selection there was top notch too with a selection that included all kinds of options from around the Pacific Northwest. It was nice seeing so much shelf and tap space dedicated to displaying these well crafted local products.

The Fort George Brewery + Public House was one of the highlights of our short stay in Astoria. Well, that and that cool bridge. I had to drive across the Astoria-Megler Bridge an extra time the next day before continuing south.

Skiing and More at Red Mountain Resort in British Columbia

The right destination can make all the difference when going on a ski vacation. One of the more fun locales that many people overlook is Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, British Columbia. Located in Southeastern British Columbia, Red Mountain Resort has been very popular for a very long time. Regulars who go there know to expect a top quality skiing experience.

RedMountainResort

Red Mountain Resort has seven lifts and 110 marked runs. The entire ski area covers over 4,000 acres and offers ski runs rated for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers. The longest ski run is 4.3 miles which makes for a great trip down the mountain. While named Red Mountain Resort, the skiing actually happens on Red Mountain, Granite Mountain, and Grey Mountain.

I’ve been lucky enough to have gone to the Red Mountain Resort area in both winter and summer. The skiing there is great and the atmosphere and offerings in the lodges and restaurants are excellent too. If you’re not a skier and are instead into summer activities like mountain biking, then this is still the place for you. There are a number of mountain bike trails in the area and the lodge remains open to give you that meal and refreshment you desire when you’re finished out on the trail. There are also some great hiking and sight seeing opportunities both on the resort property as well as on the surrounding mountainsides.

Red Mountain Resort really is a full service and year round attraction worth visiting. You simply cannot go wrong, regardless of the time of year you choose to visit there in.

Waterslides At The Aberdeen YMCA

On a a recent trip to the ocean along the Washington coastline, I found myself with a car load of kids (okay… two) who were feeling a bit bored. We were staying in a rented house out in the Ocean City area, just north of Ocean Shores.

It’d been a fun road trip to the central coast area and we’d done all the favorite stuff, rented scooters on the beach, walked for hours, gone for beach drives, collected shells, ridden go karts, and more. The weather had been good but we all of a sudden had a day of rain and, after a nice relaxing morning of staying inside, the kids were going a bit stir crazy. I looked around for some indoor activities, we’d already been to the arcade in Ocean Shores, I found a link online to the Aberdeen YMCA.

I’ve never really thought of the YMCA as a vacation attraction, but as I explored their website I saw that they had a pool equipped with waterslides. Open swim time that day was from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm and since we were not members, there was a minimal day pass fee for guests which was entirely reasonable.

Aberdeen YMCA Waterslides

Once inside, the kids had a blast in the pool, the hot tub, and of course on the waterslides. It ended up being the perfect rainy day weather escape plan and it was easy to get to from the beach.

The rest of our beach stay went perfectly, but I’m very grateful for our midday excursion to the Aberdeen YMCA.

Dine Out at Sky City at the Top of the Space Needle

With Interstate 90 ending there from the east and Interstate 5 running through it from north to south. It is hard to take a road trip through Western Washington without going through the Seattle area. That is a good thing though because that is one city that it is very easy to spend some serious time in.

One of the most popular attractions in the city is one that is probably also the most identifiable with Seattle, the Space Needle. The Space Needle offers incredible views of the city and some other fun experiences. If you have never been up to the top, that is something you really need to do.

Space Needle - Sky City

To be honest, I don’t go up to the top of the Space Needle every time I’m in Seattle, but I try to at least once ever two or three years. The photo taking opportunities there are great. Another nice part about visiting the Space Needle is that you can eat at the restaurant up at the top.

On our last trip up we decided to eat there because the restaurant had been completely remodeled and rebranded since the last time we’d eaten there. The restaurant goes by the name Sky City and does a wonderful job of entertaining and satisfying everyone who goes there. The food was great and the friendliness of the staff was top notch. The best part though is that the restaurant rotates. It takes about an hour for it to rotate around completely, so that means by the time we’d eaten our whole meal we’d also see the entire view of Seattle from all angles.

Dining at the top of the Space Needle is something that is really a good memory maker, regardless of your age or the ages of anyone dining with you. It’s completely unforgettable. As I remember, I enjoyed my last meal at the needle some years ago. I think it has definitely been improved though.

Going up to the top of the Space Needle is an awesome experience. Dining there at Sky City is even better.

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.