Seattle was a trip that we took after an extremely hectic season in our life. We needed a rest and some family time. We also needed a distraction. We needed to get our minds off our life back home and Seattle was p-e-r-f-e-c-t.

We rode the train up to Seattle from Santa Barbara. It was a great experience, but it was long. We arrived in the Kings Street Station in Seattle at about 8:30 PM. Being a student of Architecture I have to say that the station is beautiful. It was undergoing restoration but is a station in the old grand style. We were all tired, but excited to be off the train and ready to get to our hotel.

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This was our first non-car trip together as a family since the birth of our little girl Emery Grace. She was 8 months old and we were now traveling with a double stroller. We love discovering a city by foot so the double stroller was a must. Unlike airplanes, luggage isn’t a big consideration on a train. We checked the stroller and didn’t think of it again until we tried to get it in the trunk of the cab!

I held my breath as Clark wrestled the stroller into the trunk. His former FedEx experience came in handy when trying to get the stroller, luggage, two kids and two adults into a cab. For a few minutes I thought we were going to have to walk to the hotel! That wouldn’t have been too bad as the weather and was nice and it was still light outside. But the thought of trekking up the 7 blocks to the hotel with luggage and kids in tow was a bit daunting. Clark managed to get us and the stuff all into the car and we were off to the Alexis hotel and the wonderful surprise that awaited us there.

We had booked our hotel on Hotels.com as we always do. (They have the lowest rates and if you stay 10 nights anywhere you get one night at any of their hotels free! We used our free night at a $400/night hotel in Santa Monica!) They were having a special for rail passengers on top of the already discounted price.

We splurged a bit on the room because we wanted to have some separation from the kids. I wanted a place where we wouldn’t hear every noise Emery made. We needed to rest. Upon our arrival the front desk manager told us that we were being upgraded to one of their speciality suites. It was incredible!!! We had what was equivalent to an apartment without a kitchen. The Pacific Northwest Ballet Suite was to be our home for the next few days and after those days I wish it were our permanent home!

We loved Seattle. With all the sun and warm weather I’m not sure we had the typical Seattle experience–after-all, Seattle averages 155 days of rain a year! The perfect weather afforded us the opportunity to see almost the whole city by foot. Our hotel was in a great location; Waterfront Park and the aquarium were just blocks away. Pikes Place Market was just up the street and the SAM-Seattle Art Museum was across the street! The Shopping District was a bit away, but still within walking distance with the stroller. From the Shopping District we could take the monorail to the Seattle Center. We walked and walked and loved it. Walking gave us time to talk… to take in the city… to pop into a shop and dream of things that we wanted to buy for our home… to plan our day and to enjoy being a family together.

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We started almost every morning with a trip to Pikes Place Market for a cup of coffee and a simple fresh breakfast, usually at Le Panier-the very french bakery. It was always full of life. People buying fish from the famous fish throwers,

to buying flowers from the mosaic of color that spanned the length of the market. Souvenirs and a multitude of other fresh and unique foods abound. It was a full sensory experience; smells and sounds overtook in a moment, then the brilliant colors; it was no surprise our kids loved it here!

Many afternoons before nap-time we ate lunch at Waterfront park. Jackson loved to be on the pier. Watching the boats go in and out of the harbor, looking throughout the planks to try to see fish, flags, kites and birds all kept his attention as we sat and ate fish and chips. The Aquarium is there in the park and well worth the admittance price. They do a great job of highlighting the local ocean habitat. The stream profile and river section is especially wonderful! There is a carnival type atmosphere in the park with fountains, benches, and vendors on the piers. It is typified by the boardwalk where there is a carousel, arcade games and cotton candy.

Seattle has so much to offer. We only scratched the surface but we did find another gem. The Children’s Museum in the Seattle Center. This place is like heaven for kids. There are toys, climbing areas, exploratory and sensory experiences. There are art lessons, live theatre, and story telling all included in your admission price. Our little Emery, only 8 months old, had a blast and so did Jackson at 3. They had age appropriate activities and areas for kids up to 12. I was chatting with a mom from Seattle and she said this was her salvation during the rainy times and that visited it several days a week!

The Children’s Museum is only one small corner of the Seattle Center. There is a huge park with fountains, skate parks, the Experience Music Project, Children’s Theatre, Space Needle, and carnival area are just a few of the other attractions here. It is worth at least a day there. You could spend a week in just this small part of Seattle! The entrance fees are steep for the museums so start saving now. We didn’t have the budget to visit many of these sites but just being there was fabulous and whet our appetite to go back.

We were in Seattle for our anniversary and wanted to have an afternoon and evening without the kids. We knew some people in town who were well-connected with a church there. They were able to connect us with a local girl who came to our hotel room to babysit. While we love family travel, there is nothing like an evening alone. It is amazing how easy it is to get around when you aren’t lugging a stroller, two kids… and fifty pounds of toys, diapers, food and other “necessities” just in case.

We splurged on a cab to go to Gas Works Park. We were sorely disappointed! It seemed old and rundown. There wasn’t anything there except grass and an abandoned gas company. It may have been because we were there in June, but it just seemed dead and a bit unsafe. We couldn’t even find a cab to get us home and had to stop into a little deli and have them call us a cab. In danger of ruining our evening out we decided to head back to downtown and have dinner. We had a drink at the Four Seasons (is there any better place to recover) and then walked up the road until we found a small Italian restaurant. They had the best Clam linguine.

Seattle was a true family vacation. As we flew home and landed in Santa Barbara we were refreshed not drained. We had made memories that would stay with us forever. Seattle was the perfect mix of family time and parent time that brought us all closer. That is what Belly Charms are about!

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