Autumn in Seattle

Here in our family, we love trips of all shapes and sizes. We love to cross continents and oceans on big adventures, but if that’s not possible we’ll happily take our travel in small doses as well. Fall is a busy time for us and it can be hard to find time to get away, but even a short two day trip can do wonders for our energy levels. And that’s especially true when it comes to a trip to one of our favourite local destinations, Seattle.

We chose the first weekend in October because that was the weekend of BrickCon, a huge Lego convention held at the Seattle Center just north of downtown. My husband and son had gone down for the event as a daytrip the year before and he managed to convince me that a repeat visit would make a perfect weekend getaway.

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I decided to make a refundable hotel booking as soon as we got the idea to go, way back in October 2015. I booked the Hyatt Place, which was 5 minutes from the Space Needle, for $125 US with the thought that I could easily cancel the booking if we changed our minds or if a better price turned up. I kept my eye on the prices throughout the year, putting my dates into search engines whenever I had some time to kill and looking for sales and I never did manage to find anything even close to that price for an equivalent property. When I checked in the receptionist was quoting a woman a price of over $300 US for that night so once again early booking paid off for us.

This was our first stay at the Hyatt Place and we really enjoyed it. The hotel was modern and stylish, the staff was really friendly and it even had a real prize in downtown Seattle: an indoor pool. It wasn’t huge or fancy but the kids really enjoyed it. The rooms were large but a bit oddly laid out, sort of a mini-suite with a half wall between the sitting area and the sleeping area. Perhaps it was supposed to give a feeling of privacy, but in reality you ended up in the same room as everyone else but not able to see them, trying to have conversations around the silly half wall in the middle of the room. There was also a sort of counter area with a fridge and coffee maker, but they could have easily added a microwave or even a small sink to make the space much more useful. But I guess you can’t have everything for $125 a night and for a single night it worked just fine for us.

We had aimed to arrive at the Lego convention just as it opened, but when we arrived at opening time the line snaked all the way around the huge building and it took us another 15 minutes to get in. My daughter and I walked around and spent about an hour enjoying all the amazing and inventive Lego creations. My husband and son managed to see a couple of tables in that same amount of time. We ended up deciding to split up so the boys could enjoy their Lego time while the girls did a bit of shopping. The hotel had a great complimentary shuttle service to the local area and we were able to hop on a van heading down to Pike Place Market for a bit of exploring. The shuttle offered pick up service as well, but my phone had died so we managed the 30 minute return walk quite easily, even with our new purchases weighing us down. We enjoyed a relaxing evening of movies, swimming and Lego building.

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The next morning was bright and sunny and we started off with the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet before packing up and heading north to the zoo. I always tell visitors to the Pacific Northwest that if you’re doing both Seattle and Vancouver; Seattle has the better zoo and Vancouver has the better aquarium. Vancouver doesn’t actually even have a real zoo, just a place called the “Greater Vancouver Zoo” on the outskirts of town that’s not worth the drive. Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is also a little bit out of downtown, about a ten minute drive north of the Space Needle, but it’s most definitely worth the drive.

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This was our third trip to the Seattle Zoo with kids and was probably our best visit yet. It helped that the weather was beautiful and the zoo has a spectacular setting with natural settings for the enclosures and lots of trees and open areas. Even on a lovely Sunday in fall the zoo didn’t feel crowded and we were able to enjoy great views of the animals. We spent about 4 and a half hours there which was enough to see pretty much everything but a family could also find enough to fill a full day there as well.

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From the zoo we turned the car north and headed home, arriving in time for supper. With only two days to fill we didn’t really get a chance to see very much of the city, but one advantage of exploring close to home is that there will always be another chance to visit and so there’s no pressure to try to see everything. We feel fortunate to live in a place with so many great destinations within a short drive and Seattle will always be a favourite.

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