If Anyone Can Travel Why Don’t You?

Stepping out your front door to see the world isn't as hard as you may think

I’ve had some people suggest that we travel a lot. Why yes, I guess we do. Compared to many friends and a whole lot of family we do take off in an airplane, car, bus and our own two feet quite a lot. I don’t see this as out of the ordinary, but other people do. For me it is just a way of life. It is how my brain works. I have to be going somewhere at all times. If I’m not physically moving in that direction than I have to be planning towards moving my feet towards unknown domestic or foreign soil.

So when people look at me and wonder how we can travel so much, I look at them and wonder how they can’t?

Sure there are lots of excuses we can all use, money and vacation time being the biggest ones. These are both tough obstacles to get around to be sure. Let’s tackle vacation time first.

Vacation Time

If you are living in the USA, 2 weeks vacation is a luxury to many employees, if they get paid time off at all. Then again, an astounding percentage of people don’t take the vacation time they are paid for. They simply can’t find the time to take off even though it is part of their benefits package when they take the job. By not taking your vacation you are basically handing your boss two weeks of your pay. You just lost money at a job you claim doesn’t pay you enough to take a vacation.

Paid time off: If you do get paid time off, use it. Stock piling it for a rainy day really isn’t doing you much good. Your family needs you to relax and unwind. Your kids need your undivided attention, if only for a day. Weekends at home don’t count. Chores, errands and random other tasks get in the way. It’s too hard to relax with so many of life’s stresses in front of you at all times.

How do you stretch those measly days into a truly relaxing holiday? Well, the government gives everyone an allotted number of national holidays. Most companies adhere to these public holidays and give their employees the day off. Take advantage of them. Have New Years Day off? Take the family away that week. Instead of using 5 vacation days, you will only have to take 3-4 days off. This is the main way I have stretched our vacation time over the years.

No paid time off: Sadly this is part of a bad economy and an even worse mentality of corporate America trying to get all they can from its employees, especially those earning minimum wage. There is a way to get around this though. Start planning ahead. True you may not be able to take a week off, but can you take a day or two? Start putting a little money aside each month from your paycheck to cover the money you would loose by taking a day off. See how fast you can save up. Cut out your morning latte and cut back on the amount of cable TV you have. Every penny saved gets you one hour closer to a day off.

Quality time with your family is worth every saved penny

Money

Money is a huge obstacle and on everyone’s mind these days. Many people are just trying to put food on the table. The idea of that luxury, all-inclusive trip they see being advertised on the back page of the Travel section in the newspaper seems like a far off dream only the incredibly wealthy can afford. Maybe that’s true. Having never been to an all-inclusive resort I wouldn’t know. Who says that is the only way you can travel with your family though? Do you have enough for a tank of gas? You do? Then head out in any direction and drive for 2 hours to see where it will take you. Growing up we used to love driving down to the Jersey Shore for a day of fun in the sun and sand. My family was in no way wealthy, pretty much the opposite, but we managed to get to the beach a few days every summer. Let’s look at other ways you can make your dollar stretch.

Who do you know? Growing up my great uncle would let us borrow his cabin on a lake in New Hampshire for 2 weeks every summer. This was my mother’s little slice of bliss each year. We never could have afforded a trip like that on my father’s salary, but with a free place to stay we could swing it. All we had to do was put gas in the car, fill the cabin with our favorite foods and try not to kill each other on the 9-hour drive up. Don’t think you know anyone? Start asking around. You have 500 friends on Facebook, can you swap houses with one of them for a few days?

Where are you spending your money? If you are penniless at the moment or in a jumble of debt but dream of taking a little adventure look at how you are spending your money right now. Are there ways you can cut back?

    • Netflix vs. Cable TV
    • Homebrewed coffee vs. lattes from Starbucks
    • Thrift and consignment shop clothing for your growing kids vs. brand name and designer looks
    • Pack your lunch for work vs. buy your lunch every day
    • Individual cell phone plans vs. family plans
    • Clip coupons, shop sales and buy generic brands vs. all name brands
    • Use what is in your refrigerator and freezer vs. buying excess food you end up throwing away
    • For more ways to save check out Saving For Travel

Maybe you can't hit a tropical beach. So look at where you can go with your hard earned money and time.

Now that you have looked at ways to save for your trip, look into your travel options. Depending on how much you can sock away you may have more options than you think.

  • What is the cheapest airplane, train or bus ticket you can buy to get you out of town?
  • How far can you go on a tank of gas?
  • What cheap lodging options are there? Camping, cabins, motels, hostels? Start looking.

You can yell all you want that here I am on my high horse lecturing people how to travel as much as we do. I do travel a lot, but I’ve looked at all areas of my life to see how I can make it possible. Travel is priority #1 in my house (after feeding the kid that is). We all have different priorities, but that is mine.

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I am not the only one prioritizing travel in my life. Check out these families who have decided that they can travel in the style they have always dreamed of as well. Some take smaller trips like we do while others are on a round the world adventure for a year. A few have decided to sell it all, pack up their bags and travel the world to see if something better is out there. No matter how you travel, even if it’s just a day trip, you can still start exploring a little more of the world around you if you really want to.


Rental with Built-In Relatives on the Kona Coast

I was a little hesitant to book this property. I found it on VRBO.com. It was close to beaches and downtown, but quiet and away from any nighttime crowds. The price was right but the owners lived downstairs. This was the sticky point. It would either be fantastic or a huge disaster. We had a rambunctious toddler traveling who liked to run in the house with us after all. I prayed for the best and we headed down to the Big Island.

Finding the house for the first time was a bit tricky. Honestly I think anything we would have tried to get to that first day on the Big Island would have been difficult to find. You have to switch your way of thinking when finding a specific address on the island. Our rental was down a quiet side street, almost an alleyway, just off of Alii Drive, the main thoroughfare through Kona.

When we almost drove past the house the owner hailed us down and welcomed us with open arms. A contractor by day, the owner and his wife made us feel like we were family coming to town for a visit. They took to Dek right away and were offering him toys in no time. The owner helped Mike bring our luggage up the steps since I wasn’t supposed to be doing much heavy lifting at that point in my pregnancy. I got Dek settled while the owner’s wife picked ripe papaya off the tree in the backyard for us to taste. They pointed us towards their favorite take-out pizza joint since we were too tired to go out after a very long day of travel and wished us goodnight. I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into island life. This might just work after all.

The Digs

The master bedroom was huge with a large closet. We had more than enough room to store all of our belongings and make ourselves at home. The pack n’ play crib that came with the house was for smaller babies. I wasn’t sure Dek would put up with it since he was obviously too big, but he hopped right in without any fuss.

Master Bedroom

Second bedroom with portable crib

The second bedroom was much smaller with no closet but still would have fit an adult comfortably. Dek was certainly content to have his little crib in there. I’m not sure two couples traveling together would have done well with this set up, but a family with kids could easily manage. The outside lanai was covered if older kids wanted to sleep in the great outdoors.

The bathroom sported a tub/shower combo and fed into the hallway and master bedroom. Every room had large windows with screens to let in the cool breeze at night. Although there was no air conditioning the ceiling fans moved the air around enough to keep the temperature quite pleasant.

Bathroom

The main living area consisted of a large living room, dining room and kitchen combo. There was a lot of space for the whole family to spread out and do their thing without tripping over each other. The kitchen wasn’t well stocked in the pots and pans department but I have no doubt that if we had needed something we could have borrowed it from the owners downstairs.

Living room

Kitchen and living room

Kitchen

Extras

  • Kids will be thrilled to see the ducks when you pull up to this property. They wander around freely during the day, saying hello to one and all. They never came up on our lanai though. Those of you with a bird phobia should remain safe.
  • There is only one parking space in the drive for a car. If you anticipate bringing more than one car just contact the owners to make arrangements. I’m sure they will try to accommodate you.
  • The owners are grandparents and have all of the toys to go with it. Almost every day we found a new toy for Dek to play with that had been placed just outside our door. Dek was excited to have something to discover each morning before we headed out on our adventures. I was happy to not have to pack a bucket of toys when we went on vacation.
  • One of my favorite aspects of the house was the lanai. It was completely enclosed. Since our part of the house was on the second floor I was worried about letting Dek go out by himself in case he decided to take a tumble down the steps. The owners had already anticipated this for their guests and put up a gate that was latch locked on the outside. It was very easy for us to access, but next to impossible for Dek to reach. I happily let him wander out on the lanai each morning while I got breakfast ready for the two of us when Mike was sleeping in. We ate at one of the tables (yes, there were a few) and just soaked in the morning air, listening to the local birds sing their song.

The lanai

Location

The house was the perfect launching point for our west side exploration. Our favorite kid-friendly beach was just 2 miles down the road. Kona’s downtown waterfront was 2 miles in the opposite direction, landing us right in the middle of restaurants, the farmers market and shops galore. We could drive an hour in any direction and find something wild and new to explore, yet still be back for nap time.

A Fond Farewell

On our last night the owners were hosting a BBQ for some friends and family that were in town. They invited us down for dinner. Their granddaughters were playing in the kiddy pool, which Dek happily hopped into.  We sat around chatting about sports, favorite sights on the island, not to be missed eateries and kids as the sun set. The dinner spread was filled with burgers and sausages along with fresh veggies from the owner’s garden and the local farmers market. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to the Kona coast before we headed over to Hilo for a week.

A little friend that comes along with the house

Warning

This is a smoking property, something I didn’t notice in the listing when we booked, but the house did not reek of cigarettes. The owner generally took his cigarettes to the adjacent property, so we rarely, if ever, smelled smoke in the house.

Contact Information

Nitty Gritty Details

  • 2 bedroom (queen beds) + 1 bath
  • Small portable crib is available upon request (it is a smaller Graco, not the standard size pack n’ play)
  • Located 2 miles south of downtown Kona
  • Washing machine and dryer in the back of the house along with shared grill use with the owners
  • The owners do live in the building on the 1st floor. You will take up the separate 2nd floor.
  • Lots of toys available for kids
  • Snorkel gear and boogie boards on sight
  • Beach towels are available along with all bed linens
  • Free Wi-Fi and cable TV in each room
  • No a/c but ceiling fans and large windows and doors with screens keep it cool
  • Smoking IS allowed
  • No pets

For more on our adventures on the island check out the Big Island, Hawaii trip report. 

Note: I was in no way compensated or asked to write a review or mention any of the links in this post. This is simply my opinion based on our stay.


Mix Tourist Kitsch With Side Street Sights on the Big Island of Hawaii

The Big Island’s main western town of Kailua Kona has sweeping ocean views, loads of condo complexes, hotels and a whole lot of outdoor eating to choose from. ABC stores in Kona are almost as numerous as Starbucks in Seattle. You could easily only see that side of the waterfront, especially if you just stepped off of the massive cruise ship that pulled up to port. Look a little closer though and you may start to see some fun sights that break up the steady stream of tourist shops.

One morning you might check out the historic Hulihee Palace, grab a Big Island t-shirt and eat your way through the farmers market. Later that afternoon you can get a tattoo then slurp up a chai latte while watching the waves crash against the shore, sweeping a tiny crab off its rocky perch. The next morning you may find yourself shopping for a plastic ukulele after munching on a hand-crafted pretzel bought out of a shack. The possibilities are endless. So kick back, throw some sunscreen on and take a lazy stroll through the streets of Kona’s waterfront.

Hulihee Palace

Island Lava Java

Kona Farmers Market

Boy turns into shaved ice

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Popping Up Here and There

I have been extremely busy the past few months. Sure I’m growing another human being inside of me, but I have also been writing up a storm. If you aren’t following me on Facebook or checking out the Other Writings page of the blog regularly than you have probably missed a few of the guest posts I have done lately.

Guest Posts

The Launch of Kinderhop on Trip Styler
I was also asked to be a contributing writing on Trip Styler earlier this year. My first post went live last week. Check back on the third Monday of every month for more great family travel tips, destination information and a little kick in the pants to get you out exploring with your kids.

Quoted
I am part of a great  blogging community that have amazing ideas and inspiring posts. Every now and then they ask fellow bloggers to chime in with their thoughts on important topics being talked about in the family travel world. I’m not shy about telling people what I think, so I happily send a few thoughts now and then.

Featured

Stay tuned for more guest posts, KinderHop and quotes coming from Walkingon Travels in the next few months. A few things are already lined up that I am excited about. You just never know where we will pop up next.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news, photos, tips and tricks we learn along the way. 


Day Trips to Save Your Sanity While Pregnant

Mornings out while pregnant can lift your spirits and your energy levels

All throughout my pregnancy Dek and I have been enjoying at least one morning a week exploring something new. Almost every day we are out of the house, but I like to dedicate one day to checking out something fun in or around the city that we have never seen before. Sometimes we even push nap time and head out on a day trip to explore.

In my first trimester this was a challenge. My morning sickness looked more like all day nausea and exhaustion. Not a fun combo when you have a toddler to entertain. It was important for my health, sanity and child that I drag myself off the couch to get us outside while the weather was still good. I had a few friends help me out and get me motivated. This was key to my survival those first few months.

Exploring a new park in Seattle

By the second trimester I was the one leading the way on our adventures. Every other day I had a new idea of what we could do. I would call friends and drag them along for the ride.

It all came to a screeching halt late into my third trimester. No one was eager to make the cranky pregnant woman leave the house; no one but my own toddler that is. For his benefit I still venture out just not as often as my brain would like. My body needs me to slow down but I still need to keep my child entertained. Dek just won’t sit in front of the TV for 12 hours a day no matter how much I wish he would some days.

So how do you make the day trips work when your stomach just keeps growing and the baby on the inside is competing with the baby you may have on the outside?

Make a plan. Open your calendar and start putting little things you can do each day on it. As you get farther along in your pregnancy space the adventures out a little more so you have time to recover.

Enlist help. When your motivation goes by the wayside, find a buddy to help you out. If it’s not your spouse then grab a friend who likes to get out of the house with her kids or enjoys jogging. Even if you don’t have a child you still have to keep your body moving. Find a walking partner or a yoga buddy. Anything to keep those limbs loose and moving.

Pack a bag. Throw a small bag in your car with some essentials. A bottle of water, snacks (cereal bars, crackers, etc.), fruit and a bagel usual do it for me. The last thing you want to do is be hungry and stranded with nothing to get your blood sugar up.

Stay Close to Home. Day trip implies you can get there and back in a day. For me that usually means no more than 1-3 hours in any direction. As you enter your 3rd trimester think about how far you want to be from the hospital or birth center if you go into labor. Keep your adventures a little closer; say in the 1-hour travel time frame. You will tire more easily and probably not want to drive very far to get your head resting on a pillow when the mood strikes you.

Day Trip Ideas

  • Visit your local flower nursery
  • Hike in and around your area
  • Walk to the local playground
  • Picnic in the park
  • Wander over to a local farm to check out the action
  • Check out playtime at an indoor pool
  • Explore a nearby town
  • Eat your way through a farmers market
  • Walk through the impressionist exhibit at a museum one day and the post-modernists the next (or any other exhibit that catches your fancy)

What are some of your day trip itineraries this year? 

Check out the Pregnant Travels page for more great ideas to keep you motivated and traveling throughout your pregnancy. 


Lava + Coral = A Different Kind of Graffiti on the Big Island

If you drive around the Big Island of Hawaii you will notice a whole lot of lava. It’s really quite hard to miss. You may also notice some white rocks scattered here and there. At first you won’t think much of it. Then you’ll start to notice that these white rocks are actually clustered together. They have a purpose. They even have some patterns.

Locals, tourists and artists adorn the endless lava fields with their own version of graffiti art. They spell out their names, ask their beloved to marry them, mourn a lost loved one or simply send a shout out to their favorite rock band using white coral; a sharp contrast against the dark black lava rock. Either way you look at it this roadside artwork certainly breaks up the monotony of a long flat drive of black lava fields.

For more information on this local island phenomenon, check out these two great articles posted by local island organizations.

Head over to the Big Island page for more details on our trip to Hawaii. 

Enjoyed the photos? Check out Photo Friday and Friday DayDreamin’ for more photo inspiration to get your travel juices flowing. 


Diving into Another Language Through Picture Books

Dek can speak Spanish. Nothing is cuter than hearing the words “dinosaurio” or “muy suaves” coming out of my little boy’s mouth. Is he fluent? Hardly. Will he be chattering away with native speakers any time soon? Not likely. What he is doing is hearing new sounds. He is mimicking the words just like he does in English. He is seeing that there are different ways to talk about his very favorite things; dinosaurs, trucks and trains.

I studied Spanish in my high school years, but never got much beyond that. I’ve picked up a class here and there when I can, but never became bilingual. Basically I can speak at a 5-year-old level, but it’s probably less than that. I can say hello and thank you, find out how much something is and haggle down the cost. Just speak slowly to me. My brain is losing its ability to translate with each passing year.

Thought Dr. Seuss rhymes were challenging in English, just try keeping up with the rhythm in Spanish.

I’ve found some great books that Dek loves, chief among them being a series by Usbourne Books. Este no es mi dinosaurio and Este no es mi coche are two of our favorites. These books follow the model of Pat the Bunny by incorporating lots of  textures. I love the different materials used because it helps me figure out what the heck the books are saying. The board books can hold up to teething infants and not so gentle toddlers. There are very few words on a page so we can both grasp the thought the author is throwing at us.

Another trick I have found is to buy a book in Spanish that we already have in English. Dek and I have both memorized most of the Sandra Boyton series of books. When I picked up Buenos Noches A Todos (The Going to Bed Book) it wasn’t as foreign to Dek because he was already familiar with the pictures and what was going on in story.

Dek still looks at me a little funny when I speak or read to him in Spanish. He tries to get me to switch back to English. I don’t blame him. My accent isn’t the best in the world even after growing up with a large number of Puerto Ricans. But he is hearing it. He is seeing there is a connection to what I am saying and what is on the page. I know there are probably better ways to go about teaching him Spanish, but he did learn an awful lot of English through the books I read him. I figure this is as good a place as any to start. It’s free, it’s easy and we have fun together doing it. What more could a mama ask for?

Word books help to drill in basic vocabulary through imagery, great for parents and kids

A Few of the Spanish Language Books On Our Shelf:

If Spanish is not your preferred language look for books in the one you would like to try. The Usbourne series comes in French, Dutch, Portuguese and Italian. I’ve also seen Dr. Seuss books in French. Do a little digging. You will be surprised just how much you can find out there.

Click on the Walkingon Travels Amazon store for more Spanish language books we love. I do receive a small commission anytime you purchase a book through the shop. All proceeds go towards keeping this blog running. 


Head South to the Big Island’s Painted Church

St. Benedict's Painted Church in South Kona

Back in November we took a trip down to the Big Island of Hawaii. In the middle of my recap the holidays hit and then a number of other trips took priority. I am now revisiting our tales from this bastion of Mother Nature’s beauty and temper at work.

Cruising down Route 11 Dek dropped off to sleep. We had spent another water-filled morning at Kahalu’u Beach Park splashing away and wearing out our little guy. Now it was mom and dad’s turn to explore. Our first stop was an unexpected one but still exciting. We were headed to The Painted Church in South Kona.

St. Benedict Roman Catholic Church is an active parish, but also a historical site, overlooking the Kealakekua Bay. It wasn’t at the top of our list of things to see but we were here, we had a sleeping boy and we figured we might as well make the most of our time. With the engine still running so Dek wouldn’t wake up, Mike and I took turns peeking into this tiny white house of worship to see why it had made it into a guidebook.

It didn’t take long to realize the importance of this structure. The interior was like no church I had ever seen on the mainland. It was not a majestic basilica in Florence or a towering cathedral of France. It was a simple wooden building, much like some of the white wash churches you would see in New England except for one thing. The entire interior was adorned with paintings; floor to ceiling.

The ceiling reflects many of the island's natural elements

As the church literature states:

This present church was erected in 1899 by Father John Velghe. Without any professional training and using house paint on ordinary wood he beautified the church with his paintings. In those days few Hawaiians could read and so he taught with pictures-most successfully.

Temptation of Jesus

The Handwriting on the Wall at the Feast of King Belshazzar

Cain and Abel

Biblical scenes played out in the side panels. The starry sunset sky glowed brilliantly above us. The altar would make even the least devote want to sit through a Sunday service just to take in the beauty of such a space.

I’m not sure how Dek would have taken to the church. He would have loved the cemetery, but that is only because he would have wanted to touch every headstone, beaded necklace and flower. Inside he might have torn up and down the aisle. Then again, he often surprises me. Maybe he would have just stood on a bench and checked out one of the paintings for a few minutes.

Graveyard sculptures

As I pulled away from the church with a sleeping Dek in the backseat I wondered what other hidden gems the island had to offer. I was glad we had taken this little detour on our drive south. It wasn’t a natural wonder Mother Nature had given us, although she had certainly left her make by aging the paintings quite a bit. It was a little piece of man tucked away for all to see, celebrating the island’s beauty and what wonders it still had in store for us.

The church altar

Know Before You Go

  • The Painted Church, 84-5140 Painted Church Road, Captain Cook, Hawaii
  • Entrance is free, but any donations go to maintaining the church and restoration of the artwork, which is damaged by weather, sun, insects and human visitors each year.
  • Weekly Masses: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7am, Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 7:15am
  • This is an active church. Be respectful of service times. Visitors are welcome to participate in the services, but don’t walk the aisles just to check out the artwork when services are in session.
  • There are restrooms in an adjacent building that you can access from the outside.

Mass cards, medals and rosaries are available to purchase outside

Related Posts:

To check out more amazing photos head over to the Budget Travelers Sandbox


Family Friendly Eating in Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a labyrinth of culinary wonders. Where do you start? With so much to choose from how do you narrow it down for your family? Well, really you can’t go wrong at just about any spot, but I definitely have my favorites. An eatery that gets me coming back again and again must mean something.

Breakfast

  • The Crumpet Shop (1503 1st Avenue) Whether you prefer a simple jam crumpet or something with a little more decadence you can’t go wrong. Protein rich egg options and oatmeal are also on the menu. My recent favorite is the walnut, honey and ricotta crumpet. A loose leaf tea to top it off creates the perfect morning meal.
  • Le Panier (1902 Pike Place) grab a tea or coffee and a butter croissant to go as you stroll through the market in the morning.
  • Lowell’s (1519 Pike Place) This sit down restaurant is a favorite for a friend with two boys. They watch the boats sail by on Puget Sounds as they enjoy their morning pancakes and omelets.
  • Daily Dozen Doughnut Company (93 Pike Street) Toss back 12 or more of these mini-donuts as you wind your way through the market stalls in search of your next treat. The cinnamon and sugar donuts are always popular, but there are a few other flavors on hand. Cash Only.

Lunch

  • Three Girls Bakery (1514 Pike Place) Hands down the best chicken salad sandwich on the planet. I prefer mine on wheat with lettuce, tomatoes and a whole lot of dill pickles. Get a sandwich to go or sit down at the counter to eavesdrop on a little slice of local life.
  • Pike Place Chowder (600 Pine Street) This is the chowder that sealed the deal. Mike had one bite of the salmon chowder and he was ready to move immediately.
  • DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine (1435 1st Avenue) Pick up a Parma sandwich or slice of pizza, and a small greek salad. Do not forget to get a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. This cookie is one of the very best in the city. They do not skimp on the chips or the butter. Seating is limited so be prepared to find a piece of grass if you want to sit down.
  • La Vaca Burrito Express (1429 1st Avenue) This is a small window cut into the facade of the market, just next to Delaurenti’s. There is no seating but there are cheap burritos and tacos that come in very large portions. You can easily share one item with a friend or family member. Cash Only.
  • Mee Sum Pastries ( 1526 Pike Place) A friend swears by the pork buns and can never get enough. Grab a few on the go and keep exploring the market.
  • Mr. D’s Greek Delicacies (1518 Pike Place ) This used to be one of my regular stops when I worked downtown and I needed something delicious, pretty healthy and on the go. A gyro washed down with a homemade baklava usually did the trick. Vegetarians will delight in the falafel and other veggie options available.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (1600 Pike Place) If you love cheese than you will love this shop. There isn’t much seating, but if you can grab a spot at the tiny bar by the cheese making you might have a show to go along with your lunch. Grilled cheese, soups and what some would call “world-famous” mac ‘n cheese are all local favorites.
  • Athenian (1517 Pike Place) If you are looking for a seat with a view and a movie scene to back it up you are in the right place. Sleepless in Seattle lovers like to pop by for a bite were the film was shot. Seafood is featured heavily on the menu but you will also find burgers and salads for those not in the mood for fish.

Fancier Sit Down Lunch (but still great with kids)

  • The Pink Door (1919 Post Alley) If you need a more formal sit down lunch or dinner this is a great choice. In the summer insist on sitting on the patio for a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. Give the pesto lasagna a try even on a hot summer day. I never regret it.
  • Steelhead Dinner (95 Pine Street) A pricey choice if you have a large family, but definitely a kid friendly spot where you can mix in with businessmen taking an hour (or more) off for lunch with clients. The fish is great, the mac n’ cheese melts in your mouth.
  • Matt’s in the Market (94 Pike Street, 3rd floor) Another pricier option but they use some of the freshest ingredients around. Don’t be afraid to bring your kids here for lunch. Do call in advance for a reservation if you don’t want to be kept waiting. This is a hot spot for working locals and a great place to show off NW food to clients.

Got a favorite spot in Pike Place? Send it my way and I’ll give it a try.  For more of my favorite food picks around the city check out the Restaurants page. 


Tasting My Way Through Macaron Day in West Seattle

Macarons to make your mouth water

I sacrifice a lot to bring you all stories about our favorite destinations and eateries around Seattle. Why just today I made the journey out to West Seattle to try what some believe to be the best macarons in the city. It was a hardship and a struggle to be sure, but I took one for the team. Some sacrifices are just worth taking.

Now before you accuse me of a spelling error let me tell you about the macaron. This is not the sugar-filled, dense coconut delight known as the macaroon (note the different spelling). These are delicate meringue-based French cookies that come in every color imaginable- pink, purple, yellow, orange, green, and yes, even blue. Two of these cookies are usually sandwiched between a small dollop of butter cream, jam or ganache. The best macaron I have ever had was in Kyoto. I’ve never been to Paris, so I’m not sure how they would compare to my memory of that mango macaron I picked up one night. The Japanese do love their French pastries so I have a feeling it was fairly close.

The macarons at Bakery Nouveau weren’t too sweet and came in a multitude of flavors, some I had never seem before. They were definitely much better than the two I’d had at La Panier in Pike Place on Monday. I decided a wide range of flavors was needed to really make sure I got a feel for just how good these macarons could be. I sampled a mint chocolate, passion fruit, strawberry caramel, lavender and blood orange macaron. I was wise to bring a friend to help with my research. I think my arteries would have exploded if I had eaten them all on my own.

The strawberry caramel was my favorite. Just image light strawberry wafer cookies with a dollop of caramel in the middle; not a combo I would put together on my own, but it sure did work. I thought I would be over the moon for the passion fruit macaron seeing as passion fruit is one of my favorite dessert flavors. It just didn’t have enough punch. I couldn’t taste the passion fruit at all. It was delicious, just not the flavor I was hoping for.

As with any French bakery worth its stuff, Bakery Nouveau had a few specialties on the menu besides its macarons. I had gotten a heads up on the twice-baked almond croissant. I usually don’t grab an almond croissant when hitting a bakery; chocolate is more my style. This croissant was beyond anything I had ever experienced. It was flaky, crispy, not too sweet and gooey, but just the perfect combination of flavors that had Dek sneaking little pieces off the plate. I had to buy one to bring home for Mike. There was no way I would be able to describe this pastry and impart on him just how heavenly it was.

Savory sandwiches are a delicious break from the sweet overload

Do not miss out on the chocolate and almond croissants.

After my euphoric adventure into the world of French pastries, I walked off a little of the buttery build up by popping over to Again and A Gain, a small children’s consignment shop that carries a good selection of new and used clothing and shoes. The prices can be a bit steep, but considering some of the name brands they carry and the fact that all of the stuff is in great shape, it was still a bargain. Bogs boots for $18 are still a lot better than the same boots new for $50-70.

Again and A Gain children's shop in West Seattle

I was filled with pastries and laden down with a few more kids clothes when we left West Seattle and headed home. I think the sacrifice I made today was well worth it. After all, now you know that macarons look and taste very different from the like named macaroons. Both are tasty, but only one comes in every color of the rainbow. Now go out and find the best in your town.

Little Known Fact: In France Macaron Day celebrates the first day of spring. Many bakeries donate the proceeds of that day’s macaron sales to a charity. Although Bakery Nouveau did not claim to be doing this, La Panier did participate and sent their proceeds on to Seattle Tilth.

If macarons aren't enough there are plenty of more desserts to choose from

Know Before You Go

  • Bakery Nouveau, 4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, tel: 206.923.0534
    • Hours: Monday through Thursday 6am-7pm, Saturday 7am-9pm, Sunday 7am-7pm
    • Seating is very limited. Don’t be afraid to share a table with someone. People are quite friendly.
    • Street Parking is available for free and readily available on a weekday. Weekends can be a bit more crowded but the side streets usually have something available.
    • If French bakeries are not your think there is also a Cupcake Royale down the street that serves up an amazing Salted Caramel Chocolate cupcake and Lavender cupcake that will have your heart exploding from the sugar high.
  • Again and a Gain, 4832 California Ave SW, Seattle, tel: 206.933.2060
    • Hours: Monday through Saturday 9am-7pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
    • New and used items are available

Check out the Seattle page for more fun around the city and hop on over to Wanderfood Wednesday for more tasty treats. 


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