Powell's City of Books, Portland

I am all on board with a city that can support a book store of this size. Taking up a full city block, Powell's is enormous and flatteringly frantic. Packed to the rafters with shoppers, I have to admire a town with such a love of books. Also for travellers, this is where you get your Portland souvenirs - and in hipster fashion they exude cool.

Read More

Third Wave Coffee Tours, Portland

Third Wave Coffee Tours is an excellent way to explore the Oregonian coffee scene. We signed up for Thursday's Artisinal Donuts and Specialty Coffee tour and literally let owner Lora Woodruff lead us about by our noses. The tour gave fascinating insights into the local scene and gave us a stunning array of donuts to sample. We began at Coco Donuts and were offered two varieties of single origin drip coffee paired with our treats; at each donut stop our coffee was offered black and although I don't normally drink it that way I decided to get into the spirit and wasn't sorry. We walked from Coco to Local Roasting Co where we watched the magic at work, hearing the crack of the beans and smelling a freshly roasted batch. From there to Bluestar Donuts, who brewed an interesting, exclusive roast that Lora explained was designed to stand up to the strong flavours of the donuts - one being a sweet potato and sage number - you can't help but notice the perfect pairing. Our final stop on the tour was sampling a short macchiato from fine coffee purveyors, Barista, and we were lucky enough to take in a cupping session in progress. Wish I'd bought the He-Man tee - souvenir regrets!

Read More

Ground Kontrol, Portland

A retro arcade with alcohol, um how fast can I get there? A brilliant concept, Ground Kontrol features all the games you knew and loved as an 80s child at a quarter a game, serving a simple bar menu and some whacky nibbles your mother would never let you eat. Not a great place for conversation but with original Space Invaders, Pac-man and Tetris you only need to be able to say "in your face, I win!"

Read More

Pike Place Public Market, Seattle

Started by farmers as a way to stop the middle-man from unreasonably hiking up the price of produce, Pike Place is the original farmers market. Home to sensational produce and baked goods, this is where you'll find the fishmongers throwing salmon like football and Seattle institutions Lowell's and The Athenian (made famous by Sleepless in Seattle).

Read More

Beneath the Streets Tour, Seattle

This adventure was a tour of Pioneer Square guided by Val from Beneath the Streets. Fascinating to hear about Seattle's early days, the great fire and the process of raising the streets. With much of the street level becoming one level below, skylights like the one below were installed to provide light to shoppers until the process of raising the streets was complete. The original glass can be identified by its magenta hue, having become more beautiful with time.

Read More

Bainbridge Island, Seattle

After three days of wandering Seattle, my feet were itching to see more so I hopped on a Ferry to Bainbridge Island. The island was brimming with character, charm and friendly faces. My day was spent wandering the town centre, marvelling at vintage wares, locally made jewellery, and wondering exactly how I could choose just one of the fab eateries on Winslow for lunch. Food soon fled my mind when I stepped into the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art which houses a striking collection of local art, heavily influenced by the rich heritage of the First Peoples of the Salish Sea region.

Read More

Seattle Antiques Market

A curio stop on the waterfront, I wasn't looking for the Seattle Antiques Market, I could swear it found me! The market was full of brill vintage items, with an intriguing range of items that were somewhat different to what I would see in a similar market in Australia. A great snapshot of time and place! 

Read More

Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle

A Museum that surely was built solely for my merriment! Full of tributes to music, fashion, television and film, MoPop was fun from start to finish. On offer while I was there: a retrospective of Nirvana and the pull of punk to the mainstream; an exhibition on Jimmi Hendrix; a display of wearable art; explorations of horror and fantasy genres; and the main exhibit of the moment - Star Trek film and television since its launch in 1966. I particularly loved the Princess Bride pieces and a page of the original Labyrinth script.

Read More

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Seattle

The Chihuly Glass Museum is like stepping into Wonderland. A sensory feast for your eyes, the colours, scale and curation of Dale Chihuly's masterpieces amaze. Incredible enough in daylight, if you are staying at the Seattle Center after dark you can also see the garden pieces lit up against the night sky.

Read More

The Space Needle, Seattle

You can easily spend the better part of a day at the Seattle Centre, accessed via the Westlake Center Monorail, it holds several of Seattle's attractions and is the gateway to a few more. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle is a marvel of the city skyline. Legend has it that the famous shape was first conceived by architect John Graham on a napkin. To get the full effect of the view, it's a great idea to get the City Pass and use the day/night ticket - although this does have to be used on the same day.

Read More