Hello, friends! I hope y'all had a great, relaxing weekend. Happy Monday! I recently polled my Facebook followers about what kind of post they wanted to see next and "Travel Post" won out. Fine by me, because I love recounting the fun now that Sean and I have actually been able to take some trips.
Just a couple weeks ago, we headed out for an overnight trip in Seattle. The Pacific Science Center has an exhibit on Pompeii that ends May 25th. We wanted to make sure we were able to see it before it is gone. I will talk about that in a later post....On the day we drove up, we popped in to the Woodland Park Zoo for the first time, followed by a yummy dinner at RockCreek Seafood and Spirits (another first). Read on for reviews, animal photos, and to see what I wore for road tripping!
Since this is a fashion-centric blog for the most part, let's talk outfit up front. I wanted to be comfortable, wrinkle-free, and not too warm. Naturally, I also wanted to be cute, casual, and activity appropriate. I don't usually like traveling in jeans or denim capris because when sitting for a while the knees can get stretched out when the rest of the pants do not. This Chameleon Convertible Skirt from Kiyonna (only available in a 10/12 online), is one of my travel go-tos for sure! I've dressed it up a bit more, but love wearing a simple t-shirt with it for easy days. I particularly love the way the stripes look with my New Kids tee. I added my pink Reeboks for pain-free walking and felt cute and sassy all day long. (Also, I started wearing these "thigh smoother shorts" from Yours Clothing under my dresses and skirts. They aren't tight and restrictive like Spanx, but provide protection from chub rub in a silkier fabric that doesn't make noise as you walk. I bought them in a US 24-26, but they were 26-28. I am buying two more pair, but sizing down.)
As I mentioned above, this was our first visit to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. We chose museums over the zoo for our visit last year, a trip I still need to fill you in on completely. However, when some friends of ours took a visit to the zoo earlier this year, they came back with glowing reviews on the zoo so I knew we needed to check it out. We arrived around 2:30pm that day, as it takes us about three hours to drive to Seattle and we were stuck in horrendous traffic halfway through the journey. The zoo closes at 4pm during winter hours, but doesn't kick you out until 5pm. I found our two plus hours to be enough time to see all the animals highest on our list, though we did have to skip a couple sections of the zoo, like the Northern Trail and Family Farm.
The Woodland Park Zoo had quite a few different animals from our local Oregon Zoo. I really loved this because I was able to see animals I don't normally see and some I have never heard of. Below is the Maned Wolf, a long-legged species resembling a fox. They can be found in the grasslands of South America, hence the long legs. I had never seen such a thing and found them fun to watch. Their glowing red fur reminded me of my dearly departed chihuahuas, Rusty and Kiki.
The wallabies and meerkats were fantastic to see. We watched the joey jump right into his mother's pouch and reposition himself to look out. They seemed to have a lot of character.
Speaking of characters, these meerkats are effin' adorable!! I could have watched them all day long. They walked around and climbed up logs in their enclosure to look around or sit and rest. Most of them were bundled in this little group and took turns moving around each other.
One of my favorite things about the zoo was the lush landscaping. There were beautiful trees and flowers - all different kinds - everywhere you looked. It seemed much more serene and captivating than what I am used to in a zoo. I loved staring up at the trees and hearing the leaves rustle in the wind.
As we stayed til the very last minute we possibly could, most people seemed to disappear right around closing. We were able to watch this family of lions interact with each other for quite a while. The cubs pictured here were born in October. Mama Lion played with the cubs, while Daddy Lion looked on and watched over the field. They are so incredibly beautiful.
Visiting the Woodland Park Zoo was definitely a wonderful activity. The zoo is really clean with friendly staff. The enclosures are big and lush, lending to the feel of spying these amazing creatures in somewhat natural habitats. A lot of the enclosures are very open, or at least feel that way, which also lends to getting really great views of the animals and feeling really close-up to them. I think the openness of the enclosures and viewing windows added to the awesomeness of the entire zoo. I love to inspect the animals as close as I can and watch them carry on their daily functions.
After zoo time, we were famished!! In sort of planning our days (I tried not to be as hard core about itineraries as I was in Vegas), I turned to Yelp for reviews on restaurants between the zoo and our hotel. We love to go the seafood route in Seattle, so we went with RockCreek Seafood and Spirits. It is located in the middle of a neighborhood, but easy to find. The hostess and wait staff were friendly and efficient. The prices were a little more expensive than I had anticipated, but we decided to make it a special little early birthday dinner for me.
To start, you can choose between a little plate of bread or a small bowl of three kinds of marinated olives. Since I need to be gluten-free, we chose the olives. They all had pits, but were very tasty. I loved comparing the different flavors of each kind. For drinks, I opted for the Bricksour while Sean chose the Fox Hole. The Bricksour is a combination of Old Grand Dad whiskey, citrus, Leopold Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur, and cherries. The Fox Hole mixes James E Pepper 1776 Rye, Cocchi Barolo Chinato, New Deal Ginger Liqueur, and Scrappy's Orange. Both drinks were yummy with a nice tinge of the orange/citrus that brightened the other flavors. I think I preferred the Fox Hole for its more pronounced flavor combinations, but the marinated cherries as garnish on my drink were outstanding!
And now - the food!! We were hungry, so we ordered four small plates to share. First up was the Yellowtail tuna with Walla Walla sweet onion vinaigrette and sesame pickles. The small cucumbers were marinated so well. All of the flavors were divine together! My husband doesn't even eat cucumbers, but he enjoyed these very much. The tuna was raw in this dish, but it had an amazingly smooth texture that just melted in your mouth. Next was the Hawaiian Hamachi Tartare (pictured below) with lemon, horseradish, anchovy, cucumber, shallot, pickled radish salad, and a quail egg. I have never really had tartare, so I felt very adventurous with this dish. It came with a really tasty cracker to scoop it with. The tiny quail egg was just runny yolk that we poured down over the whole thing. It made the dish creamy and richer in flavor. Both Sean and I were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the tartare. I never think horseradish when I make a fish dish at home, but that spice really added an amazing flavor to the dish. I've also never been a fan of oysters, nor do I think I have ever eaten fresh ones. The Oysters Brock-A-Fella combined bacon, shallots, thyme, and butter to really add flavor. While the texture of oysters is still very weird to me, they weren't as off-putting as I had anticipated. I told you I was feeling adventurous! Plus, bacon and butter make everything better! Lastly, the Wild Carolina White Prawns with brown butter, rosemary, lemon, and grits. I am from the South and pride myself on the way I cook my grits, but these were some of the best grits I have ever had. They were exquisitely creamy and seasoned beautifully. The sauce was like an un-thickened gravy. It was really our favorite out of the whole meal. We could have eaten so much more of those shrimp and grits had we had the room.
Since we were splurging for a special occasion, we opted for dessert in the form of the RockCreek S'mores and a coffee drink called Heated Up. The coffee featured a cayenne spiced sugar on top that really added a nice little heat and spicy flavor to the coffee. I was kind of obsessed. The S'mores is a super chocolatey chocolate mousse with smoked meringue and a delightfully light and tasty gingerbread cracker! YUM! And yes, I caved and had some gluten.
After dinner, we were pretty tuckered out. Once we checked into our hotel, it was Game of Thrones and lights out. By the way, we stayed at the Best Western Plus Executive Inn which is a hop and a skip (really just a McDonald's parking lot) from the Seattle Center, which is home to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, and EMP. It was awesome being such a short walk from our activities for the next day. We enjoyed Hotel Five from our last visit, except for the poor lighting in the bathroom so I couldn't do my makeup with adequate lighting. Hotel Five had great decor and friendly staff, but it was five to seven blocks away from Seattle Center. Top Pot Donuts was next door though, so you may choose fried dough over location. I wouldn't judge.
Our first day of mini-vacation was relaxing and enjoyable. I would highly recommend both the zoo and the restaurant to anyone visiting Seattle. Next time I will talk about the Pompeii and Star Wars exhibits from our second fun-filled day in the city!
Have you been to either place? Do you have a favorite restaurant, activity, or hotel in Seattle? I would love to hear your experience! Share with me in the comments!