We visited Seattle twice in 2009 - the first time in February to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary and then again in September as a kind of combo birthday/friend's wedding trip. Seattle is a city that I instantly fell in love with. The beauty is just spectacular. It's clean, well laid out and the air is crisp and clean. The views across Elliott Bay to the Olympic Peninsula are unrivaled. Seattle is a city that I would move to in a heartbeat.

On our first trip we stayed at the Westin Seattle in a room with a view of the Space Needle. We booked our room via Hotwire and were able to upgrade our first night based on my Starwood Preferred Guest membership (I've found the Westin, in general, to be great about upgrading SPG members regardless of where the reservation came from but the Sheraton to be horrible about this).

We had several great meals during our week there but my favorite was from Matt's in the Market on Valentine's Day. We walked in without a reservation, totally prepared to wait a very long time to sit down. The excellent maitre'd sat us at a cozy table for two within minutes and the meal that followed was just fabulous. Everything about our experience at Matt's was top notch. We also had great meals at Dahlia Lounge, The Pink Door, Elliott's Oyster House and Salumi.

In addition to tooling around the city, we also took a couple of side trips. Our first was to Tacoma to check out The Glass Museum, which was interesting because we got to see real glass blowers at work, but I wouldn't recommend a trip to Tacoma *just* to see it as there are several museums and lobbies in Seattle that have plenty of Dale Chuhily artwork on display, which is really what we went there for in the first place. The Murano chandeliers were amazingly beautiful though.

On another day we rented a car, hopped on the ferry to Bainbridge Island and then drove all the way out to Olympic National Park, stopping in Poulsbo and Port Gamble before driving back through Kitsap County, onto the ferry and back over to Seattle. I tried to convince Alan to drive out to Forks and First Beach, but the day was short and our drive was long so we opted instead for a quick detour to admire the Elwah River Valley before making the journey back.

One of our favorite things to do though was the lock cruise offered by Argosy. You start in Lake Union where the houseboats are located and then you cruise up through the area where most of the fishing boats are harbored, through the Ballard Locks, out onto Puget Sound, and then you finish up the 2-3 hour tour in Elliott Bay.

If you'd like a more detailed day-by-day report, follow these links to our old Typepad blog:

I left Seattle that first trip hoping to return soon. Weeks later we found out about our friend's wedding taking place over Labor Day weekend later in the year, so we were excited to make a return visit.

In September we revisited Salumi and Elliott's Oyster House. This time we brought along our friends for what pretty much amounted to an all-you-can-eat oyster fest out on the patio as we watched the ferries coming and going. Alan and I also took a cruise of the Bay on a sailboat and toured the Ballard Locks on foot, picnicking in the park with some fresh produce we bought at Pike Place Market. For this trip we got an excellent deal on the Alexis Hotel via Expedia and I'm so glad we chose that hotel because our room was fabulous and the service was really great.

Unfortunately my camera broke midway through the trip, but I assure you summer in Seattle is just as beautiful as winter in Seattle.