If you get the opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Washington, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the hikes and amazing areas to explore. I’ve spent a good amount of time visiting and even living there and I have still only seen a tiny fraction of everything it has to offer! Today I’ll share with you some of the hiking areas in Washington that I’ve come to love so you can have some guidance for your next trip to Evergreen State!
Mount Rainier National Park
This one may seem like an obvious choice, but Mount Rainier National Park is such a well-known national park for a reason. It is one of the most beautiful national parks I’ve visited and has some amazingly unique landscapes that are hard to find elsewhere in the United States. Mount Rainier itself is an incredible sight that I never get tired of seeing, and the park has tons of hikes ranging in difficulty. Not only are the views in the park amazing pretty much anywhere you go, but you’re sure to see some wildlife as well. Last time we visited we saw elk and a bear! Mount Rainier National Park is well worth the visit and a national park I think everyone should visit in their lifetime.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a massive area that includes the western region of the Cascade Mountain Range. A large portion of the national forest is located just about an hour east of Seattle, and that specific area is one of my favorites. This National Forest offers almost countless hikes ranging from fairly easy to very challenging. Some of my favorites include Heybrook Lookout, a short but steep hike to a fire tower, and Barclay Lake (check out my photo diary from that hike here)! Whether you’re in the mood for a casual hike to a stunning lake or a viewpoint of the mountains, or you’re ready for a challenging summit or scramble, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has it all!
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire state. The park is home to forests, alpine areas, a rainforest, and beaches, so it truly offers anything you could be looking for. The rainforest is an amazing place to stroll through massive trees covered in thick moss while the beaches are rocky and dramatic. As a bonus, for any Twilight fans out there, the town of Forks is located just 30-40 minutes outside of the park and is an awesome little spot to check out as well. Hikers, photographers, and fishermen alike will love this area and everything it has to offer.
Hi folks! Recently we’ve gotten to take several trips to Breckenridge and have absolutely fallen in love with this mountain town. We haven’t yet experienced it in the winter, but look forward to checking out the ski resort when the season starts! Today I’ll be sharing with you the perfect 2-day itinerary for exploring all that Breckenridge has to offer.
Day 1: The Great Outdoors
Breckenridge is nestled in between some amazing hiking areas and peaks, so on your way in I definitely recommend stopping for a hike. We loved exploring the Blue Lakes area (check out that blog here) because it was very accessible and offered different options depending on how long and challenging of a hike you are looking to do. On the way to Blue Lakes, we also passed the parking lot for Quandary Peak, a well-known 14er. I haven’t hiked this mountain myself, but I hear it’s quite challenging, though you do get some rewarding views at the end. If you have kiddos with you or are looking for something where you can pretty much drive up and explore, I would recommend the Breckenridge Troll, Dillon Reservoir, or Sapphire Point Overlook. All beautiful options with little to no hiking required for some awesome sights!
For lunch, there are tooooons of options available in Breckenridge depending on what you like. I would recommend Breckenridge Brewery & Pub for their delicious brews and small bites. We loved the cheese curds, soft pretzel with beer cheese, and wings! Another good option is Ollie’s Pub & Grub, a low-key spot with classic American fare. This restaurant is located on the river and they also sell fish food for you to throw right off the bridge!
From there, I would recommend resting up at your hotel or Airbnb before taking on Breckenridge at night. If you’re not feeling totally tired yet, it’s also fun to just drive through town and some of the surrounding neighborhoods. There are beautiful mountain views everywhere you go, and there are some pretty spectacular multi-million dollar homes in the area. Another fun option is the Breckenridge Gondola, a series of free gondola rides that offer a unique perspective of the town from above! Plus, it’s a great opportunity to rest your tired feet.
There are dinner options galore in Breckenridge, varying from barbecue to Italian, and everything in between. For a drink and some live music, check out the Gold Pan Saloon, a longtime establishment with a fun western theme. Both times we visited we happened to get Asian for dinner, so I’d recommend Pho on Main or Bangkok Happy Bowl. There are lots of other options though for pretty much any craving you could have! If you’re craving something sweet afterwards, check out Higgles Ice Cream for some deliciously unique flavors.
Day 2: Shop Til You Drop
Before beginning your day of adventuring through town, you of course have to enjoy some breakfast. Cool River Coffee House offers some delicious breakfast sandwiches and baked goods, as well as some fun and unique flavors to spice up your latte or iced coffee. If you don’t mind venturing a little further out, Frisco, a town about 15 minutes from Breckenridge, also has some great restaurants. We thoroughly enjoyed Bread + Salt, a breakfast spot that offered scrambles, hashes, and some delicious challah French toast. Frisco is another great town for walking around if you somehow manage to exhaust your options in Breckenridge!
There are so many shops throughout Breckenridge that you’re sure to find some you love. We always end up at Limber Grove, a spot that features local artists and brands. They have lots of cool stickers, hats, shirts, and other beautiful, high-quality souvenirs. We love just strolling up and down the streets and popping into any shops that catch our eye. Whether you’re in the mood to purchase a new bike or some fly-fishing gear, indulge in some handmade fudge, or pick up a fun souvenir for family back home, there are endless options for everything you could think of.
And there you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed this guide to Breckenridge and have the opportunity to explore this beautiful town for yourself.
Aloha and hello! Today we’re talking all about how much it actually costs to drive across the country. Before we dive in, make sure you check out my video on this topic as well! Summer 2020 my husband and I embarked on a road trip from Georgia to Washington. We were on the road for 10 days with several stops and detours along the way, and I want to break down exactly how much this trip cost.
The four main categories we’ll be talking about are lodging, gas, food, and activities. I will preface by saying that we drove our own car (a Subaru Outback) which saved us a good bit on rental car expenses and also got pretty good gas mileage. If you haven’t checked out the first part of this road trip series which talks all about big picture planning, check out the blog here and the video here!
Lodging, food, and gas are definitely necessities and should be the first things you budget for. Activities are where you’ll have some flexibility in how much you want to spend. Thankfully, there are typically a lot of free activities to do no matter where you are, but it can be fun to plan ahead and schedule some outings as well. Our overall strategy for this trip was to have fun and enjoy ourselves without going overboard on the spending, and I think we definitely accomplished that!
We stayed in a variety of Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, and with friends and family. TIP: if you find yourself in a town where friends and family live, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you might be able to stay with them! Of course you never want to impose or expect them to have a place for you, but it also never hurts to ask. We did a lot of research comparing lodging options to make sure we were going to be in a clean, safe area for a reasonable price. We wanted a private room since we had a lot of personal belongings with us, but outside of that, we weren’t too concerned with how luxurious the room was!
Our strategy for food was to buy groceries that would be okay in a cooler or not need refrigeration at all so that we could eat breakfast and lunch on the road and just splurge on dinner. Some of our favorite snacks were apples, peanut butter, Clif bars, beef jerky, tuna packs, trail mix, and sandwich supplies! We bought groceries once in Georgia right before we left and then again in South Dakota about halfway through our trip. As far as eating out, we tried to enjoy local spots and we also treated ourselves to coffee almost every day which is, in my opinion, a road trip necessity.
Groceries: $100 Eating out: $400
FOOD TOTAL: $500
This one was a bit of a challenge to calculate because it will depend a lot on the kind of vehicle you have, current gas prices, and which state or area you’re currently in, but I did my best to provide an accurate estimate!
GAS TOTAL: $250
Most of the activities we ended up doing, such as hiking, checking out local parks, skateboarding, or walking through town, were totally free. We did, however, budget for some planned activities that were really special and created some great memories. Additionally, we do have a free annual national parks pass thanks to my husband being in the military, and we definitely took advantage of it!
Electric scooters: $10-$15 Hiking/national parks: FREE Horseback riding: $130
ACTIVITIES TOTAL: $150
Now, I won’t sugarcoat it: this is a lot of money. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to take this trip, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. We did do a lot of planning and budgeting to make this trip happen, and I think we struck a good balance between enjoying ourselves and still being conscious of how much we were comfortable spending. I’ll also point out this total is for me and my husband over the course of 10 days, which works out to be $72.95 per person each day. I would say this is a pretty fair amount considering it includes lodging, food, gas, AND activities, and I don’t regret a penny that we spent.
Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to follow the blog and subscribe on YouTube to stay tuned for my next installment in this road trip series!
Hello friends! Several years ago, my parents made the move from Georgia to Washington and since then we’ve had so much fun exploring all the different areas the state has to offer. While Seattle is probably the first town that comes to mind, there are so many other awesome towns that I think everyone should explore if they find themselves in Washington. Without further ado, let’s jump in!
Snoqualmie In 2019 I had the opportunity to intern at a museum in the town of Snoqualmie, and it was one of my favorite jobs ever, largely because I fell in love with the town. Snoqualmie is located about 30 minutes east of Seattle, making it an incredibly easy and worthwhile day trip. The main feature of the town is Snoqualmie Falls, a roaring 268′ waterfall that now serves as a hydroelectric power plant. You can visit the park for free and walk through a series of trails that will give you views of the waterfall from above and at river level. Be warned, it does get extremely busy during the summer and weekends, but if you can go earlier in the day or during an off season, you’ll probably miss some of the madness. Don’t forget all the nearby hiking too – Mount Si is one of the most well-known in the area, and I suggest Franklin Falls if you’re in the mood to chase some waterfalls.
Leavenworth Leavenworth is a bit of a haul to get to, but the drive there and the town itself make a visit well worth your time. Leavenworth is located about 2 hours east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. The drive there will take you through some beautiful mountain roads and the town itself is designed to look like a Bavarian village nestled in the mountains. One of the most popular times to visit Leavenworth is in the fall and winter when they host Oktoberfest and put up a massive display of Christmas decorations. There are tons of shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and breweries to keep you occupied, and there’s also some paved trails that will walk you by the river (which you can tube in the summer!)
Coupeville If you want to experience Washington’s version of “island life,” Coupeville is the way to do it. This small town is located on Whidbey Island, which is about 2 hours north of Seattle. To get to the island, you can either take a ferry or pass over Deception Pass Bridge, both of which are pretty cool in and of themselves. Coupeville is located right on the water, making it the perfect town to grab a cup of coffee and just wander around. There’s a dock area where you can try to spot some sea life (we saw a seal one time!) and plenty of little shops and restaurants to keep you occupied. I would also recommend visiting Lavender Wind, a pick-your-own farm that is a beautiful sight in the summertime.
In summer 2020 my husband and I found ourselves in Wyoming – we were driving from Georgia to Washington and were trying to see as many sights as we could without going too far off route. We decided to take a little detour and explore Yellowstone National Park, a spot we’d both been wanting to visit, but hadn’t yet gotten the opportunity to. The only catch was that we had a single day to explore the park which boasts a whopping 2.2 million acres of land. It took a good bit of planning and some clever scheduling to make it happen, but we managed to see almost all the major sights Yellowstone has to offer in just one day of exploring. If you find yourself in a similar situation and want to know exactly how to tackle the park, this travel guide is perfect for you!
6:00am – breakfast offsite in Teton Village We stayed outside of the park because most of the lodging options inside were either booked up or a bit more expensive than we were wanting to spend. Instead, we stayed in Teton Village, a town about an hour and a half south of Yellowstone. It definitely wasn’t ideal to be this far from the park, but it made the most sense for our particular situation. As a bonus, we got to explore Grand Teton National Park the day before as well (stay tuned for that travel guide)!
7:30-8:00am – arrive at Yellowstone We tried to make it to the park fairly early in the morning to beat some of the crowds and ended up entering through the South Entrance a little before 8:00am. Starting early also meant we had cooler temperatures to walk around and explore, which made it a lot more enjoyable.
9:00am – Old Faithful Our first stop was Old Faithful, probably one of the most iconic features in the park. We kept a close eye on the National Park Service website to see when the next predicted eruption would be, and in the meantime walked along the boardwalks of the Upper Geyser Basin. Seeing Old Faithful erupt was absolutely spectacular, and well worth the crowds. As soon as the show ended, we made our way back to the car to head on before there was a massive rush of people trying to leave.
10:30am – Grand Prismatic Spring Another icon of Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic Spring is located just about 15 minutes up the road from Old Faithful. Unfortunately, we got a little lost while hiking around the area which meant there were some serious crowds once we actually made it to Grand Prismatic. Despite this, Grand Prismatic was absolutely worth the stop, and it was one of the most gorgeous sights we saw the whole day.
1:00pm – Mammoth Hot Springs We were a little hesitant to visit Mammoth Hot Springs considering it is at the very northwestern point of the park, but we were so glad we ended up making the drive. I didn’t expect to be super wowed by this area considering how dramatic Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic were, but I was pleasantly impressed by how beautiful the Mammoth Hot Springs area was and how different it looked from the southern part of the park. The crowds were also a little better which made strolling through more enjoyable.
3:00pm– Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Unfortunately, the road connecting Mammoth Hot Springs to the Tower-Roosevelt portion of the park was closed, so we instead opted to head south and then east to explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We checked out both Artist Point and Inspiration Point, and this was one of my favorite areas in the whole park. The Yellowstone River is absolutely stunning, and the waterfalls were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.
4:30pm – Hayden Valley We opted to take the long way out of the park by heading south from Canyon Village so we could drive through Hayden Valley and past Yellowstone Lake. Hayden Valley did not disappoint as we encountered a massive herd of buffalo. I’ve seen buffalo before in other states, but it never ceases to be an amazing experience. We pulled off the road and watched the herd for quite some time before continuing on past the lake. We didn’t make any stops in this area, but it was a beautiful drive as the sun slowly began to set. We passed by the South Entrance we originally came in, as well as Old Faithful, before exiting through the West Entrance and even seeing some elk on our way out.
7:00pm – dinner in West Yellowstone Once exiting Yellowstone, we got some dinner and spent the night in West Yellowstone, a Montana town not far outside the park. This town is a great option if you want to be close to the park but not actually stay within park boundaries. It was the perfect spot to rest up and enjoy some bison chili after a full day of adventuring! I would definitely recommend eating meals outside of the park if possible, because food inside Yellowstone tends to be overpriced and a bit limited – we snacked on PB&J sandwiches and other snacks which saved us both time and money!
And there you have it folks! Yellowstone has so much to offer that I would definitely recommend taking more than just one day to explore it, but it can be done if you’re willing to do a good bit of driving! I’m so glad we made the detour to check out the park and I can’t wait for our next visit.
“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun.”
National Lampoon’s Vacation, 1983
Before reading this post don’t forget to check out the accompanying YouTube video!
So, you want to take a road trip… but where do you start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I would consider myself a road trip pro: I’ve embarked on several multi-state road trips, from Georgia to Washington, Florida to South Dakota, Georgia to Colorado, and along the East Coast. All of these adventures have taught me some valuable tips and tricks for planning the perfect road trip that’s fun, low-stress, and budget-conscious. And now, I’ll be sharing all of my knowledge with you! I’m so excited to kick off this road trip planning series, so make sure you follow the blog and subscribe to my YouTube to stay updated.
Today we’re talking all about the first stage of planning your trip, aka the big picture stuff that you should, ideally, be considering a few weeks or even months before you embark on your trip. I have learned time and again that starting early and breaking down the process into stages will make it way more manageable and enjoyable in the long run. We’ll get more into specifics in future posts and videos, but today we’re just going to start with the basics.
What are your goals for this trip/what is your road trip style?
The first thing to consider is what you want to get out of your road trip and what type of road tripper you are. As far as goals, just jot down some preliminary ideas on what types of things you’d like to see or experience, and what memories you want to make along the way. Maybe you’re in a rush and don’t have the luxury of sightseeing, so you just want to efficiently get from Point A to Point B. Or maybe you have unlimited time and resources and want to see as much as you can! Similarly, it’s important to think about what type of road tripper you are: do you want to travel leisurely and make frequent stops? Or would you rather crank out a 10-15 hour day and then take an off day to recover? For me, 8-10 hours is usually a good amount of time in the car per day before I start getting antsy and cranky. This also gives me the flexibility of starting early and making a few stops without getting to my final destination too late. But ultimately, it’s up for you to decide!
What route will you take?
We’ll get more into specific route-planning in another video (and I’ll even share some itinerary ideas!), but it’s still good to consider a general route you may want to take. Is there a certain region or area you have in mind? Do you have a set end destination but don’t mind taking some detours along the way? For instance, when we drove from Georgia to Washington, we had the flexibility of taking a bit of a roundabout route instead of cutting straight across the country. This gave us the opportunity to visit some national parks and see friends and family!
What’s your budget?
Again, I will have a whole video and post dedicated to road trip budgeting 101. But, it’s still helpful to start considering how much flexibility you have in your budget so you can start planning and saving. It’s always a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside in case of something unexpected like your car breaking down or an unexpected extra night at the hotel. I, personally, like to save way more money than I actually plan on spending during the trip so that I don’t have to stress about things being more expensive than I accounted for or situations arising that are out of my control. Gas, lodging, and food will be your biggest expenses. Gas is probably the hardest to plan for because prices will vary greatly depending on the vehicle you have and where you are in the country. As far as food goes, I try to stick with breakfast and lunch on the road in the form of groceries I pack beforehand in a cooler, and then I’ll splurge and get dinner in whatever town we’re staying in. You’ll also potentially have some flexibility in your nightly accommodations which brings me to…
What kind of lodging do you prefer?
Lodging can be a pretty big expense, but it will depend a lot on how flexible you can/want to be. Hotels are the obvious choice, but there are also Airbnbs, hostels, campsites, and vans where you can just park and sleep. A lot of this will depend on your needs and what you’re comfortable with, so take the time to figure out what kind of lodging works best for you, and then start comparing prices. My mindset on lodging has always been that I’m pretty much just there to sleep and use the bathroom, so as long as it’s clean and safe, I’m not too picky.
My final point is probably the most important because no matter how well or thoroughly you plan your trip, to be frank, sh*t happens. Sometimes it’s bad, like a blown tire, bad weather, or a road closure. In these scenarios, it’s important to keep your cool, and try to have a backup plan. A lot of times, though, I’ve found that unexpected changes create some of the best memories. Taking a detour to visit a national monument, meeting up with a friend who happens to be in town, and staying out to catch the sunset remain some of my favorite road trip memories, and they’ve all happened spur of the moment. Similarly, don’t force yourself to do or see things just because you feel obligated to go. If you’re tired, take a nap! Cancel your dinner reservation! It’s going to be way more enjoyable if you do it when you have the energy and are in a good mood. Fear of missing out is definitely understandable, but you need to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs.
Thank you so much for joining me as I kickoff this series! Stay tuned for next time, and don’t forget to follow and subscribe!