Van-To-Glam: The Best Way To Explore The PNW
In an ideal world, I would live half of my life hiking and climbing in towering rocky mountains, and the other half in the city. Sometimes I want to put on heels and a leather jacket and go out on the town, and sometimes I want to live in the woods (that’s pretty much the meaning behind the name of my blog- “The Glam Granola Girl”). When I started planning a trip to Seattle with my friends Taylor & Caroline, my big objectives included seeing mountains, and exploring the city. Unfortunately our trip was only 5 days long, so I was worried about fitting everything in. Luckily The Kimpton Hotel Vintage and PacWesty came to the rescue and solved all of my problems! They were offering a “Van-To-Glam” trip experience, which I have now decided is my dream type of vacation. In a nutshell, the trip includes a few nights staying and adventuring the wilderness in one of PacWesty’s adorable VW camper vans, and a few nights in the middle of downtown Seattle in the lovely Hotel Vintage. We actually had to do the trip in reverse (glam-to-van) because we had a show to see in the city on our second night, but it was still just as awesome.
Part 1… GLAM!
Our trip started out with a delayed flight, so we arrived in the evening instead of the morning. We were so tired when we got in, but were greeted so kindly by the hotel with wine and some chocolates. After we checked in, we ate a delicious dinner at Cafe Flora. Taylor was our official food guide for the trip, and she never let us down. She is vegan, Caroline is vegetarian, and I am allergic to gluten. With all of us together it is very difficult to find things to eat, but in Seattle, I had some of the BEST. FOOD. EVER. Cafe Flora was great because it’s a vegan restaurant, but they had gluten free pizza with real cheese for me, and the cutest drinks!
After a good nights sleep, we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day and room service. Our room was on the top floor of the hotel and we had a perfect view of the city. We probably ordered way too much food, coffee and mimosas, but hey, that’s what vacations are for right? Not only was the food DELISH, but they took wonderful care of us, providing three fluffy robes so we could enjoy our meal comfortably. After we filled up on waffles and fresh fruit, it was time to explore the city! Seattle has so much to offer from great restaurants to, water-front views and cute neighborhoods.
Pike Place Market
Our first stop in the city was the famous Pike Place Market! Luckily, it was less than a mile from our hotel, and it was a beautiful day, so we walked over. The market is crowded, and definitely a tourist destination, but SO worth visiting. They have tons of vendors, from rows of fresh tulips (my favorite flower), to yummy cheese & chocolate. We probably could have spent all day (and all of our money) at the market, but we had more to see! We walked around, got some tulips and snapped a few photos before heading to our next stop: The Pier!
This trip was actually my third time visiting Seattle. For some reason I get sunny weather every time I go, so I’d consider myself lucky. The pier is my favorite spot in the city because you can see the sun set over the Olympic mountains. It is also great for spending time near the water, eating good food and taking a ride of the farris wheel! Mountain views ahead, city views behind… what more could anyone want??
In the afternoon we visited the Capitol Hill area. It is the coolest neighborhood! There are rainbow sidewalks and lots of hip local shops. Taylor made a great comparison in her blog post- it’s like the Brooklyn of New York. Our first objective in Capitol Hill was food. We stopped by Plum Bistro, which is a completely vegan restaurant. I am not exaggerating when I say it is the best meal I have ever had, and that’s coming from a girl who loves to eat meat. If you go, I’d highly recommend trying the Mac ‘N Yeast, and the Chipotle Grill Sandwich (yes, they also have gluten free bread:). After lunch we went shopping at the local Goodwill and a vintage shop called The Pretty Parlor. Everything in The Pretty Parlor was beautiful, and I couldn’t help but splurge on a red dress (pictured below). Later that night we rocked out to some live music from The Brook & The Bluff at Neumos.
Off To Olympic!
We spent our last morning in the city… eating and drinking coffee of course:) We said goodbye to our lavish hotel, and hello to our hiking boots! We hopped on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, which is $8 and runs pretty often, so there is no need to reserve in advance. I couldn’t WAIT to get out in nature for the second leg of our trip with PacWesty!
Part 2… Van Camping!
Spending time in the outdoors is where I truly thrive, so I was especially excited for this portion of the trip. When we arrived at PacWesty, we got a quick tour of the van that was stocked with everything we could possibly need. They had sleeping bags, camping chairs, tables, cooking supplies, charging cords, lights, etc. The van was also super spacious, with a popup tent and lots of room for our suitcases, and sleeping arrangements. After we got a run-down of our cute home on wheels named Lulu, we made a quick stop at the grocery, drove by the gorgeous Crescent lake and headed to our first campsite, Mora Campground. The site was $20 paid when you arrive. During the off-seasons there is no need to reserve campsites- the park was actually relatively empty! Mora was located about .3 miles from Rialto Beach, our desired destination for the morning, so it was the perfect spot. Not to mention it was in the most beautiful and peaceful forest!
After Taylor made us a gourmet camping breakfast (food always tastes better in the woods:), we took off in Lulu to Rialto Beach! I am not a beach person at all, but I loved this beach. It was rocky instead of sandy, and the shoreline was covered in huge pieces of driftwood. There were big rock cliffs towering out of the water and waves crashing around us. The sun was warm, the air was crisp, and the morning light was perfect for capturing magical moments.
One of my goals for the trip was to visit Hole-In-The-Wall. During my research, I came across some magical sunset photos of a sea cliff on Rialto Beach that had a perfect tunnel going through it. It was about 2 miles down the beach from the parking area, so we started the trek. On the beach, everything looks closer than it is, and a 4 mile hike is not something that should be done without food or water. We ended up walking all the way there in dresses with nothing but our cameras, so it wasn’t the easiest. In the end, we all agreed it was still worth the walk. We had to hike over one of the cliffs to walk into the tunnel on the right side, and the view from the top of the cliff ended up being one of my favorites from the trip. It was truly breathtaking. It’s a pretty easy hike if you bring the proper supplies.
We were so happy to see our trusty van Lulu when we got back from the hike, and a PB&J never tasted so good.
Our Final Destination… Crescent Beach
Finally, we arrived at Crescent Beach & RV Park where we were camping for our last night. Quick Tip: plan the cost of campsites into your budget, because this one was $60 a night! Nonetheless, it was spectacular because we pretty much had the whole place (and beach) to ourselves. The campsite was right across the road from a beautiful sandy beach, where we could drink wine and watch the sunset. We were all so tired, so shortly after sunset we curled up in our sleeping bags and got cozy. Some of my favorite parts of the trip were chilling in the van after the sun went down. I got up the next day to watch the sunrise on the beach and soak up my last moments in the National Park.
Van-To-Glam is DEFINITELY the way to explore the PNW, because there is so much to see in the city and in the wilderness. Thank you so much Kimpton Hotel Vintage & PacWesty for the trip of a lifetime(: