5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

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Written by guest bloggers: Adam & Kathryn 

5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

One of the things that makes Seattle special are all of the quaint, unique, and fun neighborhoods that surround the city. As you walk the tree lined streets, you often forget that you’re just a few miles from downtown. We love having the ability to escape the hustle and bustle of the city so easily and love the different personalities that each neighborhood has.

Here are our five favorite Seattle neighborhoods (it was so hard to choose!) and some of the top restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do in each one. Whether you’re a Seattleite or planning a trip to Seattle in the future, we hope that this helps you discover new spots within the city!

PS: If you are looking for an itinerary for Seattle, check out our 3 Days in Seattle guide, which features most of these neighborhoods.

Upper Queen Anne

Kerry park

Upper Queen Anne is where we call home and we absolutely love this gem of a neighborhood! Upper Queen Anne is less touristy than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, as it’s a quieter, family-friendly area with less trendy restaurants. However, it’s still filled with so many great spots, including our favorite view of the city!

Where to eat: We admittedly have not eaten at many of the restaurants in Queen Anne, partially due to the fact that we don’t eat out that much and also because we are usually out exploring other areas. However, there are a handful of super great restaurants in Queen Anne worth checking out: Bounty Kitchen, 5 Spot, Macrina Bakery & Cafe, Bite Box, Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Homegrown, and How to Cook a Wolf (pricey!). For dessert, we recommend Molly Moon’s Ice Cream!

Coffee Shops: Our favorite coffee shop in Queen Anne is El Diablo, which is a cuban-inspired cafe with great coffee, awesome breakfast sandwiches, and great indoor and outdoor spaces for working or hanging out. Some other coffee shops we love in the neighborhood are The Wick Motorcycles and Coffee (a joint motorcycle and coffee shop!) and Storyville Coffee.

Thing to do: By far the best thing to do in Queen Anne is Kerry Park, which actually isn’t much of a park, but it is a beautiful scenic viewpoint overlooking the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. This is one of our top must do things in Seattle! While you’re at Kerry Park, make sure to continue walking down Highland Drive to see some crazy big and beautiful houses, as well as check out the other viewpoint at the end of the street. And for Grey’s Anatomy fans, the house from the show is located right around this area too!

Ballard

Golden Gardens

Ballard is probably our favorite neighborhood in Seattle. Its tree lined streets, great restaurants, bars, and cute shops make it such a fun area to explore!

Where to eat: One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle, Asadero, is in Ballard. This is a steak lover’s paradise! Their carne asada is a good price for the size (and totally shareable!) and their homemade guacamole and salsas are so good! Some other great spots in Ballard include Pestle Rock, Biscuit and Bean, Un Bien (a little north of Ballard, but super close!), Cafe Besalu, and The Walrus and the Carpenter (if you’re feeling fancy!). For dessert, make sure you swing by Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery!

Coffee Shops: Ballard is home to many coffee shops! Some of our favorites include: Ballard Coffee Works, Slate Coffee Roasters, and Cafe Umbria. Slate Coffee Roasters does something pretty unique that is worth trying–a deconstructed latte, which is a latte broken up into three glasses. One has espresso, one has milk, and one has a traditional latte and the purpose is to taste the elements separately from one another. It’s a cool thing to try once!

Things to do: There is no shortage of things to do in Ballard! The neighborhood has a lot of Scandinavian and maritime history, as it’s right by the water. One super unique thing to do in the area is check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can watch boats go from Lake Washington and Lake Union into the Puget Sound. It’s surprisingly very interesting! You can also watch salmon migrate up a fish ladder in the summer months. Another one of our favorite attractions near Ballard is Golden Gardens Park, which is a beach on the Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains. This is a great place to relax for a couple hours, have a picnic, and watch the sunset. On Sundays, one of the best things to do in Seattle is go to the Ballard Farmers Market. This is our favorite market in town and features tons of local vendors–make sure to go hungry! And lastly, Ballard is home to many breweries, including Stoup Brewing and Reuben’s Brews, which makes it a great neighborhood to go brewery hopping.

Fremont

Fremont Troll

Gas Works Park

Fremont is known as the Center of the Universe and is a quirky and fun neighborhood across Lake Union from downtown Seattle. Similar to Ballard, the streets are tree lined and we could spend hours walking around the area.

Where to eat: Two of our top restaurants in Seattle are in Fremont: Stoneway Cafe and Uneeda Burger. Stoneway Cafe is our go-to quick spot for affordable and fresh food (almost everything is under $10). They serve breakfast all day and we love their breakfast burrito, their pulled pork, and their salads. Uneeda Burger is an order at the counter burger spot cranking out high quality, fancy burgers and amazing fries. They have an awesome outdoor patio for those non rainy Seattle days. A handful of other popular spots in Fremont include: Royal Grinders, SWeL, Manolin, and RockCreek Seafood & Spirits.

Coffee Shops: Fremont, just like the rest of Seattle is full of great coffee shops. A few top shops to check out are: Milstead, MiiR, and Fremont Coffee. Milstead is a delicious coffee shop right by the Fremont Troll and close to Gasworks Park, making it super convenient for anyone exploring those areas. MiiR is a pretty unique place to grab coffee, as it’s a small outdoor gear shop that also serves coffee and beer, while Fremont Coffee is in an old house and has a nice cozy vibe.

Things to do:  Some of our favorite tourist attractions in Seattle happen to be in Fremont. First up, Gas Works Park, which is is unlike anything we have ever seen before. It’s a former gasification plant on Lake Union that is now a park with views of Seattle. It’s a great picnic and kite flying spot and you can also watch the seaplanes take off and land! It technically may be in the Wallingford neighborhood, but it’s so close to Fremont that we are going to include it anyways. 🙂 After exploring Gas Works Park, head to the Fremont Troll which is one of the weirdest and most random landmarks in Seattle, but makes for a great photo opp! It is a huge sculpture of a troll crushing a VW bug underneath a bridge and is fun to climb on. If you love chocolate, you must check out the Theo Chocolate Tour. Theo is a local chocolate factory and during the hour long tour (which is only $10) you get tons of free chocolate samples! You also get to learn a lot about the chocolate making process. Lastly, the Fremont Sunday Street Market, similar to the Ballard Farmers Market, is a market full of local vendors. The Fremont market is a bit different because it’s indoors and outdoors and is more of a flea market than a produce and food item market.

West Seattle

Alki Beach

West Seattle, as the name implies, is the area west of downtown Seattle and has an awesome laid back beach town vibe. With a large beach, views of the city and mountains, and miles of beachfront biking and walking paths, there is no better place to be in the city on a sunny summer day!

Where to eat: Whenever we go to West Seattle we always go to the same place to eat: Marination Ma Kai. This Hawaiian fusion restaurant is right on the water, has breathtaking views of Seattle, delicious food (try the kimchi fried rice!), and is pretty affordable. You can also take the water taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle and it drops you off right in front of the restaurant. If you’re not craving Hawaiian food, we recommend checking out Husky Deli and The Swinery for sandwiches or Cactus for Mexican food with a view.

Coffee Shops: If you’re in need of caffeine while exploring West Seattle, we highly suggest getting a cup of coffee at Sound & Fog, Olympia Coffee, or Realfine Coffee. We can’t pick a favorite among the three–they are all great!

Things to do:  The big appeal of West Seattle is its proximity to the water and it’s no surprise that the best activities in the area are water related! Our must-do item while over in West Seattle is to spend some time at Alki Beach. There are volleyball courts, fire pits, lots of space to lay out, and amazing views of the mountains and city. The water isn’t the best for swimming, so we recommend renting a kayak or stand up paddle board to actually get out on the water. And if you’re lucky, you may see a seal! When we aren’t at Alki Beach in West Seattle, you can usually find us at Lincoln Park, which is a little south of the main area, but has nice walking trails, water access, picnic spots, and mountain views.

Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill is a bustling, colorful, hip neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle, known for being the city’s LGBTQ hub and home of Seattle’s nightlife. It’s probably Seattle’s most popular neighborhood and is full of Seattle’s top restaurants and coffee shops!

Where to eat: Our all time favorite place to eat in Seattle is an amazing taco shop called Tacos Chukis. Their original location is in Capitol Hill and is a bit of a hole in the wall, but their signature Tacos Chukis tacos with pineapple are so delicious! A few other great spots to check out include: Witness, Fogón Cocina Mexicana, Mamnoon,and Cascina Spinasse. For a sweet treat, we love Frankie & Jo’s, a vegan and plant based ice cream shop with the best waffle cones ever. Verve Bowls, for acai bowls, and General Porpoise, for filled doughnuts, are two more super cute options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Coffee Shops: If you’re looking for coffee paradise, head to Capitol Hill! There are way too many great coffee shops to list here, so we’re sticking to some of our absolute favorites! For coffee and an awesome experience, visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. This is unlike any Starbucks you have ever been to. You can watch them roast and package coffee, as well as try drinks that aren’t available at regular Starbucks. For another unique coffee shop experience, head to Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, which is a technical bookstore and coffee shop, with great coffee, food, and really neat tables that are full of trinkets. We love going here to work! For more traditional coffee shop vibes, Victrola Coffee and Capitol Coffee Works are both solid coffee shops in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Things to do: As we mentioned above, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a super cool experience and one of our favorite activities in Capitol Hill. Another thing we love to do in this area is walk around the shops. A few awesome shops to check out are The Elliott Bay Book Company, Standard Goods, Glasswing, and Retrofit Home. For those of you who love to go out, Capitol Hill is full of fun bars and clubs. We hardly ever go out, but we have been to Rock Box, which is a super fun karaoke bar where you can rent out your own karaoke room with friends. A few other popular spots are Unicorn, Sun Liquor, and Pie Bar. While Capitol Hill is known for its going out scene, it’s also home to the beautiful Volunteer Park and Conservatory, which is nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill. We love going into the conservatory and seeing all of the unique plants, as well as going to the top of the water tower for great views of the city and mountains!

And that’s a wrap on our 5 favorite neighborhoods in Seattle! We absolutely love this city and the little areas that make it special. Now that you have a list of many of Seattle’s neighborhood gems, it’s time to get exploring. Which spot will you head to first?

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About Us

We’re Adam and Kathryn, an adventurous married couple living in Seattle. You can often find us driving all around the PNW on the weekends, cuddling our fur child Kona, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos, climbing mountains, and dreaming about Hawaii. Our goal is to make travel planning easier for others by blogging about our adventures and creating free travel guides for the cities we visit. Come explore with us at Adventures of A+K!

 

 

This blog series features fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!
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Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge and Glen Canyon – Page, AZ

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger:  Alyssa Ryan

I’m super excited to share this post with everyone today! If you’ve never been to the northern part of Arizona, keep reading and let this be your sign to take that trip!

But first, huge thank you to Rachel Alvarez for putting this awesome collaboration together all across the US! Be sure to check her out to see what she’s up to and see how talented she is!

Okay, let’s get into it and explore Page, Arizona!

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If you follow along with me on my Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that Kyle and I got to take a really fun trip to Page, Arizona (okay it was a while ago…in March…but better late than never right?!)

We were able to go on this trip through our Rec Center Copper Sky and it made planning super easy! So easy that we didn’t even have to do it ourselves 😀 This was a two day trip and it included:

  • Transportation to and from Maricopa to Page (about a 6 hour drive each way)
  • A visit to the Glen Canyon Dam overlook
  • A guided tour through Upper Antelope Canyon
  • A boat tour of Lake Powell which dropped us off at a trail to hike to Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  • A hotel stay at Lake Powell Resort
  • AND the chance to see Horseshoe Bend in all its glory.

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Yes. For real. It was amazing! Definitely check our your city’s Rec center or YMCA to see what trips you might be able to take too. We got to check off so many places from our bucket list because of this awesome program!

First stop was the Glen Canyon Dam. Thanks to City Town info I found out that the city of Page was established in March 1957. It was initially a housing camp for workers who were building the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. The city got its name from John C. Page, a commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

This scenic stop had views that rivaled horseshoe bend and a LOT less crowded. Win-win!

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Then we were finally on our way to Upper Antelope Canyon!

I was especially excited for this because I have always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we were not there to see the famous light beams. Those are typically seen during the summer months when the sun is the highest. We were a bit early for that going in March and we were the last tour of the day starting at 4pm so the sun was already starting to set. I’ll get it next time!

Have no doubt, this canyon at any time of the day or year is just spectacular! Plus going in the “off season” means we didn’t have to fight the normal huge crowds. There were still a lot of people but even the guides mentioned it was not as bad as it can be. I was just thankful to get some photos that actually had no people in them! Yay for not having to edit out humans!

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We got to ride in this huge off road vehicle to the entrance of the canyon. It was super bumpy and loud but totally reminded me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland so I enjoyed it 😉 After about a 10 minute drive, we arrived!

Our guide, Presley was SO friendly and super helpful the entire time of our trip. It was a great experience. He was also there to help other people with camera settings and phone settings for taking the best pictures inside the canyon. It was really dark once you were inside and about 20 degrees cooler!

According to The Navajo Parks & Recreation:
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse’ bighanilini, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” The canyons were formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding during the monsoon season.

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The time came for the tour of the canyon to end and I wasn’t ready to leave! I highly recommend going if you get the chance. It’s simply out of this world to see this in person and such an amazing experience. I’ll see you soon again Antelope Canyon!

We still had some daylight left afterwards so we headed to this amazing scenic view of Lake Powell. It was a little bit of a walk but the view was so worth it. Especially at sunset. We had the best cotton candy clouds that evening.

Side note – I’ve been challenging myself to create videos so you better believe I practiced getting some footage on this trip. Be sure to watch the video at the end of the post!

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After that side trip, it was time for dinner and some much needed rest! After traveling all day and seeing all the sights, Kyle and I were exhausted haha! We were happy about being able to spend the night at Lake Powell Resort (which had a gorgeous lake view room I might add, see below pic).

The next morning was gonna be an early one as it was time for a 2 hour boat ride on Lake Powell to go see Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

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Cool fact about Lake Powell, when it’s full it has almost 2000 miles of shoreline, about the same as the west coast of the United States! This lake was enormous! Kyle used to be a deckhand on a sportfishing boat in San Diego and has been on boats and the ocean all his life. Even he said he was shocked at how giant this lake was!

The guide on the boat was telling us some cool stories about the lake. For example, the scenery is so unusual there that it has been used as the setting for many movies! The latest was Gravity with Sandra Bullock. Planet of the Apes was filmed there too.

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It doesn’t look like it in some of these photos, but it was cold and windy! Everyone was bundled up!

This was our view coming up to the dock where Rainbow Bridge is.

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Rainbow Bridge is one of the world’s largest known natural bridges located in Utah. This rainbow-shaped arch is 290 feet tall, spans 275 feet and is 42 feet thick at the top. For centuries, the natural bridge has been regarded as sacred by the Navajo Indians who consider personified rainbows as the guardians of the universe.

Hiking up to this view and seeing that first little hint of the bridge was the coolest feeling ever. If you look at the mountains in the back, you can see there is still snow! The view was incredible.

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We got to explore that area for about an hour and a half then had to head back for that loooong boat ride.

Do you see those tiny people by the water? The rock formations walking back really put into perspective how small we are in this world.

After we got back, it was time to see Horseshoe Bend! I was so ready to see this iconic spot.

We hiked to the edge and let me tell you, there are no fences, no warnings, no guard rails…just the edge! You HAVE to be careful otherwise…There were people all around us and I heard the sounds of so many slipping on the sandstone and my stomach just turned. I am not normally afraid of heights, but this was another kind of fear haha! I still sat on the edge though 😉

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It was truly amazing to see this part of Arizona with my own eyes. Being a wedding + portrait photographer, my Instagram feed is filled with brides and grooms getting married at amazing locations like Yosemite, Iceland, and Horseshoe Bend. And I love being able to see those far away places right in the palm of my hand, but nothing will ever beat actually seeing it for yourself. Go explore! Get off the couch or computer desk and get out of the house! Find any excuse to make memories and be outdoors.

Here’s the promised video!

Hint: definitely watch this video at 1080p!

I’ll never forget this trip and can’t wait to go back! Who knows, maybe you’ll see it for yourself one day…

Alyssa is a Wedding + Portrait photographer in Phoenix, Arizona but was born and raised a California girl. She currently works full time for Shutterfly as a Production Design Training Lead. She and her husband have been married for almost 5 years and love to relax on their boat at Saguaro Lake. As a photographer, she specializes in capturing people just the way they are as the fun and goofy couple their friends and family know they are. She believes your soul knows when it’s onto something good and she enjoys capturing those moments forever, the way her couples see themselves is why she does what she does.
You can find more of her beautiful work here: 
This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

I didn’t get the art scholarship.

My Story.

It’s a time in my life that I will never forget. I was in my sophomore year of school, and I was deep in the trenches of my art studies.

For spring break that year, my mom and I decided to take a train trip half-way across the country to Topeka, KS. to visit family. On our last day, we arrived at the train station only to hear that our train had partially derailed somewhere west of us after hitting a cow on the tracks.

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Our itinerary was going to be delayed. As I’ve written before, it’s usually my preference to take the long, scenic way home, but this time I need to get back- I had applied for an arts scholarship, and I needed to be home to present my portfolio.

When our train finally arrived in Kansas, we were hours behind schedule.  Our route was taking us to Chicago and, there, we would know just how late we would be on our return to Maryland. After we all boarded the train and got settled in, there was an announcement: “Amtrack officials will be meeting with people in the restaurant car to arrange travel plans. Please choose a member of your party as a representative to speak with them.” My mom looked at me and said, “Rachel, you’re 19, you go and make a decision to get us home.” We settled back into our seats and, ironically, I continued reading a book for my sociology class entitled “Ain’t no Makin’ It” (a really fascinating study on social inequality that I highly recommend.)tom-barrett-328717-unsplash

After a few hours, someone came to our seats and said that we were up. I followed them to a train car quite a ways away, and went inside where two officials dressed in navy blue were seated, waiting for me. “Where are you going?” they asked. “Salisbury, Maryland by way of Baltimore.” I said. “What brought you to Kansas?” they asked. “My mom and I spent my spring break traveling to see our family.” “Is there anything we need to know about your travel needs?” “Yes,” I said, “I need to get back to Salisbury as soon as possible. I’m an art major in college, and I am presenting my portfolio for an art scholarship.” They took notes. “Ok, ma’am, we will determine the best course of action and you will be notified in Chicago of the decision. You may go back to your seat.”

After 10 hours of travel, our train stopped in Chicago. It was about 2am.

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Hundreds of people exited the train and filed into lines at the Amtrak counter. Exhausted and frustrated, they received news that the next trains were not leaving for hours and they were prepared for the long night ahead.

While we were waiting in line, someone discreetly walked up to us and said to me, “Rachel?” “Yes.” I replied. They handed me an envelope and quietly whispered not to mention it to anyone. Inside the envelope we found information about a Chicago hotel, taxi fare, and 2 plane tickets-  back home to Baltimore. My mom and I were pretty shocked. We ended up spending the night in a very nice hotel, and took our time getting to the airport the next morning.

Our plane landed and we drove back to Salisbury. Turns out that, after all of that, we still arrived home sooner than if we had never been delayed in the first place. The next day, I arrived at the Salisbury Wicomico County Arts Council with my photography portfolio in hand and never said a word about what we had just been thru. I didn’t get the scholarship.

19 years has passed, and I will never forget the amazing way that our trip ended. To this day, when I am going thru something tough, I think back on times just like this one. I didn’t get the scholarship, but the experience was even more rewarding.

Isn’t it funny how things all seem to work out in the end?

“Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.
— Robert J. Hastings

art inspiration - never give up on your dreams

Want to see some of the art that I paint now? Look here <

Read more about my love of travel here <

Enjoy the journey, folks.

-Rachel Alvarez

5 hidden gems on the Delmarva Peninsula

My Story.

When I was 13, living in rural Ohio, I didn’t yet know that I would eventually develop a love affair with long, winding back-country roads and abandoned barns. In fact, I dreaded small town living.  I distinctly remember daydreaming about where I would adventure to when I was old enough to explore.

One day, my dad received a letter from his best friend who had moved from Ohio, and been living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a few years. In this letter he wrote that, “you can throw a rock in any direction and hit water.” Soon after, my dad was planning a move for our family to a new place.

It was the summer before my freshman year of high school, and we had packed all of our belongings into a U-Haul and moved to Salisbury, a small town on the “Delmarva” peninsula on Maryland’s eastern shore.

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It wasn’t easy moving into high school without any friends. I spent most of the weekends exploring the area with my mom, getting to know this small stretch of the state (about 170 miles long and 70 miles wide). We found cool little thrift shops and small towns. Little did I know that these moments are the same ones that I would treasure for a lifetime.

When I got into college, I knew that I wanted to be an art major. Initially, I took photography classes- mostly so that I would have a way to document these hidden gems along the backroads that I had come to love. Later, I chose a double major in photography/painting.

In the years post graduation, I spent most of my days off getting lost on winding county roads. With my camera in hand, I was able to meet many interesting people and step back in time.

Since then, my family and I have done the same…searching for abandoned beaches and local ice cream shops.

Here are a few of our favorite spots:

  1. Elliotts Island, MD. To get there: turn south in Vienna, MD. off of Highway 50 and just keep driving and driving. (make sure you have lots of gas) Home to about 70 locals, apparently, this part of the shore is not one to miss. Make sure to bring your camera and, if you’re hungry, check in at Upper Store- they may just be serving up Muskrat and Chicken dinner…DSC_0736
  2. Deal Island, MD. To get there: drive south on US 13 towards Princess Anne, MD. and turn right onto Deal Island Road…just keep going. – Made up of a little over 5 square miles, over 40% of which is made up of water, Deal Island offers stunning views of wildlife and waterways. Make sure to check out Deal Island beach- pack a bag to carry home some beach glass treasures and some rubber shoes to protect your feet. Keep driving to get to Wenona- you can get a craft draft beer for $3 at the local “hot spot” Arby’s.fullsizeoutput_1bd
  3. Onancock, VA. To get there: drive south from Salisbury on US 13. Turn right onto VA- 126. With an adorable downtown full of good restaurants, bed & breakfasts and galleries, you won’t have any trouble finding things to do. Go kayaking or take the Tangier Island Ferry to get to another really amazing do-not-miss stop on the peninsula. Or, drive up the road a bit to watch a sunset in Chincoteague- the drive over to it is worth it alone. DSC_2550
  4. Rumbley, MD. To get there: Drive south on US 13 from Salisbury towards Princess Anne. Take MD- 413 towards Westover and turn right onto Fairmount Rd./Frenchtown Rd. Stop by The Hideaway Grill for a meal on the water. DSC_1642
  5. Cape Henlopen State Park. Cape Henlopen, DE. To get there: google map it on your iPhone. (just kidding, but really- there are a lot of fun back road ways to get here!) Okay, okay. Locals might get mad at me for calling this place a “hidden gem” but, let’s be honest, in the off season it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere enjoying God’s un-touched country. Take your bike and pack a lunch. It will be a good time. (I couldn’t find my personal photos of Cape Henlopen, so I’ve attached a painting I did of it last year as part of a 50 state watercolor series.) delawareamazon

Have you ever been to the Delmarva? What special places have you discovered?

Want to see more photos and art celebrating this unique part of the US? Look here.<

All photographs © Rachel Alvarez Art

travel plans

My Story.

I don’t want to go on a cruise. Crazy, I know.

I can’t tell you how many people I know that have come home from a cruise and spoken so highly of their experience:

“Rachel, you just HAVE to go!”, they would say. “It’s SO relaxing and- well, the FOOD is AMAZING!” “Did I tell you that the food was amazing?!” And then, inevitably, they would share about the fancily carved pineapples and melons and the dolphin ice sculpture on the buffet table.

I remember being in Key West one time when a cruise ship had arrived at the dock. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people filed off of the boat to arrive at an already busy tourist trap. They hurried thru the streets, perhaps to find a poorly made Chinese keychain to remember their visit and, 4 hours later, they answered the cattle call to arrive back at the dock to board that huge boat again.

There is certainly value in being able to relax and literally do NOTHING, but I don’t personally feel that getting waited on hand and foot is at the top of my wish list. If I were to describe a perfect day, it would likely include getting lost while having nowhere I needed to be. Accompanying me, would be my husband and kids with no definitive itinerary, a full tank of gas and nothing “pressing” except the shutter button on my camera.

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Yesterday, was Christmas, and I started day dreaming about what kinds of adventures our family might get into in the coming year (and thinking about some of my favorites from times passed.) The most memorable trips that we have taken usually included of the following: Simple accommodations, PB&J sandwiches, hanging with the “locals”, relatively-un-touched-nature, guilty-pleasure-iPod-playlists and beach chairs. Some day I will share about the fun experience of going to the dentist in Dominican Republic, but I will save that for another post…

It’s funny that we sometimes feel the need to fill our time seeking luxury when simplicity can be just as mentally rewarding.

With the new year quickly approaching, one of my goals is to look for adventure right here at home. Drive the backroads more. Pay attention to the birds. Feel the breeze. Be present.

What have been some of your favorite adventures? Were you near home or far away from it?

 

 

 

A (summer) day in the life of…

My Story.

During the summer, more than ever, our family gets in our minivan for last-minute impromptu road trips. It’s not unusual at all for us to get lost on back country roads and end up 2 states away without even planning on it– to be fair, two states isn’t all that far since we are on the eastern shore of Maryland and everything is within easy access. Still, it’s always fun to see what kind of new adventures we can get ourselves into.

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We’ve stumbled upon bald eagle nesting grounds. Collected antique pottery shards that have washed up onto beaches. Eaten ice cream on the bay at unknown hole-in-the-wall-perfection.

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I think one of my favorite things about living here is the fact that we can go in almost any direction and hit water. Something about the fact that all of it meets at some point, in a variety of ways, makes me smile. I may not know where I am going, but the water sure does. Water is a very common theme in my paintings- it’s particularly challenging to paint because of it’s ever-changing color and shape, and I love a good challenge.

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There are roads near our home that make you feel like you are literally about to drive off of the face of the planet. No other people- no other homes- no other cars: just the birds and the bugs. I love it.

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My good friend Tim once pointed out that the further you drive into the country, the less fingers a person uses to wave “hello”. I like those pointer-finger-only kinds of hellos. You know, the kind that only the locals give to each other.

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My camera is a close friend during those trips.

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I read a quote the other day that really hit me:

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”   Dorthea Lange

When I was in college, I was initially a photography major. There were many times when I used my camera and a whole new world opened up to me. I noticed things in detail that I never would’ve even paid any attention to without that shutter click. Colors were more vibrant. Pattern more visible. Texture more tangible.

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My encouragement for you is to grab your camera. Don’t go somewhere to take pictures. Go somewhere to discover beauty. Enjoy the unexpected. Get lost, and in the process, find out a little bit more about yourself.

Want to see more of what inspires me as an artist? See more photos, read stories and see works in progress on my Instagram: www.instagram.com/rachelalvarezart . Tag me with YOUR new adventure. I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

missing my camera.

My Story.

Since my beloved camera is in the shop, I thought I would share with you all a few of my favorite photographs. Accompanying these photos were times rich in memories.

When my interest in photography developed (intended), I loved the permanency of the medium. Everyone always says, “time flies”. In photography, however, the moment stops and is forever encapsulated into a timeless square.

Cameras help us to stop and admire our loved ones expressions. They help us remember the mist we felt on our skin the day we finally enjoyed the ocean breeze. They allow us the privilege of staying young and stopping time.

Here are some of my favorite moments with my camera:

on a road to nowhere in Colorado.

on a road to nowhere in Colorado.

i miss this place.

i miss this place.

This lil guy walked right in front of me.

This lil guy walked right in front of me.

Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic.

my inspiration

my inspiration

If you haven’t pulled out your camera in a while here is my encouragement.  You will never get THIS moment again. Enjoy your weekend. I’d love to see the pictures that you’ve captured.