As humans, we are creatures of habit. We get used to moving from one activity or obligation to the next to wake up and do the same thing all over again tomorrow. I have a fear of getting stuck in a routine and waking up sixty years later, wondering where the time has gone.

The routine is the enemy. It makes time fly by. Our alertness and fascination with the world around us diminishes with routine. Personally, I want to be aware of every day I live my life. I want to be present in each moment and be fascinated by the people I meet and the things I see. 

Travel is a great way to do this. It wakes up your brain. Tasting and experiencing different foods throughout these travels helps expand your mind and palette.

This summer, my family and I went to Seattle and Mount Rainier for vacation. After a busy couple of months, this trip was exactly what I needed. We spent the first few days in Seattle enjoying the city and its food before heading out to Mount Rainier, where we spent time outside hiking and making time to be present with each other.

It helped me to remember to slow down and enjoy the little things in life, like a sunny day and fresh mountain air. If you get a chance to head out there, below are some recommendations of activities to do.

Seattle - First, fill your belly...

1. Portage Bay Cafe

Their slogan says it all, "Eat Like You Give A Damn." Located in downtown Seattle, Portage Bay Cafe had the best breakfast, brunch, and lunch food I have ever tasted. All of the food they serve is local, organic, and sustainable, not to mention delicious.

One of my favorite things about it is their breakfast bar. Once your order of pancakes or french toast is brought to the table, you take it up to the breakfast bar and top it with seasonal fruit, nuts, maple syrup, and whipped cream. It is a hot spot, so be sure to make a reservation before you go.

2. Local 360 Cafe & Bar

A photo posted by @local360_sea on

Local 360 is a sustainable restaurant located in Belltown. They are called Local 360 because they pride themselves in sourcing nearly all of their ingredients within a 360 mile radius of Seattle.

Their menu is seasonal, changing with the availability of ingredients. They are not doing anything new. Rather, they focus on purchasing the best ingredients and letting them speak for themselves.

If you care about how your food is produced and are looking for a great meal, Local 360 is for you. Whether you are visiting Seattle or Rome, eating like a local makes a huge difference.

3. Purple Cafe & Wine Bar

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar is on the nice end of the scale. They are known for their global wine list and seasonal northwest ingredients. As you open the doors, the first thing you see is a spectacular circular wine display located right in the center of the restaurant. They even have a sommelier to help you choose the best wine to pair with your meal.

While you are there, do not skip dessert. When I went with my family, we ended the night with their homemade sea-salt caramels.

4. Serious Pie

Serious Pie is seriously yummy. The chefs here do not mess around when it comes to pizza. They are known for their signature crust, which requires a cold three-day process before it is wood-fired to create a crunchy, cracker-thin crust.

The same amount of attention devoted to the crust is devoted to the toppings as well. They prep vegetables in their apple wood ovens and even cure their own meat. Talk about attention to detail. This is one spot you do not want to miss.

Mount Rainier - Then, fill your spirit...

1. Crystal Mountain Resort

Caitlin Murphy

Nestled in the mountains six miles outside of Mount Rainier National Park, Crystal Mountain Resort takes you back in time with its traditional style. It first opened for skiing in 1962 and grew to become the largest ski resort in Washington with eleven lifts and the only eight-passenger gondola in the state.

While there, taking a ride up the gondola is a must. On a clear day, there is no better view of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Range. At the top, you can soak up the sun in the chairs on the ridge. You can also stop by Washington's highest elevation restaurant, the Summit House, to enjoy lunch with a view. Feel free to ride back down on the gondola, or even hike down the mountain.

2. Tipsoo Lake Loop

Caitlin Murphy

Just over three miles long, this is a great hike to do with the whole family. You get to see a little bit of everything: lakes, wildflowers, trees, birds, and bees. We went in early August when the flowers were in full bloom. I could have spent all day there, walking the trails and exploring the wildflower meadows.

Keep an eye out for the reflection of Mount Rainier in the lake, and be sure to keep some hiking snacks on hand. Also, go counterclockwise on this loop, so that on the way down you will have Mount Rainier to look at. Hopefully you luck out like we did and end up with a beautiful blue sky day.

3. Grove of the Patriarchs

Caitlin Murphy

Although this is one of the easiest hikes in Mount Rainier, it is one of the most memorable. The trail is lined with red cedars and parallels the Ohanapecosh River. Half a mile in, you reach a suspension bridge that crosses the river. Once you cross the bridge, you reach the island. 

Signs are sprinkled throughout, identifying plants and features of the habitat. Because these trees are out on an island, they have escaped fire damage, allowing them to grow to more than twenty-five feet in circumference and even grow to be over one-thousand years old. Make sure you take the time to marvel at the beautiful Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and western red cedars. Their size is truly astounding.

4. Paradise Inn

Caitlin Murphy

Built in 1916, the Paradise Inn was designed by a Tacoma architect with decorative woodwork designed by German carpenter Hahns Frahnke. He crafted cedar chairs and tables, a rustic piano, and an ornate grandfather clock that still exists today.

It opened for business in 1917 with thirty-seven guest rooms and dining capacity for four hundred guests. Despite several changes over the years, Paradise Inn essentially remains the same. People come from all over the world (like my family and I) to experience the stunning views of the massive glaciers, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, and wildlife that travelers first came looking for in the 1920s. Book your room ASAP.