Bucket List Monday -Washington
Updated: Mar 16
Happy New Year MILSOs!
What is in store for your military family this year? Have you taken a moment to evaluate how you will calm the chaos of military life in 2023? Planning is always nice, but as MILSOs, we know all too well that plans can change, so how about we set some goals instead of planning the entire year? Some of my goals this year are to plan more weekend trips, visit more parks with my crazy toddler, and focus on experiencing life a little more. My duty station bucket list is a great place to jot down all I want to do before the army says it's time to move on. So, grab your planner, and let's get goal-setting.
Washington State is home to five duty stations.
Fairchild Air Force Base
Joint Use Lewis-McChord
NAS Whidbey Island
Nava Base Kitsap
Let’s talk about the one role all MILSOs play, the tourist. It makes sense, we move to a new place every few years, and while we grow accustomed to our current home, we might never feel like locals. So let's embrace it and play tourist!
Seattle is the perfect tourist destination!
Pikes Place Market is a very popular tourist destination. When I visited, I loved looking at all the beautiful flowers! There is also a large variety of food, especially fresh seafood. For all the foodies MILSOs, they have great restaurants. I vividly remember visiting Beecher's Handmade cheese; it was quite the experience, and who doesn't love cheese? But be warned; it gets crowded, so be mindful of that when planning your trip. Weekends and lunchtime are some of the busiest times, especially on sunny days.
While you could get your caffeine fix at the Starbucks at Pikes Place, fellow Milso Remi let us in on a little secret. This Starbucks location is not the first but the third one because the first two locations burned down. So we recommend visiting the Starbucks Reserve Rostary if you can.
Next up is the space needle. What is cooler than seeing it in person? Visiting the Loupe Lounge, you can sip delicious cocktails on the world’s first and only revolving glass floor.
A little way south of Pikes Place, you will find the Museum of Flight! This museum rivals the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and comes highly recommended. The museum offers virtual reality experiences like "shoot yourself to the moon" and weekend family workshops.
Another great place to visit is Gas Works Park which is a public park located on what used to be a Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. It has a play area, a large play barn, and even an artificial kite-flying hill. Stop by the Fermont troll for a quick photo op, or head to a Mariners game and pretend you're a local!
Weekend staycations are a great way to get a break for a fraction of the price, and there are some fantastic destinations to add to your duty station bucket list.
The Kitsap Peninsula is a gorgeous location to plan your staycation with tons to do.
Head to Bainbridge Island and enjoy farms, wineries, hiking trails, and beautiful scenic views. Be sure to check out Sluys Poulsbo Bakery in the Viking-themed town of Poulsbo.
Whidbey Island is beautiful and home to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. Explore parks like Deception Pass State Park and nature reserves like Earth Sanctuary. The island also hosts many festivals throughout the year, like a kite festival, Wag'n'Walk for pet parents, Tour de Whidbey for cyclists, a week-long sailing regatta, and more!
Leavenworth is a beautiful place to visit and stay! It’s a Bavarian-style town in the middle of the mountains. There’s good German food like brats at München Haus and Cheese at the Cheesemonger’s Shop. You can also visit in the fall for Oktoberfest (Free admission for Active Duty and dependents), and there are light displays in December. You can enjoy beautiful hiking trails and horseback riding in the summer!
Want a self-care weekend? Drive up to Snoqualmie Pass! Enjoy a relaxing stay at Salish Lodge and Spa and some fine dining in the Dining Room with a beautiful waterfall view. I visited the restaurant with my family when we visited Washington, and waiting for a table with a view was so worth it. After your meal, take a stroll outside on their paved trail. Just be sure to pick a clear day, as the fog can block the beautiful view of the falls.
Finally, who doesn’t love endless fields of flowers? Head to Skagit Valley for the tulip festival and enjoy the beautiful sight and smells.
Washington is home to 3 National Parks and over 140 others.
Mt Rainier National Park is popular; for a good reason, it's stunning. The park is over 369 square miles, and there are many trails for novice and experienced hikers.
Enjoy a weekend camping trip at Mowich Lake Campground this summer. This lake is the deepest and largest in the park and is open for fishing and non-motorized boating. If you plan a trip, know the road is not paved after the first three miles, so expect some offroading!
Stretch those legs on the Skyline trail. The 5.5-mile round trip will leave you sore the next day, but the views are well worth it! During your hike, you can expect to see subalpine wildflowers and experience a close-up look at Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier. If you visit on a clear day, you can see as far south as Oregon's Mount Hood.
North of the park in the Clearwater Wilderness is Summit Lake. It is a perfect spot for anyone who enjoys fishing for rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and many others. However, if you are not one for fishing, the view alone is well worth it!
My father-in-law is an avid hiker and highly recommends the Washington Trail Association app. there, you can filter your searches and find parks and trails that meet you and your family's needs!
We can all agree that one of the hardest parts of military life is constantly moving.
While our nomadic life is filled with bittersweet goodbyes and seemingly endless obstacles, we can always look forward to all the new experiences in our new temporary home. I hope you enjoyed exploring Washington State through the eyes of fellow MILSOs and that this blog excites you about your upcoming move.
Special thanks to fellow MILSOs Kaitlyn Evenson and Remi Cohen and Army Parents Martha and Bob Kennie for all their help with pictures and recommendations!