Since our 4-state road trip last year, I’ve been looking forward to our next great adventure! So when I found out about the Northwest Chocolate Festival, my chocolatier-self found a perfect excuse to drag my husband for another road trip! Unfortunately, with our hectic year-end schedule, we only had 4 days to spare for this journey.
We started the trip from Sacramento driving all the way north on I5. This was both our first time going to Seattle and we were both very ecstatic when we finally reached Red Bluff because it was the farthest North we’ve ever driven. Not soon after, the landscape starts to change as we pass through the border of California and Oregon!
Unfortunately, we left at 1 PM and the sun started to set at around 5 PM. Much of the scenic view was hidden in the dark on our way up! We arrived in Seattle at around 2 AM and got to see the neon Pike Place Market sign!
A few hours later, we were the over-eager kids first in line at the oldest Starbucks location. If you want to beat the typically long line, come in at 6:30 AM! There was only a handful of us there. Unfortunately, this location did not have pastries so we had to venture into town to find an open bakery and found the quaint Grand Central Bakery on Pioneer Square.
Not soon after, Pike Place Market vendors started setting up their displays and more tourist started to pour in. There was an array of fresh produce, seafood and food vendors. Surprisingly, my favorite buy was the delightful cup of warm spiced apple cider. It was sprinkling and cold and there’s nothing like a warm apple cider to go with the beautiful Seattle fall!
We then decided to start driving and exploring different areas and neighborhoods until we arrived at the Theo Chocolate Factory. My love affair with Theo started after the first bite a few months ago. I bought my first Theo bar at a local grocery store in Sacramento and was utterly surprised with the quality of the chocolate. This started my bean-to-bar obsession! I entered the factory shop literally much like a child in a candy store going through each display with a huge smile on my face! My husband almost had to drag me out of the shop otherwise I could easily spend hours looking through each item in great detail. The rest of day was spent at the hotel catching up on sleep!
At long last, the Northwest Chocolate Festival arrived! But first… breakfast! A quick search on Google and we found ourselves at the Bakery Nouveau on 15th Ave E. Check out my post on 5 Sweets Must-try Seattle to read more about Bakery Nouveau. The double-baked croissant was a sure winner!
The Northwest Chocolate Festival is a chocolatier’s heaven! It was a building full of chocolate makers sampling their craft bars. There were also chocolate-making equipment companies displaying the newest and best technology in the industry. I tasted samples from almost all vendors and chatted with other professionals in the field. Much to my surprise, there seem to be an equal amount of professional chocolatiers/makers and consumers in the crowd! There were classes and wine, cheese and chocolate pairings. It was exhilarating! I’ve picked my top favorite bars from the event, watch out for the next blog to read my list. Needless to say, I’ve had far too many chocolates and started feeling sick in the afternoon.
To drown out all the sweets, we ventured out to find something savory. Another quick search on Google and we found ourselves at the Dick’s Drive-in, a local favorite. Reminiscent of the drive-in culture’s glory days, Dick’s remained true to its roots. With their menu unchanged for decades, there you can enjoy a classic burger, french fries and milkshake.
We have a 12-hour drive ahead of us that I’m very excited about! Leaving at 5 AM, we have more daylight hours to enjoy the scenic views! Our drive back was nothing short of spectacular and despite having visited Theo and the chocolate festival in the days prior, the drive back was my FAVORITE part of the trip!
Portland is less than 3 hours away from Seattle. As recommended by a fellow Instagrammer (@sweetswithline), we stopped by at the Market of Choice for a good selection of pastries. We found out that the very popular Voodoo Donuts was a little over a mile away and bought some for the road.
Over 3 hours later, we made a quick coffee stop at Grants Pass visiting Dutch Bros’ original coffee cart location. They’ve quickly outgrown the coffee cart business and moved to another location. The company has acquired this building in January of this year in an ode to their humble beginnings.
The rain and fog combined made a dramatic scenery and on each curve, I can’t help but admire the expansive terrain of this country! Each state has its own character and charm. With the breathtaking beauty of the landscape in front of us, my husband and I talked and laughed and sang our hearts out! We reflected and became inspired and talked about what lies ahead of us. I live for moments like these! Seeing the vast and beautiful spread of foggy and snowy mountains and canyons touches me to the very core. This has been an awe-inspiring trip and for that I am grateful!