4 Traffic-free Getaways in Washington

Need to get away? Visit these Washington towns for peace, quiet, and plenty of fun.

If you’re dreaming of a lazy summer day without a traffic jam in sight, plan to visit one of these small towns that are within driving distance of Seattle. You’ll find charm and calm with tree-lined streets and gorgeous views. But if things get a little too quiet, check out the family-friendly events, outdoor activities, shopping, and food adventures each has to offer.

Most are easy to get to and are within a few hours’ drive of Seattle. If you are planning a group excursion or would rather not drive, Seattle’s Shuttle Express has options for charter buses and car/van service, too.

Zillah, WA

Located in the Yakima Valley, Zillah is the home of the historic Teapot Dome Gas Station—a perfect photo opp when tooling along First Avenue in this quiet, rural town. The refurbished teapot-shaped gas station was created in 1922 as a visual reminder of the Teapot Dome oil scandal that erupted during the Harding administration in the 1920s. It’s located just off I-82 in a well-maintained city park next to a firefighters’ memorial. After you’ve visited Zillah, explore the nearby Rattlesnake Hills area, which is peppered with outstanding wineries and scenery.

  • Things to do: Visit Teapot Dome Gas Station historical landmark; taste wine and tour cellars at the many wineries near town, including the popular Two Mountain Winery, Dineen Winery, and Cultura Winery.
  • How to get there: From Seattle, Zillah is a two-and-a-half-hour drive via I-90E and I-82E. Don’t feel like driving? Chartered coach service is a great option for groups of up to 55 passengers, with restroom on board the larger coaches and roomy seats. Settle in and enjoy the trip, the wine, and the peace and quiet.

Langley, WA

The quaint little town of Langley on Whidbey Island is a 20-minute ferry trip away, featuring unique and charming bookstores, antiques shops, and clothing boutiques. This small town of just under 1,100 residents offers beautiful views along with its calm vibe.

  • Things to do: Take in the many cultural and art events, such as the Island Shakespeare Festival, the various performing arts, and the art walks
  • How to get there: Just an hour north of Seattle, it’s an easy 15- to 20-minute ferry ride to Whidbey Island via the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal.

Packwood, WA

Delve into the heart of volcano country with a trip to Packwood, a remote little town surrounded by forest and just minutes away from Mount Rainier National Park to the north, with Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to the south. Packwood is nature’s playground, offering many activities for the outdoor enthusiast for every season—the perfect setting where you can relax and refresh.

  • Things to do: Visit the national parks nearby and enjoy hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and camping; check out the White Pass Country Historical Museum and see the town’s historical collection of mining and agriculture artifacts. Destination Packwood gives a run-down on the many activities for visitors.
  • How to get there: Packwood is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle via WA 410E. Don’t feel like driving? This road trip is ideal for a day trip for a group or family outing, so charter a coach to fit your group instead of sitting at the wheel. An overnight stay with our charter bus is a great option, too, giving you more time to explore the national parks nearby.

Winthrop, WA

Visit Winthrop and feel as if you’ve time-traveled back to the Old West. Winthrop is located on the North Cascades Scenic Byway in the spectacular Methow Valley, and while at times can get a bit busy during peak season, it’s usually a laid-back town where you can experience more than 120 miles of cross-country ski trails and hiking trails. Not to mention, festivals and cultural events abound here throughout the year.

  • Things to do: Hike, bike, and cross-country ski, depending on the season; visit western-themed storefronts, art galleries, and restaurants; check out the Shafer Historical Museum for a peek into the town’s history; don’t miss the R&B Festival in July.
  • How to get there: Winthrop is about a four-hour drive from Seattle, with several route options, all of which lead to Hwy 20E that takes you into town. Charter a bus for an executive retreat or a group excursion, overnight or for the weekend.

Charter Bus to Anywhere

Shuttle Express offers trusted, safe, and reliable group transportation for business or pleasure, groups large and small. We maintain an expansive fleet of mini and motor coach buses, private vans, sedans, and SUVs, perfect for day trips, overnight excursions, corporate events, family celebrations, and special occasions.

To plan your next charter to the traffic-free spots and beyond, contact our team at sales@shuttleexpress.net or call 425-981-7096.

Getting There: Seafair Log Boom 2017

Seafair is back for its 68th year, welcoming summer and celebrating Seattle!

The iconic celebration kicks off 10 weeks of festival fun, community events, and fast boats on Wednesday, June 14, at Westlake Park, culminating with the much-anticipated Seafair weekend and Log Boom, Aug. 4-6, at Genesee Park on Lake Washington.

 

Plan Now for Seafair Weekend

Seafair weekend is the peak of Seattle’s summer for many, with boat races, aerobatic performers overhead and live music. Want a front row seat to the action? Join the celebration on Lake Washington’s Log Boom, where you can park your boat and relax. But plan early and secure your boat’s spot soon. The year, you can reserve your log boom spot directly on Seafair.com.

 

Getting to the Log Boom

Make your Seafair weekend completely stress-free—let us drive. We’ll pick you up on your schedule and get you to the Log Boom (or any Seafair event!) and back home again, safely and worry-free. Shuttle Express offers black car/limousine service and private charters for events like this, when you want to kick back and enjoy yourself without worrying about driving after a few alcoholic beverages. Let Shuttle Express take care of the driving, traffic, and parking hassles so you can enjoy Seafair! Reach us at our Shuttle Express sales office for more info.

 

More Seafair 2017 ‘Can’t Miss’ Events

  • Seafair Kickoff, June 14, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Westlake Park
  • Alaska Airlines Rock ‘n’ roll Seattle Marathon & ½ Marathon, June 17-18, 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; info and sign up at RunRocknRoll.com/Seattle
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Seafair Summer 4th, July 4, Gas Works Park and Lake Union Park; day of fun and live music, ending with a spectacular fireworks show over Lake Union
  • Alaska Airlines Seafair Torchlight Parade, July 29, 7:30 p.m., downtown Seattle, open and reserved seating available
  • Seafair Weekend, Aug 4 – Aug 6, Genesee Park on Lake Washington and various locations, featuring the Boeing Seafair Air Show, Albert Lee Appliance Cup, Hyperlite Seafair Wakeboard Experience, and the Graham Trucking Seafair Cup

 

Seattle’s Transportation Choice

As Seattle’s transportation experts, our professional, friendly drivers have been getting people where they need to go for nearly 30 years, safely and on time. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we do so much more—luxury cars, large and small coaches, private vans.

Wherever you need to go, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Book online at shuttleexpress.com.

 

 

5 Crazy Things to Pack for a Cruise

Packing Advice from Professional Cruisers

Packing for a cruise may seem overwhelming, especially if you’re a newbie embarking on your first voyage. To help, we’ve compiled a short list of five useful items to toss (neatly) in your cruise trunk. These random household items may sound unconventional, but cruisers who have sailed before you advise packing duct tape, straws, a power strip, shoe organizer, and air freshener. Here’s why:

Duct Tape

Duct tape saves the day in many situations, even cruising. Make sure your cruise line is okay with duct tape, though, which may leave an adhesive residue. Check your information or call the cruise line. Here are just a few of its many uses on the ship, according to the experts over at Cruise Critic:

  • Repair broken flip flops
  • Use in place of expensive towel clips when securing your beach towel on a chair poolside
  • Tame a clingy, annoying cabin shower curtain by taping it in place on the wall

Drinking Straws

Drinking straws offer a simple solution to keeping necklaces tidy and knot-free. Thread your necklaces through and then clasp them. Cut them to size, if needed.

Shoe Organizer

An over-the door hanging shoe organizer is a great way to store toiletries and keep the little stuff you need all in one place. Get a clear one so you can easily see what you’ve got.

Power Strip

An extra power strip is a good idea since cabins are typically light on outlets, especially on older ships. But check with your cruise line. Usually, power-surge protected strips are a no-no, and the allowable strips should only have one or two outlets. Perhaps bring two.

Air Freshener

Air freshener could be the best suggestion of all—think of your tiny cabin bathroom without ventilation. It’s a probability, so be prepared with your own freshener to keep your space pleasant.

Need Cruise Transportation?

Start and end your cruise vacation with comfortable, convenient private or shared transportation to/from the piers with Shuttle Express. As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts, our professional, friendly team has been at the wheel for nearly 30 years, keeping our guests safe, on time, and stress-free.

We pick you up at your destination, get you to the ship on time, and even handle your luggage. Choose from black car, private or shared van, or coach service. Then sit back and relax, our experienced team will take care of you.

Book online at shuttleexpress.com or email us at sales@shuttleexpress.net for information and a rate quote

Happy sailing!

6 Must-Have Travel Apps

We’re all about making travel enjoyable, simple, and as stress-free as possible, so our Shuttle Express travel team went in search of useful travel apps that can actually help you, from packing to translating. Here’s a rundown of a few cool options to try, all available for iOS and Android:

  1. LoungeBuddy
    Got some time to kill during a long layover? LoungeBuddy gives you access to 170 airport lounges worldwide on a pay-by-use basis, where you can freshen up, relax with a beverage, or bring the family to those locations with designated kid rooms. If you have more than a few hours to fill though, consider heading to Seattle for the day.
  2. AroundMe
    AroundMe gives you information on businesses and services near you—it pinpoints where you are and lets you search for the nearest restaurants, banks and gas stations, just about anything you need when you’re traveling or visiting unfamiliar territory.
  3. Hopper
    Hopper is a flight-booking app that does it all (or close to it): when you search your flight, it gets you the best price–it tells you to book now or to wait, notifying you as soon as the price drops; then, you book the flight on your phone. Easy booking at the best price.
  4. Packpoint
    Packpoint makes packing a cinch with its automatically-generated packing list. Enter your destination, travel dates, plus details about what you’ll be doing, and Packpoint spits out your organized list, which is simple to change if it misses the mark.
  5. Prey
    Prey is a free anti-theft solution that helps you find your devices if they are lost or stolen. It wipes your data, locks down the device, and triggers an alarm, even taking photos of anyone using your device.
  6. Google Translate
    Google Translate isn’t new, but it’s an easy, useful tool for both offline and real-time translation. Just download the language you need, point your camera at the text in question, and you’ve got your translation.

Need a Ride?
Shuttle Express drives you to the airport or anywhere with friendly, safe transportation you can trust. Shuttle Express has it all–town cars, SUVs, limos, vans, plus bus charters for group and executive transportation. Our professional, friendly drivers make sure you arrive safely and on time, for business or pleasure. Book online at shuttleexpress.com.

5 Chartered Bus Trips Around Puget Sound

Looking for adventure? Charter a bus and hit the road.

Day trips and local adventures abound near Seattle, lucky us! Our expert coordinators plan group transportation for executive transportation, families, and any group that needs to arrive at their destination safely and on time. Here’s a short list of our favorite spots, an easy chartered bus trip away.

Future of Flight Aviation Center

The Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett is just 30 minutes up the road from Seattle. Experience this Boeing Aircraft Company factory at work and see the largest aircraft construction hangar in the world. North America’s only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant, the center’s guided tour features construction of the latest high-tech aircraft. Getting there is easy, too. Charter a well-appointed motor or mini coach for a larger group or choose a 10-passenger van or luxury SUV for smaller parties.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth offers up a hefty dose of Bavarian charm and is the perfect family-friendly day trip. About a three-hour drive each way, visitors enjoy outstanding food and treats, shopping, wine tasting, outdoor activities, and cultural events, all wrapped up in gorgeous scenery.

La Conner

The historic little town of La Connor promises a laid-back day spent strolling the boardwalk, perusing galleries, boutiques, museums and more. Famous for its springtime tulip and daffodil festivals, it’s a fantastic day trip any time of year. Bring your friends—charter a mini coach bus or SUV and make transportation simple.

Mount Rainier

Visit this majestic Pacific Northwest icon as often as you can, especially since it’s a mere two- to three-hour drive from Seattle. A day trip will allow time to explore and do a little hiking, but stay longer if you can. Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest and offers extensive hiking, camping, and climbing activities. A chartered bus is a great transportation option that will let you pay attention to the scenery instead of the traffic.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens takes a bit longer to get to, about three-and-a-half hours from Seattle. This active volcano notoriously erupted in May 1980 and is now a protected national monument that’s been left to return to its natural state. Interesting exhibits and beautiful scenery make the drive worth it.

Charter a bus to get there.

Shuttle Express offers trusted, safe, and reliable group transportation for business or pleasure, groups large and small. We’re best known for our iconic Sea-Tac Airport van service, but we maintain an expansive fleet of luxury cars, SUVs, large and small coaches, and private vans, perfect for day trips throughout the Sound, overnight excursions, executive transportation, and special occasions. Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net for a quote and more info.

Who’s Driving? 6 Tips for Safe, Fun Prom Transportation

Prom night means rolling out the red carpet, celebrating with friends and creating life-long memories–you don’t want to worry about who’s driving. The transportation coordinators at Shuttle Express put together a short list of important things to look for when booking your prom limo, luxury car, or group coach. Yes, Shuttle Express has luxury vehicles! We offer a full fleet of luxury limos, black cars, and coaches to choose from, and it’s not too late to book the perfect ride for your special night.

  1. Choose a reputable company.
    Make sure the company is registered, licensed with the state, and has the proper insurance. Shuttle Express is fully registered and licensed, insured with five times the amount required by law, and compliant in all areas of safety.
  2. Know your chauffeur is checked out. Choose a company that hires chauffeurs with proper training and licensing. For example, Shuttle Express does a complete background check on every chauffeur, including drug testing, so you can trust our chauffeurs are trained and fit to drive.
  3. Get the vehicle you want.
    Ensure the vehicle you choose has the space and features you want, preferably with one or two extra seats. Do not exceed the max capacity, because that quickly gets uncomfortable. If you have a large group, check out our larger coaches that seat up to 55 of your closest friends! Economical, comfortable, and fun.
  4. Get the total price, including extras.
    Ask if a fuel surcharge, service fees, and gratuity are included, or are you getting the base price before all the add-ons. Ask what happens if you go over your reserved time so you aren’t shocked when you see the final bill on your credit card statement.
  5. Set some ground rules.
    Parents, you have the right to tell the chauffeured transportation company what will and will not be tolerated in the vehicle. For example:

    • Ask that the chauffeur keep the privacy screen down.
    • Make sure the kids know that alcohol and drugs are strictly forbidden on board the vehicle.
    • Give the transportation company a curfew.
  6. Extend the night.
    Don’t forget that there almost always is a post-prom party or event. Remember to book the transportation for a few extra hours to ensure time to enjoy all the events before getting safely home.

Shopping for prom transportation in the Greater Seattle area? Shuttle Express has everything from luxury limos to large coaches, chauffeured by professional, background-checked, and drug-tested drivers.  Reach us at sales@shuttleexpress.net.

 

Helping Others, One Ride at a Time

No matter what time of year, it feels good to lend a hand, to make someone smile, to lighten someone’s load. Our Shuttle Express Team was fortunate enough to get that opportunity this holiday season when KING5 Evening asked us to help a local family get to the Seahawks game on Christmas Eve.

The Gritten Family of Spanaway won tickets to the Dec. 24 Seahawks-Cardinals game through Ben’s Fund/Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Washington, an organization that helps families affected by autism. Ben’s Fund/FEAT was founded by John Schneider (general manager of the Seahawks) and Traci Schneider in honor of their son Ben, who has an autism diagnosis. (Check out their site to find out about their great work with Washington families!)

The Grittens have been through some significant health challenges this year, and going to the game promised some needed fun and relaxation for the whole family. The monkey wrench in the plan? The Grittens’ vehicle had broken down, and they had no way to get to the game.

KING5 Evening thought of us and called because, well, that’s what Shuttle Express does—we get people to where they need to be. We were delighted to send a 10-passenger private service van to take the Grittens to the game and back home again. Problem solved. Game enjoyed!

Thanks, KING5 and Ben’s Fund/FEAT, for inviting Shuttle Express to join in helping the Gritten family make happy memories this holiday season. The pleasure was all ours.

From our Shuttle Express family to yours, enjoy a safe, happy 2017!

Family Fun and Fireworks around Seattle

Summer is officially here, which means firecrackers, food, and festivities are mere days away. This July is no exception! The region is packed with events to choose from, including 4th of July celebrations, beer and wine events, endless kid fun, and yummy food. Check out our short list of summer festivities compiled to help you decide just how much fun you can handle in the next few weeks.

1. Float your boat with the 40th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival—enjoy free boat rides, live music, kids’ activities, not to mention the many food and beer vendors. Admission is free, so bring the whole family from July 2nd to the 4th! Find out more here: http://cwb.org/events/festival/

2. Gear up for a night of fireworks—camp out all day at a family favorite or check out a new city:

  • Bellevue – Downtown Park 10:05 p.m.
  • Edmonds – Civic Stadium 10 p.m.
  • Everett – Port Gardner Bay 10:20 p.m.
  • Federal Way – Celebration Park 10:15 p.m.
  • Kent – Lake Meridian Park 10 p.m.
  • Kirkland – Marina Park 10:15 p.m.
  • Lakewood – Joint Base Lewis-McChord 10 p.m.
  • Newcastle – Lake Boren Park 10 p.m.
  • Renton – Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park 10 p.m.
  • SeaTac – Angle Lake Park 10 p.m.
  • Seattle – Gas Works Park 10:20 p.m.
  • Tacoma – Ruston Way 10:10 p.m.

3. Pedal to the metal! Join the 15-mile Seattle Night Ride from Peddler Brewing through Myrtle Edwards Park. Enjoy games, beer, and food trucks. Register here: https://www.cascade.org/rides-major-rides/seattle-night-ride

4. Woodland Park Zoo’s annual concert series Zoo Tunes is back, sounding better than ever! Choose from many outstanding artists throughout the summer, including artists Jeff Beck, UB40, Ziggy Marley, and Pink Martini. Buy your tickets now: http://zoo.org/zootunes#.V3VHEqI3kgs

5. Love the thrill of competitive dragon boat racing? Bring the family out to the 13th Annual Seattle Dragon Boat Festival on July 30th where each 40-foot boat is colorfully decorated and ready to rumble on South Lake Union. The festival features racing, live music, kids’ activities, and food. Find out more here: http://seattledragonboatfestival.net/at-the-festival/

–Compiled by Kimberly Kong, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Dad-friendly Fun Around Puget Sound

Show dad some appreciation this Sunday—whether your dad is a car guy, festival guy, beer guy, or outdoorsy guy, we’ve got you covered with ideas to make this Father’s Day memorable.

  • Check out the 2016 Washington Brewers Festival, from June 17th to the 19th: taste more than 450 Washington-brewed craft beers, do the 5k fun run, listen to live music, and enjoy the weather in Marymoor Park. Learn more at washingtonbeer.com.
  • Take Pop over to the Bell Harbor Marina to admire more than 50 classic yachts (many were built prior to World War II!). Admission is free.
  • Stop by the Ballard Locks on June 18th to enjoy a free outdoor concert—bring the whole family to listen to music and watch the boats, barges, and sailboats sailing along the locks.
  • Bring the family to the hip Fremont Solstice Fair—free admission! Enjoy the dog parade, listen to live music, and check out more than 300 vendors. The Fremont Solstice Parade beings on Saturday–attend and be one of the 100,000 guests in this beloved neighborhood fair. Get the details at fremontfair.org.
  • Cruise on over to the quaint town of Burien to check out some sweet rides at the Father’s Day Car Show—the Wild Strawberry Festival is right across the street where you can enjoy the carnival rides, games, and delicious festival food for the family.
  • Get down with some awesome dance moves with dad at Seattle’s EMP—from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for only $10.00 per ticket!  Take in the museum, get schooled with break-dancing lessons, and enjoy groovy arts and crafts. Visit empmuseum.org/ for more details.
  • Renton some wheels and explore the beautiful Tacoma area of Point Ruston—picnic at Point Defiance Park, take a picture of Mt. Rainier, visit the Japanese and rose gardens, and take in the scenic views that Tacoma has to offer. For more information, visit wheelfunrentals.com/Locations/Tacoma-1.
  • Can’t get enough of the shiny chrome and leather aroma of classic cars? Visit LeMay-America’s Car Museum for the Father’s Day Hoods Up event. Explore this four-story museum with classic cars, trucks and motorcycles to fulfill your inner teenager with the whole family.

-Kimberly Kong, Sales and Marketing Coordinator

March Fun: Tulips to Bunnys!

Looking for some fun as you wait patiently for spring to arrive? Here’s a roundup of eight enjoyable Seattle events to keep you busy during the last weeks of winter.

Now: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival – Thanks to Mother Nature, the blooms are early this year and the two display gardens are open for business.

3/19: Spring into action with the Magnuson Series Dualathon in Magneson Park—all ability levels for biking and running are welcomed, so bring the whole family to have some competitive fun!

3/25: It’s hot, it’s cool, it’s for a great cause. Come join the 21st Annual Hot Java Cool Jazz to help support local high school award-winning jazz bands at the Paramount; 100% of the ticket sales will be contributed towards school music programs.

3/26: From 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., get your fill of Easter egg hunting with the Bunny Bounce and Easter baskets for the animals at the Woodland Park Zoo–from creative crafts, bunnies to bears!

3/27: Enjoy Easter Sunday brunch on a boat cruising Lake Union and Lake Washington with Waterways Cruises—look forward to full bellies, gorgeous scenery, and a special visit by the SeaBunny,

Get your creative juices flowing with the Art Walk in Seattle’s U-District neighborhood, which takes place on the 3rd Friday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m., with no charge.

Join the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma every 3rd Thursday of every month from 2 to 8 p.m. for storytelling, artifacts, and learning more about your home state!

All Month: Enjoy all that Seattle has to offer with Urban Adventure Quest–a tour, a game, and a guaranteed good time all wrapped into an adventure. Create your team to play any time! Sign up here to get all the details.

-Kimberly Kong, Marketing Assistant