Come as you are and take a ride (as a friend) to the great Pacific Northwest
This week NCAA.com’s Ultimate College Football Road Trip takes you to the Pacific Northwest for a trip to Seattle to see UCLA play in a Pac-12 showdown in Husky Stadium against Washington, so flannel up, grab an umbrella and let’s hit the road.
UCLA was ranked No. 18 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, so it still has an outside shot at getting in to the playoff. The Huskies sit with a 6-3 record in an Oregon-dominated Pac-12 North division, so they’re on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoff picture.
The Huskies are in a position to play spoiler -- a role that Washington head coach Chris Petersen became familiar with at his previous job at Boise State (just ask that other Peterson guy about the 2007 Fiesta Bowl). Thanks to Chris Petersen, Seattle is now the third (New York, Las Vegas) place you can go and expect to see the Statue of Liberty -- but unlike Las Vegas, the Space Needle in Seattle is the real deal.
People coming from UCLA territory, through California will first hit Portland, Oregon before reaching the state of Washington. The whole idea that the 90s never left Portland, speaks to the laid-back nature of the city. But don’t let that make you think this is place is at all dull.
The best way to see Portland is on a bike tour -- it still counts as a road trip. There are a few different companies in Portland that offer complete tours of Portland, even riding on bridges that take you over the Willamette River and really showing you everything you could see in the city.
When you get hungry in Portland after that long bike ride, find the areas (SW 10th Avenue and Alder Street, SW 5th Avenue and Oak Street, SW 12 Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard for starters…) with the dozens of food trucks and pick your favorite one. You’ll get lost in a sea of trucks slinging different kinds of cuisine from around the world.
You’re in town for a day and you haven’t finished eating yet until you’ve gone to Voodoo Doughnuts, a Portland staple. The Portland Crème donut at Voodoo is the cities official doughnut – that’s a thing. There’s also the Bacon Maple Bar Doughnut (maple glazed, covered with bacon) and the flagship Voodoo Doll Doughnut, shaped like a Voodoo doll, chocolate covered and filled with Raspberry jelly.
You know that one friend that brews his own beer and forces it on you every time you see him? Yeah, that friend is Portland. Only difference is that the microbreweries in Portland are actually very good, so good that they even distill their own liquors. People in the entire Pacific Northwest are proud of their microbrews and (if you’re of age) you’ll enjoy them too. Some brewpubs also act as movie theaters, with couches and full meals.
One of the families in control of this madness is the McMenamins. The McMenamin's own a few of these things that are like a bar combined with an entire society. The Kennedy School is hotel, movie theater, concert venue, catering hall, brewery, distillery and of course a regular bar and restaurant built in a reburbished school. Some of the dining areas in the restaurants are built like classrooms and they have cigar rooms in things that look like teacher's lounges. The places like this will confuse you to no end but they are awesome.
Seattle is in the Northwest corner of this country, which means it’s very close to a major city in another country. So ya better not forget your passports, eh?
Quick quiz, which is the only college outside of the United States that plays NCAA sports? Go ahead, I’ll wait….
Simon Fraser University in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada operates under the blue disc and it’s beautiful campus should be a stop on the road trip of any fan of NCAA sports.
Other noteworthy places to hit in Vancouver are all outdoors: Stanley Park, Granville Island and go all the way up to the Vancouver look out and see all corners of the city, which is even nicer at night, but save some time in your night in Vancouver to hit Yaletown.
Yaletown (similar to SoHo in New York, if you're familiar) is full of interesting places to eat, drink, relax and have a good time. Raw Canvas is a place where you could not only grab a beer and some food, but after you can go to the art studio in the back and paint a picture. The streets of Yaletown are filled with places like this so go explore the town until something catches your eye, then be sure to stop and show how good of patrons Americans can be.
Back in the States, one of the nicest national parks in the country sits west of Seattle. Olympic National Park is like one of those natural landmarks like Mount Rushmore and Yosemite National Park that you just have to see once in your lifetime. Home to a nearly 8,000 foot mountain, Mount Olympus, Olympic National stretches more than 922,000 acres along the Pacific coast. It is massive, so don't plan on hiking the whole park in one day but do plan on bringing a camera to snap hundreds of pictures of one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Then we finally get to our destination, Seattle. Go to the Pike Place Market and see the flying fish. There are a couple neighborhoods that are great to hang out in and listen to great local music.
Seattle is a city that gets its personality from its local music scene, not only from the Nirvanas and Soundgardens that local Sub Pop Records got to hit big in the 90's, but there has since been a coexistence with the Seattle sound and all different types of music allowing for the local amatuers in the city to flourish.
Some of the best places to listen to this music is at The Crocodile and Rendezvous in Belltown, Blue Moon Tavern and The Monkey Pub in the University District by the school, High Dive and Nectar Lounge in Fremont and Victory Lounge and The Night Owl Lounge in South Union Lake.
Obviously the most iconic landmark in Seattle is the Space Needle. The Space Needle is more than 600 feet high and the observation deck sits 520 feet off the ground. Just below the observation deck is a rotating restaurant with a perfect view of the city.
There’s so much to do in Seattle -- the New York Giants are playing the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday if you’re still in town -- but you have to worry about making it to another football game safe and Sound.
If you’re lucky enough to have been pulling a boat behind you on the road the entire time, Husky Stadium is one of the few college football venues that offers Sailgating (like Neyland Stadium in Tennessee), where folks can get to the stadium by boat.
Even if you don’t participate it really is an amazing sight to see. Husky Stadium is a new-age, tailgate-friendly place and even though there is an NFL team in the city (a Super Bowl-winning team), people still love Husky football.
That will be evident when you see the Husky Harbor Tailgate and the thousands of fans packed into Husky Stadium.
That will do it for this week’s College Football Ultimate Road Trip, join us next week when we go to one of the cathedrals of college football, and yes it’s the one that looks like an actual cathedral in South Bend, Indiana.