I have been on the road vacationing throughout the Pacific Northwest these few weeks. While busy hopping from town to town, I thought it might be a great idea to share some lunch tips I gathered on the road. I have gathered so much to write about that I decided to dish it out in two postings. Therefore, let me bring you the first part, “Healthy Vacation Lunching – Little Known Lunch Stops in the Pacific North West”…
When on vacation, lunch used to be a pain, both expensive and unhealthy. It used to hit me when I was visiting unfamiliar locales, so how to know where to eat?. On top of all that, many foods that are sold at tourist attractions were usually not known for their good price or quality. Also, if you are a parent, you know looking for food while herding hungry kids isn’t exactly a fun thing to do. Technology helped a bit. With my smart-phone, I could read restaurant reviews around my location and find them via GPS. However, if you are not into technology, there are still some useful tips that can increase your chances of lunching well while you are on the road.
Have you even wondered how traveling show-hosts make it so effortless to find great lunches when THEY are on the road? Besides having a production team researching for the crew, they follow some basic rules according to what their program’s focus. Therefore, I also made up some simple rules: Be an explorer, always listen to the locals, and sample local flavors without spending a whole lot of money. Then manage those indulgences with portion control and physical activities so as to not feel guilty. After all, it is a vacation.
With these simple rules in mind, I set out to enjoy myself with great lunches in new places. I have been staying at hotels, and these options have been working for me quite nicely.
Lunch where the local communities gather. Food co-ops are popping up in towns big or small nowadays. The first food co-op I tried was Ashland Food Co-op in Ashland, OR. The prices were easy on the my budget and the flavor…explosive! Ever since, I seek co-ops out wherever I travel. Food co-ops are usually locally run. Therefore, they provide a glance into the local culture. The deli counters provide locally grown foods with extraordinary flavors. Many of them also take care of special dietary needs such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. While I at a co-op, I enjoy local produce, read up on community news, and occasionally enjoyed art displayed by local artists. However, these co-ops may not always be cheap, just healthier and more delicious than any fast food joint you might find..
Lunch where the students eat. To find cheap chow, I tried touring universities and buying lunches at their cafeterias. I discovered that today many college cafeterias I visited happily serve visitors. To avoid high food cost in Seattle, I visited the University of Washington – Seattle, and was surprised by the quality and variety of the food served at the business school.
Lunch close to the food source whenever you can. When I toured small fishing towns, I found quite a few seafood markets actually cooked the daily catch for me. At Coos Bay,OR, I discovered a neat floating seafood market known as Fisherman’s Seafood Market, anchored right on the shore. The husband and wife team has been dishing out seafoods right from the catch for almost a year. For under ten bucks, they served up some mouth-watering chowders, fish-and-chips. They also sell great crabs by the ounce right from the daily catch. Eating there cut my restaurant bills by more than half. At Seattle’s Public Market, made famous by tossing fish over the market floor, simply ask the sellers to recommend places where their catch is served.
Lunch with a little planning. When you visit major museums, galleries, or theme parks, like the Museum of History and Industry at Seattle, aka MOHAI, try packing a meal you buy from food co-ops or farmers markets and have a picnic. Thus you can avoid those long lines. Having you own food gives you total control of your lunch, which in turn gives you total control of when it is easiest to attend museums, get into rides, or see particular shows or exhibits. Overall, these places are known for their art and rides, whereas very few are known for their food. I have previously reviewed some lunch containers for keeping your lunch handy and neat. For more information, re-visit, What is a Bento Box? and Soups and Stews – Make Them and Take Them.
Vacation is a time for getting away and trying something new. Why stick with the same old chain restaurants when you are traveling? Take a detour and try something unexpected. You may be surprised by how much fun it can be. I hope you will try out these alternative lunch stops I dug up during my trip and have fun trying them.
To find out more about the places I have visited, explore these links