We often think it’s necessary to travel far to experience the world. In most cases, you can experience perspective changing travel close to home, if you’re willing to look for it.
On a recent three-day trip to Kent, Washington, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this southern Seattle suburb is full of global experiences. If you’re looking to get away from Seattle, it’s a great option where you can get outdoors and sample cuisines from around the world… without having to brave the security lines at Seatac.
Read on to learn about the activities I tried and recommend for three days in Kent. This itinerary is designed for a traveler from Seattle who arrives after work on Friday (leave early to avoid Seattle’s notorious traffic!) and heads home on Sunday. If you need a quick city break from Seattle, read on and consider adding Kent to your travel list!
Why Visit Kent, Washington?
While it’s entirely possible to hop a quick flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to destinations around the world, sometimes you don’t want to deal with airports, packing luggage, and jet lag for a weekend getaway. Also, there are plenty of great places near Seattle that you can explore on a weekend without booking a flight!
I learned about visiting Kent for one reason: the food. While fellow Seattleites might wonder what Kent can offer that they can’t find at home… I think you’ll be as pleased and surprised as I was. I had the chance to try dishes and cuisines I had never experienced before (Syrian, Ukranian, Albanian) – plus delicious options for cuisines I had (Thai, Mexican, Indian).
Make your city break to Kent and you can try new experiences close to home. Maybe it will inspire you to travel elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest too!
Where to Stay in Kent
During my stay in Kent, I was hosted at the Best Western Plus Plaza by the Green. While this property is a bit further from the downtown area in Kent, it’s located close to the Green River and right on the Riverbend Golf Course. I don’t include golf in my itinerary, but you could definitely squeeze in 9 holes if that’s one of your favorite travel activities.
Here are some views from my room. As you can see, my balcony looked out over the green. This meant it was super quiet at night and a perfect spot to enjoy my morning coffee with the birds and trees right out my window.
Rooms at the Best Western Plus Plaza by the Green start from $118 per night.
Here are some other accommodation options in Kent. I haven’t stayed at any of these, but they look budget friendly and interesting:
- The Red Lion Hotel south of Kent is a good budget-friendly option with suites. Rooms start from $79 per night.
- This house near Kent on Airbnb is within walking distance of many activities on the itinerary, and only $150/night. (Get $40 off your first trip on Airbnb by clicking this link.)
- Traveling with a group? This Airbnb house sleeps up to 9 for $339 per night.
Friday: Arrive & Indulge
To make the most of a three-day weekend, I recommend arriving midday on Friday. For this itinerary, you could arrive as late as dinner on the first day. If you’re flying into Kent like I did, you’ll want the extra time to settle in and freshen up.
Afternoon: Arrival & Settling In
No matter where you choose to stay in Kent, arrive in the afternoon for this weekend of culinary indulgence.
For my trip, I flew into Seattle and took an Uber from Seatac airport; if you’re driving from Seattle on a Friday afternoon, expect it can take between 30-60 minutes to get down to Kent, depending on traffic.
Once you’ve checked into your hotel, it’s time to get ready to start eating… maybe try stretching a bit to make sure you have enough room in your stomach? ?
Evening: Dinner at Asadero Prime
For dinner, head to Asadero Prime. Located in a strip mall, you could easily drive by this restaurant and not realize that it’s easily one of the best spots to eat in Kent (and the whole South Sound).
From the minute you step in the door, you’ll realize that Asadero Prime is different than it first appears. The menu is heavy on stunning Mexican (and Mexican-inspired) cocktails plus amazing meat-based dishes. I tried the horchata (rum-spiked horchata), tuetanos (bone marrow), and la carne asada wagyu (an original dish to Asadero Prime that reinterprets the carne asada with delicious wagyu beef.
As you can tell, the food was beautiful, but it was also one of those rare meals that make it hard to stop eating… I saved some of my carne asada and ate it cold a few days later, and it was still delicious. As the meal ended, a mariachi band arrived and started playing too, which made the atmosphere even more enjoyable.
Night: Drinks at Airways Brewing & Sweets from Punjab Sweets
After dinner, head to Airways Brewing for the remainder of the evening. On the way, stop by Punjab Sweets to grab dessert. This Indian restaurant also has an amazing bakery where they create a range of delicious bite-sized sweets. They can box up a set of ladoo, jamun, gajrela, and/or burfi for you to take to the brewery.
Sweets in hand, it’s time for beer! Airways Brewing was started by two Kent residents with a background in the airline industry and a passion for brewing. Most of their beers are named after aeronautic terms; the tasting room is full of cool airplane imagery and even parts of some planes!
Of course, the best part by far is the beer. I ordered a tasting flight and also asked to try a few samples. The pours were insanely generous and each of the beers was interesting. Paired with the Punjab Sweets, the sour, hoppy, and bitter flavors of the beer got more interesting over the course of the night.
On Friday nights, Airways Brewing is open until 10pm.
Saturday: Urban Exploration (& the Fuel For It)
On a weekend trip, I generally try to plan one long day of adventure – after all, you’ve only got three (or two-and-a-half!) days to work with. For your Saturday in Kent, rise early and plan for a full day. My suggested itinerary combines activities with regular food stops, so you’ll have plenty of energy to make it through the whole day.
Morning: Eastern European Pastries to Go
Personally, I’m not a huge breakfast person, so when I’m traveling I love to stop by a bakery and grab something to go so I can get a quick start on my day. In Kent, continue the global food tour with a stop at M Bakery & Deli. They open early on Saturday mornings with fresh-made pastries like baklava plus wraps, gyros, and stroganoff.
Freshly fueled, it’s time for urban exploration. Kent has several great parks where you can stretch your legs and work up an appetite (again), but two are a bit further out and offer you more opportunities for urban exploration.
Lake Meridian Park is a lake with several parks around the shores where you can swim, watch the sunrise behind Mt. Rainier, or watch the ducks.
Clark Lake Park is another small park where you can explore, and it has a bit more forested coverage too. I took a quick walk up to the lake, then a loop out through the woods. In total, there are nearly two miles of trails at Clark Lake Park, so you can spend a while walking, smelling the flowers, and looking for the other mysteries of this urban park.
Midday: Transported by Food
You’re hungry again, right? I did warn you that this trip to Kent is all about sampling global cuisine! For lunch, get transported across the world by enjoying a meal at Ubuntu Street Café.
This cafe is run by Project Feast to support women immigrants to the Kent region, harnessing their knowledge of specific cuisines and dishes at home (such as Syrian, Ukranian, Indian, or Mexican), teaching them professional kitchen skills, and letting them perfect those skills at the cafe so they can have a better chance of finding a job in the U.S.
For lunch, we tried the entire menu, including some amazing dishes I had never had before: Syrian-style dolmas called “Yalanji,” and Ukranian beet salaf that tasted exactly like a dish my grandmother and mom used to make, among others. Every bite was delicious, and I stopped in the kitchen to compliment the chefs on their amazing work. Additionally, since there are both small plates and larger options, you can order exactly what you want to ensure you don’t eat too much.
Afternoon: From the Farm to the Canvas
What I loved about my trip to Kent, looking back on it, is that I tried lots of different activities I wouldn’t have thought to add to my own itinerary. First stop for the afternoon is Sidetrack Distillery. On a tour of their farm, I learned about all of the produce they grow, plus each that they use to make their delicious cordials, brandies, and spirits.
On a tour with farmer Larry Person and his nephew, distiller David O’Neal, I sampled fresh blueberries and even tried paracress (“toothache plant” that makes your mouth go numb), toured the gorgeous farm wedding venue, and picked a ripe peach from the tree to eat while walking around.
After the tour, I sampled the spirits that David, Larry, and Larry’s wife Laurie are producing in their small batch copper distilling equipment. Savory and sweet, some of my favorite flavors were the blackberry and raspberry liqueur and the nocino, a walnut brandy that reminded me of a spirit Mr. Valise and I tried in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Properly loosened up, the next stop is Artsy Fartsy, a small art studio in the heart of downtown Kent. Art educator Susan relocated from teaching in Florida to open her own art studio in Kent. As part of classes, she fully embraces the artistic process in her art lessons.
As a later stop in the day was the Downtown Kent Wine Walk, Susan led our group in painting with wine corks and using wine colors. My blank canvas became a textured work of merlot, chardonnay, syrah, and champagne colors. It’s now hanging on the wall above our small collection of flavored spirits – which includes a bottle of Sidetrack Nocino.
Dinner: Exploring Kent Station for Thai Food & Sweets
A short walk from Artsy Fartsy and the downtown core, Kent Station is a modern mall with a combination of national store brands (and an AMC theater), and local shops and restaurants.
Named after the old train station, you can wander around Kent Station window shopping before dinner. For said meal, stop at Banyan Tree Restaurant, a Thai restaurant you might overlook to your own loss. Our table of foodie was treated to delicious dishes that are perfect for sharing. Below you’ll see a lychee cosmopolitan (and soda), lettuce wraps, pad thai, ramen, and a shrimp and rice dish. Oh, and dessert, because #vacation.
After dinner, I recommend walking around a bit more, in case your sweet tooth isn’t satiated. There are several other sweet shops in Kent Station, including Dilettante Chocolate and See’s Candies.
Evening: Wine Walk
To end this long, delicious day, try to plan your trip to enjoy the Downtown Kent Wine Walk. From spring through fall, local businesses in Kent pair with wineries, distilleries, and breweries to encourage locals (and travelers like you and me) to stop in, taste some new spirits, and shop.
The wine walk occurs monthly, from 5:30-9pm on the specific days it happens. You can check the Downtown Kent events calendar to see when the next one is happening (and plan your trip accordingly).
Sunday: Exploring at Leisure
On your last day in Kent, take advantage of your last few hours to explore more of Kent’s green spaces and downtown area. Similar to past days, this part of the itinerary focuses on urban parks and eating.
Morning: Greens & Grains
After a weekend of eating, you might feel the need to get a little workout in. A short walk from the Best Western Plus Plaza by the Green (or a short drive from basically anywhere in Kent), the Green River Trail is a great choice for a run or morning walk.
Over 10 miles long, the Green River Trail follows its namesake waterway through a stunningly green belt of trees, parks, and forested areas. It’s a mostly flat trail, making for an enjoyable run – and there are plenty of cyclists who take advantage of the trail too. Note that there are not many points where you can cross the Green River Trail, so plan ahead to understand how far you want to go for your workout (or you may end up going from a 1.5-mile run to a 3.4-mile run like I did!). The scenery will be worth it, no matter how long you spend.
After a nice morning walk or run, it’s time to grab fuel for the remainder of the day. Wild Wheat Bakery is easily the top choice for your final meal in Kent. It’s a local favorite in the heart of the downtown core, with plenty of parking around.
While you’ve tried a variety of cuisines from around the globe by this point, it’s time to end on a distinctly American note. Wild Wheat Bakery specializes in baked goods, including breads, pies, and pastries. For breakfast, I had coffee and a cinnamon roll and ogled the sweets and pastries in the glass display counter.
You could also grab a loaf of bread or a pastry for takeaway if you need a snack for your trip home!
Midday: Fruits of the Land, and One Last Urban Exploration
After breakfast, head over to the downtown Kent Farmer’s Market. From June through September each year, this market offers fresh produce, flowers, and products from local crafters. There’s also live music and food trucks on some Saturdays. Be sure to stop by the Greater Kent Historical Society tent, where you can learn more about the history of Kent and take a free walking tour.
After walking through the Farmers Market, you may want to stretch your legs one last time before you hop in the car/on a plane back home. If so, head to Soos Creek Trail. This six-mile trail cuts through the eastern part of Kent, with a nicely paved trail that’s perfect for walking, biking, or running. You can even ride horses on the trail if you’ve been traveling with your horse for some reason… ?
Early Afternoon: Departure
As the morning winds down, it’s time to pack up and depart for home. This is a jam-packed three-day itinerary, full of food and exploration, but all good things must come to an end. Bon voyage!
Bonus: Where to See Mt. Rainier from Kent
You may have noticed that the featured photo for this article is a stunning picture of Mt. Rainier at sunset. Here it is again, in case you forgot:
While it didn’t make sense in the itinerary I’ve suggested, you can add in a stop at West Fenwick Park to climb the hill and see this view. It’s a great chance to watch sunset turn the snowy slopes of Mt. Rainier to a beautiful rose color.
Have questions about visiting Kent, Washington? Contact me and I’ll email you back with my best travel advice!
[info]My trip to Kent was sponsored by Visit Kent and this blog post was created as part of this partnership. Special thanks to Best Western for providing accommodations, and to each of the restaurants and food providers who extended hospitality to allow me to sample all the flavors Kent has to offer.[/info]