Tag Archives: United States

Homemade Ice Cream, Including the Cone

All From Scratch

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We were given a tip about Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream by one of our readers before we visited Seattle a couple summers ago. What makes this place so unique is that, aside from selling delicious ice cream, they make the cones themselves…right in front of you! Those waffle irons you see above are hard at work so that you get a treat and a show. You simply can’t beat homemade ice cream. And for the on-the-go traveler, there’s a number of Molly Moon locations in town, so you can pick one that’s closest to you. Enjoy!

LINKS
Molly Moon Locations
Official Website


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Oddities Found At San Francisco’s Pier 39

Unique Even Among Normalcy

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How much time have we spent in California? A lot. How many times have we been to California? A lot. But each visit brings us new discoveries, which is why we keep going back. Take San Francisco’s famous Pier 39. Of course we’re going to explore such a well-known tourist spot. Actually, a lot of travelers avoid it because it is a well-known tourist spot.



But, being us, we at UWanderings know how to find the hidden gems even in places like this. For those who are missing out, we’re here to help. And so we present to you, our daring and adventurous readers, Undiscovered Wanderings’s stroll through Pier 39.


Water, Meet Massage. Massage, Water.

Ever had a massage from water jets? If you’ve been in a hot tub recently, then the answer is probably yes. But have you ever had a water massage where you can keep your clothes on and stay perfectly dry for the whole thing? That’s what this contraption is for. We found it at Vitality, a hip spa on Pier 39 with a very happy customer base thanks to this and other nifty creature comforts, like the oxygen bars. As for the “Full Body AquaMassage”, as it’s called, you just get inside, under the waterproof barrier, and then water jets shoot at the barrier from an enclosed, watertight compartment. So you feel it, but you don’t get wet. The folks at Vitality were kind enough to give us a demonstration of how it works…


Giant Crab

Did the giant crab thingy at the top get your attention? Good. We really didn’t know what to make of this one, but if you’re on the fritz about visiting Pier 39 because you think it’s too touristy, this right here is all the reason to go. When are you ever going to see another giant crab like this?!  What’s its story, exactly? Abstract art, perhaps? Maybe it’s guarding the place. Who knows…well, someone out there does. Feel free to write us with suggestions if you know this guy’s story, and we’ll update this article.

What is this thing?!?!?!

 


Christmas All the Time!

Yup. We finally found one. A year-round Christmas store. In San Francisco no less. Actually, the guys there told us that the store is a chain, but this is the first we’ve seen of it. This is a dream come true for all of us who not only take joy in getting our Christmas shopping done early, but also for those of us who desperately need to one up our neighbors’ outdoor Christmas displays. Needless to say, it’s got a lot of holiday cheer. As far as Christmas stores go, this is definitely the most vibrant one we’ve seen.


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Bowling Lanes Turned Checkout Lanes At This Grocery Store

Bowling Shoes Not Required

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A special thank you to Erin and Jeff McNeil, owners of this Grocery Outlet location, for assisting UndiscoveredWanderings with this article. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are pleased to share our experience with our readership.

A few weeks ago, we did a piece on a retro-themed grocery store in Seattle’s Skyway suburb. Just when you finally wrapped your mind around the concept of a grocery store that’s also a tourist destination, we’ve got another one for you, except it didn’t start out as a store. It was once a bowling alley.



The same owners of the Skyway Grocery Outlet location actually started their first store here in Renton, WA–just outside of Seattle–in 2010 (the Skyway one in 2013). A bustling bowling alley for 40 years, when the McNeils moved in and turned it into a Grocery Outlet, they knew they had to keep the local heritage alive, so they built their store around the bowling alley. They even asked the demo crew to leave the old bowling lanes intact, which are now part of the checkout lanes.

As Erin explained to us, a number of local artists have done work here to keep Seattle’s heritage alive. Many of the old trophies and bowling memorabilia that dot the store’s landscape were donated by locals who had lots of memories and stories to tell.

There’s a lot of Seattle heritage here, for sure. “We try to promote local”, she told us. It’s a source of pride in the community. 

LINKS
Learn more about the owners
Visit the Skyway location


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Abandoned Buildings Meet Nature Trail

An Unusual–Yet Brilliant–Combination

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Many thanks to Friends of the Outlet, Inc., who maintain the Keuka Outlet Trail, and who kindly assisted UndiscoveredWanderings in putting this article together.

We love a good nature trail, especially one that’s different from the rest. The Keuka Outlet Trail in New York’s Finger Lakes Region is, for all intents and purposes, your average trail……just kidding; we doesn’t cover “average”. Actually, this trail’s claim to fame is what’s along it: abandoned buildings.

And they blend in perfectly with the scenery.



So why abandoned buildings? Simply put, they’re icons from another era. The Outlet Trail is a seven-mile pathway from Pen Yann to Dresden, NY–right between Keuka and Seneca Lakes. Its location along what was once the Fall Brook Railroad and, before that, the Crooked Lake Canal gives you a peak into the trail’s industrial roots. It was once dotted with small businesses, including a mill. The remnants of some of these legacies of industry are clearly visible along the trail today, showing their age with decay and overgrown vegetation that would make any urban explorer or Walking Dead fan overjoyed. We’re not gonna lie–it’s really cool!

Although hikers are not allowed in the buildings for safety reasons, you can clearly see into them from the main footpath. Adding to the allure of urban decay is the scenery around it. Traces of canal locks and walls give the Outlet Trail an iconic beauty that is rarely seen. The best abandoned structures are located on the side closest to the Dresden, NY entrance.

The Outlet Trail is partially paved, but still accommodates for all seasons, including winter (snowshoers and cross-country skiers enjoy it). You can also bike it. We recommend visiting in late summer or early fall for the best views and weather. The Trail is open from dusk until dawn each day. Please stay on the trail and obey all signage.

Oh–and in the summertime, there’s an ice cream stand near the trail’s end in Dresden. Yum!

LINKS
Learn more about the Outlet Trail


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You’ve Arrived at Seattle’s Most Retro Grocery Store

Of Course We Found This in Seattle!

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A special “thank you” to Erin and Jeff McNeil, owners of this Grocery Outlet location, for helping UndiscoveredWanderings with this article. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are pleased to share our experience with our readership.

When was the last time you thought of a grocery store as a tourist destination? When was the last time you were in Seattle? If there’s any city in America with offbeat grocery stores, why wouldn’t it be here? We were encouraged to visit this particular store by our Airbnb hosts during our visit last year. “It’s a grocery store with lots of cool iconic stuff in it”, we were told.



Our curiosity drew us to the road…

And so we ventured to Grocery Outlet—specifically, the Grocery Outlet of Skyway, Washington, just outside Seattle. It’s one of two stores independently owned and operated by Erin and Jeff McNeil. The McNeils, who’ve been in the grocery business for most of their lives, had a goal: to make their stores not only a place to shop, but also a destination. See why they got UndiscoveredWanderings’s attention? But how does one make a grocery store, of all things, stand out when there’s so many in every neighborhood?

One Word: Retro

It started years ago, when the building located at 68th Avenue South was just another neighborhood grocery store under a different name and ownership. Skyway was a bustling hub, a haven for musicians–including a young, up-and-coming Ray Charles—and intellectuals alike. It had the Route 66 vibe back then, Erin explained to us. The store eventually closed down and the building sat abandoned for a number of years.

But in 2013, the McNeils opened up this, their second store, under the Grocery Outlet chain. Yet they wanted more than just a place to buy groceries. They wanted a place, Erin recounted, that would be talked about and make the community proud. It was their goal to attract shoppers from throughout the Seattle area. With the neighborhood’s rich history in mind, they stuck to Skyway’s retro roots. It’s been a labor of love ever since…and it’s paying off.

The McNeils put as many retro-themed items in their store as possible. They sourced from places in Washington, Oregon, and even Canada to acquire the most offbeat and nostalgic items, including a life size Clark Kent in a phone booth, readying his Superman costume. There’s plenty of local history here, too, like old lockers from the local fire department (see gallery below). All of these items adorn shelves, floor space, and ceiling tiles as you casually make your way through the isles. The aura of the store definitely channels that back-in-time Route 66 feeling.



By the way, Erin and Jeff sourced all of these items within three months prior to Grocery Outlet–Skyway’s grand opening. Not bad. And their primary means for finding all this cool stuff? Craigslist.

Four years later, the McNeils are pleased with the store’s progress; Erin described things as being in a “good rhythm”. Not only has the community flocked to Skyway’s Grocery Outlet, their clientele continues to expand to include regular shoppers from all over the Seattle area. And of course, there’s the out-of-town visitors like us.

This is truly an Undiscovered Wandering, a title we reserve for the most offbeat places we visit. Oh–we mentioned that this place is one of two stores. Yup, there’s another one out there, which was built into an old bowling alley. Read about it here.


We always enjoy hearing from our readers and welcome you to send us your travel stories through our Share Your Travels page. We’ll always publish under your name. Your contributions help make UndiscoveredWanderings possible.

Share with Friends. Share the Wanders.