As a Seattle native, it’s been exciting to watch my home change and grow over time. And although there has been a lot of that in recent years, what has remained consistent are the tried and true aspects of the city that make and keep Seattle, Seattle. From a thriving food and drink scene, to music performances every day of the week, to vibrant neighborhoods chockfull of outdoor enthusiasts, homegrown innovators, art lovers and views that will light up your world – Seattle has remained my home for a reason. Below are just a few of my recommendations for what to see, do, and taste while you’re in town.
These attractions are popular, but not just with tourists.
The Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, has decorated the Seattle skyline for nearly 60 years and recently completed extensive renovations in 2018. If you have never been to the top, or haven’t been since the remodel, it’s certainly worth the trip up for jaw-dropping panoramic views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and more. To ensure nothing obstructs this sublime scene, the Space Needle went ahead and installed the world’s first and only revolving glass floor plus floor-to-ceiling glass paneling around the observation deck.
Considered the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the country, Pike Place Market remains a local neighborhood staple. While it has grown to be a number one destination for visitors, it remains a hub for local residents, chefs, and foodies who seek fresh produce, good eats, fresh seasonal flowers, and locally-made art. Step out onto the recently added MarketFront for blissful views of Elliott Bay, Washington State Ferries, and Mount Rainier on a clear day.
Pro Tip: Check out Jarr Barr on Western Ave below the Market for a small, bright restaurant inspired by intimate neighborhood bars in Portugal and Spain. Enjoy craft cocktails, wine, and Iberian-style small plates.
A big day in the city requires fuel for the body, mind, and soul.
Whether you like to start your day with a cup of black drip coffee, a finely crafted espresso, or a macaron (no judgement here), add Belle Epicurean to your itinerary. This French bakery and café was founded by a Seattle native with a love for both Paris and the Emerald City. Heartier fare is also available if you’re looking for something more substantial.
For dinner, stop by Purple Café and Wine Bar, a modern restaurant included under local company Heavy Restaurant Group. With more wine options than I can count (and a central column to display it all), each dish has been thoughtfully paired and inspired by Northwest ingredients. If you’re looking for an “earth-to-plate” experience, check out Terra Plata located at the south end of Melrose Market in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Enjoy fresh, organic, and seasonal meals with the option to dine on the rooftop patio, weather permitting.
End the night with drinks at The Nest Rooftop Bar at the Thompson Seattle. Indulge in hand-crafted cocktails, wine, and small snacks while taking in the views and bustling waterfront below complete with a glittering Ferris wheel.
Make time for fresh, Pacific Northwest air.
The outdoors are an important facet of life in Seattle and being surrounded by green spaces, mountains, and lakes makes it easier than ever to incorporate the region’s natural beauty into your trip. Visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, downtown Seattle’s largest green space, and view monumental artworks in this outdoor museum including pieces from world-renowned artists such as Jaume Plensa, Alexander Calder, and Richard Serra. Enjoy the Puget Sound up close and personal by hopping on the West Seattle Water Taxi. This speedy foot ferry departs Pier 50 downtown and drops off passengers at West Seattle’s Seacrest Park. Once in West Seattle, take a look back at the city for a postcard-worthy view of the skyline and then head over to Marination ma kai for a delicious Hawaiian-Korean fusion menu including dishes like miso ginger chicken tacos and kimchi quesadillas. Also nearby is Alki Kayak Tours for those looking for a bit more adventure.
You’ll find the soul of the people in the nearby neighborhoods.
Venture into Seattle’s buzzing neighborhoods for more food and shopping and experience the unique culture that belongs to each. Discover Fremont, an artsy neighborhood, and self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”, that is home to the popular Fremont Troll, a variety of quirky boutiques, and mouthwatering restaurants. Explore the center of Seattle’s LGBTQ+ community in vibrant Capitol Hill where the streets come to life with restaurants, bars, music venues, and shops of all kinds. To glimpse Seattle’s maritime history and one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, head over to Ballard and dive into a variety of eateries, an expansive brewery district, record stores, and carefully curated boutiques.
If you have a little more time on your hands, take a day trip over to Bainbridge Island via ferry and enjoy the quaint town of Winslow where you’ll find wineries and tasting rooms, an ice cream shop and bakery, a free art museum, and a selection of specialty shops.
How to get around:
Rideshares like Lyft and Uber make traveling around the city easy and most locations I’ve recommended above are under a 10 minute drive away from the downtown core. If you notice a bunch of red bikes stationed on the sidewalks, don’t be afraid to hop on! These are Uber’s JUMP bikes, a bikeshare with an entirely electric-assisted fleet. Walking might be more your style and your own two feet will get you to the majority of the recommended places in about 15 minutes or less from most downtown hotels. King County Metro and SoundTransit Link light rail will help you get out to the different neighborhoods if you’d prefer to take public transportation. If Bainbridge Island is on the itinerary, you’ll be taking a Washington State Ferry across Puget Sound (an adventure in and of itself!).
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