THE CROWN EMERALD OF THE PNW
Don’t take it personally if you feel an aloof vibe and cold shoulder coming from locals. There’s actually a name for it: the “Seattle Freeze.” This “no new friends” attitude is embedded in Seattle culture and taken seriously. While there may be many theories why this exists, it's likely Seattleites live in fear of overpopulation, that visitors will fall madly and permanently in love with their gorgeous Emerald City. Once you visit, you’ll understand it. There’s nothing like a Seattle summer (or spring/fall day, depending on your luck) with lofty Mount Rainer hovering as a distant backdrop. This city built into nature is truly breathtaking, and it doesn’t hurt that the food, drink, and social scene have sizzled in the last decade. Although we have a lot to thank Seattle for— Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco, Boeing—there is no larger company that has put Seattle on the map as a “company town” than Amazon. The city has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. The downtown area, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Fremont, Georgetown, are just some of the neighborhoods that have gone through a fresh facelift, adding shops, restaurants, bars, and museums to make this city not only a great place to visit but one to live in as well (that is, if you can crack the Seattlefreeze).
THE THOMPSON SEATTLE
THOMPSON SEATTLE. Recently opening in 2016, this hotel has become THE spot in Seattle and given downtown a hip refresh. The rooms are modern, clean, and sleek with views of the city or the ‘sound. Rooftop bar, The Nest, has been voted one of the best in the country. With stunning views of Puget Sound, the Seattle skyline and nearby islands, it fills nightly with locals, savvy tourists, and business travelers. AND you're just steps from Pike’s Place, so you can head there before the crowds. Shopping and dining is just out the door on First and Second Avenues, or a nice leisurely stroll up to hip Capitol Hill for some of the best dining and shopping in the city.
HOTEL BALLARD. Most cities have that quaint neighborhood street that has you saying “i could live here.” In Seattle, that's Ballard Avenue, and the flagship of Ballard Avenue is the Hotel Ballard. If you don’t mind being away from the hustle and bustle (but can easily get there in 10-15 mins), this charming boutique hotel has just twenty-nine rooms/suites. They’re cozy, clean, and affordable, and you're steps from one of the best streets in the city for strolling, shopping, eating, and drinking (don’t worry, we’ll guide you there).
EAT_ SCOUT or BISCUIT BITCH AT CAFE LIETO. For a sit-down breakfast, head to SCOUT at the Thompson hotel. The plaid, textured booths and wooden accents feel very PNW with a city twist. The food is hearty and delicious, and focuses on seasonal ingredients. If you like to indulge at breakfast, order the cinnamon roll (but only if you have someone to share with).
BISCUIT BITCH. If you are one of those people who doesn't mind waiting in line for the hottest food trend (we recommend getting there before 9am when the line is bearable), head to BISCUIT BITCH (located in Cafe Lieto, but don’t worry you can't miss the long queue outside) across the street from Scout. They have a variety of biscuit breakfast sandwiches, gravy plates, and egg dishes. You’ll be overly fueled for your active day.
WALK_ PIKE'S PLACE. Head to Pike's Place (just a block down from both breakfast spots) as soon as you’re finished with breakfast to avoid the afternoon crowds. You’ll have a front row seat to the famous fish throwing as they warm up for the day, and you won’t have to fight anyone to get to a vendor. Before you leave the market, cross the street to the OG Starbucks for a photo op, however, don’t wait in the long line that can take almost an hour (unless you are a die-hard Starbucks fan), because we’ll take you to a more interactive Starbucks experience later.
SEE_ UNDERGROUND TOUR or FUTURE OF FLIGHT TOUR- AT BOEING. UNDERGROUND TOUR. Continue your walk from Pike’s Place down Second Street to Pioneer Square. Buy tickets for the Underground tour (we like "Beneath The Streets"). The 45-minute walking tour gives you a unique perspective and takes you underground to the Seattle that once existed through the prohibition era, great fire, along with some underground venues that still thrive today.
FUTURE OF FLIGHT TOUR- AT BOEING. Schedule a tour at the largest building in the world, where 747, Dreamliners, and commercial jets are born. This guided tour takes you through the Boeing factory where you'll go under, in, and take a trip into the future of aviation.
WALK_ PIONEER SQUARE. Your tour will end in Pioneer Square. Head over to GLASSHOUSE STUDIO. Here you'll see the art of glass blowing, up-close and personal, and admire beautiful finished glassworks (and buy a few hand-made gifts, if you like). If you enjoy wine, THE ESTATES WINE ROOM, IS the local wine tasting room and pours some of the best from suburban Woodenville and Washington wine country.
EAT_ THE LONDON PLANE. In the heart of Pioneer Square, you’ll find the multi-concept THE LONDON PLANE. Part flower shop, gift shop, bakery, bar, and restaurant, this large space is every dreamer’s dream. Plan on eating lunch here. The menu is seasonal, fresh, and innovative. Try the daily soup, any salad, or the tuna melt with black sesame seeds.
SEE_ CHIHULY GARDEN & GLASS. Head on over to CHIHULY GARDEN & GLASS. We recommend buying a ticket in advance to skip the line. Enjoy browsing the gorgeous hand blown glass artworks of Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma,Washington native, whose work has been internationally recognized and exhibited. This indoor and outdoor space houses awesome glass gardens, chandeliers, and sculptures. You’ll also get an up-close view of the neighboring SPACE NEEDLE and some unique views through the glass. If you’ve always wanted to check out the iconic SPACE NEEDLE from its observation deck, this is a good opportunity to do so (although, expect to wait in line, especially since it will be undergoing renovation in the next year).
DRINK_ M BAR. For a pre-dinner drink and sunset view (and maybe an appetizer, too), head to M BAR (we suggest making a reservation). This rooftop perched above Lake Union, has 180 degree views of the Space Needle, downtown and Lake Union. Regardless of the season, the fire pits, multi-color Acapulco chairs, swings, and blankets make this place the coziest spot in town.
EAT_ BATEAU or BAR MELUSINE. If you like steak, go to BATEAU. Award-winning Seattle chef, Renee Erickson, reveals her vision of a modern steakhouse that has become the most popular dining room in Seattle. Pay attention to the large chalkboards that are used as wallpaper and list the daily cuts; the tally marks next to each cut lets you know how many servings remain. Once they are out, they are out! We dare you to select just one side dish (the french fries with house-made ketchup and garlic aioli are unreal). For non-carnivores, head next door to BAR MELUSINE, (also Erickson’s restaurant) for a French take on seafood. You guessed it! Oysters and fresh catches dominate the menu, but the meat entrees and ‘pain et fromage’ (bread and cheese) are worth a sampling, too.
DRINK_ ODDFELLOWS, FRANKIE & JO’s or MOLLY MOONS’. For a post-dinner drink with a lively crowd, head two blocks over from both restaurants above to ODDFELLOWS. This local favorite in Capitol Hill is lively throughout the day, and is a great spot for an after-dinner drink. If your idea of a night cap is ice cream, check out FRANKIE & JO’S (right next to Bateau & Bar Melusine) for ice “cream” so delicious you won’t believe it's vegan. If you prefer the real cream, head to MOLLY MOON’s around the corner.
EAT_ THE FAT HEN. Head over to Ballard to THE FAT HEN for breakfast. This small place does not take reservations (but you can also order take-out). Don't let the name fool you, you can choose to order as healthy (or not) as you like: think warm lentils with a soft poached egg, Benedicts, and egg bakes. Oh, and their coffee is amazing. If you haven't walked down BALLARD AVE. during the day, this is a great time to see the charming street (BALLARD HOTEL is a good drop off/place to start your walk). Of it is Sunday, head to the BALLARD FARMERS MARKET that takes up most of Ballard Ave in the spring-fall months and is worth the stroll.
DRINK_ CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE. If it’s a late spring, summer or early fall and you like wine, head to CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE in Woodenville for wine tasting at the chateau (you’ll recognize the famed structure from the bottles). Check out their calendar beforehand for summer evening concerts and events or enjoy a lovely afternoon picnic, Or just go on your own schedule— sip some wine or take a tour.
SEE_SEAPLANE. There’s nothing more Pacific Northwest than a seaplane, so if you visit over summer (or that lucky spring/fall day) and the forecast looks clear, book a seaplane experience (we like Kenmore Air, and book as far in advance as possible). The 30-minute journey departs (and arrives!) on Lake Union in downtown and thrills with scenic aerial views of Mt. Rainer, downtown, the Space Needle, Seattle suburbs, the islands, University of Washington, and so much more.
WALK_ MELROSE MARKET & GLASSWING. Head over to MELROSE MARKET (which is the official start of the Capitol Hill walk/tour). You’ll find high-end chefs in food hall spaces and beautiful handmade boutique items. To prepare your palate for lunch, admire the butchery, cheese, wine, and specialty food displays, and then shop for craft goods. Browse GLASSWING (next door to the Market) for a beautifully curated boutique of clothing, household goods, plants, and accessories.
EAT_ TAYLOR SHELLFISH FARMS or TERRA PLATA. Next door to Melrose Market, is TAYLOR SHELLFISH FARMS, which prides itself as one of the best shellfish farms in the city— go for the smoked oyster dip, grilled cheese, fresh prawns, or oyster stew. If you want more variety (or are fished out!) head a few doors down to TERRA PLATA which has a large and varied menu of locally sourced farm-to-table items, a more “terra, earthy” inspired menu. If the weather is nice, find a seat on the dreamy rooftop, dripping with vines, for the best views from Capitol Hill.
WALK_CAPITOL HILL. This hip Seattle ‘hood with a Brooklyn/Venice vibe boasts trendy eateries, coffee shops, book stores, vintage stores, and high-end boutiques that line the blocks of Pine & Pike between Melrose and 11th Avenues. Start your walk at MELROSE MARKET (above), where foodies indulge in a warehouse-like space. Head toward Pike to the flagship STARBUCKS RESERVE TASTING ROOM, every coffee lovers dream. Part roasting room, gift shop, and coffee tasting bar, you can order coffee flight tastings or specialty drinks (even spiked!). We wouldn’t normally recommend a stop at Starbucks on our Guide, but since Seattle is home base to this international blockbuster, it feels sooo local. Head up Pike to FRANKIE & JO’s for a vegan ice cream treat-- if you didn't get it in our guide earlier (or if you did and want round two, hey, now's your chance) if you’re craving something sweet. Our not-to-be-missed stops are: HOMESTEAD, ELLIOTT BAY BOOKSTORE, and TOTOKAELO (trust us, go in this stark looking store, it’s actually a destination for chic shoppers) and browse away (or hey, end up with a souvenir).
DRINK_ THE NEST. Head to the rooftop bar at the Thompson hotel (yes we already talked about it) to watch the sunset. From the views of Pike’s Place below to Bainbridge Island across Puget Sound, this rooftop hideaway is loved by locals and visitors alike. If you love this bar, come back late-night as well, where a DJ spins and the night crowd socializes.
EAT_ WESTWARD or WALRUS & THE CARPENTER. Head to WESTWARD (if you can get there just before sunset, we encourage that). Westward sits on the North Shore of Lake Union, positioned for views of Lake Union and the city skyline. It feels more like a lake house than a restaurant with Adirondack chairs on the sand and large deck with a fire pit. The food is PNW inspired with an oyster bar, a variety of fish entrees, meats, and vegtables (we actually really, really love the pasta, too!).
If you love shellfish, head to WALRUS & THE CARPENTER on Ballard Ave. This small, intimate seafood and oysters bar is arguably Seattle’s best for that, filled with high bar stools and long tables that set a friendly environment. Plus, you’ll be just steps from some of the best bars in town for a post- dinner libation.
DRINK_ PERCY’S & CO. For a nightcap, head over to PERCY’S on Ballard Ave. This apothecary-style cocktail bar focuses on specialty cocktails each with a purpose and nearly every ingredient made fresh (they even make their ginger ale by order). It’s a place locals love, and you’ll quickly understand why.