By Nora Heston Tarte
A city located on the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle offers visitors a taste of everything. Downtown, the big city feel is a much-needed escape from Central Valley suburbia, while the outskirts provide the finest in outdoor exploration. Get your fill of superb seafood, city lights, and quirky artwork at this northern getaway ideal for a blissful weekend away.
When venturing to a new locale for a short stay, cut down on travel time by staying amongst the action. The Inn at the Market (86 Pine St.) is the only downtown hotel located within Pike’s Place Market. You’ll be surrounded by the best of Seattle—from iconic restaurants to worthwhile attractions.
The boutique hotel offers gorgeous city views through floor-to-ceiling bay windows, custom stay-and-play packages to amplify romance, and luxurious extras like in-room massage. The GreenLeaders space (the building takes extra steps to save energy) boasts a rooftop garden guests gush over, and plenty of modern amenities (think dreamy Hypnos beds) to make your stay comfortable, even if you’re rarely in the room.
No trip to Seattle is complete without hitting some of the city’s most famous attractions. An icon of Seattle, the Space Needle (400 Broad St.) offers an observation deck with breath-taking views of the city and beyond, located in Seattle Center. When the tower was built for the 1962 World Fair it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi standing 605 feet.
The top deck rotates to allow visitors a 360-degree view of Seattle from the Pacific Ocean to the surrounding mountains. Go at night to see an illuminated downtown Seattle and enjoy a traditional pacific northwestern meal. Boasting everything from seafood favorites to brioche donuts, it’s a can’t-miss experience for first time visitors.
If you’re a fan or frequent visitor of farmers markets, you’ll want to stop by the famed Pike’s Place Market. One of the oldest continuously operating famers markets in the country, it’s the perfect place to sample fresh fruits and vegetables unloaded by the crate, or newly-caught fish being sliced and diced right in front of you. Don’t forget to catch one of these flying fillets for the true Pike Place experience (on weekends they sometimes throw for show).
Get fueled for the day at Bayou on 1st (1523 1st Ave.), a casual Cajun spot serving breakfast 8-11:15 AM. The orange-brioche French toast topped with berry compote is superb, and New Orleans-inspired omelets and breakfast plates play to the eatery’s Cajun charm.
With 500 shops, restaurants, and vendors hawking blooming bouquets and exquisite culinary finds over 11 acres of stop-worthy storefronts, it’s easy to get lost in this maze of a market.
Once you’ve exhausted all 11 buildings and six levels of Pike’s Place, take a stroll past some of Seattle’s other famous attractions. For the whimsical, strike a pose with Rachel the Pig (Pike St.)—a bronze piggy bank weighing in at 550-pounds—and drop in a few coins to benefit local nonprofits. Then, find your way to the cobblestoned Post Alley, where a 54-foot gum wall begs visitors to contribute to the colorful—albeit sticky—artwork.
For coffee lovers, a trip to the flagship Starbucks store (1912 Pike Pl.) is a must. Located in Pike Place Market, there’s a habitual line but it’s worth the wait to say you went. Order your usual, browse the exclusive set of Pike Place Starbucks swag, and be on your way.
On the water sits the Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59 (1483 Alaskan Way). See fish, marine mammals, and other sea life while traipsing between attractions. Don’t forget to stop at the underwater dome, a mostly transparent underwater room in a 400,000-gallon tank, or visit the 120,000-gallon dubbed “Window on Washington Waters” meant to replicate the coastal waters of Washington State.
Starbucks Call Out:
Not everyone knows the marketed flagship café isn’t truly Starbucks’ first location. In fact, the very first Starbucks was located a block away on Virginia Street (opened in 1971). When the building closed, the coffee joint was moved to the Soames-Dunn Building and reopened in 1975. Despite this anomaly, the shop is still hailed as the original, and it pays homage to its history with original logos on display.
Ditch big city vibes for island life. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, Bainbridge Island is hailed as the second biggest island in the county and one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. On a clear day, visitors can see Mount Rainier (also called Mount Tacoma or Mount Tahoma), the highest mountain in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest; then spend the afternoon strolling through cute shops. Grab sweet treats at Bon Bon Confectioners (230 Winslow Way E), browse an array of fabric and yarn shops perfect for your inner DIY-artist, and shop till you drop at stylish boutiques and home décor shops.
Take a break at the island’s hometown craft brewery—Bainbridge Island Brewing (9415 Coppertop Loop NE)—a gathering place for locals, and home of five flagship brews and seasonal favorites. The newest addition, the Bainbridge Blonde (a Belgian style blonde ale) was released in April. Like IPAs? The Downrigger Double IPA is now available year round due to its popularity.
If you catch an evening ferry back to the city, you can see incredible views of the Seattle skyline at night—ones not available by land. Which means you’ll have just enough time for dinner at one of the island’s fine dining establishments. If you came for the fish, crabs, and lobster so often thought of in tandem with the Pacific Northwest, dine at Doc’s Marine Grill (403 Madison Ave. S). A large waterfront deck and patio grants the breathtaking ocean views and saltwater air you crave, while plates of grilled northwest salmon and Dungeness crab risotto cause your mouth to water. The menu also features vegetarian items such as bleu cheese Portobello foccacia and quinoa sauté. Ask your server for a ferry schedule to ensure you make it back to the city on time.
Known for its small batch distilleries, no trip to Seattle is complete without at least one stop off at a craft spirit tasting room. At Copperworks Distilling Company (1250 Alaskan Way), copper stills house gin and vodka made mostly from ingredients local to Washington. Take advantage of the company’s free tasting policy (complimentary sips whenever they’re open) and sample the menu’s all-malt whiskey. Venture out a littler farther, and you’ll find plenty of distilleries around (Washington is home to nearly half of the small batch distilleries in the country) such as Oola (860 Folsom St.) and Sun Liquor (607 Summit Ave. E) in Capitol Hill and Fremont Mischief (132 N. Canal St.) in—you guessed it—Fremont.
Once you’ve tired of spirit sipping (if you ever do) head to some of local’s favorite spots for nightlife. Live music at the Nectar Lounge (412 N. 36th St., open until 2 AM daily) is a feast for the ears. Twenty dollars (ish) gets you entrance and drinks at this swank establishment. Every genre is represented—from indie to mo jams—and when bands aren’t on the indoor/outdoor stage rocking out, a DJ is spinning in their place. But don’t just come for the music; an upgraded menu offers a slew of original cocktails and drop shots.
Once you’ve been inspired, show off your own singing chops at Rock Box (1603 Nagle Pl.), a Japanese-style karaoke club with private rooms patrons can rent by the hour. Head there for a nightcap (open until 4 AM Friday and Saturday) or stop in for happy hour.
Need more? The Queen Anne Beerhall (203 W. Thomas St., open until 2 AM Friday and Saturday) is a German style pub featuring brews, eats, and ample seats. Some Random Bar (2604 1st Ave., open until 2 AM Friday and Saturday), a brick-walled, rustic-modern gastropub in Bell Town, pours an ever-rotating sample of local brewery beers (on tap). At Brave Horse Tavern (310 Terry Ave. N, open until 12 AM Friday and Saturday) enjoy beer and pretzels with a selection of dipping mustards while playing bar games (shuffle board and darts). Umi Sake House (2230 1st Ave., open until 2 AM Friday and Saturday) is revered for its original sushi rolls, izakaya-style snacks, and late night sake bombs.
In the waking hours, take advantage of Seattle’s diversity. Locals live for the indoor bocce ball garden at Rhein Haus Seattle (912 12th Ave.) and challenging Puzzle Break – Room Escape Game (1142 Grant Ave.) in capital hill. For a more artistic approach, visit the Seattle International Film Festival Cinema (511 Queen Anne Ave. N) that plays box office favorites in addition to more obscure films.
Art lovers will enjoy the Seattle Art Museum; with stunning pieces spread over three locations—the Seattle Art Museum (1300 1st Ave.), the Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 E. Prospect St.) and the Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Ave.) The main building houses rotating exhibitions that explore nature, fashion, culture, and more. Until August, an in-depth look at printmaking masterpieces from artists such as Picasso and Matisse will be on display at the main building. Permanent collections represent every corner of the globe—from Africa and America to Europe and Islam—to showcase artwork synonymous with local history and beyond, as well as modern and contemporary works, decorative arts, oceanic pieces, and more.
If you live in San Joaquin County, chances are you know a thing or two about wine. For those looking to expand their taste buds beyond the Lodi AVA, explore Woodinville’s cluster of great wineries, just 30 minutes from downtown. From a reserve cabernet at Ancestry Cellars (19510 144th Ave. NE) to an award-winning malbec at Zerba Cellars (14525 148th Ave. NE), there’s plenty to taste during an afternoon in wine country. As an added bonus, May brings barrel tasting to some wineries.
If you’re a certified sports fan, see one of Seattle’s professional teams in action. It’s offseason for the Seattle Seahawks, but Seattle Sounders fans have a reputation for providing a rowdy-good time. Slap on some blue and green and be a fan for the day at CenturyLink Field (800 Occidental Ave. S). You’ll fit right in. Can’t get into soccer? The Seattle Mariners bring action to Safeco Field (1250 1st Ave. S). Tickets for both come at a bargain.
Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) Callout:
From May 19-June 12, the 42nd Annual SIFF will be underway. Over 25 days, more than 450 different films will play. Visit Siff.net/festival-2016 for more info.
Don’t hesitate to book flights. Alaskan Airlines and Southwest both offer frequent, non-stop trips to the Emerald City. Less than two hours gate-to-gate and you could be exploring luscious greenscapes, open waters, and big city attractions.