Seattle only adds to the theory, “West Coast, best coast.” The city is cool and casual. The vibe is unpretentious but proud. Most places in the city, a scene of the waterfront is insight, with continuously passing ships and the port managing it’s cargo. It can very easily create a wanderlust for it’s onlooker, and perfect for one who loves a sea breeze.
I was fortunate enough to recently reconnect with a dear friend who relocated to the city. Eager to see her, I hopped on a flight from LAX on a mid-Friday afternoon and landed in SEA-TAC, where after almost 10 years we caught up for hours over flatbreads, dessert and white wine. She took the weekend to show me around and gave me a taste of the local scene.
Things I learned on this trip:
Seattle has city boroughs.
I had no clue that similarly to New York, Seattle has unofficial neighborhood districts. I’m not qualified to define them, nor could I if I tried. But for anyone planning to visit, just know that they exist (and consider doing some homework prior.) The boroughs that we spent the majority of our time in were: Capitol Hill, Ballard, Fremont and Queen Anne.
Seattle likes Seattle.
I find that most inhabitants of a major city are proud of it and Seattle is no exception. Expect to see Seahawks gear worn around town on Sundays, and either the Mariners or Seahawks game being broadcasted through out the city.
Seattle prefers locally made.
I was incredibly impressed that, when visiting restaurants and bars, they offer locally-sourced items—as it should be!
Seattle like a local.
But first, Brunch.
Somewhere with a view: Westward
Westward is nestled on North Lake Union overlooking the Seattle city skyline and conveniently offers boat parking (to those who need it) on its sandy porch. The restaurant shares a space with Little Gul Grocery, both offering local produce and fresh, seasonal dishes. Dining is available inside and out. For warm weather, there are lounge chairs, and for cold, wool blankets are laid out near a fire pit. Brunch is served from 10-3 pm. *Regular parking is offered as well free of charge.
Because locals don’t drink Starbucks: Caffe Vita
From what I am told, none of the locals actually partake in its world renowned coffee chain. When I told my friend Ariel that I was a fan (of Starbucks), she rolled her eyes and promised to show me better. She took me straight to Caffe Vita in Fremont, a humble specialty coffee house that I can honestly say has ruined my daily Starbucks routine. Their coffee is brewed in local restaurants all over the city (including where we had brunch). Before leaving, I purchased whole coffee beans and now grind them at home to brew a cup with a french press. It’s safe to say that after this trip, I have evolved into a coffee snob. But in Seattle, there’s really no better snob to be.
Where to Shop…
For fresh baked goods: Macrina Bakery
Macrina has a variety of fine breads, pastries, and desserts that are distributed to restaurants and cafes throughout the city. We toured the bakery, snagged a loaf of rosemary bread and a baguette with a small dish of olive oil, mostly because we couldn’t resist the wafts that filled the place. All Macrina locations are operational bakery slash cafes that offer breakfast, brunch and lunch starting at 8:30 am.
For vintage gems: trove
This darling vintage shop is located in Ballard on Northwest Market Street. Whether you are in the market for a gorgeous vintage fur, an accent piece or just want to window shop, this is the perfect place to stop in. If you are one to hunt for vintage pieces and won’t be in the Seattle area anytime soon, you can always shop their etsy store.
For mint condish vinyl: Bop Street Records
Voted one of the top five record stores in the U.S., this place houses rare and coveted albums—perfect for music history heads. Also located on Northwest Market, the shop is covered from top to bottom in vinyl. I left with a classic Elvis Christmas album for me, and a Jimi & Otis Live at the Monterey International Pop Festival for my man (score!) Some would consider these records pricey, but the condition of both were worth adding to our collection.
Where to satisfy your sweet tooth…
For pretty and unique cupcake selections: Cupcake Royale
It’s easy to spend time in Ballard, on North Market: there is plenty to keep you entertained and well fed like this cute cupcakery, Cupcake Royale.
For the best chocolate to ever put in your mouth: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Bakery
Yep, still in Ballard. Ordered the Black and Tan—milk chocolate molten cake, with Pike Place Stout-Caramel and milk chocolate ice cream. Treasured by all chocolate lovers, this place is a must-go for their assortment of pies, brownies and milk shakes. Don’t let the line out the door deter you, it was about a 30-minute wait and was absolutely worth it.
To start OR end your night.
For conversation and a stiff drink: Single Shot
This was actually our first stop the evening that I flew in. Located in Capitol Hill, the bartenders were sweet and they continually checked in to see how we were doing. *Note that may have been because we were two twenty-something-year-old ladies, but I like to believe that he shows the same hospitality to all guests. These gorgeous photos give you an idea of the place and are provided courtesy of Single Shot (I won’t pretend to take credit for them).
Seattle like a tourist.
As much as I love getting a perspective from a local, I had no shame indulging in tourist attractions. Here are a few things I would recommend:
Museums & Attractions
To experience a unique gallery of blown glass art: Chihuly Garden and Glass
The museum is located at the Seattle City Center and showcases Dale Chihuly’s vivid studio glass artwork. His installations are both inside the gallery and outside in the gardens and glasshouse. His creations showcase his visceral perceptions of life with creating well known pieces such as Glass House (below).
The iconic: Space Needle
Also located at the City Center, hovering above the Chihuly gardens and glass house is the Space Needle: Seattle’s iconic monument and attraction. Take a trip to the very top for a magnificent view.
Pike Place Market
If you have never been to Seattle, you (of course) have to visit the Pike Place Market. The famous fish market may be considered an attraction of it’s own, known for its silly sailors who toss around fish to prepare the days’ orders. Just down the street is the first Starbucks ever where you should get a cup of Pike Place roast, just for the sake of it.
The Seattle Aquarium is known for it’s otter preservation and major research endevours. Though it’s a small venue, they showcase several impressive tropical fish including cool jellies. Visitors can watch as the octopuses are being fed, learn about local Seattle sea life and purchase cute souvenirs at the gift shop.
Breakfast & Dinner selections near Pike Place
Located inside of Cafe Lietto, near Pike Place Market, is a breakfast counter known for fresh biscuits (also available in restaurants around the city) Recommend: The Buttered Up Bitch with Maple Peanut butter.
The only restaurant in the city whose entrance is a city landmark. No signage is posted; just a Pink Door is as it’s described in its name; where people can come for authentic Italian food. Suggestion: The Portobello Cheese Ravioli.
Cutters Crab House
If you’re craving a seafood dinner dinner near Pike Place, Cutters Crab House has amazing seafood skewers.
Where to stay near Pike Place
A boutique hotel central to the city, within walking distance of Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, that offers a war hero portrait of Leo on your bed is absolutely my first choice. Available through Expedia for $140/night, the Palladian offers a mix of modern, rustic, and traditional style rooms with personal touches.
I truly enjoyed this city; quite possibly because I was able to spend time with a dear friend, but more so because she showed me her perspective on where she lives. Cheers to rekindling old friendships and exploring new places.