When venturing out to the Pacific Northwest (PNW) for the first time, I didn't really know what to expect. The only thing I knew to expect was a lot of rain. Spoiler: yes x 10.
If you are planning a PNW trip, most people do Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver all in a week- so my weekend in Seattle should give you plenty of things to do in the city for the days you're there. Going out to the mountains like Mount Rainier and beaches by the coast are popular trips all on their own, but I didn't have a rental car this time around-- but next time I visit, I must do some hiking and outdoors activities that are so cherished to the PNW residents.
Like NYC, Seattle has so many different neighborhoods that each have its own distinctive feel. While wandering through the different neighborhoods, I felt almost as if I were walking through different cities. There were also some neighborhoods that I didn't get to fully explore like Ballard and Capitol Hill- all the more reason to return, right?
Here we go!
PLACES TO EAT/DRINK
This gorgeous open space is a full-on restaurant, cafe, bakery, flower shop, and gift shop all in one.
I got here right at breakfast, and had the yogurt with red kuri squash, cranberry, candied pepitas, and pumpkin seed oil. That's right, it was as delicious as it sounds. Other food options include bakery staples with creative twists like a poached pear & cream brioche roll, a veggie & grains menu, and eggs/meats/seafood that will happily entertain all types of diets.
A great little coffeeshop find in the Pioneer Square area, Elm serves up delicious espresso drinks using their home-roasted beans (right in-house) and offers a classic assortment of baked goods. A perfect spot for a quick coffee as a reprieve from the rain!
After wandering around the Space Needle and the Chihuly Gardens, this cozy and relatively new coffeeshop serves the perfect cappuccino to warm you up.
My friend introduced me to this adorable find in Fremont, and it is the perfect spot for a friend meetup. They brew Stumptown and Intelligentsia coffee, have extremely friendly baristas and cashiers who are happy to recommend their favorite menu specials or to just chat with a lost out-of-towner like me about their great city. The coffee was perfect- the Seattle coffee scene did not disappoint one bit!
Nestled in the Chophouse Row building in Capitol Hill, Kurt's Farm Shop is a must for those who appreciate high-quality ice cream. Made with the highest quality dairy, this small-batch ice cream shop offers up around 8-12 flavors daily. The texture was sublime. Yes, I used the word sublime. I had the blackberry and Jersey cream, and still dreaming about it.
My friend and I originally intended to go to the popular The Whale Wins, but it wasn't yet open for us earlybirds, so we went next door to Joule... so glad that happened. The brunch menu has a mashup of Asian-inspired flavors, and I opted for the "Pancake," which was a Chinese scallion pancake with kale, poached eggs, and pickled red onions with some sort of divine nutty sauce. They also offer a prix-fixe brunch bar option, which was the first time I'd ever seen that concept.
I couldn't finish this roundup of eats without including the famous local spot, Oddfellows. In a historic building, this open space has completely different vibes from day to night- it somehow is great for both a lazy Sunday brunch with bright open windows, but also a great weeknight date spot. I didn't get such a great photo, but snapped one quickly with my iPhone in the darkness to remember the delicious, local/sustainably sourced-food and warm environment. Seriously, some bomb eats here and cool flavor combinations present in both the food and cocktails. There is also a back patio for cooperative weahter.
PLACES TO EXPLORE/SIGHTSEE
Seattle Monorail to Space Needle
There is a monorail that goes from the top of the Westlake Shopping Center straight to the Space Needle. It's $2.25 for a one-way ride (cash only!) to the space needle, and is a savior in the rain! It's also cool to be riding above ground to see the city from another point of view. The monorail goes every 10 minutes from each station.
Well this one is obvious. Hop off the monorail and you are right at the base of the famous Space Needle. It's up to you if you want to ride up the 520 ft to the panoramic top- the ticket for the Space Needle alone is $22, but the combination ticket to also get admission to the Chihuly Garden & Glass (also $22 separately) is $36, so I suggest you do a combo pack if you want to enjoy both experiences. I personally could have done without going to the top, simply because the weather wasn't all too great so the fog and wind made it difficult to see, but I could see it being gorgeous on a clearer day. This brings me to...
This had to be one of my favorite sightseeing places I've been to, and the admission price was well-worth it to me. I had never seen any Chihuly works before, and it was a gorgeous visual sensory overload in some ways. Full of color, such attention to every detail and shape, the entire exhibit felt like a stunning funhouse to walk through. The final room before you exit to the garden area has this staple chandelier-like creation that I stood and stared at for at least 20 minutes.
Of course, it's impossible to skip over the famous Pike Place Market. It was everything I expected, plus far more. Coming from a farmer's market-obsessed girl, it had so much fresh produce and seafood that it was nearly overwhelming when I walked in.
Along with housing the original Murray's Cheese (you can see the giant vat of cheese being made from milk to curds!), the original Starbucks, the market is home to many smaller local eateries and shops. Some personal favorites of mine were the Daily Dozen Doughnut stand, and the DeLaurenti market (specialty wine & cheese shop). Also, I can't forget to mention the rows of gorgeous flower stands- Seattle has some beautiful florists that come out with some arrangements I've never seen before. The market spans several floors with everything from souvenir shops to food- you could spend an entire afternoon exploring this place!
If you are into cool architecture and want a quiet place to do some work or read (what a novel concept), this public library is one of my favorites out of any city's that I have seen yet. The gorgeous open windows and spaces create a welcoming space that is the opposite of so many claustrophobia-inducing stuffy libraries that some cities have.
Fremont Troll Bridge
While I bypassed a photo op of the official Troll under the bridge, I chose to wander the charming little area right at the edge of the water. If I lived in Seattle, this would definitely be a favorite spot of mine to grab a coffee at Milstead, and wander over to sit on a bench to read by the water.
This cute little area is so pretty to walk through during a quiet Sunday morning. Pending on which season you go, but November in Pioneer Square welcomed me with lots of lush greenery, foliage, and Occidental Square at night is aglow with beautiful lights strung on the trees. Two blocks over is the Waterfall Garden Park, which is exactly true to its name- it is a waterfall within a small enclosed space. Capturing a bit of the PNW nature-scene within the city! This is also the neighborhood with The London Plane and Elm Coffee Roasters (listed above), alongside many a classic pub, so plenty of little spots to wander around in this charming little area.
Not going to lie. I've been dying to ride the Seattle Ferry for two reasons. 1- I simply love being on the water and love to take the ferry even between New Jersey and New York. 2- I have no shame about loving Grey's Anatomy, and have wanted to ride the giant Seattle ferry ever since I saw it on TV, what, 10 years ago?
The ferry ride itself takes about 35 minutes to cross, and it's $8.10 for a Seattle/Bainbridge Island roundtrip. I grabbed some coffee and doughnuts from Pike Place market and it was the perfect way to enjoy the ferry ride over. Once on Bainbridge Island, you'll take a 5-minute walk from the ferry port to reach Main St. I highly recommend this little outing on a lazy weekend morning- strolling around with some coffee in hand on a chilly, rainy morning all bundled up. Main St. is full of adorable little shops, cafes, and charming small-town vibes, and there is also a small farmer's market off one of the side streets. I didn't get to take any photos here, because it was really raining hard at this point, but did capture some beautiful skyline views of the city on the ferry ride.
I didn't actually go on the wheel, as weather conditions weren't making it particularly appealing to be hanging out high up in the air outdoors, but I hear it's one of those "touristy" things that are actually fun. It's $13 for adults, and you get lofted up to see the pretty skyline views of Seattle-not too shabby.
View from Queen Anne: Kerry Park
I'm obviously a sucker for photo-opportunities and great views, so after much research, I discovered a local-secret of a perfect spot to see the skyline of Seattle and off to the neighboring islands. The tiniest of parks (it's literally only a couple square feet of grass and a bench) nested in Queen Anne, Kerry Park offers up the best view of the city. I warn you, on a windy day when slippery rain is pelting down, it's not particularly pleasant to hike your way uphill, but it's well-worth it.
PLACES TO SHOP
Now, I'm not someone big on shopping when I go to a new city, but this adorable store was recommended to me by a friend and I'm glad I stopped by. The style is very PNW-classic, mixed with a little bit of a Brooklyn vibe. The interior reminded me very much of a store I'd see in SoHo or Williamsburg back in NYC. They sell everything from women's clothing, accessories, shoes, decor, and stationary.
This entire store is just aesthetic eye-candy for those into design and sleek minimalism. Price points were beyond my reach, but still a beautiful store to go explore. Located in Capitol Hill.
Men's, women's, beauty, and home goods, Glasswing is true to its name and has some gorgeous botanicals on display. I was in love with this entire store and could have spent hours chatting with some of the friendliest salespeople there. Also a shop that I could very much see in Williamsburg, but with an earthier PNW twist. Another Capitol Hill find.
PLACE TO STAY
Recently renovated, the Inn at the Market is THE ideal place to stay during your visit to Seattle. It's location could not be more prime (smack dab in the middle of the Pike Place Market by the river) for all my wanderings around the city. Some rooms have a view of the Great Wheel, Puget Sound, and the beautiful Seattle waterfront, and the rooftop deck offers panoramic views of it all incase your room doesn't have that waterfront view. The hotel staff was super friendly, and eager to help guide me with any questions I had about getting around or local attractions. I was also a big fan of the ultra-comfy rooms with luxury bedding and spacious bathrooms (what girl doesn't appreciate a large bathroom? Especially coming from NYC!).
Special thanks to Inn at the Market for hosting Living Minnaly. As always, all opinions are of my own.