Wow, it feels like a lifetime ago since I've gone to Seattle. When in reality, it's been a little over a month. While I know we can't travel right now, I also know that many of us can't wait to get out exploring. If Seattle is on your list once you can travel again, I hope this gives you a few ideas!
I’ve been wanting to go to Seattle forever. I think having spent years calling the sunny California home always leaves me craving for the rainy, moody, cozy indoor-focused destinations. In a way, it reminds me of Moscow and the big-city lifestyle I used to have and sometimes miss. So, when the $100-ish tickets showed up in Google search, I didn’t think twice where I was going to spend my birthday.
When it comes to travel, I’m more of a winger than a planner. I like going places to feel the local vibe, so the only must-dos on my list for this trip were coffee shops, hip restaurants (that I oh so miss living in Monterey) and lots of walking aimlessly, eventually passing a landmark or a tourist point of interest.
We spent a four-day weekend in Seattle, arriving from San Jose at noon on a Friday and heading back on a Tuesday afternoon. If you’re looking for ideas for a lazy, no-rush weekend in the city, this is a good place to start!
The Tourist Part – aka Things to See
I’ve heard numerous times the Space Needle was a waste of time, and with the pandemic craze just kicking in at the time (although, before the official lockdowns), I decided to save it for another time when being crammed in an elevator with strangers was safer. Although, it always brought me joy seeing it from different corners of the city.
Instead, here are some of the cultured items on my list:
Take a Ferry to Bainbridge Island
We took a walk from our hotel downtown to the waterfront ferry station, bought a one-way ticket (your return trip is free) and off we went crossing the bay with no specific goal in mind. We jokingly kept saying we were in Canada, because Bainbridge Island felt so foreign compared to Seattle and California. The island has a charming small-town vibe and it was an incredibly relaxing escape. A sunny day made it even more charming!
The ferry ride was about 40 minutes and provided a spectacular view of the city skyline. Once we got off the ‘boat,’ we just walked into town, having no idea what to expect and excited what we’d discover without taking a single look at Yelp. It was so peaceful exploring the quiet neighborhoods.
We’ve spent 2-3 hours wondering trails, popping into little boutiques and eating amazing, and very creative, small plates at a local Vietnamese restaurant Ba Sa.
After our eating and looking adventure felt complete, we headed back to the ferry station and hopped on the next boat heading to the city. The ferry system is super easy to navigate and it leaves around every hour and goes until late into the night, so you don’t have to worry about logistics much.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
This museum is right next to the Space Needle, and, although, kind of a rip off for a museum admission, the glass sculptures were trippy enough to look at that made it totally worth it.
The museum has a few dark rooms with glass installations that are enhanced by colorful lights. There’s also an indoor and outdoor “garden” where the glass sculptures are placed among regular plants, making it an artsy spot to enjoy.
You can also catch a demo where glass blowers make things in front of you and that alone is a cool experience, if you’ve never seen glass blowers in action.
I started reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette after I returned home and I was surprised the plot was set in Seattle. One of the main characters kept hating on Chihuly, name calling his pieces to pigeons of Seattle. To each their own, I guess!
While this is just a tiny park that serves as an overlook, this might have been my favorite sight of the trip. No matter where I go, I always try to go for “the view” and this one was on point. Besides getting the perfect angle of the Space Needle blending into the skyline, you can wonder around the nearby neighborhood filled with houses full of characters and cherry blossoms (if you’re visiting in spring).
The Food Part
I’m not a food blogger, so I’ll make myself bored if I go into too much detail. So, rather, here’s my simple bullet list of must-eats and must-drinks.
- Homer – all I can say is that I teared up after taking a bite of each course we’ve ordered because it was that good. This Mediterranean-inspired place serves up food cooked on an open fire, cozy atmosphere and ah-mazing soft-serve. We almost visited this one twice and it will definitely be my number one on the list when I’m back.
- Stateside – this Vietnamese-inspired brunch spot was super cute and made me wishing we weren’t on a food crawl so I could keep eating unexpected combinations of flavors.
- Tilikum Place Cafe – a cute French comfort food spot that feels especially cozy on a day when the air is extra crips. We bought a cast iron and started making Dutch Babies after our visit here.
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer – maybe an obvious choice that you will find in any Seattle travel guide, but it lives up to its hype!
- The Crumpet Shop – I have a soft spot in my heart for these pillows of joy, so I will always eat one when there are some around. This shop did not disappoint!
Slightly unrelated, but we also made a trip to the Theo chocolate factory. I really wanted to catch a tour but due to the onset of the outbreak, they cancelled all events. However, the factory store was still a cool sight to see (and taste, and smell!) for a chocolate lover. Plus, the neighborhood it was in was super quirky and worth a trip alone.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the stylish Theodore downtown and I had no complaints, especially when it came to decent coffee in the room and the interior. The rooms and common areas were done in moody tones, which felt very appropriate to the destination.
However, I think I’ll keep myself close to Capitol Hill (for the food!) or Queen Anne Hill (for the charm!) next time.
As we stayed downtown, we opted out of renting a car (and were totally fine between walks, Ubers and the light rail). I think it’s an ideal way to explore the city for a first-timer.
For my second time, I will switch it up and rent a car to explore the outskirts of the city and do more nature activities like hiking.
Have you ever been to Seattle? What are your must-dos in the city?