seattle travel guide
The Emerald City. Lush forests, deep blue waters and a laid back demeanor attract a ton of creative people that teeter on the edge between hippie and hipster.
Why We Love Seattle:
The coffee culture, the black hoodies and rocker attitudes, and a ton of great neighborhoods each with their own vibe. And yes, we love the rain.
When To Visit:
Most people fall in love with Seattle in the summertime, where the blue sunny skies outnumber the typical overcast ones. It’s the perfect time to explore the many parks and outdoor cafes. Since the climate of Seattle is generally temperate, any time of the year is suitable for travel especially if a little rain won’t stop you from exploring!
You can make Seattle work, no matter your budget. There are many accommodations to choose from, anywhere from hostels to fancy rented apartments. Sea-Tac is an international airport, and you’ll have many airlines to choose from. Great airfare deals can be found if you book in advance.
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- Sitka & Spruce: A great dinner destination for anyone seeking authentic Pacific-Northwest inspired dishes. Make a reservation. Expect delicious small plates such as smoked trout, roasted carrots, and anything else that might have been recently caught or foraged in the PNW. Local tip: If you’re visiting during a Monday, head to Sitka Taco Night. You don’t want to miss it!
- Oddfellows Cafe + Bar: We love the food here, but we really love this space. Great for dinner, just a drink, and/or breakfast. Don’t forget to check out the tiny, cozy courtyard out back. It feels like a secret.
- The Fat Hen: One of our favorite breakfast spots in Seattle. It's located in a more quiet neighborhood, but worth the cab ride. It's tiny and adorable. The pizza place and bar across the street are also amazing.
- Smith: AMAZING mac & cheese! A great, cozy bar, perfect for those drizzly Seattle winter afternoons.
- Molly Moon’s: This ice cream shop is a must-do if you’re visiting during the summer. With flavors such as balsamic strawberry and salted caramel, this place is worth the wait if there is a line. Just forget your diet and go. Your taste buds will thank you.
- Volunteer Park Cafe: We dream of the brie and apple panini. Have a casual breakfast or cozy dinner, when the weather permits it doesn’t get much better than dining out on the sidewalk. Take a leisurely stroll through the lovely neighborhood after you dine.
- Skillet Diner: Started out as a traveling airstream street cart, now it’s a stationary location in a cool modern space. You’ll want to try their legendary Bacon Jam.
- Purple Cafe: If you’re looking for a fancier place to match your fancy going out outfits, look no further. Purple has an amazing wine selection, and their risotto is stellar. Definitely plan on catching a cab after you’re done.
- El Puerco Lloron: A casual and inexpensive mexican place in which the fantastic homemade corn tortillas balance out the rusty metal furniture and cafeteria feel. This is a good place to stop and grab a bite after wandering the Market.
- Matt’s in the Market: If you want a bit more of an upscale Pacific Northwest experience with the ultimate location overlooking Pike Place Market, then this is your place. Always a good idea to get a reservation, even fr lunch.
- Walrus & the Carpenter: Super good. Between the oysters and various other small plates, we always leave here stuffed and satisfied. The cocktails are particularly wonderful.
- La Carta de Oaxaca: There is a reason the wait here is usually about an hour. The regional cuisine is spectacular and the oversized backlit photos of faces and places around Oaxaca will have you putting this Mexico on your next destination list.
- Hattie's Hat: This is a fantastic joint with a lot of character. It’s a bit divey and quirky, with strong drinks, greasy eats and dark back room with a fish tank. There is also a lot of history here. There has been a establishment in this location for over a hundred years. The physical bar itself is just as old.
- Bitterroot: If you’re a fan of barbeque, this place is heavenly. Just try to resist the intoxicating smoky smell emanating from all sides. If you are really hungry, go for some of the jalapeno hush puppies for an appetizer. They’re perfect. The entrees are enough for two meals, usually with some amazing meat dish and two sides. They also specialize in macaroni and cheese with lots of fancy add-ins for the vegetarians. This place is small and usually has a wait, but thankfully they will text you when your table is ready, so you can go pass the time playing skee ball at nearby King’s Hardware.
- El Camino: Direct translation “The Way”. And these margaritas are the way to our heart. Don’t miss the plantain chips. Lounge on the back patio if the weather is nice.
- Paseo: No frills, only great Cuban/Caribbean food. Sure there are a ton of meat options but don’t overlook the Tofu Delight. The name says it all.
- Ravish: We have never been disappointed by a meal here. The wait staff and bartenders are super friendly. The food is served tapas style, so you’ll want to order several small bites to share. We love the baked brie, mac & cheese and whatever seasonal veggies they are featuring that day.
- Sun Liquor: Dreamtastic. There are two locations, and we prefer the smaller, original space located in North Capitol Hill for its warm, laid back atmosphere.
- Zig Zag Cafe: A cozy bar with fantastic cocktails. Does a girl need anything more? You soon too will be talking about Murray and his mad bartending skillz.
- Bathtub Gin: There is something deeply gratifying about walking down a dark gritty alley in heels and a cocktail dress. When you finally find your way inside (the door is unassuming and easy to pass by), the dark corners and low lights set the perfect mood for cocktail connoisseurs.
- Virginia Inn: A casual bistro to head to when you’re craving a beer (try the 9lb Porter from local Georgetown Brewing) and a hearty meal.
- King's Hardware: King’s is a fun and popular bar. The interior is eclectic with wood panelling, old photos and taxidermy to hold your attention. There is also a sizable outdoor deck and SKEE BALL! Bonus: If you are in need of a trim, Rudy’s Barbershop is connected to the bar.
- The Unicorn: The interiors are quirky and wild. This is more of the kind of place you would go to get a corn dog, burger, or fried snickers bar... It's totally eccentric, and did we mention it has pinball?
- Milstead & Co. will take you on a coffee adventure like no other. Since they hold no allegiance to one particular roaster, they have a variety of 5 top-notch, carefully selected roasters. After you’re fully buzzed, make sure to take a stool down to the Burke Gilman trail and check out the views of Lake Union.
- Monorail Espresso: If you’re roaming around downtown and need a caffeine fix, stop here. The hippest chicks run this walk up coffee stand, and they are arguably pulling the best tasting espresso shots in Seattle. It’s where the bike messengers flock and intermingle with the suits.
- Espresso Vivace: Delicious. Either of these locations we deliver a coffee that will leave you dreaming of the taste of the espresso even after the latte art is gone.
- Caffe Vita: This roasting company is classic Seattle. Pick any of the locations and you’re sure to get a good cup of coffee as well as a great people watching atmosphere.
- Caffe Fiore: Another coffee outfit that has several cafes throughout the neighborhoods of Seattle. Fiore got its start in Ballard, and has now expanded to Queen Anne and West Seattle. We go there for the cozy atmosphere, great coffee and cool light fixtures.
- Hotel Max: This affordable hotel is in a great location for those girls who may want to go heavy on the downtown shopping during their trip. Also check out the sushi restaurant which shares a lobby space with the hotel. Yum!
- Hotel Andra: Located in the Belltown neighborhood, the Andra is a lovely Scandinavian-inspired boutique hotel in a convenient location. It’s within walking distance to Pike Place Market and Belltown, and an adjoining bar with sidewalk patio seating.
- Alexis Hotel: Arguably some of the prettiest hotel rooms in Seattle, the Alexis is great for a girls’ weekend. Don’t forget to check out the adjacent Bookstore Bar for a drink. It’s actually a bookstore, so really when you go here, you can consider it multi-tasking.
- If you want the Pike Place Market experience, stay at the Inn at the Market. This place gets top ratings just for location alone. It’s the only hotel located in the Pike Place Market, and would be a great home base for anyone who wants to hit all of the classic Seattle sites during their visit.
- Rock Box: Are you too nervous to sing karaoke in front of a group of total strangers? Then the Rock Box is your answer to your karaoke prayers! Call ahead to reserve a private room, head over with your girlfriends, order some drinks, and rock out in private! We like reserving the room with the window & speakers that lead to the sidewalk; serenading unsuspecting passersby will undoubtedly induce fits of laughter.
- Gasworks Park: Gasworks is a beautiful and unique park on the north side of Lake Union near the Wallingford neighborhood. It used to be a gasification plant in the early 20th century, and the design leaves much of the towering ruins of the plant behind to add a gritty contrast to the vast green lawns. There is also an amazing view of the water and downtown Seattle from here.
- A cabaret show at the Can Can. You won’t be disappointed. There is a little for everyone and the moody location below Pike Place Market sets the stage.
- Urban Yoga Spa: Power vinyasa classes in a heated room make the chillier days in Seattle more bearable.
- Banya 5: Swimsuit, in Seattle? Yes! This co-ed communal Bath House is a great place to relax and meet some locals. A series of small pools including salt water pool, steam room, sauna and cold plunge gives the user both a serene and detoxifying experience.
- Seattle Architecture Foundation Tours provide a casual yet structured walk throughout the city and give you a greater understanding of Seattle’s architectural past.
- Watson Kennedy: With two locations in downtown, you’re sure to find something to adorn your home. They live up to their motto of “Purveyor of Fine Goods”.
- Far 4: A boutique with a special collection of home objects and gifts, all displayed like individual works of art.
- Check out a music festival! You’ll have many to choose from. Between the Capitol Hill Block Party and Bumbershoot, music lovers in Seattle have little to complain about.
- Get the lay of the land by riding The Great Wheel. Seattle is a fairly large city, yet the waterways provide a breakup to the different neighborhoods, many that could take up a whole day of exploring. A few of our favs are listed here:
- BALLARD: Located in North Seattle, this old fishing neighborhood has ton of character and is proud if its Scandinavian heritage. It’s grown a lot over the years and now home to a ton of shops, restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Ballard Ave is at the heart of this hood, with the Ballard Farmer’s Market to fill in the cobblestone streets on the summer weekends. About a 20-minute cab ride from downtown or a 30-45 minute bus ride.
- CAPITOL HILL: Within walking distance or a short cab ride from Downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, or “The Hill” is a colorful, diverse neighborhood that is always vibrant and alive with activity. With Broadway Avenue at its center running north and south, this neighborhood still has some grit left over from its grunge days. The grit, however, is being balanced out with a ton of great boutiques, restaurants, and bars to be discovered and enjoyed. Make sure to check out Melrose Market. Situated in a very walkable place from downtown, this indoor market is a hidden gem. Inside, you’ll find several small businesses sharing the open space, including a cheese shop, butcher, flower shop, wine bar, a great restaurant, adorable home store in the mezzanine, AND a yummy sandwich shop. Exposed beams and lots of brick makes you feel like you’ve been magically transported to Brooklyn.
- FREMONT: This neighborhood still has traces of its hippie past which is expressed in the annual Fremont Solstice Parade. Body Paint? Check. Belly Dancing? Check. Guys on stilts wearing weird tribal costumes? Check. NAKED BICYCLISTS? Double check. The George and Dragon beer garden is a great place to imbibe and watch the festivities. One obligatory Seattle photo op is in front of the Fremont Troll. Pretend you are being courted by Heath Ledger (RIP) in the movie 10 things I Hate about You. After, make your way over to Theo Chocolate Factory. Yeah, you’ll probably go for the free samples, but the fantastic tour is inspiring and you’ll be hooked on Theo chocolate for life!