I had never given Seattle much thought prior to moving out west. From Florida, you can’t get much further away than Seattle while remaining in the Lower 48. Beyond Amazon, Microsoft, coffee, Macklemore, and rain, I thought of it as sleepy, (dare I say…boring) – not a destination I had in mind for excitement or adventure.
I was simultaneously right and wrong – Seattle is sleepy in a comforting, dignified way. It’s not boring, it’s simply focused. Here, sleepy can be worn as a badge of honor. The people here, much like DC, are serious but relaxed. No one seems like they’re trying – the coffee shops are full of writer-types and the bars are low-key but welcoming.
We kept saying we felt like we were on a movie set while walking around the city. The architecture is industrial and modern but with an interesting vintage vibe. Many structures in Seattle (including the Space Needle) were constructed for the World's Fair held in Seattle in 1962 (at the height of the Space Race) thus lending itself to this mid-century impression.
According to locals (and one talkative man next to me on my flight), Silicon Valley is slowing creeping in, driving up rent prices and adding pretense where it’s unwanted. At its core Seattle lacks airs, but that reputation is increasingly threatened by tech companies headed north. However, we found Seattle locals to be incredibly helpful and open.
Despite its shifting cultural standing, Seattle proved to be a cozy fall wonderland, a foodie’s paradise, and a superb destination for catching up with old friends over hot coffee and cold IPAs. We bundled up and packed in tons of caffeine-fueled activities.
For a long weekend in Seattle (for us, Thursday-Sunday), these are my picks for the best things to do, see, eat and drink:
+Pike Place Market: Iconic Seattle and emblematic of Seattle’s industries (tons of seafood!). Wander through the flower stalls, watch fishmongers toss the day's catch at Pike Place Fish Market, and stroll by the Gum Wall in Post Alley (gross). There are also many stops along Pike Place, including the original Starbucks and Beecher's Handmade Cheese.
+Kerry Park: The best place for a spectacular view of the Seattle skyline, both a night and during the day. In addition to the Space Needle prominently sticking out in the foreground, if you’re lucky, you can see Mount Rainier rising up in the background.
+Space Needle: Very fun to look at but apparently a tad expensive to go up to the top. Also any view you want of Seattle, you’d want the Space Needle in – therefore, we skipped out.
+Snoqualmie Falls: We rented a car and headed north 30 minutes to the tiny town of Snoqualmie and the namesake Snoqualmie Falls. A short hike through a very quintessentially PNW forest – think yellow and orange leaves, giant trees, and misty air – takes you to the base of the falls. The ride takes you past Mercer Island and through small towns surrounding Seattle (which all had some of the best fall foliage I've ever seen, prompting many pit stops for leaf photoshoots).
+Seattle Bagel Bakery: For the best bagels and lox you'll ever have.
+Daily Dozen Doughnuts: In Pike Place Market -- known for their maple and bacon doughnuts!
+Piroshky Piroshky: Just down the street from Pike Place Market and a good place for a first time try of this classic Russian pastry
+Toulouse Petit: A dim and cozy French restaurant in the heart of Queen Anne (eat here then stop off at Kerry Park for a lit-up nighttime view of the Seattle skyline).
+Tilikum Place Cafe: The perfect brunch place for a Saturday morning in Seattle. Crumpets are (oddly enough) all the rage in Seattle -- these apple butter ones are a must try.
Mezcaleria Oaxaca: A superb happy hour and a good place to start a night out in Capitol Hill.
Unicorn: Seemingly the go-to spot in Capitol Hill (plus the best jello shots).
Storyville Coffee: At the recommendation of our walking tour guide ("we're looking for the chicest coffee shop in all of Seattle"), Storyville Coffee was our Friday afternoon spot to warm up in front of their fireplace with coffee (or an IPA). If I could sum up Seattle in one establishment, it would be Storyville Coffee.
For next time:
+Take the ferry across the Puget Sound for a day on Bainbridge Island.
+Tour the Boeing Factory
+Stroll through the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)