Well, its no secret that we finally made the move out to Seattle, WA in March. I have temporarily put my photography career on pause, while I try and catch my breath and grieve the loss of my brother. This time out here so far has been like an extended vacation and I have loved being a tourist in my own city. In the past month or so, I’ve had several people reach out and ask me for suggestions of things for them to do here in Seattle. Admittedly, I am NOT a Seattle pro. I’m still very new here, but I wanted to have a blog to direct people to for ideas of fun things to do. So, I’ll share with you guys what we love to do!
THE OBVIOUS- here’s a quick list of the most typical “Seattle” things to do.
Pike Place Market- The classic “throwing the fish” market. The sign says “public market” but don’t call it that, we all call it Pike Place Market or the market. We actually live one block from it and so I do feel like I have a pretty good handle on it. I run down all the time to grab things I need for dinner. Head to 1st Ave and Pike St to walk right in by the fishing flying through the air. They’ll overnight your fish back home to you. DO IT. Buy their seasonings and their cocktail sauce, both are EXCEPTIONAL. The things everyone else raves about in the market: Beechers mac and cheese, Pike Place chowder, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Daily Dozen Donuts, and of course grab a bouquet of the amazing flowers. Beecher’s has good cheese curds, but the rest of the food is overrated to me. My personal picks- Seattle Bagel Bakery, La Panier French Bakery, Alibi Room (pizza) and Los Agaves (cheap and delicious Mexican). Don’t forget the disgusting gum wall is right here too.
Space Needle- Definitely something to see, but imo a waste of money to go up into it. It would be $240 for our family of 5 to go up in it for a few minutes. That’s gonna be a no for me dawg. Theres a million places to get a picture with it in the background like the next spot!
Kerry Park- This is an amazing overlook to get that whole skyline photo with the space needle…and if you’re lucky you might just get Mt. Rainier too! Parking can be a little tough but most people aren’t staying long and just grab a pic and leave.
Gas Works Park-I actually haven’t been to this one yet and its because I don’t care to. Cal went and said it was overrated so we’ve skipped it so far. We have 485 parks in Seattle, so we’re staying busy with other ones!
Woodland Park Zoo- The zoo is incredible! If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend it. The enclosures are beautiful and allow you to safely get VERY close. It’s a pretty big zoo (or well, it was for us) and ended up taking us about 7 hours to see everything. You can bring your own food and drinks if you want to save some money!
Seattle Aquarium- We love it! Its just a few blocks from our apartment so we go often. In comparison to the others we’ve been to, its definitely smaller. But most of it are things that are right in the water that it sits on, Puget Sound. They often rehab animals that have been injured or sick and then release them back. The octopus we saw there today is actually going to be released back in the sound soon! I love that about this aquarium.
Seattle Waterfront- This is where the aquarium and the great wheel are. It’s a sidewalk of businesses and restaurants along the water behind the market. It’s touristy, but also neat because its on the water. You can walk right to it from Pike Place market by taking the elevator (between the fish throwing and the bbq) down to the first floor, then cross the road and walk up 20 feet or so and get on the parking garage elevator down and follow the signs for the waterfront.
Fremont Troll- Its a giant troll sculpture under a bridge in the Fremont neighborhood. It’s neat to see, but you can drive right by it and grab a quick pic. You might remember it from “10 Things I Hate About You.”
Smith Tower- We actually haven’t done this and probably won’t…so I can’t give the best advice on it. Its just a few blocks from our apartment and we can have about the same view from our rooftop here, otherwise I’d try it! I love a good view and heard the drinks are good! I’ve read its cheaper than going into the Space Needle though.
Amazon Spheres- They are three huge glass dome conservatories that are part of the Amazon headquarters. These actually are pretty awesome. They’re also close to a great donut shop, Top Pot Donuts.
Starbucks Roastery- yes, we have the original Starbs right down by Pike Place Market, but theres always a crazy long line (unless you go at 6am on a weekday) and its just another Starbucks. Go to the Starbucks Roastery in Capitol Hill instead. Its a very over the top, beautiful, huge, and upscale Starbucks. Its got a full cocktail bar, some killer merch, drinks you’ve never heard of and food you’ll never see at other Starbs. Also a great spot to get a good picture for the ‘gram.
OUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES- in no particular order. Since we’ve only found one babysitter so far, these are all kid friendly. We haven’t done much without the kids yet!
Ferry to Bainbridge Island- you can hop on the ferry (with or without a car) downtown by the waterfront and ride over to Bainbridge Island, “the Nantucket of the PNW.” It’s cheap and the tickets are round trip. There’s a cafeteria on board if you get hungry, sit inside or outside, you can get amazing skyline photos, and you might even see a whale! The schedule changes (so check it!) but the ferry goes back and forth every hour or so. The actual ride itself is awesome! Its only about 30 minutes but it goes by too fast! You can walk off the boat and right to their downtown. That’s why we usually don’t bring the car. We usually head over mid morning, grab lunch downtown, and then head back to Seattle. My favorite spot to eat is Bruciato! They have some of the best pizza I’ve ever had: super thin crust, fresh cheese, and you cut it with scissors! The interior is also really pretty and they have garage doors that can open on a pretty day. I’m always about some good aesthetics. A lot of people go just to eat at Hitchcock … we haven’t tried it yet! Theres tons of cute shops, boutiques, and a toy store the kids lose their minds over all on the main drag.
Chateau Ste Michelle- Washington state has its own wine country and a little place 20 minutes outside of Seattle called Woodinville has tons of tasting rooms for the wineries! I am absolutely NOT a wine drinker, so don’t come at me for wine advice haha! BUT, I do love me some bubbles. For me, Chateau Ste Michelle cannot be beat. The grounds are like a beautiful park- theres fountains with trout and ducks, a pond with geese, huge trees with tons of shade, wandering peacocks, and tons of lawn for the kids to play…. plus of course the chateau! We bring a soccer ball and go inside and grab a bottle of the Luxe sparkling wine and head outside with the kids. The squirrels will come right up to you and beg for food as you sit on a blanket. Honestly, this is one of my favorite places I’ve found in Seattle so far. If you love wine, there’s tons of other wineries to try right beside it too! We’ve also done Novelty Hill..its super modern and cool. Of course I picked it based on the vibe and not the wine. Then there’s a Knoxville native with a tasting room-Sparkman Cellars. If you get hungry after all the tastings, head to Hollywood Tavern and eat some fried pickles!
Breweries-I will be the first to admit, we haven’t tried them all and because we usually have the kids with us so we’re limited! Fremont Brewing is awesome, but usually too crowded to get in on the weekends. Its on the water, has seating outside, and has a great sour beer thats pink! Lagunitas is a fun environment and even though the beer isn’t local, its good! Theres corn hole, bocce, and other games. They’ve got a fair amount of seating outside for sunny days. Chuck’s Hop Shop isn’t a brewery but a kid friendly bar. If you’re from Knoxville and reading, its very similar to Bearden Beer Market. Of course I’m partial to Bearden Beer Market though ;) Theres ten trillion beers to try, snacks and ice cream, and some outdoor seating.
Beaches- yep, we’ve got them and they’re amazing. We’ve tried tons of them and these are our favorites. Golden Gardens- this is a big beach with a mostly sand shore. A lot of the beaches here have sand but also tons of rocks. This is the most like a “normal beach.” It’s also got a little restaurant, volleyball courts, a playground, and bathrooms. It can get really crowded on the weekends, but it’s amazing during the week. Carkeek Park- you have to go way back in the park and then cross a pedestrian bridge going over the train tracks to get to this one. It’s a lot more rocky, BUT it makes for some amazing tide pool opportunities. Tide pooling is a really fun activity to do here during low tide season (May-July.) You can go out and see tons of creatures- anemones, sea cucumbers, sea stars, octopus, urchins, marine worms, jellyfish, moon snails, barnacles, crabs, and more! Always wet your fingers before gently touching any of these creatures. Alki- this is another great sandy beach, its in West Seattle. You can take the water taxi from the downtown waterfront over to West Seattle! Discovery Park- some sand, some rocks but an absolutely massive and stunning park! You cannot just pull up and park at the beach here though. You have to stop at their little visitors center and get a pass because theres limited parking or you can park and hike in! All of these beaches will also give you amazing photos of the Olympic Mountains, you’re welcome ;)
Cascade Mountains- these are the mountains when you look to the East from Seattle. You can get to them in about 45 minutes from downtown. Theres tons of hikes and things to do. Our favorite hike so far was Franklin Falls. It’s a little over 2 miles round trip, runs beside the river, and ends at a waterfall. Be sure to walk down to the trailhead and get your little envelope to pay before you start. This may be a no brainer for some, but we had never paid to hike or go to the mountains before. Another really cool spot is Snoqualmie Falls. Its a massive waterfall that you can park just feet away from. Theres a few shops and a restaurant right there too. Last time I went here, we took backroads back to Woodinville to go to Chateau Ste Michelle, if you want a fun little day trip! The town of Snoqualmie is adorable too and has an amazing playground at Fisher Creek Park….its got a zipline people!
The Gorge- if y’all don’t already know, this is one of the coolest outdoor music venues in the country. Its about 2.5 hours outside of Seattle and a TOTALLY different landscape. Check their schedule and see if you can grab a good show! We saw Moon Taxi with Dave Matthews here and it was one of the best experiences of my life! PS. everyone camps there and you can rent camping equipment in Seattle. Don’t fly with all that shit!
Hot Tub Boats- ok sooooo we actually haven’t done this YET! But it’s on my list and I’m saving it for when the weather isn’t as pretty and we’re looking for something fun to do. I have no doubt it’ll be one of my favorite things. We wanted to do it last year when we came to visit but Nate never seemed up for it.
Farmer’s Market- lots of the neighborhoods in Seattle have a farmer’s market and they’re usually on different days. Our personal favorite is the one in Ballard on Sundays from 10am-3pm. Theres literally everything from racelette, to fresh kombucha, to handmade caramels, to tamales, to fish, etc. The Ballard farmer’s market is also on two streets that are also lined with great shopping and restaurants, so you get even more!
Olympic National Park- unfortunately this one is a little further of a haul from Seattle, so we’ve only done it once. It was about 5 hours round trip. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island (with the car) and drove over to a spot called Dosewallips State Park. Yes, its a state park beside the National Park, BUT you’re at the foothills of the mountains and its beautiful. You will also drive through Olympic National Park to get here. There’s a campground here along the river and also a great place for the kids to roam free along Dabob Bay. You can apparently harvest oysters nearby, but we didn’t get the chance to try. We look forward to getting more time to spend over here, but we definitely need a long weekend to do it!
Diabolo Lake- about 6 hours round trip from Seattle…. not a short drive, but it sure is scenic! It’s a turquoise lake in the middle of the Northern Cascades. We spent a Saturday doing it and LOVED it. Theres several cute towns along the way to stop and see. Theres a beach on the lake if you want to jump in and swim! It’s BY FAR one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever been to.
WHERE TO EAT- I’m going to separate this one by pricing. Sometimes you just wanna grab a good cheap meal and sometimes you wanna get dressed up and go somewhere nice.
•Los Agaves- this is a little taco stand in Pike Place market. They have a couple bar height tables, there’s rarely a line, you can usually grab a seat, and the food is AMAZING. I eat here about twice a week (bean burrito with chips and salsa!)
•Jack’s Fish Spot- I can’t personally vouch for this one because I’m not a big fish eater. Cal loves it though! It’s right next to Los Agaves.
•Katsu Burger- all different kinds of Katsu on an amazing brioche bun. Get the fries with 12 spice fries and a side of miso honey mustard.
•Bok A Bok Fried Chicken- Cal lives for fried chicken, so we’ve tried it all! This is one of his favorites. Plus, they’ve got tater tots.
•Pagliacci- an amazing pizza spot where you can get pizza by the slice for CHEAP, like $3 each. This chain is all over Seattle, so there’s a good chance you’re near one no matter where you are. They’ve got a cool vibe inside. Don’t forget an order of breadsticks. Bonus points because they often have parking too.
•Sizzle Pie- another awesome pizza joint with a cool vibe. It’s in Capitol Hill. You can also get cheap pizza by the slice here. They’ve got vegan options. Plus, it happens to be across from my favorite ice cream shop (that’s vegan!) Frankie and Jo’s.
•Hot as Pho- pronounced “fuh”…if you haven’t tried this amazing dish yet, you’ve gotta try some here. It’s a Vietnamese soup with broth, noodles, veggies, and optional meat. We have tons of great spots for it, but our favorite happens to be next door to our building. We typically get it to go and they package the ingredients up separately so they don’t get soggy.
•Cantina De San Patricio- a sit down mexican restaurant right by Pike Place Market. I love this spot because you can usually always walk in and get a seat. It’s dark and cozy inside, but perfect for rainy days. They’re prices are already affordable, but even better at happy hour. They also have QUESO! It’s not exactly like queso in the south, but I’ll take it! Order the steak tacos here!
•Sweetgrass- 100% organic. Really cool interior. Food like fresh juices, Buddha bowls, maca oats, golden lattes, and bulletproof coffee.
• Verve Bowls- acaì bowls, pitaya bowls, smoothies, avocado toast, etc and also organic! Also a super cute interior.
•Okinawa Teriyaki- fun fact... teriyaki is actually FROM Seattle. It became a cheap and healthier option for fast food at lunch. There’s teriyaki literally everywhere. This is a great spot. I usually get the tofu teriyaki. If you go at lunch, be prepared to wait in line. The line does go fast though!
•Flatstick Pub- bar type food, lots of games, and indoor putt putt! Kids are allowed until 7. Great spot for a rainy day!
•Hattie’s Hat-quirky little divey diner in Ballard with a great and cheap brunch! There’s tons of good shops nearby if you want to walk around and shop after you eat!
•Hurry Curry of Tokyo- get the Japanese curry with fried chicken (karaage curry) and the Japanese “chili cheese” fries, which were like Japanese version of poutine, and you’ll be thanking me later. All white meat, unreal curry, and fair pricing!
On the nicer side:
•Ben Paris- nestled in the bottom of the new and amazing The State Hotel, this place is a gem. To be honest, it’s my favorite place to eat. It’s across from our house, has the prettiest interior and amazing food and drinks. They take reservations and we usually make one to be safe, but you can usually get in. They’ve got a great (and around $5) kids meals. They have some of the best mac and cheese ever (and this is my favorite food, so I’m QUITE the critic)... they make it using Beecher’s cheese curds. I haven’t had a bad meal here. I love their fried chicken, their drinks are amazing (get the hail, Columbia for a pretty and tasty one, or the lazy bluebird that come in a copper bird cup!), the hush puppies, poutine, wedge salad, burger, fries, brunch, etc.. you won’t walk away hungry or disappointed. They also have a great happy hour with drinks under $9 and some great deals on snacky type foods.
•Tavolata- the best Italian I’ve ever had. I prefer the location in Capitol Hill. They’ve got a great patio for pretty days and the interior is super cool. Their pastas are INSANITY. It’s an Ethan Stowell restaurant. Ethan grew up in Seattle and is self-taught. He’s got around 15 restaurants here. He was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in America in 2008 and has been nominated for more James Beard Awards than he can remember. Their regular priced menu is around $25 a person, but at happy hour (5-7 and again at 10-11) they’re half off! Happy hour menu isn’t the full menu but it’s got all you need.... which includes the pappardelle pasta made with ragu, chili, mint, and grana padano cheese.
•Lola- this is a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant by THE Tom Douglas. He is known for winning the 1994 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef. I’m super picky and Greek food is not a favorite of mine, BUT the grandma dot’s greek spaghetti is INSANE good.
•Chinooks- its a bit touristy, but I love a good seafood restaurant on the water at a marina… that just does it for me. It’s usually easy to get in and they’ve got a good kid’s menu. It’s also got parking!
•Barrio- a few steps up from cheap Mexican food, but oh so good! It’s also right down the street from Canon (see below) if you want to grab a drink before! Also, they’ve got jackfruit tacos for my vegan/vegetarian friends! Love their salsas, beans, and rice!
OTHER SPOTS WORTH GOING TO-
•Canon- 21 and up novelty bar (more like a lab!) with the coolest drinks. I’ve had drinks in a bathtub, a nintendo game, drinks with smoke, drinks with an “acid” tab, and so many other fun ones. This place is AWESOME! The location is tiny, so go early for a chance to get a spot in here.
•Frankie and Jo’s- all vegan ice cream and its UNREAL…. i don’t mean unreal for vegan ice cream, i mean unreal for ANY ice cream. The interior is killer and makes for some good pics! Plus the waffle cones, ahhhhh so good.
•Mighty-O Donuts- 100% organic and so so so dang good.
•Top Pot Donuts- i can’t leave this one off. I personally like Mighty-O better, but these are next on my list! The location I linked is a great one and you can watch the monorail go by!
•Barque Brontes- take the elevator in Pike Place Market down to the bottom floor get off (to your right is an amazing popcorn place called Cobb’s) and take a left down to Barque Brontes Bakery Cafe. They’ve got all kinds of great baked goods, but their best is the caramel macaroon! It’s better than any I’ve ever had, even in Paris!
•Sweet Iron Waffles- little cheap $2 chocolate and white chocolate (with fruity pebbles) dipped waffles you can grab for the kids and get yourself a good one! Haha! They can be topped with everything from bacon and brie, to strawberries, to cookie butter! Adorable interior!
•Trophy Cupcakes- we’ve got a bunch of cupcake spots here, but this is the best I’ve had! The location I tagged is also a shopping center of about every chain you could ever want!
•The Cookie Counter- this is 100% vegan cookie and ice cream shop….and yes, you can get the cookie IN your ice cream or make an ice cream sandwich! We aren’t vegan, but I’m pretty anti-dairy and avoid it as much as possible. BUT you’d never know this place was vegan if I hadn’t just told you! I suggest one of everything because I haven’t had anything bad yet! LOOOOOVE this place. I hate to even share this little secret place. It’s also adorable inside with old school chairs, like literally chairs from when I was in elementary school. SO cute!
WHERE TO SHOP- alright, I’m going to break this down into different categories because I am usually looking for one of the types below…
1. Big stores downtown- if you want to hit up the flagship Nordstrom and also go to Macy’s, Zara, Old Navy, Gap, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Barney’s, Sephora, Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom Rack, All Saints, etc… then you want to go to the West Lake center on 4th and Pine. All those stores are walking distance from there!
2.Big stores in a shopping center- if you want stores like Lululemon, Free People, Restoration Hardware, Apple, H&M, Madewell, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel, Land of Nod, etc in a walkable shopping center with plenty of parking then head on over to the University Village shopping center. It’s on the University of Washington campus.
3. Unique walkable boutiques- my favorite spot to walk some local boutiques is in the Ballard neighborhood. Go to the intersection of Ballard Ave. NW and 22nd Ave NW and walk around there! Tons of cute shops and they have an amazing Farmer’s Market on Sundays from 10am-3pm year round!
4. Mall- my personal favorite mall is in Bellevue, Bellevue Square. They’ve got a gazillion stores and you can try your Beecher’s Mac and cheese here instead of fighting tourists at Pike Place
5. High End- if you want to hit a bunch of high end shops like Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, etc in one big swoop, then head to Bellevue at go to The Shops at the Bravern.
WHERE TO STAY- So, I’m definitely not the best for helping in this area. We had only stayed here once before we moved and stayed in a friend’s home who graciously allowed us to crash while they were out of town. BUT, we have a stunning hotel across the street from us, which just so happens to have my favorite restaurant in it. We’ve already had some friends stay there and got to check out their awesome room…
State Hotel- one block from Pike Place Market! Just opened in April 2019 and its stunning! Handprinted wallpaper from Kate Blairstone, modern and sleek rooms, subway tile bathrooms, and Ben Paris restaurant in your lobby! The last time I checked, it was pretty moderately priced as well, around $250 a night.
GETTING AROUND- we’ve got more options than people realize! We have a great bus system, the monorail, the light rail, plus car share apps like car2go, limped, zipcar and reach now. The light rail goes to and from the airport at a low price, like $3ish. It’s a great way to save some money! It’s also an easy way to get to Seahawks or Mariner’s games! The monorail just goes back and forth from the Westlake Shopping Center downtown to the Space Needle. At the Space Needle is also the Museum of Pop Culture, the Pacific Science Center, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. They call this area the Seattle Center. We also have electric bike shares through Jump by Uber and Lime. You just get the app and can scan and use them!
If you guys have any other questions, I’m ALWAYS happy to help! And if you come and do anything I suggested, tag me! I’d love to see! Hope to see you guys out here in Seattle! I will try and add to this if I find anything I’ve forgotten.
Peace and love,