Seattle is a city of connections. In Seattle’s early history, it grew by connecting prospectors to the Yukon and dreams of gold and wealth. As an historic trade hub for Asia, it connected eastern and western cultures and helped bring eastern culture into the American mainstream. Its vibrant music scene broke down genres to help launch the careers of artists like Ray Charles. Grunge, a compelling mishmash of punk and metal, was born in Seattle. Even its major industries, software and aircraft, are tools to connect people across the globe. This legacy has left a city with a vibrant mix of cultures and a thriving arts scene, with the added bonus of being located in one of the most beautiful parts of the United States.
|Where to Stay
If you’re looking to stay a little outside of the city, Willows Lodge is a luxurious choice. It’s less than a half hour from the city and situates guests in the heart of Washington’s wine country. The Hotel Bellevue is a boutique hotel located in Bellevue, which is about 10 miles from Seattle but offers breathing room and amenities like a spa and outsize fitness facilities. For those looking to nestle themselves in the heart of downtown, Hotel 1000 is a well-regarded luxury hotel that’s located blocks from Seattle’s waterfront, and boasts an excellent hotel restaurant and bar (BOKA Bar, helmed by chef Keri Roach). Another option is the historic Fairmont Olympic Hotel, an opulent downtown hotel on the National Register of Historic Places.
|Where to Eat
Seattle is spoiled for fine dining as well as local favorites. Near the Space Needle, Cafe Ladro has an excellent cafe and bakery. Damn the Weather is a good place for those looking to grab a drink and wet their whistle on the waterfront. Señor Moose Café is a local Mexican breakfast and lunch favorite, and La Carta de Oaxaca has the goods for those looking for a Mexican dinner. Red Mill Burgers is a favorite of carnivores, with a few locations around the city. In the Central District, Canon is a perennial choice for spirit lovers: they claim to have the largest drink menu in the western hemisphere with 3,500 labels. The first Starbucks is worth checking out, but you’re actually better off trying their Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, where they’re playing the same game as smaller, craft coffee roasters. Pike Place Market is another location worth checking out. Aside from having a famous fish market, it also has places like Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, where a bowl of mac and cheese on a cold day is as good as it gets. If you’re visiting Pike’s Place at night, grab a thin-crust pizza and a drink at The Alibi Room. In the world of fine dining and trendy eateries, Altura serves inspired tasting menus and is considered one of the best restaurants in Seattle, while Art of the Table translates its love of locally sourced organic ingredients into brilliant dishes. Joule serves creative interpretations of Korean cuisine that helped earn its head chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi James Beard Award nominations. And finally, The Walrus and the Carpenter is an essential visit if you want to eat oysters.
|What to Do
Seattle’s waterfront is a great jumping-off point for those who want to experience the city. The city’s Ballard historic district is packed with bars, restaurants and nightlife. The Sunset is an iconic “dive” bar located in the heart of Ballard, and a favorite of talented local acts. Capitol Hill is Seattle’s primary cultural destination, and sports fans should flock to the stadium district. While you can catch Seahawks game, we recommend a Sounders game for no other fact than that it’s hard to find crowds of 40,000 for soccer games in America. The Museum of Flight has one of the most impressive collections of historic aircraft on the planet and is worth a visit even if you’re not particularly enamored with aviation. Bainbridge Island is a great place for those looking to mountain bike, hike, or go for a run. Because it’s a ferry ride, it’s more of a day trip, but with an abundance of things to do it’s worth the time commitment.
In the summer, one can head to Tiger Mountain State Park to get away for an afternoon hike or a long trail run. But visitors willing to travel a little can find themselves in some of America’s best mountainous terrain, as well as one of its deepest snowpacks. Stevens Pass offers hiking in summer and backcountry turns in winter, and it’s located only an hour and a half from downtown. If you aren’t an experienced backcountry skier, North Cascades Mountain Guides can help you out (and take you up in a snowmobile). Olympia National Park contains plenty of adventure as well, and volcanoes Mount Rainer and Mount Baker are tempting targets for mountaineers. For those looking to spend time abroad, the city of Vancouver is closer than you think, and Portland, Oregon is also within reach.