Of all the places I’ve been to, it’s about time that I cover the place I frequent the most… home! (Well, as of right now.) I moved to Seattle 5 years ago for college, and at that time my Seattle knowledge was minimal as it came from my family who all, at one point in their lives, lived in Seattle. To be honest, I came here with a lot more I disliked than I liked, but I’m happy to say that scale has tilted the other way. With every right to call myself a Seattleite, I do take pride in being from a city that really does have it all; a metropolitan downtown, nightlife, the ocean, the mountains, art and science, young and old, culture and community.
Over the years I have been gone for months at a time because I was coincidentally abroad (hi blog), but for the time I have been here, I’ve learned the ins and outs of Seattle. With my innate hostess skills plus multiple friends visiting Seattle mixed with my curiosity for exploring, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes this city so great. With something for everyone, it’s with excitement and difficulty that I am finally sharing the ultimate 3-day weekend guide to Seattle from yours truly.
First thing’s first: Pikes Place. You know you want to go and it really is a must. Plus if you go on a weekday, it’s much less crowded than a weekend so you can actually enjoy it sans tourists. As weekend brunch menus have yet to be put out, I highly recommend starting at General Porpoise in Capitol Hill by mega-influential Seattle chef Renee Erickson for the city’s best donuts before heading down to the market. While crossing off your Pike’s bucket list of sticking gum on the gum wall, throwing fish, and buying flowers, your list better include trying Elleno’s Greek Yogurt, the contagiously cult-like yogurt that is arguably the best in the country. Another pro tip: skip the ridiculous line at the “original” Starbucks and save time on Sunday to visit the Starbucks Roastery for a more immersive and elevated Starbucks experience. After roaming the market, skip the Space Needle and go to the top of the Columbia Tower, the tallest building in Seattle. From floor 73, you get to see a panoramic view of the city and is really quite helpful in getting one’s bearings sky level prior to exploring the city at ground level. Since you’ll be close to Pioneer Square, I’d suggest grabbing a delicate and delicious PNW lunch at the London Plane.
Ready to get out of tourist trap center, head over to Fremont. Known for being the “Center of the Universe”, antique shops, art stores, vintage malls and a giant troll bring quirky and bohemian flair to an otherwise logical and scientific city (unless you count the giant rocket ship statue scientific.) If you haven’t had enough sweets yet, make sure you stop by the Theo Chocolate factory to smell and taste the first organic, fair trade-certified chocolatier in the United States. If drinking is more your thing and it’s nice outside, grab some of Seattle’s best beer at Fremont Brewing on the outside patio. Rather be inside than outside? Spend a few hours perusing the local Book Larder specifically created for new, used and vintage cookbooks from around the world, in addition to hosting classes and events. For dinner, some of my favorite restaurants are located in the Fremont/Wallingford area: RockCreek Seafood & Spirits , Manolin, or Cantinetta for innovative mouth-watering seafood in all forms or humble, homely Italian food, respectively. End the evening by grabbing a few blankets, warm drinks, and watch the sunset over Lake Union at Gas Works Park.
It’s brunch time and Seattle is nothing if not brunchers. Below the Montlake Cut, you can hit a neighborhood gem-like Volunteer Park Cafe or Tallulah’s before heading over to Volunteer Park to check out the conservatory, lookout tower, and Asian Art Museum. If you want a break from walking, hop in a car and drive around the houses in the Madrona neighborhood to find which one you’ll live in when you become a billionaire. For a break on the legs but not on the arms, head over to the UW Waterfront Activities Center to canoe through the arboretum, or stop by University District classic Agua Verde to rent kayaks to kayak Lake Union (Moss Bay is actually a better deal for renting kayaks and paddle boards on Lake Union, but Agua Verde also has cheap Mexican food… to each their own).
It’s iconic, it’s 68 years of tradition, it’s the best; it’s Canlis. If you know a few months ahead that you will be coming to Seattle, make reservations and dine at this James Beard Award-winning and landmark fine dining restaurant. I may be a little biased as Canlis was my first job, but more than the spectacular food, top-notch service, and incredible views that make dining there a dream, in all truth it’s the people that welcome you in and make it home for all.
Start the morning off at the Ballard Farmer’s Market, my absolute favorite activity in Seattle. While there, do yourself right and buy anything (or everything) from SeaWolf Bakery, aka the best bakery in the city, or if you’re feeling something sweeter, Salmonberry Goods Bakery. Ballard is actually my favorite place to go out at night, but you’ll find me just about 10 out of 10 times there Sunday mornings for the market or to brunch at faves like Bastille, Percy’s & Co, Gather Kitchen & Bar, Stoneburner, Ballard Annex Oyster House, Señor Moose and well, just about everywhere else there. If markets aren’t your thing, line up early at the Sunday Public Sail at the Center for Wooden Boats for a fun way to see Seattle from a new perspective.
I love Sundays for lazy afternoons and Greenlake is the sweet spot for just that. Plus, it’s where I live! Paddleboard, rollerskate, bike, longboard or just walk around Greenlake for a family, dog, and kid-friendly activity at any time of the day. When the sun is shining, Greenlake becomes Seattle’s playground and everyone is invited. Hammocks and slack lines crisscross in the hammock grove, volleyball and frisbees fly, laughing kids swim alongside pedal boaters and rowers. Make a pit stop at neighborhood gem Retreat coffee house for a bite to eat or Seattle favorite Zoka coffee house for something to sip on to keep the good times going.
By day, Capitol Hill is packed with hipster coffee shops and indie stores, but by night, it turns into packed bars, eateries, and gay clubs (hence the rainbow-colored sidewalks). If you didn’t get your coffee fix in earlier, grab your mid-afternoon coffee break at some more local institutions (insert Starbucks Roastery pit stop) like Victrola or Espresso Vivace. Hoping you have completed at least one outdoor activity while in Seattle, you’ll understand why we love our REI and their flagship store that makes you want to #OptOutside all day every day. While you can get breakfast and lunch on Capitol Hill, there are way too many good restaurants to pass on dinner. Stateside, Terra Plata (try to snag a seat on their roof), Bateau, Bar Ferdinand and Omega Ouzeri are some of the top restaurants that fit the bill for amazing taste, creativity, value, and overall Soleil-approved foodie-ness. Last requirement without debate, one must end the evening with Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery for the most decadent molten lava cake dessert a vanilla-lover would drown herself in, or Frankie & Jo’s (co-owned by Hot Cakes owner Autumn Marin) for wholesome, vegan, the only-I-will-ever-have-from-now-on-ice cream. Even better, get the hotcake WITH the ice cream (it’s an option at Hotcakes) because you’re only in Seattle once… until you come back.
There you have it folks. My 3 day guide to Seattle that barely skims the surface of what there is to do and see in Seattle. There are so many other districts (International District, Georgetown, Magnolia, West Seattle…) and sights (Goldens Gardens, Kerry Park, Discovery Park…) and activities (Seahawks and Mariners games, day trips on ferries, seaplanes, Ride the Ducks, hikes, underground tours…) that I’ll go crazy trying to list them all so you’ll just have to come visit for yourself. Meanwhile I will be adventuring and exploring more of this place I call home so that when you do come, you can call on me to be your go-to to eat, drink, explore, and dance in the Seattle rain with.