10 Things Not to Miss When Visiting Seattle
Fireworks at the Space Needle
I lived in Seattle for a few years and used to visit my grandparents on Whidbey Island in the summers. Here are my top ten must see destinations in the area in no particular order. Try to visit Seattle in July or August because it really does rain the rest of the year.
- Japanese Gardens - TheJapenese Gardens located in Washington Park and are close to Madison Park. They are absolutely stunning and a great place for a picnic or walk.
- Pikes Place Market - Pike Place market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest public farmer's markets in the country and a very popular tourist destination. Not only is it in a great location on the waterfront but it has tons of shops, a fresh produce market, several fresh fish vendors and some great restaurants. One of the highlights is the fish market where they throw giant fish and a huge crowd gathers around. Kids love it. Try Lowell's Restaurant & Bar, it has a great breakfast and lunch and if you sit upstairs you have a great view of the water. Across the street from the market you can visit the original Starbucks.
- Snoqualmie Falls - This is about 40 minutes outside Seattle but it a fantastic day tripl. There is a 2 acre park, hiking trails and obeservation deck to view the 270 foot waterfall. Visit the Salish Lodge which has a great restaurent and a fantastic spa.
- Experience Music Project (EMP) -this music museum was founded by Paul Allen, one of the co-founders of Microsoft and is right next to the Space Needle. Most of the displays are very interactive. There is also a popular bar/restaurant in the museum that attracts a hip, young Seattle crowd. EMP provides funding to KEXP one of the best public radio stations in the country so your money is going to a great place.
- Space Needle - The Space Needle was built for the 1962 Worlds Fair. The Space Needle features an observation deck at 520 feet, the SkyCity restaurant at 500 feet, and a gift shop. It usually a long wait in the line so my suggestion is to look at it on the way to the EMP and then you can say you saw it!
- Seattle Art Museum (SAM) - this is one of my favorite museums mostly because it is small and usually has at least one great exhibit. I get overwhelmed at the New York Museums but this one if perfect for a half day trip and conveniently located downtown.
- Gasworks Park - Gasworks park is a public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company and has large structures from the original coal plant that are amazing to view at the park and from the water. There is a great bike and foot trail.
- Whidbey Island - Whidbey Island is a hidden gem in the Seattle area that is just being discovered by tourists. Its about an hour and a half outside Seattle with a short ferry ride but you feel like you are in another world. It's a great place to relax or visit for the weekend. Hotels are very limited though, most people rent a house. Like all places in Seattle, peak time is July, August.
- Madison Park is a fun, family oriented neighborhood close to downtown with a few restaurants. In the summer (August) it feels like a beach town since everyone goes to "the beach" which is really a grassy area along Lake Washington. Sometimes you can't go in the water though, they usually have signs that you can get some weird bacterial disease caused from duck poop (gross, i know).
- Greenlake - you can rent a paddleboat, canoe or just around Greenlake, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Seattle. Try stopping by for lunch at the Blue Water Bistro.
What to Eat
A few of my favorite restaurants in addition to those mentioned above:
- Wild Ginger - one of my favorites in Seattle and right next to the Triple Door Jazz club
- Daniel's Broiler - the best happy hour in the city. There are three locations but you can pull up your boat to the dock at the Seattle locations
- El Gouchois a fancy steakhouse. Good but expensive, most people go there for special occasions
- Wasabi Bistro - great sushi and great location downtown
- Le Pichet - a great french brasserie, consistently good food
Where to Stay
Here are a few of my favorite hotels in Seattle
- W Hotel - i stayed here right before I moved to San Francisco since they allow pets. It was great and my cat seemed to like it too.
- Hotel Monaco - I stayed here with friends and I LOVE this hotel. Its part of the Kimpton Group and the rooms are very large. They also use all green cleaning products so when you come home at 2am, instead of smelling like bleach it smells like oranges, a major bonus
- The Boatyard Inn - this is in Langley in Whidbey Island. THere are very few hotels in Whidbey and the Boatyard only has a few rooms but its great. The rooms have kitchens, plenty of space and are on the water. And Langley is a great little town with antique shops, coffee houses and even an organic grocery store.