Nestled along the shoreline between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, Seattle is both home and on the travel bucket list of many an individual. Fisherman, coffee fanatic, art enthusiast, rain lover, techy, outdoorsman, and the list goes on, Seattle boasts mass appeal to a smorgasbord of folk. Dubbed the hipster capital of the United States by Time, visitors are sure to visually soak in frequent plaid, Starbucks and beard sightings, while also spotting the native Seattleite by those who don’t use umbrellas in the rain.
Ideal for a three-day weekend getaway, Seattle is sure to charm visitors into returning with its small town feel, friendly locals, idyllic scenery and encouragement to drink coffee at all hours of the day.
Accommodations: Begin your afternoon by checking into a downtown Seattle hotel, relinquishing luggage to your room and freshening up before seeing the sights. Two friends and I called the W Seattle home for our three-day weekend. A middle point between Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square (directly across the street from a Starbucks!), and walking distance to downtown shopping, the hotel is a swanky yet affordable alternative to staying outside the city and renting a car. Seattle’s public transportation system and walkability makes for easy exploring at all times of the day. Other recommended downtown hotels include The Fairmont Olympic, Hotel Monaco and Inn at the Market.
Explore: After adding on a few layers of clothing (wear multiple layers if visiting in the winter), walk down to Pike Place Market for the day and experience the hub of Seattle. Fresh with flowers, fish, produce and snacks, the indoor-outdoor market hosts the infamous Public Market sign, Rachel, the bronze cast piggy bank, and Post Alley gum wall, and is across the street from the original Starbucks – a must-see for avid coffee connoisseurs. (Make sure to have a local point you in the right direction to the original Starbucks, as there are a few stores in the Pike Place Market area.) If the skies are clear and rain isn’t in sight, walk down to the pier and take a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel complete with a front row view of the cityscape.
Eat: To satisfy seafood lovers’ cravings, take a seat at The Crab Pot Seattle. Offering a plethora of menu options from shrimp to lobster and crab legs to prawns, The Crab Pot offers the freshest of seafood. Other downtown restaurants recommended by locals include The Pink Door, Poppy and The Purple Café (a great place to finish the night with drinks).
Breakfast: Awaken your Sunday as sweet as can be by enjoying the flakiness, butteriness and freshness of Le Panier’s pastries coupled with a handcrafted coffee. The closest to Paris you’ll be on the West Coast, Le Panier bakes fresh pastries, desserts, tartes and cakes daily. I ordered both the A l’abricot (croissant with apricot preserves) and Almond Croissant, both of which I highly recommend, and paired it with a traditional creamy latte.
Explore: After breakfast, walk up to the train station and enjoy a short ride on the Seattle Center Monorail to the adjacent Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. For a discounted price of $33, visit both the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass on the same day. Plan to allocate at least three hours to fully enjoy the sights of both the landmark and exhibit; you won’t want to miss either one.
Lunch: After visiting the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, head back to the city center and eat at Pane Pane Sandwiches. The sandwich shop specializes in creating scrumptious gourmet sandwiches with fresh ingredients for an affordable price.
Explore: Perhaps the best kept secret area of Seattle — primarily due to the 20 minute drive out of the city — is the charming and hip Ballard neighborhood. Adorned with mom and pop coffee houses, one-of-a-kind restaurants, boutique clothing stores, brick sidewalks, craftsman-style homes and hipster locals that bring life to the neighborhood, Ballard is similar in style to Brooklyn, NYC and Silverlake, L.A. Quaintly wander its downtown shops with a coffee in hand from Bauhaus Ballard or Ballard Coffee Works.
Dinner: Looking for a hearty meal with a southern feel? Bitterroot is the place for you. A friend of mine, a Ballard transplant, introduced me to the adorable, chevron wood-paneled restaurant famous for its hearty mac-n-cheese, of which our party of four each individually ordered. Bitterroot, a local favorite, also offers other down home menu items including pulled pork, catfish, cornbread and grits. The restaurant is small and does not take reservations, so be sure to arrive early and put your name in if visiting on a weekend.
Breakfast: In honor of your last day in Seattle and in tribute to the home of the original Starbucks, head to Pike Place Market again and order a latte at the First and Pike corner Starbucks (not the original store) and grab the best-ever-mini-doughnuts-you’ll-have-in-your-life at Daily Dozen Doughnuts, just to the left of Rachel-the-pig. I recommend buying the half dozen doughnuts and saving those you don’t eat at breakfast for a snack.
Explore: Before traveling home, get an informative and visual tour of how Seattle became the city it is today by taking the Seattle Underground Tour. Located in Pioneer Square, just fifteen minutes on foot from Pike Place Market, the tour takes participants underground to see the ruins of the city prior to its rebuild. Participants will explore original businesses, sidewalks and tunnel ruins. At the completion of the tour, walk around Pioneer Square and explore the shops, restaurants and beautiful and historic brick architecture.
With Starbucks cup held high, cheers to a weekend of exploration and appreciation in Seattle!
Image via Morgan Ashley Photography