An Insider’s Guide to Visiting Seattle

A few of my coworkers are visiting Seattle for the first time so I wrote up a list of things to do.  This is downtown-centric for folks staying at a hotel without a car for just a few days.  My recommendations would change with more time and better transportation.

SeattletrafficGeneral tips:

o   Layer.  It gets cold at night. You can’t wear sandals and shorts 24-7.  It will rain.  Take your layers with you – you aren’t going back to the hotel before it rains.  This is why we wear flannel shirts – they tie around your waist nicely.

o   Plan for massive traffic around sporting events and stuff at Seattle Center.  Traffic is way worse than Austin.

o   The alternative weekly, The Stranger, is awesome.  It comes out on Thursday and is available for free everywhere.  Check out what’s going on and get food recommendations.

o   I can’t make specific food recommendations (besides the skirt steak at Ooba’s) – the food environment changes too quickly!  Try Yelp or The Stranger.

Stuff to do and see:


PikePlace492Downtown (walk from hotel)

  • There are lots of swanky boutiques and department stores dotted with funky restaurants in downtown/Belltown
  • Pike Place Market
    • Watch the fish being thrown and pet the brass pig
    • Walk down Post  Alley (to the left of the fish) and check out the gum wall
    • Wander through the maze (floors and floors!) of weird shops
  • The Waterfront
    • Walk down to the waterfront, though I don’t know how much you can access due to The Big Dig, which everyone will complain about
    • Look at the ferries!  Be glad you are not waiting in a ferry line, but plan on taking one to Vashon Island next time you come
    • There’s an Aquarium down there that people say is good but I’ve never been there
    • There might even be a cruise ship/floating cesspool of bacteria!
    • There’s a new giant Ferris wheel but you might have to wait in a long line to get on
    • Marvel at all the container ships and cranes. Seattle is that gateway to Asia!  This is where all the imported crap America buys lands first
    • Have clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl (or fish and chips) at Ivar’s
  • Walk to Pioneer SquareSeattle_-_International_Fountain_&_Space_Needle
    • Seattle Art Museum has the Hammering Man out front (1st street on the way to Pioneer Square)
    • Look at the Pergola, which is old and gets knocked down in riots
    • There’s a Seattle Underground tour that takes you through the previous version of Seattle that got built over after a big fire
    • Pioneer Square can get kind of rowdy like 6th street at night
  • Seattle Center
    • Space Needle – expensive to go up in but worth it on a clear day
    • International Fountain – fun to people watch. Be sure to stay for the choreographed water show!
    • Catch an IMAX movie or hang in the butterfly room at the Pacific Science Center

Lake Union (long walk)

  • event_263234322This is where Amazon is now so there are cute restaurants and shops – used to be industrial
  • Watch the amphibious biplanes land on the water (eat a swanky lunch at McCormick and Schmicks to do so)
  • Center for wooden boats
  • Rent kayaks and kayak through the houseboats
  • It’s pretty

Capitol Hill (long walk)

  • Used to be the gay area – now more stratified
  • Cute trendy restaurants
  • Clubs (dance, rock, etc)jodyhall
  • Walk around Pike between Broadway and 12th  at night – the heart of the Seattle music scene. I spent most of my 20’s there.
  • Cupcake Royale is on 11th and Pike, Mollie Moon’s ice cream (line out the door usually) is on Pine and there’s a Frozen Custard place on Pike at about 13th (shorter line and just as good)
  • The most famous dive bar is called The Comet Tavern
  • I used to work at The Wildrose, the west coast’s oldest lesbian bar (it’s not that great but you can peer inside and imagine me flipping burgers there haha)


  • Walk around here – cute shops and funky atmosphere – very Austin
  • Sock shop and gelato!


  • Walk around here – cute shops and funky atmosphere – very Austin
  • Adobe is here (not that exciting though)
  • Drawbridge
  • Don’t miss The Troll (if you go to Seattle, everyone will ask you if you’ve seen The Troll)

fish ladderBallard

  • Again, more cute shops and restaurants on Ballard Ave.
  • Check out the Fish Ladder at The Ballard Locks
  • Golden Gardens park is pretty


  • 3 mile trail around a lake – a pretty walk with lots of moms with strollers and cute dogs but not the most exciting thing (kind of like Town Lake but smaller)
  • Woodland Park Zoo


  • The Ave is like The Drag – cool and seedy. Good cheap vegetarian/Indian food.

West Seattle

  • I think you can take a water taxi here from downtown which would be super pretty
  • You may see seals and Orcas!  (unlikely but not impossible)
  • Alki Beach is the closest thing they have to California.  It’s not that close but there is volleyball and roller-bladers.
  • Lincoln Park is impressive and beautiful

And there you have it!  Have fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s