I’ve lived in Seattle for exactly 3 months now. Whoa.
Having been a tourist myself for at least the first month, I hit some very crucial attractions simply because they were “so Seattle.” If you’re from Seattle, you know the places I’m talking about: Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Pike Place Market, the Space Needle. They’re great and all, but having now hosted an almost incredible amount of guests for just 3 short months (10 people between my roommate and I) I’ve perfected the art of Seattle tourism. Move over Bill Speidel, this self-guided Seattle tour is going to be the next trendy, underground tour.
Keep reading if:
- You like beer, whiskey, Moscow mules, or all three. Now I’ve got your attention.
- You prefer no lines to long lines.
- You’re willing to give up the Space Needle for 5 way better memories and views.
The Outdoor Adventure: Discovery Park
You’re on vacation. I’m going to go ahead and assume there’s some sleeping in before a big day of Seattle tourism. I’m also going to assume you headed to Toulouse Petit for brunch happy hour because you wanted a delicious, local, Dungeness crab eggs benedict. So it’s now 11am and you’re ready to take on the day. If it’s nice out, might I suggest a hike in the park. Maybe you don’t have time to do a full on hike out in the Cascades, but Discovery Park is a wonderful oasis just northwest of downtown. Make it down to the beach for spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and Rainier too! If you really want to have an adventure, Surf Ballard or Ballard Kayak will take you on a tour you won’t soon forget.
The Coffee Break: Stumptown Coffee
You’ve heard Seattle is the coffee capitol, home to the Starbucks headquarters and a long-brewing coffee scene, but did you really travel to Seattle to go to Starbucks? They pride themselves on making their latte taste the same in every state. I suggest trying someplace a little more local for your mid-day pick-me-up. Stumptown Coffee Roasters, a Portland-based chain, was hands down the most suggested coffee place here when I first arrived. They source sustainable, fair-trade beans, but serve their brews in a non-pretentious way. Some say “best coffee in Seattle” and many rave about the Nitrogen Conditioned Cold Brew. See for yourself. Then head to one of the many little restaurants peppering the Capitol Hill neighborhood, a famous neighborhood of Seattle know for its lively bar scene. For that, there’s just too many to make a definitive suggestion, but looking for 4+ stars on a Google Map is always a fun way to go.
The Self-Made Bar Crawl: TBD
Here’s where you really get to choose your own adventure. You have your second wind and you’re well fed—perfect time to start drinking. If you’re from the Midwest or East coast then it’s 5 o’clock there, may I remind you, and the craft beer and cocktails are not going to drink themselves. I will suggest starting off with a bang at Rachel’s Ginger Beer near Pike Place. You can knock the market off your to-do list and taste the most delicious ginger beer probably ever, then start making your way north. Here are some places I’ve been* and that I have yet to try (but come highly recommended).
- Fremont Brewing Company*
- Reuben’s Brews
- Urban Family Brewing Co.
- Northwest Peaks Brewery
- Rooftop Brewing Company*
- Lucky Envelope Brewing
- Elysian Brewing Company*
Here’s a handy Seattle brewery map if you want to plan ahead, and more than half are in Ballard (where this day tour ends up!) If beer isn’t your thing, there’s a killer whiskey bar that boasts the largest selection of American whiskey in the world and has stellar service. Order the Campfire in Georgia at Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium if you want the drink of a lifetime. Remember, happy hour is huge here and most go 4-6pm.
The “Look I Went to Seattle” Photo Opp: Kerry Park
You’re in Seattle, but you aren’t really here until your 857 closest social media followers know it. Going up the Space Needle gives you bragging rights to say you went up the space needle, but I assure you—it’s not much to brag about. The 10 second or whatever ride to the top is just as unsatisfying as the view. OK, the view isn’t bad, but if you want a real view that will make your friends jealous (and included the Needle since you can’t take a picture of it if you’re on it) head to Kerry Park. Pro tip: head there just before sunset. If it’s a clear day you’ll see Mount Rainier in all it’s glory. Then grab some ice cream up the street at Molly Moon’s and head back down to the park for the night time view. 2-for-1 here people! You’re really getting the most out of this day.
The Trendy Neighborhood: Ballard
This 10-minute drive north lands you in the most up-and-coming neighborhood in Seattle, Ballard. With the ship canal adjacent to the main streets (Ballard and Market streets), you get a true sense of Pacific Northwest in this quaint neighborhood. There are a lot of small shops and eateries to explore, each more picturesque than the next. A few of my favorite shops include: Camelion Design, Fair Trade Winds and Second Ascent. My favorite plant shop, The Palm Room, is also nestled into Ballard Ave. Make it there to explore a few shops and then the neighborhood really comes alive for dinnertime. I recommend Percy’s & Co, but you really can’t go wrong with most of the place around there.
OK, so now you’re all like “I’m totally not going to the Space Needle,” but just in case you get cold feet here’s an old fashioned list of Seattle tourist attractions you can reference on Visit Seattle. And don’t ever skip Pike Place, ever. It’s the best. Enjoy Seattle!