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- Explore the City: Navigate by neighborhood or by activity with color-coded maps, or follow self-guided neighborhood walks
- See the Sights: Watch the fishmongers sling the catch of the day at Pike Place Market, or grab a pick-me-up at the original Starbucks. Zig zag through the Olympic Sculpture Park, watch sharks swim above you in the Seattle Aquarium’s underwater dome, admire Northwest art at the Seattle Art Museum, or watch the sunset from Space Needle observation deck
- Get a Taste of the City: Find the best cup of coffee, sample fresh oysters, and indulge in the city’s innovative cuisine
- Bars and Nightlife: Lounge at an old-school jazz club, discover the next big indie artist, get a flight of beers at a local microbrewery, or sip craft cocktails in a swanky speakeasy
- Expert Advice: Emerald City native Allison Williams shares what locals love about Seattle
- Strategic Itineraries and Day Trips: Make the most of your trip with ideas for foodies, culture-seekers, families traveling with kids, and more, or explore nearby Bainbridge Island, Mount Rainier National Park, Tacoma, and Bellevue
- Full-Color Photos and Detailed Maps
- Handy Tools: Background information on history and culture, plus an easy-to-read foldout map to use on the go
Road tripping along the coast? Test-drive Moon Pacific Northwest Road Trip. Visiting more of the state? Check out Moon Washington.
More than 50 years have passed since a world’s fair transformed this northwestern port into a global city—just look at the Space Needle for evidence of that era’s endless optimism and vision. The city of Seattle, built on a series of hills between a lake and a bay, is today a mature metropolis.
The vibe is more about achievement than status; it’s not cool to work so hard that you can’t kayak a little before dinner or jam with your folk-rock quartet on the weekend. The healthy arts and music scene has grown beyond ’90s grunge. But never fear—the city hasn’t completely outgrown its youthful exuberance. It’s still the home of the bustling coffee shop and the ambitious start-up. Creative energy explodes from tech minds, performers, and chefs who, like the Space Needle, reach for the stars.
Evidence of past success is around every corner in Seattle. Starbucks, once a tiny coffee shop near Pike Place Market, occupies downtown with the same ubiquity it’s achieved around the world. Amazon, the online bookstore turned tech monolith, has colonized the South Lake Union neighborhood and helped turn its forgotten blocks into a bustling cultural center. Microsoft, which began here and is headquartered just outside of town, has left its mark—not just of its business, but also of the entities it helped build, like the campus of the philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Paul Allen’s football stadium and music museum.
Seattle is a place of experiments, of legalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage by leaps and bounds. The city is growing so fast it sometimes feels like a living being, one figuring out this brave new world at the same time it’s creating it. With just enough history to build considerable civic pride, Seattle encourages looking to the horizon—or perhaps just to the sunsets that illuminate the Olympic Mountains on clear nights. Sure, it rains sometimes, but that makes the beautiful days all the sweeter.
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Watch Fish Fly at Pike Place Market: The seafood counter may be the most famous part of this downtown landmark, but there’s enough produce, spices, crafts, buskers, and fresh-made doughnuts to fill an entire day.
2 View Masterpieces at the Seattle Art Museum: Discover a peerless collection of Pacific Northwest art.
3 Explore Seattle Center: This collection of museums, sights, green spaces, and fountains entices visitors to spend as much time as possible here.
4 Take in the Views from the Space Needle: The city’s symbol offers sky-high views from its observation deck.
5 Get Out on the Water: Take advantage of Seattle’s waterfront bounty by boat, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard.
6 Go Back in Time at the Museum of History and Industry: Interactive exhibits, artifacts, and curiosities offer insight into the city’s past, as well as some glimpses into its future.
7 Observe the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks: Boats big and small gain passage to the Ship Canal through these locks, next to a special thoroughfare made just for salmon.
8 Embrace Coffee Culture: The craze for caffeine was born here, and the city’s blocks are full of corporate coffee chains and indie outposts alike.
9 Experience the Seattle Sound—Live: This is the city that Jimi Hendrix called home and where Kurt Cobain found fame before his tragic end.
10 Drink Craft Beer: An abundance of local, artisanal breweries place the city at the forefront of this hoppy trend.
THE BEST OF SEATTLE
Seattle is an international city with arts, food, science, and the outdoors to explore. To make the most of a short trip, focus first on the city’s core, and then venture out onto the water or to one of the city’s parks. Stay in a hotel in the downtown core, like Hotel Max, for the easiest travel around the city.
This itinerary assumes you won’t need a car for the first three days and includes information on using public transportation to get around.
DAY 1: DOWNTOWN AND QUEEN ANNE
Start the day like any other day—at Starbucks. The location in Pike Place Market isn’t quite as “original” as the T-shirts and mugs would have you believe, but it’s an interesting reminder that the chain used to be just another local coffee stand. Java in hand, explore Pike Place Market and its long rows of craft and food stands. Watch fish fly at Pike Place Fish Market, and venture past the Gum Wall.
Walk south along 1st Avenue to the Hammering Man at the Seattle Art Museum, and venture inside to view one of the West Coast’s best art collections. From there it’s only a few blocks down University Street to the waterfront—just aim for the Seattle Great Wheel. Take a boat ride on Argosy Cruises—it would be a shame to leave Seattle without getting on the water at least once.
Once you’re back on dry land, walk to Westlake Center. From here take the Seattle Center Monorail to Seattle Center. You’re probably starving, so make a stop just west of the monorail terminal at the Seattle Center Armory, which hosts small outlets of some of the city’s best cheap eateries. Seattle Center alone contains enough entertainment for a week, so pick your poison: science at the Pacific Science Center or rock and roll and pop culture at the Museum of Pop Culture. Topping either one will take something big—like, say, the Space Needle. Travel to the top to the observation deck and leave time to take in the full 360-degree view. The heights-averse will enjoy the on-the-ground delights of the Chihuly Garden and Glass.
For dinner, head to Belltown. Hit up one of the city’s memorable restaurants: El Gaucho is known for steak, while Six Seven earns acclaim for both seafood and its waterfront location.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To get to Belltown from Seattle Center, take the Route 4 bus from 5th Ave. N and Broad St. to 3rd Ave. and Vine St.
Return downtown to see the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall or a rock band at the Showbox.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To get downtown from Belltown, hop on a southbound Route 1, 2, 3, or 4 bus from the intersection of 3rd Ave. and Vine St. Exit at 3rd Ave. and Union St.
DAY 2: SOUTH LAKE UNION AND BALLARD
Start the day with tres leches French toast at Cactus in South Lake Union. Walk to Yale Avenue for some quick shopping at REI or follow Terry Avenue north to Lake Union Park and the Museum of History and Industry to learn the story of Seattle and its high-flying, computer-inventing ways. Look for the seaplanes taking off and landing on Lake Union just outside.
It’s time to head north into Ballard to try some of the neighborhood’s best cuisine. Have lunch at La Carta de Oaxaca or go for the pizza at Stoneburner.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To get to Ballard from Lake Union Park, pick up a northbound Route 40 bus from Westlake Ave. N and Mercer St. Disembark at NW Leary Way and 15th Ave. NW.
Next, walk west on Northwest Market Street to reach the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. It’s fun to watch the gates open and the locks fill as boats move in and out, and there’s also a fish ladder with underground viewing windows. When you’re ready for dinner, retrace your steps to Ballard Avenue and wait in line for the city’s best oyster bar at The Walrus and the Carpenter.
Bars in Ballard are among the city’s best, so take a tipple at Noble Fir or King’s Hardware, and drink as the anglers once did on these very streets.
Head back downtown to finish the night with music at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To return downtown from Ballard, take a southbound D Line bus from 15th Ave. NW and NW Leary Way to 3rd Ave. and Virginia St.
DAY 3: CAPITOL HILL AND WEST SEATTLE
If something exciting is happening in Seattle, it’ll either start or end in Capitol Hill. Begin the day at one of the neighborhood’s many indulgent breakfast spots, like The Wandering Goose, where the biscuits are so good they’ve inspired a children’s storybook.
Then it’s time to visit Volunteer Park, one of the city’s prettiest green spaces. Climb to the top of the brick water tower for a workout with a view, or gaze at the Space Needle through the middle of the circular Black Sun sculpture. If it’s open (it’s undergoing renovations in 2019), venture inside the Seattle Asian Art Museum, guarded by twin camel statues, or enter an urban botanical jungle inside the glassy walls of the conservatory. Kids will be drawn to the playground, but Lake View Cemetery next door attracts fans of the late Bruce Lee, buried here.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To get to Volunteer Park, take the Route 10 bus from the intersection of 15th Ave. E and E Harrison St. Exit at 15th Ave. E and E Prospect St.
Capitol Hill is bursting with restaurants, so the options for lunch are endless. Try the upgraded diner fare at Skillet Diner, or wander down the hill to the options at Melrose Market, a collection of eateries selling everything from oysters to burgers.
After all that culture and fine dining, it’s time to hit the beach. Make your way to West Seattle via water taxi to the sands of Alki Beach, the spot where the city’s founders first arrived. Today there’s a miniature Statue of Liberty, volleyball courts, and a long stretch of waterfront for strolling. Before hopping the water taxi back to Seattle, grab a snack or a beer at Marination Ma Kai.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To get to the water taxi pier, take a westbound Route 106 or 550 bus to Pioneer Square Station, then walk to the waterfront. Once in West Seattle, hop on a westbound Route 37 or 775 bus to Alki Ave. SW and 61st Ave. SW.
Finish the night back in Capitol Hill—dancing at Q and drinks at the bustling Quinn’s Pub will have you up late.
PUBLIC TRANSIT: To return to Capitol Hill from the water taxi pier, take an eastbound Route 12 bus from the intersection of Marion St. and 1st Ave. Disembark at E Madison St. and Broadway.
SEATTLE WITH KIDS
Though Seattle is best known for its very adult technology industry and cloudy weather, it’s a perfect retreat for kids—as long as they like to explore, play, and get dirty.
Stay at the Hotel Monaco or Hotel Ballard, which have adult style but less bustle, or the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, which has a glassed-in swimming pool that kids will love.
The entire Seattle Center complex is perfect for children, starting with—of course—the Seattle Children’s Museum. The other attractions are ideal for kids, like the IMAX theater and hands-on exhibits at Pacific Science Center, which teach everything from global climate to parts of the human body. Be sure to toss a coin into the pools that sit between the buildings—it’s good luck. The Space Needle will thrill all the way from the elevator ride to the 360-degree revolving glass floor on top, and even Chihuly Garden and Glass, where the outdoor glass sculptures look like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, is surprisingly family friendly. Every kind of dining preference can be catered to at the Armory, with its food court of local favorites, and the International Fountain outside was made to be played in.
Down on the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium has giant tanks of fish, a wily octopus, and feeding shows with harbor seals. Check up front for details on the day’s events. Next door, the Seattle Great Wheel thrills the child in all of us, especially when it dips over the dark Elliott Bay water.
Most restaurants in Seattle are somewhat family friendly, save the most formal. Get the whole family to try oysters at Elliott’s Oyster House, or rely on tried-and-true fried treats at Ivar’s Acres of Clams on the waterfront.
As stuffy as the name sounds, the Museum of History and Industry was made for young explorers. Just venture upstairs to the working periscope, or try the interactive history exhibits that explain how nature, calamity, and ingenuity built the city. Plus, the Center for Wooden Boats next door rents toy sailboats for use on the pond next to the museum, and the grass outside is perfect for watching seaplanes take off from Lake Union.
Over in Ballard, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks combines a botanical garden with a working nautical operation. It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon watching the engineering feat that moves boats up and down, passing them into the Ship Canal that links the city’s lakes to Puget Sound. Across the locks, an underground fish ladder allows salmon to make their annual move to fresh water.
For dinner, make your way toward Fremont, to the Frelard Pizza Company. Located on the border of Ballard and Fremont, this thin-crust pizza joint has a play area for kids.
Get breakfast at Macrina Bakery in SoDo. A block south, the Living Computers: Museum + Labs has working computers on display, some hundreds of times bigger than the cell phones kids are familiar with. Ask about which ones have working computer games from the past. Meanwhile, the Seattle Pinball Museum is much more low-tech. The playable machines, which are included in the cost of admission, range from decades old to brand new, but the goal is the same—keep hitting buttons and prevent the little ball from disappearing.
End your day with dinner in the International District. Shanghai Garden is a good choice for families.
A RAINY DAY IN SEATTLE
The great thing about Seattle rain is that it’s rarely a torrential downpour, but rather a gentle sprinkle that barely fazes the locals.
Start a rainy day in Pike Place Market, almost completely covered and home to the cozy Crumpet Shop. Even the flying fish and the flower stalls are under cover, and local travel book shop Metsker Maps is the best place to daydream about your next trip. Skip the Gum Wall outside and head to the shelter of the oldest Starbucks. If the crowds are too much, try the French charm of Le Pichet for lunch; the bistro stays warm the old-fashioned way, with wine and good service.
Lose yourself in some of the West Coast’s best museums, including the spacious Seattle Art Museum downtown. Galleries collect Native American art and works from around the Pacific Rim. To get a taste of the city’s lush and green surroundings without getting soaked, head to the glassed-in conservatory at Volunteer Park, which is like a tropical mini-vacation on a dreary Northwest day.
- On Sale
- Jun 18, 2019
- Page Count
- 280 pages
- Moon Travel