A Few Days in Seattle
People ask me frequently for Seattle recommendations, things that are off the beaten path, or at least things that are past page six of a normal visitor’s guide. (I’ve lived in New York City for eleventy years now, but Seattle’s still my hometown.)
1. Any restaurant by Ethan Stowell.
2. The Whale Wins.
As will you, if you go here.
Ask for Julie the bartender, tell her I said hi.
4. Radiator Whiskey.
Don’t ask about the name. Just ask for a Manhattan. On the rocks.
Next door to each other. One has wood-fired pizza, the other hand-mixed cocktails. Both awesome. Double the trouble, double the amazeballs.
5½. Fat Hen.
Across the street from Delancey and Essex, this is one of those charming neighborhood cafes that’s perfect for breakfast/brunch.
6. Cuoco, by local chef-legend Tom Douglas.
I don’t adore all of his restaurants, but I love this place. He also does Serious Pie, which (though kind of a chain now) is great-pizza-pub-cocktail-type place.
Bad name, amazing food, tight cocktails. Like, a surprisingly good bar in a place you’d never expect. (Well, I’d never expect — I don’t love hanging at the market that much.)
8. Any Coffee Place That’s Not Starbucks.
Especially Monorail’s walk-up window downtown and Milstead & Co in Fremont. Storyville has great (and fresh!) pastries. If you need Starbucks, though, make sure to review this list of every single Starbucks in Seattle, ranked from best to worst.
Ok, enough food. Onto other random things.
Take a Ferry, Dammit
I don’t care where you go. But take one. The easiest might be to leave downtown and just go to Bainbridge Island; it’s a short trip and you get a spectacular view of downtown. Pick a clear day and enjoy the crap out of it. (If you go to Bainbridge, go to Pegasus. You’re welcome.)
If you want to save your soul, though, and take a full day: drive up to Anacortes in the early morning, stopping for breakfast in La Conner, and take the ferry to Friday Harbor. The drive north will show you why Washington is called the Evergreen State. Then you’ll enjoy an hour and a half through some of the most peaceful islands in the world. Lunch in Friday Harbor, then hop back on the ferry. Come back down through Deception Pass, over which you are legally required (by me) to get out of your car and walk. It’s stunning. Then back to Seattle in time for dinner.
You’ll probably hear of Kerry Park; it’s not my favorite place in the world, always crazybusy, but it’s one of the best views of downtown on a clear day. You’ll want to drive through Queen Anne anyway (one of the hills; one of the nicer areas behind downtown), so it’s worth swinging by for a few minutes just to enjoy the view. Oh, and while you’re in the hood, visit La Reve Bakery and have a yummy scone.
A visit to Seattle should include the neighborhoods, but any map or tour book will spell them out for you. You’ll probably discover most of them since they’re on top of each other. But make sure you at least stroll for a few minutes down Broadway on top of Capitol Hill, take a few minutes downtown (old downtown, like around Pioneer Square, not just around Westlake/Pike Place/Seattle Center — make sure to see some of the grit), and if you can, take a stroll around Green Lake. It’s a great representation of residential Seattle: some great wealth next to some not-wealth.
Discovery Park has some breathtaking views of the Sound and nature around Seattle. It’s a few minutes’ drive north of downtown. They have some intense hiking trails, but the calmer trails are well worth it. Make sure you go all the way down to the lighthouse though, so you can see all the way around the point. You’ll feel far away from the world, in a good way. I love taking lunch out there.
I don’t love the Seattle Art Museum (I know, I know), but if you’re in the mood for culture, go see the Asian Art Museum (a branch of the Seattle Art Museum) up in Volunteer Park. The building is a stunning old art deco thing, planted in the midst of a real hidden gem of a park. It’s got its own nice views of the city from its perch.
Gas Works Park
Speaking of parks, Gas Works Park is fun, a great view of Lake Union, which is the smaller lake that Seattle wraps around. It’s a point from which you can really absorb how much Seattle and the water are tied together, culturally and logistically. (You can then take a nice walk over through the Univeristy of Washington campus. Red Square in particular is nice, after which you can maybe drive up and over to the arboretum and Japanese gardens if you’re in a calm-walk kind of mood.)
What did I miss?
Please let me know what you think by finding me @darrelfrost on Twitter (also Instagram). This list and all of my Seattle adventures are inspired and supported by my cousin Bri — who can also, by the way, tell you exactly what you should wear on any of these adventures: just visit her blog, Work Clothes, I Suppose.