“Take Only Memories, Leave Nothing But Footprints” – Chief Seattle
Known for rain, coffee, markets, and Sleepless in Seattle of course, Seattle is a fantastic city. It’s a city that I’ve always wanted to visit, even more so after moving to California.
With a spur of the moment opportunity to visit Seattle falling into my lap, I decided to finally spend a few days exploring this Pacific Northwest city.
Leaving Friday afternoon, after a quick 2-hour flight, I arrived in Seattle with my partner in-crime. Deciding not to rent a car, we jumped onto the light rail, which took us right to downtown Seattle. Researching many of the neighborhoods, we decided to stay in the downtown area for convenience and accessibility to many of the sites we planned on visiting. We had originally wanted to stay at the Ace Hotel, however, with the hotel fully booked, we did some digging and came across The Hotel Max, a lovely boutique hotel with a very grunge music theme. Upon check-in we noticed that many of the guests were in the lobby. The receptionist then let us in on one of the hotel’s daily perks, a free happy hour for all guests that features a different micro-brew each night.
One of the first things I noticed was how cordial everyone was. For the entire weekend, everywhere we went, we were surrounded by kindness, even among the numerous Seahawks fans ;).
Having never been to Seattle, I quickly scoured for recommendations for dinner, brunch, coffee, oysters, cocktails…you know, just the necessities. A former colleague of mine had quite a few recommendations that to be honest, made me wish I was in Seattle for a month instead of a weekend.
We started our weekend with a pre-dinner cocktail at Miller’s Guild, a restaurant connected to hotel. A quick cab ride later we arrived at Bar Cotto for dinner. I would highly recommend this cute spot. Cocktails and food were pretty tasty.
The next morning, we woke up early to get some running in along the water. I loved running through the area close to the hotel. Only about 3 miles, we passed Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks, the Olympic Sculpture Park and so many other sites.
On the way back we walked through the market to see the famous fish throwers. Watching a bachelorette catch a cold, wet fish was hilarious…oh and then seeing her 12 hours later at a bar 1 block away still going, was definitely a highlight.
Later on in the afternoon, we took a cab over to Ballard, a historic and hip little town. Starving, we immediately headed over for brunch at the Fat Hen. Top notch. That’s all I have to say about the Fat Hen. The only thing I would change would be to have ordered everything on the menu instead of just one dish.
After brunch we walked around the area, apparently once known as the Shingle Capital of the World. Powering through the bitter cold, we went over to the Chittenden Locks where, luckily enough, a boat was just coming in. I had never seen the process of increasing the water level to raise a ship in order to send through. It was pretty cool and definitely an interesting sight to see. Regrettably, I don’t have a picture of the ship passing through as I was too busy staring in awe, but I did take a picture of the larger lock that had been emptied out.
Another first for me on the trip was to try an oyster. We had settled on going to the Walrus and the Carpenter, a famous oyster spot, however, with the wait over 2 hours and dinner reservations closing in, we headed over to the Ballard Annex for their oyster happy hour. The experience was great and a trip up to Marshall, CA is already in the works :).
Seattle was just as I had imagined; rainy, cold, and beautiful. A city where the vast amount of greenery make it hard to believe you are actually in one of the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in the US. I would happily visit this city again and make sure to head to The Walrus and the Carpenter for oysters, Mamnoon, Momiji, Smith, Sitka and Spruce, and countless other places for dinner.
List of Places Visited
Miller’s Guild: Award-winning Chef, Jason Wilson’s joint. Just had drinks here, which were tasty. The wood oven looked to turn out delicious food!
Bar Cotto : Ethan Stowell restaurant in Capitol Hill. The bartender mixed up a great Old Fashioned and the chef cooked up some delicious food. The crostini and pizzas were the perfect mix of flavors. One of the loveliest meals I had over the course of the weekend.
Quinn’s Pub: Gastropub in Capitol Hill. Stopped here for post-dinner drinks only. The food did look good here as well…really the food looked tasty nearly everywhere we went.
95 Slide: Sports bar. The place was packed with people playing pool, taking pictures in the photo booth and dancing. Was fun, but definitely a last stop bar for us…
Pike Place Market & Sculpture Park: Went running past the market and through the park. Great path along the water made for an easy jog. Stopped by Pike Place on the way back to watch the guys at Pike Place Fish Co. throw fish around.
Storyville: To avoid the Starbucks “1st & Pike” store, we ducked into Storyville to grab some coffee. The guys at Storyville roast only one blend, processed in Bainbridge Island, WA. Good spot to grab some coffee and maybe sit down and recover from the bustling open market.
Fat Hen: Amazing brunch spot in Ballard. Everything on the menu looked great, however, we left feeling most jealous of all the egg bakes we didn’t try.
Anchored Ship Coffee Bar: Small coffee shop in Ballard. The guys at Storyville recommended this spot. The upstairs nook was a welcomed break from the cold.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks: Right at Salmon Bay in Ballard. The intricate system of locks adjusts water levels to allow boats to pass through. When we went we saw a boat pass through the smaller system and also saw the actual structure from top to bottom, as the larger one was drained.
Sunset Tavern: Dive in Ballard with live music nearly every night. It had apparently just reopened after a several week remodel, so no idea what it looked like before. The front room was the main bar area, with a separate room in the back for live music. We were there for happy hour so did not get a chance to see a band, but would have definitely came back if we had the time!
Ballard Annex: Oyster house in Ballard. They had about 5 different types of oysters available, one of which is a great deal during happy hour. We sat right at the bar so saw the guys shucking our oysters and pouring our hot soup from the steam bar.
Purple Café: Café and wine bar in the downtown area. We did not drink wine, however, they had a killer selection. The staff was very nice and the food was good. I loved the braised baby beets – just the perfect amount of beets and blue cheese.
Kells: Irish pub near Pike Place Market. Associated with the Kells in San Francisco, we decided to pop in for drinks after dinner. The Seattle location had two rooms – one with a band and one with a DJ. The band that night was really good – I wish I remembered their name. A good place if you’re in the mood for a casual, lively pub. Oh and this is where we saw the Bachelorette party from earlier in the day!
Top Pot Doughnuts: Popular coffee and donut chain in Seattle. Visited the downtown location to grab a donut and some coffee on our way to the Space Needle.
Space Needle: Popular landmark in Seattle. Great views, won’t take you long if you just want to go up and take a walk around the observation deck. It’s open late and apparently on a clear night the views are incredible. We went on a clear day and I thought the views were great as well! If you do want to see it both at night and during the day, there are multi-visit tickets on their website for purchase. There is also a restaurant if you want to have lunch up there.
Sport Restaurant and Bar: Restaurant right across from the Space Needle. So many TVs. Food is fine, really just a good spot to watch football. We popped in because I HAD to catch at least some of the Patriots game!