“Seattle is like cozying up with a great cup of coffee on a rainy day—comforting, energizing and a feeling of coming home,” says our travel expert Anne Taylor Hartzell.
1. Get up close and personal with Seattle’s waterways in a kayak at Aqua Verde Café & Paddle Club on Lake Union. Quench your thirst after a day of paddling with a signature prickly pear margarita and enjoy watching the parade of boats navigate the Montlake Cut that connects Lake Washington to Elliott Bay.
2. Hop the Elliott Bay Water Taxi from Pier 55 to Alki Beach in West Seattle for a breathtaking view of Seattle’s skyline. Go for a stroll along Alki Beach Park’s 4km path and take in the beauty of Puget Sound. Grab fish and chips for dinner and light a beach fire pit at dusk.
3. Rent bikes at Recycled Cycles and bike the Burke Gilman Trail. Stop along the way at Gasworks Park for a picnic with spectacular views of Lake Union.
4. Eat your way through Seattle with a Savor Seattle food tour. Our guide, Ezra, dazzled our taste buds and our brains with an insider look into the savoury food and rich history of Pike Place Market. Several tours are available to sample food from Seattle’s diverse specialty food shops, artisans, and neighborhood restaurants. Every tour comes with a 10–15% VIP card good for discounts at food partners around Seattle. Tours start at $39 per person.
5. Take flight over Seattle in a Kenmore Air float plane to take in Seattle’s natural beauty with the Ultimate Seattle City Tour. Feel the rush as you lift off in a vintage bushplane from Lake Union to fly high above Sleepless in Seattle houseboat communities, magnificent lakeside and seaside estates of the city’s rich and famous, and bird’s-eye views of the majestic Mount Rainier. $89 per person.
Despite being the birthplace of Starbuck’s Coffee, or perhaps because of it, Seattleites prefer to root for the little guy—the indie coffee house that sees coffee preparation as an art form. They roast their own fair trade beans out back, grind them to order, then create miniature works of art in froth that only last as long as you have to sit, sip and savour the creation. Here, the term barista is a smart career move, and coffee is serious business.
Indie Coffee Houses
In a city buzzing with tech start-ups it’s not unusual to find CEOs (of a company of one) working off a café’s WiFi for hours at a time. Best geek ‘offices’ are Fuel in Madison Park and Zoka in Greenlake. For a straight-up good vibe, Zeitgeist in Pioneer Square is our pick, with Victrola Coffee Roasters and Espresso Vivace on Capitol Hill a close tie for second. For an artists’ hang-out try All City Coffee in Georgetown. For great food to go with your specialty brew, Le Pichet near Pike Place Market and her sister establishment, Café Presse in Capitol Hill, do fine French fare in a Euro-cozy atmosphere.
We love Mighty-O Donuts who recently took home top honours in a national Food Network Challenge event. In true Seattle style they are 100% organic and mighty tasty. The flagship store of a Seattle favorite, Top Pot Doughnuts is a must-do to get them fresh and hot.Try a Feather Boa for a bit of donut glamour. Grab a bag of mini donuts from Daily Dozen Donut Company while you wander Pike Place Market.
There are many things to love about living in the diverse neighborhood. A leisurely walk in almost any direction puts you in contact with a dizzying range of places to get everything from a cold beer, a great glass of wine, or an expertly assembled cocktail. Here’s a selection of places where you’ll undoubtedly run into our wine expert Jameson Fink.
“All I ask is that you say hello, tip your bartenders generously, and tell ‘em Dabble sent you.”
Top 5 Drink Experiences
1. It’s almost enough to recommend a visit to Poco Wine Room just to meet ownersBart and Peter, whose sense of humor is intoxicating. Add in a sleek, modern atmosphere, a vibe that can facilitate everything from contemplative solo reading to unbridled group hilarity, and you’ve got a neighborhood wine bar to frequent and cherish.
2. After you and your friends order a wild boar Sloppy Joe peruse the über-impressive list of beers on tap at Quinn’s. That beer selection gives Quinn’s the cachet to get those special, limited edition kegs of beer (I cannot name names or I will be banned) that our local, rabid beer geeks get wind of and drain in under an hour.
3. You’ve got to check out the gorgeous new Sun Liquor Distillery location on Pike. And how many bars have an on-site distillery? Say hi to Erik, one of the friendliest bartenders in the city, and don’t be afraid to engage him with all queries spirits-related. He’ll probably even let you drone on about your life a bit as well. (Thanks for listening, friend.)
4. I knew Gregg as one of my all-time favourite wine customers, but when I found out he was a bartender at Knee High Stocking Co., I had to let him pour me a drink. Text them to make a reservation and then ring a bell at a hidden-in-plain-sight location. Request a seat at the bar so you can banter with Gregg, and start with a glass of their punch du jour.
5. I’ll admit I first came to the Barrio solely to drink the excellent margaritas but, if you go on a night Casey is behind the bar, get ready for some cocktail innovation. I became mildly obsessed with a ghost chili-infused tequila with which he makes a myriad of memorable creations.
“You could say we’re a little obsessed with our food,” says food contributor Fiona Van Alstyne.
1. Seattle is known for its gourmet food trucks like Skillet and Marination Mobile. But my favourite street food is always in the same place—a little pink surf shack on the way to Shilshole Beach in Ballard called Paseo. Stop in for their addictive Cuban/Caribbean food like the legendary Pork Sandwich, recognised by Esquire and Food+Wine magazine.
2. At Sitka and Spruce you’ll find real Northwest food whipped up in a huge open kitchen. Shop, sip and sample local food and wine at the Melrose Market while you wait for your table.
3. The Book Bindery’s chef Shaun McCrain is a graduate of Thomas Keller’s PerSe—and it shows. Ask for a table by the window and watch the boats on the Fremont Canal. Stop at the winery and micro-distillery next door for pre-dinner tasting.
4. At Poppy, chef Jerry Traunfeld creates seasonally-inspired thalis (tasting trays) including herbs grown in the restaurant’s urban garden. Don’t miss the dessert thalis—a little taste of everything on the dessert menu.
5. Tired after a long day of sightseeing? Order the four-course chef’s tasting menu at Staple and Fancy Mercantile in Ballard and let renowned Seattle chef, Ethan Stowell, make your dinner decisions for you in his casual yet romantic modern Italian restaurant.
“Seattle’s design scene is as eclectic as its residents,” says our design expert Sophie Vander.
The simplicity of high tech style travels easily from the workplace to home, but because Seattleites are intrinsically environmentalists, they feel compelled to mix vintage or antique with the sleek and new to create a style all their own.
1. First stop, Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Area 51 contains a mix of new and vintage that screams Seattle style. Leah Steen from Revival Home & Garden is the expert when it comes to pops of colour. If you’re a true greenie, NuBe Green’s philosophy of sustainable materials will float your boat. Tucked away upstairs in Melrose Market, Butter Home touts interesting rustic pieces with a built-in fun factor.
2. The knowledgeable staff at Velocity Art and Design is super cool and friendly, which makes shopping here way too easy. Walk away with pendant lamps by Artecnica, a Chilewich spun vinyl table runner and, hey, throw in Blu Dot’s Nick dining table as well. They do ship, so go crazy.
3. Take a quick cab ride south to artsy and industrial-chic Georgetown. Take in the substantial inventory at Susan Wheeler Home, but grab your prize while you can as items go quickly. Next door, the pieces at Kirk Albert Vintage Furnishings are as enigmatic as Kirk himself. His business partner, Steve, is there to talk you through the history of the industrial relics sourced from around the globe. Stop by Pacific Galleries antique mall on your way back into Seattle.
4. Not your average ceramics store, Far 4 features porcelain hand grenades by designer Charles Krafft, while Trevor Jackson’s skull teapots will cause a stir at tea parties. Scale down the shock factor but retain the wow with Far 4’s own line of porcelain vegetables accented with gold.
5. We love how Great Jones Home creates vignettes within the store so that you can visualize a whole space and find inspiration within it. By utilizing classic pieces and patterns, with a touch of glamour and gilt, you can’t go wrong really.
To truly immerse yourself in Seattle, choose a neighbourhood and spend the day discovering its secrets. Our favourites include Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle, Madison Park, Wallingford, and Capitol Hill. Here are our top five local immersions, including a trip around Ballard.
1. Ballard Neighborhood Shop for picnic fare at Ballard Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings (on Ballard Ave between 20th Ave NW and 22 Ave NW), grab a latte and cupcake from Cupcake Royale and Verite Coffee, then head to Ballard Locks and Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden to watch boats go between Puget Sound and Lake Washington (any time of year), and the salmon jump the fish ladder (steelhead late February through March, and king salmon, coho and sockeye July to September). If you’d prefer not to bond with nature, then stay urban and do Sunday brunch at Bastille Cafe and Bar and shop ‘Old Ballard’ aka Ballard Ave.
2. Take a drive to Alki Beach Park, eat fish and chips from Spud (2666 Alki Ave SW), and light a fire in the beach fire pits at dusk.
4. Delve deep into Seattle’s eclectic live music scene at The Triple Door.
Take a mid-morning 30-minute ferry trip to Seattle’s artsy enclave, Bainbridge Island. Grab brunch at Cafe Nola, then visit The Bloedel Reserve : 150 acres of magnificent public gardens. Shop the main street galleries, then stop by Bainbridge Island Vineyards for a tasting before dinner at Four Swallows, or simply indulge in the best carrot cake at Blackbird Bakery before catching a sunset ferry back to Seattle. If you’re lucky you might be there for the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour.
Guest Post by Sophie Vander