As sprawling North American cities go, Seattle is very walkable. You can tick off every tourist must-see in just 24 hours, so there’s no risk of being sleepless in Seattle (sorry couldn’t resist).
In celebration of its quirkiness (well, at least in comparison to the squeaky clean, wholesome Vancouver that I’m used to) I’ve prepared a fabulous guide for you all.
Not only is there quirky attractions, in addition to the classic tourist ones, they are all free AND there’s some fabulous food reccoms chucked in there for good measure.
Enjoy! (And comment below with your night-life suggestions – it’s the one aspect I didn’t get round to checking out on my recent visit there)!
Breakfast: Bacco Cafe
There’s no better place to prepare for a day of shameless tourist selfies than at Bacco Cafe. It’s chilled but lively, the food is great and to quench your thirst there’s either a funky juice bar or the unlimited refills of coffee that North America does so well. What could be better? The fact it’s just a two minute walk from Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market.
The traditional attraction: Pike Place Market
One of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the US, Pike Place is definitely worth a wander. Wikipedia informs me that it’s the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world, which I’m not convinced it’s worthy of, but it does fulfil all of your culinary, gift buying and general browsing needs.
The quirky attraction: Gum Wall
Arguably more gross than quirky, Gum Wall is worth seeing, not least because it’s right underneath the market. Thoughts of hygiene aside, it’s actually very cool and artistic (read: Instagrammable). Oh, and apparently a scene from a very average Jennifer Aniston film was shot here.. can’t argue with that.
The traditional attraction: Kerry Park
For the best view of the city head to Kerry Park. The walk there is full of steep, San Fran-esque hills, but the view is definitely worth it, even on an overcast day. When it’s clear you can see Mount Rainier in the distance and at night it’s all illuminated buildings and ferries gliding across Elliott Bay. A must-see for the classic postcard shot.
The quirky attraction: public art
One of my favourite things about downtown Seattle is the sheer volume of artwork, both planned and organic in nature. You can see it in touristy areas near the Space Needle (below, left) and in Belltown’s alleyways (below, right). For more suggestions check out this article.
Lunch: Macrina Bakery
If I lived in Seattle, this would no doubt be my favourite haunt as a struggling writer. Deliciously fresh food, a laid-back atmosphere and service with a smile, Macrina Bakery (now in three locations!) is quite the delight.
The traditional attraction: Space Needle
Because Seattle’s skyline would be excruciatingly average without it.
To be honest, as these ‘see the city from another angle for an extortionate amount of money’ tourist traps go, I actually really like the Space Needle. It’s not great value to go up, but from both a photographic and architectural POV, it’s very attractive.
The quirky attraction: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Seattle boasts a surprisingly large amount of international company headquarters, for instance Starbucks and Amazon. This often translates into acclaim for the world’s first ever Starbucks (not worth a visit), but what visitors should really take note of is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation’s achievements really are staggering, but the exhibits don’t come across as boastful. Instead they are thoughtful, interactive (yay, videos) and the perfect size for a cultured hour or two.
Dinner: Wann Izakaya
Wann Izakaya is the perfect fancy but not bank-breaking downtown resto. It boasts a glam interior, gorgeous Japanese offerings and a surprisingly decent drinks selection too. Perfection!
Two last pearls of wisdom:
–City Hostel is great for backpackers. Incredibly located in central Seattle, equipped with a cinema room and heaps of friendly staff, you can’t go wrong.
-The Seattle International Film Festival is definitely worth checking out if it’s on when you’re visiting. One of the top film fests in the US, it’s a big old people pleaser.