Being based in Vancouver, Seattle has always been accessible. It's a mere 2.5 hour drive from downtown to city centre so it makes for a great day or weekend trip. It's hard to believe that the first time I visited Seattle (that I could vividly remember) was only 11 years ago on a highschool trip with my choir team. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then! I go atleast once or twice a year nowadays and at one point, I went every weekend for a month because I was bored! So, to say that I'm an expert on Seattle would be an understatement...
Seattle does have many different pockets and neighbourhoods, each with a distinct feel and vibe. I'm not sure what you like to do but I always like a good city I can walk in. If you're a first-timer in Seattle and located downtown, it is pretty easy to get around via your two feet! There are some cute neighbourhoods that can require a short Uber or a very long, leisurely walk. Some areas you can do on the way there or back if you're driving from Vancouver or elsewhere. A little breakdown:
Downtown - Most of the major hotel chains are located downtown and is very centrally located. Many of the major attractions are within walking distance of any hotel downtown. Great for business travelers as well. If staying here, I'd recommend the W Seattle.
Belltown – I would say a touristy location due to the close proximity of Pike Place Market, Belltown is a nice stretch of restaurants, dive bars and clubs. The drinks are generous and cheap – a good location if you’d like to bar hop!
Pioneer Square – Up-and-coming neighbourhood, this is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Seattle. This is a highly gentrified area in Seattle (just so you’re aware) but many trendy and delicious restaurants and coffee shops are sprouting up. I stay in Pioneer Square 90% of the time and usually stay at Courtyard by Marriott Pioneer Square.
Capitol Hill – Definitely a favourite of mine in Seattle! Very hipster, very gay – love it! Tons of cute restaurants, clubs, bars, and boutique fitness studios. Cannot go wrong in this neighbourhood.
International District – Situated right by Chinatown, the bus stop is located here if you’re bussing it down from Vancouver. It’s not a bad neighbourhood! Lots of small Chinese eateries here and next door to CenturyLink Field if you’re catching a Seahawks game!
Queen Anne - Just outside of downtown, this is more of a residential area that is safe to wander around in with cute coffee shops and a Trader Joe's!
Things to do in Seattle:
Pike Place Market - Obviously, this would be #1 on my list! I love and still love Seattle's Pike Place Market. Awesome food (more on that below!), artisan shops and boutiques and the perfect place to buy souvenirs. Some of my favourite spots would be the spice shop, the magic shop, DeLaurenti Food & Wine, and the legendary Gum Wall.
Museum of Pop Culture - If you're a fan of music or interested in an awesome interactive museum filled with pop culture, this is for you! I obviously loved this museum - can literally spend the entire day here, no problem.
Space Needle - Ha, the irony is that I've never ever been up the Space Needle before. It's a pretty touristy thing to do and since I've been to Seattle a countless number of times, it never crosses my mind anymore! Of course, if it's something that you must do, then who cares what I think and just go!
Underground Tour - There are a few different tour companies that do this and I think a large part of enjoying this tour would be the tourguide! I went on a Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour (original) and although I found the history to be fascinating, I just wish our tourguide was more engaged. Anywho, a great starting point or evening activity to do after/before dinner if you're in the Pioneer Square area.
Melrose Market - Just at the foot of Capitol Hill, this is a curated mini market of Seattle's best offerings (food and art) - a great place to purchase gifts or grab a snack.
Things to eat in Seattle:
Ahhhhh...SO. MUCH. TO. EAT. IN. SEATTLE. I have a lot of specific places and suggestions that I'd personally recommend so I've easily classified by neighbourhood for ease and convenience:
Pike Place Market
The Fish Market - Dungeness crab cocktail
Beecher's - Cheese curds + cheese
Piroshki Pirohski - Beef + cheese piroshki
Le Pichet - Cute little French bistro - their small plates don't disappoint!
Biscuit Bitch - Hot mess bitch (great when drunk!!!!)
13 Coins - Upscale diner open 24/7; also great when drunk
Il Corvo - Two options of fresh, handmade pasta which changes daily; open Monday to Friday for lunch only - arrive at 11:00am to avoid the wait and disappointment of selling out
Manu's Bodega - Empanadas (gluten-free!) and puerco asado sandwich; Manu is a friend of mine and his Dominican food is BOMB.
Rainshadow Meats - Porchetta sandwich - it gives Meat & Bread a run for its money
Salumi - Mario Batali's father's deli; build-your-own-Italian-sandwich
TAT's Deli - Philly cheesesteak, 'nuff said.
Zeitgeist Coffee - A great cup of coffee + lavender shortbread
Marination - Hawaiian/Korean food truck - spam and kalua pork sliders, FTW
Serious Pie - My favourite Tom Douglas restaurant - obviously get a pizza + their famous root beer!
Top Pots Doughnuts - Grab a cup of coffee and a donut while walking over to the Space Needle
Purple Cafe & Wine Bar - Honestly, I'd go here alone just for their beautiful wine wall; food is mediocre.
Crab Pot - Be prepared to get messy with this delicious crab boil.
Anchorhead Coffee - Their housemade mint syrup cold brew coffee gives me LIFE.
juicebox cafe - My FAVOURITE vegetarian place in Seattle - their brunch is always spot-on and their juices, smoothies, and golden lattes are amazing.
Skillet Diner - Diner chic! Your favourite diner favourites + bacon jam Caesar. Yes, they make a mean Caesar here.
Hot Cakes - For the dessert lover...chocolate galore! Their grilled cheese is also to die for.
Molly Moon's - Seattle's ice cream joint - ultimate deliciousness.
Toulouse Petit - One of my FAVOURITE restaurants in Seattle - come for their brunch or happy hour (HUGE menu).
El Diablo Coffee - Cuban coffee + killer empanadas.
I have a feeling I'll constantly be adding to this list as I found more and more gems during one of my spontaneous weekend getaways here. Seattle is such a fun, west coast city that is extremely walkable with lots to do. Perfect for a day trip or the whole weekend, there are tons of things to do here in and around the city.