Solo in Seattle
A few stolen days in the Pacific Northwest
Four days in Seattle, WA
Vancouver was my first taste of the Pacific Northwest two years ago, and I knew then that it wouldn't be my last. That trip was so amazing it made me wonder about Seattle, its American counterpart 143 miles to the south. Luckily for me, a work trip came up this spring and I did what I always do - tack on a few extra days to spend it exploring. I did every single thing you're supposed to do and then some in four full days, and thanks is owed to The Points Guy for their 9 Most Instagramable Places in Seattle post that sparked a few ideas. It was colder than I expected the last week of March into April, but that didn't bother me at all.
In a 6.5 hour flight from New York City, I flew in style in United's Business Class and a lay flat bed made all the difference for when I showed up at 11am. I cashed in 90,000 Marriott points to stay at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront for two nights (and a third for work), which is practically inside of Pike Market. What I was not ready for was how hilly Seattle was! It's more like San Francisco than Vancouver. The hotel being right on the flat waterfront was nestled into the mountain-like hill, and fortunately had an elevator next door outside to go up four floors to be at the base of another hill leading up to the market. Since I got in early my room wasn't quite ready which meant that I had no other choice than to spend many, many hours and many dollars at Pike Market. I quickly bypassed the original Starbucks tourist line that was easily a quarter mile long, and went right for the local jewelers. Pretty sure I purchased something from the first five booths I saw, especially because I know these vendors change daily. Anyone who knows me knows that local jewelry is not only my souvenirs, but my weakness.
After exercising my wallet more than I anticipated, it was time for food. Fresh seafood in the PNW was like a beacon calling out to me. I ended up grabbing a shrimp sandwich from the Market Grill which is rated one of the Top 50 Sandwiches in Washington - an honor that absolutely must be true. I found a little area to sit and look out over the harbor, and it was my everything in that moment. Talked to other tourists who came and went and picked up a few tips.
After tearing myself away from the market I checked into my hotel (free balcony room upgrade!), spent a few lazy hours enjoying the breeze, and then hopped in an Uber up to Kerry Park to catch the sunset. As you can imagine the weather doesn't always cooperate, but I got lucky with a truly gorgeous day to see the skyline. Didn't quite catch Mt. Rainier in the background, but I'll take what I can get. Since I was traveling solo I took the opportunity to walk the two miles down a very steep street to the Olympic Sculpture Park and catch the remaining parts of the sunset, before ending up at The Pink Door for dinner. I timed it perfectly to catch the aerialist that performs there, which was a complete surprise. The food (Italian) was again, perfection.
Day 2 was a busy one. Lola for breakfast (greatest donuts I've ever had in my life, no exaggeration), some shopping (hello, Patagonia!), and up to the Fremont Troll. Fremont's the cutest little hipster neighborhood worth your time, especially if you're a coffee fan. I then wandered over to Gas Works Park just for the hell of it (found the Sleepless in Seattle House!), and then onto the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum. It was absolutely stunning, and I highly recommend it. Especially at night if you can time it right.
Because I ended up buying a combo ticket, and had nothing else to do, I went up into the Space Needle. It's getting a massive facelift inside and out and was 85% under construction. Glad I did it but very skippable. I took the monorail back to the Westlake center (because why not? MONORAIL!), and went to a very subpar place for dinner and off to bed.
Day 3 was the busiest but the best. Up early to take a shuttle up to Everett,WA for the Boeing Future of Flight Factory Tour. If you're an aviation nerd like me, this is a must. Three to four hours up and back, and Boeing takes you into and out of a few hangars where you get to see the creation from soup to nuts of their 737s, 747s, 767s, and the brand new 777 Dreamliner. There's no photos allowed, but amazing to see American production at work. I was nerding out in silence amongst 30 strangers that were on my coach bus.
I made the shuttle driver drop me off at the Amazon Go store on our way back because, of course. This store is very much the future of retail and incredibly frictionless. I bought a random assortment of things and just walked out, feeling as though I stole stuff. Don't worry - I didn't, and they sent me a receipt within 10 minutes of walking out - 100% accurate. Pure Magic.
Then it was onto Bill Speidel's Underground Tour in Pioneer Square. A 90 minute walk through the history of Seattle's underground city which was recently unearthed in the 1980s. If you're a fan of city planning, history, and architecture - this is your tour. Wandering around dingey, dark, dirty tunnels listening to a very knowledgeable and comedic tour guide was well worth the time and money.
And last, but not least, was the thing I was looking forward to the most. A ferry trip to Bainbridge Island. As a lover of everything nautical, hopping on one of these boats was so much fun. I had absolutely no idea what I'd do once the 45 minute ride ended and I got to the other side. However, I got lucky and as I was standing on the deck (freeeeezing, btw), someone leaned over to ask me a question thinking I was a local. Turns out, we were all tourists, struck up a conversation, and once we got to the other side my new friends, Ty and Ethan - geologists from Oklahoma, invited me to grab a beer with them at a local brewery.
A stop over at Alehouse on Winslow, followed by a stop at the Harbor House, and we were feeling pretty great. We realized at 6:45 we wanted to catch the 7pm ferry back to Seattle, and it was a 20 min walk. Knowing that we were unlikely to make it, Ty does something only someone with a southern accent could do: knocks on the window of a white van and sweetly asks them to give us a ride down to the ferry. Turns out - they were going there too! Next thing I know, we're hitchhiking our way to the boat. Also oddly, the driver was in the same field as the boys from Oklahoma, and his wife was from Lancaster, PA - a town I've got great friends in. Oh were there laughs! Which is great, and better than the alternative considering we randomly got into a stranger's car. We bid our van friends goodbye, and quickly ran up to the bar on the boat, blowing all their rules out of the water. We ended the evening at Cutter's Crabhouse, and at 11pm we called it a day. We were all leaving the next day, so our friendship was short and sweet. I hope our paths cross again some day as these two were an absolute blast to hang out!
Day 4 was my final day, filled with meetings and such, but I didn't leave without the chance to see the visitor center at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I was meeting with someone from the organization who recommended checking it out and I'm so glad she did. A free exhibit next to their offices covering the incredible work that they do and their attempt to eradicate diseases around the world. I spent nearly two hours in this museum, and it was worth it.
I flew home that evening, but not before getting one last meal in Pike Market. All in all - an incredible trip, and an amazing city. The Pacific Northwest continues to impress and I'm sure I'll be back again soon enough.
What did I miss? Anything to add to my trip, or a second return?