Seattle: City Guide

When I hear the “Emerald City,” a few things come to mind: Quirky music and art, the great outdoors, first-rate local produce, and adventure. Every time I visit Seattle, I’m reminded of how eclectic of a city it is.

Having visited the Pacific Northwest a few times, I’ve had the chance to explore many of Seattle’s neighborhoods, and because I know a lot of people automatically think “Space Needle” whenever they hear “Seattle,” I’m sharing a few of my favorite haunts.

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Happy Hour at Westward on a beautiful summer day

You’ll usually find me in

  • Capitol Hill, Ballard, Fremont, Belltown or Queen Anne, which is why all of my recommendations are in these neighborhoods 😉

Get outside

  • Golden Gardens Park: Sunny summer days are best spent here
  • Discovery Park: Love the paths and trails here for morning runs or afternoon walks
  • Gas Works Park: Built on the site of an old coal gasification plant, many of the plant remnants are part of the park. Great place to have a picnic on a nice day and take in the Seattle skyline
  • Pike Place Market: Year-round farmers market, iconic to say the least (recos on my favorite stalls below)
  • Ballard Farmers Market: Every Sunday, year round. If you’re staying in Ballard, great place to buy fresh produce and check out local goods
  • Alki Beach Park: Great for a morning run or afternoon walk, views of the city skyline
  • Kerry Park: Said to be the best place to take a picture of the Seattle skyline (especially during sunset)
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Alki Beach Park

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Sunset at Kerry Park

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Gas Works Park

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Golden Gardens Park


Not your typical museum/tour

  • Chihuly Garden & Glass: I’m a big Chihuly fan, so this collection of his works was right up my alley. Stunning glass art, to say the least
  • EMP: Love the interactive sound lab and Nirvana exhibit, pop culture and music fans will enjoy an afternoon here
  • Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour: Walking tour through Pioneer Square and the forgotten streets below. A bit unusual, a bit quirky, perfectly representative of Seattle
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EMP Museum

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Chihuly Garden & Glass

Where to get coffee

Near Downtown:

  • The London Plane: This place rules them all. Part cafe (best brunch!), part specialty foods grocery, part floral workshop, this place specializes in all things beautiful
  • Elm Coffee Roasters: Filter coffee is excellent, reminds me of cafes in Portland

Near Ballard:

Near Capitol Hill / Queen Anne:

  • Oddfellows: Morning, noon and night. Love having breakfast here and setting up shop to work for the day, such a lovely ambiance
  • Row House Cafe: Brie on croissant french toast best enjoyed on the patio, their latte is pretty good as well
  • Starbucks Roastery: Much better blends than the regular drip, and there’s a Serious Pie outpost here (win!)
  • Stumptown Coffee: Reliable brew, great for a quick stop en route to brunch
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The London Plane

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Brunch at Row House

Where to eat

Near Capitol Hill: 

  • Mamnoon: Falafel, hummus, killer tabouleh. Go-to for healthy Middle Eastern food
  • Sitka & Spruce: Tucked into Melrose Market’s collection of foodie stores and cafes, this place excels at clean, vegetarian food. The savory seasonal yoghurt is always a must-order for me
  • Skillet Diner: Come for the giant cinnamon roll, try any of the brunch entrees- they’re all solid
  • Hot Mama’s: Quintessential pizza stop after a night out, you won’t regret ordering the pesto slice
  • Serious Pie: Tom Douglas, I love you and your delicious pizzas. Roasted mushroom and truffled cheese pizza is unbelievable
  • Glo’s: Diner heaven. The perfect post-hike breakfast if you’ve worked up an appetite

Near Ballard: 

  • The Walrus & the Carpenter: No trip to Seattle is complete for me without stopping at this tiny, yet charming place for oyster happy hour (the rest of the menu is also stellar). There’s a line out the door for a reason. I usually go when they open, but if you end up waiting for a table, pass the time with a glass of wine at Barnacle next door
  • Westward: A seaside favorite- seasonal Mediterranean cuisine, fresh oysters, rose, and al fresco dining on the water with a fire pit & adirondack chairs. What more could you ask for?
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Oyster Happy Hour at The Walrus & The Carpenter


Where to drink

Near Downtown / Belltown: 

  • Elysian Bar: Beautiful interior with good cocktails, but the butternut squash soup (may be seasonal) was the real winner
  • Radiator Whiskey: Bourbon margarita is a must-try (great place for happy hour if you’re visiting Pike Place Market)

Near Ballard: 

  • Percy’s & Co: Come for happy hour cocktails on the back patio, absolute heaven on warm summer nights
  • The Walrus & the Carpenter (see above)

Near Capitol Hill / Queen Anne: 

  • Bar Ferd’nand: Snacks are beautiful and the wine selection is good
  • Canon: Just bring me all of the whiskey. This place is not to be missed, outstanding cocktails and more than 2,600 labels
  • Linda’s Tavern: Fun place (divey vibe) to grab a drink at night, hearty brunch on the weekends
  • Sun Liquor Lounge: Old-timey gin drinks, personally enjoyed the Mai Tai
  • Fierabend: The spaetzle gets two thumbs up and the bartenders make a mean hot toddy
  • Knee High Stocking Co.: Cozy prohibition era speakeasy, drinks are delicious
  • Tavern Law: This place takes cocktails seriously. Upstairs, through the bank-vault door is another hidden cocktail gem, The Needle & Thread
  • Grim’s Provisions & Spirits: If you’re bar hopping in Cap Hill, this place & Unicorn should be on your list. Order the AMF here and then hit up Hot Mama’s for pizza


Where to have dessert

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Hot Cakes Deliciousness


No visit to Seattle is complete without…

A stop at Pike Place Market, check out: MarketSpice (cinnamon orange tea), Pike Place Chowder, Etta’s Seafood (mini crab cakes), Daily Dozen Doughnut Co., the “original” Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Beecher’s (mac ‘n cheese was rated the best by Oprah), the gum wall in Post Alley & don’t miss the flying fish!

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Just outside the city

  • Sip Washington wines in Woodinville, my favorite wineries are Chateau Ste Michelle Winery and Columbia Winery
  • Go whale watching at Everett Marina (check Groupon for a deal beforehand)
  • Revert to childhood at TreeHouse Point. This place is a childhood dream come true. I came out one afternoon for a property tour, so cool seeing all of the tree houses. If you can swing it, this would be an awesome place to stay for a night outside the city
  • Bonus! My favorite day trip from Seattle: Leavenworth. I visited once in December for the tree lighting ceremony (so darling), but I’ve heard Oktoberfest also warrants a trip to this idyllic mountain town. Don’t miss the Cheesemonger’s Shop or Visconti’s (if you visit in the winter, warm up with a hot toddy and seafood stew)

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Also, on my radar to check-out during future visits: Lionhead, Salare, Eden Hill, Sushi Kashiba, Herb & Bitter, Karaken Congee, Rooftop Brewing Company, Mollusk Restaurant & Brewery, Agua Verde, The Flying Apron, Phinney Market Pub & Eatery, Little Water Cantina.

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