I was dreaming about Seattle years before I went there. It’s kind of a surreal place—the sunset over the water, the mountains, the Space Needle (I mean, what more perfect place for crazy science fiction stuff to happen, right? That’s what my writerly brain decided). It’s a little romantic too, thanks to the temperamental weather and Sleepless in Seattle. Even the place names and the atmosphere feel different from the Midwest. It’s one of my favorite cities I’ve been to.
Here are a few of the biggest reasons I loved it so much and why I think you should visit it as well.
1) Pike Place Market
Yes, the most touristy part of Seattle, but everything about it is wonderfully quirky. The crowded street level; the dilapidated downstairs. The gum wall and the narrow alleyways, the friendly salespeople with their fish and oils and fruits along the road.
It’s always bustling and feels a little like a European city center market (but with a decidedly American touch).
2) The food scene
Start at the market, of course. From pork rolls and bubble tea to noodles and Russian pastries, there is something for every set of tastebuds. (And guys…this is where Starbucks originated, so you know you can trust the quality.)
Venture into the downtown and the neighborhoods beyond for fancy artisan chocolate shops and plenty of other trendy dessert places.
3) The art scene
Some towns like to confine their artsy side to a couple museums and maybe a graffiti mural or two on the dodgy side of town. But Seattle has let it erupt all over the place.
In one day we saw the beautiful oceanside Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum, in addition to random artsy installations like the mosaic bench pictured below. Seattle is specifically known as a center for glassblowing, thanks to Chihuly.
4) The views
Maybe I’m just starved for mountains in the ultra-flat Midwest, but I thought Seattle was surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen in the US. It has distant snow-capped peaks, pine trees, the peaceful ocean, and the vast, cloudy sky. Seattle is greener than San Francisco and more homey than New York City.
The mountains betray the city’s proximity to wilderness. It’s only a two-hour drive to Mt. Rainier or Wenatchee National Forest, for example, where you can hike and camp.
5) The shopping
There are so many cute and quirky stores in downtown Seattle. Half an hour after browsing a very Instagrammable, glass-walled shop that sold nothing but cactus plants in adorable pots, we found ourselves in a cozy tea shop full of ornate cups and tumblers—and Eccles cakes, which I bought because I missed England. Later, we stumbled upon a store that sold elaborately decorated parasols for weddings and photoshoots and…tea with the queen?
To me, the one of the main attractions of the downtown and market areas were these unexpected and whimsical independent stores and cafes that were so unique in what they sold and how they presented themselves. They were very different from what I see back home.
Bonus: The Space Needle
I’m still not totally sure what the purpose of this thing is, and I’m not 100% convinced it isn’t to communicate with aliens or something. It may or may not make an appearance if I ever get around to writing a novel.
The Space Needle does cost $30 to go up, so we did not, but we explored the shop. That counts, right?
What are your favorite things about Seattle or the Pacific Northwest?
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