After my rather exciting flight thanks to the newly earned SSSS badge
I enjoyed Seattle over the last weekend. Here are my favorite things to do.
Things to do in Seattle - Understand
Seattle is a city were corporate culture is ingrained in the city's DNA. Super-charged employers like Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon and other successful mega-companies have recruited huge staff in the area. There isn't as much of a 'independent culture' compared to other US cities.
Seattle also suffers from a high visibility of poverty, homelessness and mentally ill people in the downtown area. I'm no stranger to a big homeless population in San Francisco however it's somewhat confined to certain areas in San Francisco - in Seattle it seems a city wide phenomenon incl. the hipster Capitol Hill.
It's a good idea to drive in Seattle though public transportation is good and will get you everywhere without a car. The downtown area is walkable and so is Capitol Hill. For a trip to Bellevue you can use the 550 bus or drive over the Puget Sound.
Things to do in Seattle - Sights
Seattle is widely known for its Space Needle and the adjacent Chululi Park. I did not go since I felt it is a tourist trap par excellence and there are good alternatives to get a good view over Seattle instead.
Columbia Tower Club (Observatory)
This 912 feet tall building is the West Coast second tallest. It's about twice the height of the space needle! The observation platform is at the 73rd floor and open every day from 9AM until late at night. The entrance fee ($14) is just half the Space Needle and the atmosphere much less touristy. I visited on a Saturday afternoon and there was still enough room to discover and NOT be pushed around by a mad crowd (in fact there were no crowds).
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is on many visitors list. It's an open market right in downtown and has pretty waterfront views. There is also the original Starbucks from 1971
Waterfront Park is less a park but a collection of piers. It's really loud from the elevated freeway directly above. This is supposed to change in 2016 though when the freeway will move into a tunnel.
It's a great place to shoot sunset pictures though!
Pioneer Square is the heart of historic Seattle. Maybe it's just me but the area seems plain dangerous and poverty struck. There are a number of pretty historic buildings but not a place I enjoyed.
EMP museum prides itself to be one of the coolest pop culture museums in the world. I did not make it during my trip but it gets rave reviews and it should be well worth your time.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
If you want to see the coolest Starbucks in the world you need to head to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Even the pastries look fresh and yummy here. It's what you think Starbucks could be without being so corporate.
Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is located outside the city near the Boeing Field airport. It has a great selection of older airplanes that you can actually touch and get up close with.
Bellevue is home to lots of corporate headquarters like Expedia, Eddie Bauer and Microsoft. So while it sounds like a huge, boring office park it actually has some glitzy life to it. The area is super clean, new and the customer service is still valued here. It's worth strolling through downtown Bellevue for an afternoon - there is actually life after 8 PM here!
Things to do in Seattle - Eat and Drink
Much to my surprise I wasn't enthused by the quality of coffee I could find in Seattle. It's not terrible for sure but it does not come to the same quality as places in New York, San Francisco or even Addis Abeba
. Most coffee places only had a sad food offering (but usually fast WiFi). Also Seattle has a much more relaxed way to enjoy your time and no menacing crowds.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown has two locations in Seattle. Both look decidedly hipster and come with free WiFi. The coffee is pretty good too.
Molly Moon Ice Cream
Molly Moon makes Seattle's best ice cream! Delicious flavors and friendly service in several locations. Don't miss!
Oddfellows Cafe & Bar
The interior design of this bistro/ cafe and bar does not get much better. Fresh colors and and airy look close to the park.
Victrola Cafe and Roastery
This coffee shop is advertising its 'Cortado' - is that a good or bad sign? Anyways the coffee is decent.
Top Pot Doughnuts
Top Pot Doughnuts serves classic donuts in many places all around the city. It's good quality donuts and the coffee is reasonable too.
Elm Coffee Roasters
Elm Coffee Roasters has a fantastic looking coffee shop near Pioneer Square. However I could not warm up to the coffee served much.
The London Plane
The London Plane is no Boeing achievement but a bistro and fresh food store in Pioneer Square. The bread just looks incredibly delicious. Try the coconut macaroons as well.
Serious Pie makes Seattle's best pizza and maybe the best pizza north of Los Angeles. It's not cheap but the quality of ingredients fantastic.
Japonessa is located very close in the tourist hotspot of Downtown and Pike Place. It also looks touristy but the restaurant runs a happy almost all day with sushi rolls just $4. The quality of sushi is very high though. It's an amazing find - get here before 8.30 PM and enjoy the Happy Hour at the bar area.
Kukai Ramen & Izakaya
Kukai is a Japanese chain from Tokyo that has a number of places in Seattle too. It provides quality Ramen and a clean, cozy environment.
Ooba Tooba, Bellevue
Awesome, simple and traditional Mexican food at this little Bellevue eatery. The meat comes with a wonderful strong barbecue taste.
Cafe Cesura, Bellevue
In the corporate town of Bellevue this coffee shop wants to prove Bellevue can do differently. Great coffee (in fact the best I could find in the Seattle area), lightning fast WiFi and a quirky interior will convince you.