Seattle has a lot of class about it. It’s a city which feels both scholarly and sleepy. There’s glamour to be found in its wide boulevards and modern skyscrapers, and yet a cosiness exists within its communities. Get acquainted with Seattle’s finest attractions and make the most of your holiday.
What’s the big deal with Pike Place market?
In a city of fast transactions, Pike Place market goes delightfully off-piste. Created in 1907 to connect the locals with farmers, it’s a food market with a prime focus on community. For the Seattle tourist, it’s also a food haven. A sanctuary of bakeries, fish markets and butcher shops; craft cider, micro-distilleries and pie-makers, with both food and a sense of fellowship spilling from every stall. Produce is of the highest quality and the entire market possesses the refinement of bygone tradesmanship. Arguably a forgotten trait in a world of buying and selling.
Where to find the iconic skyline views
If you’re after that view - you know the one, it’s picture-perfect Seattle and instantly recognisable by the iconic Space Needle, grab your camera and head for Kerry Park. Also known as Highland Park and Franklin Place, it sits at the top of Queen Anne hill in quiet suburbia. The skyline is jaw-dropping daytime through to night, but you will find fewer tourists after dusk. Pick up an ice-cream from local parlour, Molly Moon's Homemade Ice-cream, or a donut from Top Pot Donut on nearby Alki Avenue (definitely the best in Seattle) and soak up the splendour.
Cool dinner happenings
Pink Door. We bet the name alone makes you want to step inside. As one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Seattle, this sultry establishment sits in the heart of Pike Place market, right by the waterfront. With a seafood-centric menu - and vegetarians rejoice, oodles of veggie options too – dinner is quite the occasion. You’ll find cabaret every Saturday night, Trepeze on Sundays and Mondays (yup, aerial acrobatics!) and live jazz or blues music throughout the week.
The Pink Door has no sign or logo, just a big pink door, but you’ll find it at 1919 Post Alley.
On a sun-soaked Seattle day, hire a bike and pedal your way along the 30 km Burke-Gillman trail. Because the path flanks Lake Washington, cyclists can follow a scenic route along the water’s edge, stopping for coffee, a light bite, or a brewery break. Nine Yards Brewing Company is a particular highlight, housed in an old warehouse and very biker friendly. Both the Fremont neighbourhood and university district boast decent food joints, and if you pedal further than Kenmore, you’ll hit the Woodenville wineries.
Time your bike ride with the Fremont Sunday Market. It’s the perfect pit stop for brunch and a browse.
Markets worth meandering
Once you’ve gorged on all that there is at Pike Place, meander to the west end of the same neighbourhood and find Melrose Market. An indoor bazaar on Capitol Hill, it’s packed with cool shops and restaurants. Butter Home is just upstairs, selling gifts and decor with a good dollop of Seattle difference. Far removed from your usual souvenirs, forage for cool prints and keepsakes by local artists. On your way out, The Calf & Kid, a bijou cheese shop, will satisfy your hankering for a slice of something gooey.
Music is in the air
It’s the city where Kurt Cobain was born and grunge was forged; the place that gave the world both brilliant music and beautiful melancholy. From buskers at Pike Place market to live jazz in tiny speakeasys, Seattle is a musical city. The Crocodile, a club in Belltown, has welcomed the talents of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and REM, and continues to invite both the up-and-comers and legendary greats. Stand in the very spot Nirvana debuted ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ at The OK Hotel. It’s now an apartment block, but a gallery in the lobby is open to the public on the first Thursday of every month.
The greenhouse, where Cobain shot himself, has long gone, but at nearby Viretta Park, there’s a memorial Cobain bench.
Rich experiences at The Museum of Flight
If you, like so many us, have a deep fascination with Mans’ pursuit of flight, The Museum of Flight is a must-do. From the history of the Boeing company to a Space Shuttle exhibit, it’s arguably the climb-aboard Concorde and invitation to walk down the aisle of JFK's Air Force One that attracts the biggest crowds. Popular with visitors both young and old, explore one of America’s largest air and space collections, sit at the controls of the world's fastest jet, and marvel at how far we’ve come – quite literally – since the Wright brothers.
Throwback desserts at the infamous Space Needle
For any visitor to Seattle, the Space Needle is a no-brainer. Boasting epic views of the city and Mt Rainier looming dramatically on the horizon, it’s a 10/10 experience. For nostalgia, dine at the rotating restaurant. A throwback to the 1960s fascination with revolving restaurants, you can still order a dessert from the original menu: The Lunar Orbiter. A spectacular sundae that is only outmatched by the delicious sunset views.
From great heights to a hidden underbelly
Go underground because Seattle's best-kept secrets are down there. In fact, many of its original storefronts remain below street level. Dating back to 1890s, the city only went 'up' to avoid flooding. Book an underground expedition and follow animated tour guides through Seattle's forgotten lanes.