The Real To-Do: Seattle, WA

Seattle Skyline 2008

I’ve been missing Seattle immensely as of late, especially my little apartment near Volunteer Park and having innumerable restaurants/bars/activities seemingly right out my door. In the three years I called Seattle “home,” I set out to devour all of the food, cocktails, hikes, and sights I could manage on a very (very) tight budget.

My friend Jessica is moving up there this week and our discussions leading up to her move made me yearn for the city I left nearly two years ago. So much has changed (new restaurants and bars, especially!), but much has stayed the same, too.

I arrived in Seattle with a clear vision of what this city and its surroundings would hold for my early-20’s existence. I grew up outside of San Francisco (arguably one of the best cities in the world), so my standards were high, and when you’re poor like I was, a lot can be said about a city that has places to go and things to do that don’t cost an arm and a leg. (Seattle has some of the best Happy Hour deals out there.)

In that respect, Seattle really can’t be beat…

I could go on and on about the restaurants, bars, and hot spots that made a lasting impression, because I had the pleasure of going to so many in a multitude of price ranges (thanks mainly to Jonathan’s concierge job); the list feels infinite and would be 10 pages long if I just named every good meal or drink I ever had there. However, it’s easy to name my favorites — ones that top my list of places to go if I had just a day or a week to visit.

So, here they are: my personal recommendations* for what to eat, drink, and do in the Emerald City if you’ve got the time to spare and a little bit of money to spend…

Sun Liquor (Capitol Hill & First Hill)
Zig Zag Café (Pike Place Market, Downtown)
Suite 410 (Downtown)
Tavern Law (Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine Corridor)

Beer & Wines
White Horse Trading Co. (Post Alley, Downtown)
Brouwer’s (Fremont)
Stumbling Monk (Capitol Hill)
Pike Place Brewery (Downtown)

Coffee & Tea
Victrola Coffee (First Hill & Capitol Hill)
Fonté (Downtown)
Remedy Teas (Capitol Hill)

Weekday Breakfast
Glo’s (Capitol Hill)
Toulouse Petit (Lower Queen Anne)
Serious Biscuit (South Lake Union)

Weekend Brunch
Americana – previously: Table 219 (Capitol Hill)
Oddfellows Café & Bar (Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine Corridor)
Smith (Capitol Hill)
Portage Bay Café (South Lake Union / Ballard / U-District)

Poquitos (Pike/Pine Corridor)s
Skillet Street Food (food truck / Central)
Rom Mai Thai (Capitol Hill)
Red Mill Burgers (Phinney Ridge)

Delancey (Ballard)
RN-74 (Downtown)
Black Bottle (Belltown)
Café Selam (Central)
Annapurna (Capitol Hill)
Brad’s Swingside Café (Fremont)
Purple Café & Wine Bar (Downtown)

Happy Hour (Food) – when the deals are so good that I wouldn’t go any other time
Serious Pie (Downtown / South Lake Union)
Deluxe Bar & Grill (Capitol Hill)
Poppy (Capitol Hill)

Schmitz Preserve Park (West Seattle)
Green Lake (Greenlake)
Discovery Park (Magnolia)
Seward Park (Sewart Park)
Volunteer Park & Conservatory (Capitol Hill)

Frye Art Museum (First Hill) — free
Olympic Sculpture Park (Belltown) — free
Seattle Art Museum (Downtown)

Markets / Shopping **
Uwajimaya (International District)
Fremont Sunday Market (Fremont)
Ballard Farmer’s Market (Ballard)
Elliott Bay Bookstore (Pike/Pine Corridor)
Theo Chocolate Factory Tour & Shop (Fremont)

Nights Out*
Le Faux at Julia’s Drag Show (Capitol Hill)
Rock Box Karaoke (Pike/Pine Corridor)

That’s it in a nutshell! The Seattle spots that make me happiest, even as I sit here thinking about them years later. So tell me: What are your favorite places that I need to visit next time I’m in the city?

* I must emphasize these are my favorite spots in the city, mostly limited to the areas (districts) I frequented, notably Capitol Hill since it was my home for 2 years. There are loads of spots I liked a lot but didn’t go often enough to think of it as a favorite, as well as many that I never had the chance to enjoy (Paseo, The Walrus and the Carpenter, to name a few). I recommend these particular places/eateries/bars because they are spots I would try to go if I were to visit for an extended period. There are an endless number of “must” lists that expand on this one, especially since new things have opened up since I’ve been away.

** I didn’t shop when I lived here because I was really poor, but I seemed to always have money for chocolate and books, so there you go.

(Top image is a picture I took in 2008 during a ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle)

One thought on “The Real To-Do: Seattle, WA

  1. I’m seriously not kidding, this list is a lifesaver! Seattle is so overwhelming, because there are so many incredible places to go and see, usually within walking distance of wherever I’m staying! When it comes to building an itinerary (which I seriously love doing), these recommendations can’t be beat — especially Oddfellows! I dream about that place every day!

    Thanks for sharing!


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