Growing up in Arizona and living on the west coast for 30 years, I’m embarrassed to admit that I finally visited and explored Seattle last year. A tour of the Pacific Northwest has been on the bucket list for some time and I can finally cross it off! (Blog post about our travels in Portland to come soon.) We saw most of the sights, but Aaron was super sick after a summer full of work travels, so we opted for afternoon naps on most days instead. But, don’t worry I have a list of the things we didn’t get to in case you have more time than us.
– WEATHER –
Funny enough I ended up coming to Seattle for work in May before our bucket list trip in September, and I didn’t think the weather was that much different. We were worried about rain in May, but it ended up being sunny and beautiful most days. One day was chilly in the 60’s and cloudy, but not much rain if any – maybe a light drizzle. In August it was a little warmer in the 70’s and also sunny. If you don’t like the heat, then maybe May is the month for you. I love shorts and warm weather so I was happy with September’s sunshine. I visited again in November and can’t say there was rain then either. I do remember some clouds which appeared like rain clouds, but they were just for show.
– HOTEL –
I’ve stayed in three different hotels in the Seattle area and have a different opinion about each…
- The Woodmark – 1200 Carillon Point, Kirkland, WA 98033 – This hotel is near some office space at Carillon Point, which makes it super convenient for work trips. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Seattle depending on traffic and the drop off point. It’s right on the water and gorgeous for an outdoor wedding on a sunny day. Walking into the hotel I get all of the Pacific Northwest vibes with the nautical theme, fire places, and shelves and shelves of books. There are a couple restaurants in the area, but if you want more options you’ll need to travel over to the nearest town which is a short 10 minute drive or a 30-45 minute walk along the water. This is the perfect hotel if you don’t want to be in the middle of downtown, but still want to soak in the views of Lake Washington.
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle – 1101 4th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98101 – The first night of our trip we stayed at this hotel before driving to The Gorge and camping out for a couple nights at the Dave Matthews Band concert (full blog post here!) We didn’t get a lot of time here, but it’s in the heart of downtown and walking distance to Pike’s Place. Walking into the lobby with the vaulted ceilings is breathtaking. We lucked out with what we thought was a normal sized room, but apparently not all of the guest rooms come with a pull out couch and so much room for activities. It seemed like an older hotel rich with history, but it felt like it was kept up. I’m a fan of Kimpton hotels in general, so I was bummed that we didn’t spend more time here as we checked out first thing the next morning.
Thompson Seattle Hotel – 110 Stewart Street, Seattle, Washington 98101 – I can say confidently that this was my favorite hotel of the three. It’s also in the heart of downtown Seattle and perfect distance to Pike’s Place, the original Nordstrom, Biscuit Bitch, etc. It worked out well for me because I was able to take in the sights as Aaron’s was napping without going too far away. Plus, they have the most gorgeous rooftop deck looking out at the water. I would definitely come back and stay here again. I loved the modern vibe and clean architecture.
– OTHER HOTELS FOR CONSIDERATION –
Motif Hotel in Downtown Seattle – We looked at this hotel and it was about $50 less a night than the Thompson Seattle Hotel. However, it was also a little farther from where we were hoping to be, which is by the Public Market sign. It is only about half a mile or a 9-minute walk from the Public Market sign, which isn’t terrible, but my heart was set on Thompson Hotel.
Inn at the Market – We looked at this too, but they only had 1 queen bed available and that was over $50/night more than the Thompson Seattle Hotel that we booked. Plus, it’s not the modern aesthetic that we typically go for, but still looks gorgeous online.
The State Hotel – This hotel looks super cool! It just opened, is super chic and modern. We decided not to book here because it didn’t have any offerings through hotel points.
Loews Hotel 1000 Seattle – This hotel’s price was right in between the Thompson Seattle Hotel and the Motif Hotel. It looked super cute, but is about a half a mile or an 8-minute walk from the Public Market Sign.
– FOOD –
I will say that Seattle is one of the most accommodating cities for food allergies that I’ve ever been to and they actually understand what having a food allergy means. I did not get glutened! Plus, I could find something to eat at almost every restaurant and most restaurants either had a gluten free menu or marked the items that were gluten free and had a great variety. The only downside to the restaurants in Seattle are that we found the food to be unique and creative, which doesn’t always work when your husband eats like a child, is sick and only wants comfort food.
Here are the restaurants we went to:
Salty’s on Alki – We came here our first night in the city with a group of friends (before heading to The Gorge the next day) and got there just before the sun went down. The views were incredible! You need a reservation, it’s a little bit of a distance from downtown, and the plates are a little pricey. It was a fun experience with some great wine!
Black Bottle Gastrotavern Seattle – Aaron and I came here for our first dinner just the two of us. It was a nice 15-20 minute stroll from our hotel and we got glimpses of the water at each street light. We must have beat the early birds, because we were the first and only people there. We sat outside on the sidewalk and ordered a couple small plates. It seems the menu is focused more on small sharable plates and it accommodates many allergies. Aaron had the bite size fried chicken (which looked and smelled delicious) and I had bacon lemon scallops frizzled kale. Both seemed to be a little pricey for the amount of food we received, but it was pretty on par with downtown pricing. For dessert, I had the so delicious and gluten free lemon curd ricotta cake lavender crust, which I’m still dreaming about.
Biscuit Bitch – I am a lover of biscuits and gravy. I actually hate gravy and always have, but at some point in my adulthood I realized that biscuits and gravy are the perfect hangover breakfast. I was super pumped to find out that they have gluten free offerings and a clean / completely gluten free area where they prep the food. It made all of my dreams come true. Our hotel is right across the street and Aaron even considered going up to the room to lay down since it took about 30 minutes to get our food. Well worth the wait, so bring your patience with you since there’s no where to sit either. And yes, they refer to you as bitch when you order – it’s great!
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar Seattle – When this spot was recommended to me, I was thinking “oh a cafe, how casual.” I was wrong. This is a cafe and wine bar – very different. We came for the early bird special again wearing our sight seeing clothes and thankfully we didn’t feel too under dressed. It seemed like this is an after work spot. I had the Maine lobster mac and cheese with gluten free pasta and for once it was a slightly different pasta then the typical gluten free rigatoni. My mouth is watering thinking about it – the lobster was perfect, the cheese sauce was rich, but not overbearing and the pasta was perfectly tender without falling apart (if you’ve had gluten free pasta then you know what I mean.) Aaron has the classic cheeseburger and fries. I can’t remember his reaction, but I bet he said something like, “it’s hard to mess up a cheeseburger” when I asked him how it was.
– ROOFTOPS –
M Bar Seattle – I didn’t eat here, but the menu looks to be Mediterranean focused. We came later at night and even with a dark sky the views were still gorgeous.
The Nest at Thompson Hotel Seattle – I took a peek at the views, but didn’t stay for long. It was so gorgeous and very popular.
– OTHER RESTAURANTS FOR CONSIDERATION –
The Walrus and The Carpenter – Seafood restaurant
Mr. West – Breakfast or drinks/snacks
The Pink Door – Italian food – I tried both trips to get a reservation and failed both times!
Local 360 – Locally sourced
Umi Saki House – Seafood and sushi
Tom Douglas – Pacific Northwest fair
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – The line at their Pike Place restaurant was fairly long, but I heard the mac and cheese is worth it.
– SIGHTS TO SEE DOWNTOWN-
Boat Tour – My first time in the city I was able to see the sights from the water, which was such a fun and different was to soak it all in. I highly recommend doing this! I was able to see some of the mansions on the water, college campuses and views of downtown from a distance.
Space Needle – I had to do it! How do you not see the city’s landmark?! Thankfully I was able to tour during the tail end of a work trip because there is not way Aaron would have been able to go to the top. He is deathly afraid of heights and even I had to take baby steps off of the elevator and over the glass floors. Catching the views at sunset are definitely the way to do it!
Chihuly Gardens – I didn’t go inside of the garden, but I saw the top of the garden from the Space Needle. I heard it’s pretty incredible to see all of the glass sculptures that creates the garden from the artist Dale Chihuly.
Mo Pop Museum – Aaron and I went one afternoon and had so much fun going through all of the exhibits. Its the perfect size for you to be able to see all of the exhibits, but still feel like there is a wide variety of exhibits to see. The exhibits we saw were Prince, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix, Fantasy Movies, Scary Movies and the Sound Lab. All of the exhibits were well put together, kept my attention and super interesting. I was probably the most excited to see Prince and Nirvana, but the Pearl Jam and Scary Movies exhibits blew me away! This is next to the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens if you want to do all three in one day.
Pike Place Market – If you want to see the city wake up, head over early to grab a cup of coffee at the original and tiny Starbucks, walk around the market, watch the fish being thrown, stop in the shops, walk down the random side streets and then go on your way. I didn’t find a ton to do here other than to experience it and soak in its magic. I didn’t find the gum wall, but apparently it’s close by! If you happen to venture to this area later in the day, the Seattle Great Wheel is gorgeous at night.
Seattle Underground Tour – I didn’t do this, but there is a 75-minute walking tour of the tunnels under modern-day Seattle which seems eery and interesting at the same time.
Amazon Go – this store has the advanced shopping technology with no checkout. It’s located in the ground floor of the Day 1 building, in the north corner. Download the “Amazon Go” app from your favorite app store beforehand.
Nordstrom Downtown Seattle – This was high on my list to do! The mothership! I spent all my time looking at fancy purses and buying shoes. By the time I finished Aaron called to tell me that he woke up from his nap and was ready to eat dinner, so I quickly walked through the Ready To Wear floors and walked back about 15 minutes to the hotel and Public Market area.
Westlake Shopping Center – If you’re here to shop, there’s an area close to Nordstrom with a Macy’s and more shopping. There’s also a cute park area.
The London Plane – I did not make it here, but it’s a cute flower market and cafe in Pioneer Square. I was told that there are a lot of cute stores on this street and next door is an awesome vintage shop. Close by is the Starbucks Reserve store.
Starbucks Reserve in Capitol Hill – I didn’t make it here either, but a friend told me it’s the best coffee she’s ever tasted and it should be if it’s $24 per pound 🙂 There’s also a limited menu that you can only get here too!
Moorea Seal – I’m sad to have missed this as it’s a store that curates all of the up and coming designers throughout the US.
Theo Chocolate – If you’re into chocolate tastings and tours, Theo Chocolate is based in Seattle.
– WORTH THE DRIVE –
Boeing Future of Flight Tour – Aaron and I had one day with a rental car, which was the day that we drove from Seattle to Portland. I thought we’d explore outdoors a little bit, but we couldn’t find any hiking that really made sense on our drive down south. Instead, Aaron talked me into going to the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour in Everett, WA. It wasn’t exactly on the way to Portland, but was an easy detour and so interesting. I had no idea that I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. It was about a 30-45 minute drive North East from downtown near a town called Snohomish that I was told is an adorable area. Funny thing is the address is actually in Mukilteo, which is a town that my college roommate is from. I texted her to ask if the Future of Flight tour is near where she grew up and she said it’s actually is where she grew up! How funny! Take note of the address (8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA 98275) because there is a Museum of Flight closer to Seattle that is also through Boeing, but based on the research that Aaron did it’s apparently not as good so don’t waste your time if you only have enough time for one or the other. Even if you’re not super into airplanes, I recommend this tour for families, or even adults who enjoy learning, but not feeling like it’s a school trip.
I haven’t done any of the things below, but wanted to include them in case you want to check them out!
Mount Rainier – 1 hour and 30 minutes South East of downtown Seattle.
Deception Pass – 1 hour and 30 minutes North of downtown Seattle.
San Juan Islands – 2 hours and 30 minutes North of downtown Seattle.
La Conner – Someone told me that this is their favorite “tiny” town – charming little former fishing village.