What to See, Eat, and Do in Seattle
It’s here: the final post about my great Pacific Northwest road trip! I mean, the trip was in August and we’re in the middle of October but, hey, It was quite the road trip. Missed any of the trip? I started in San Francisco, did a short stay in Santa Rosa, a.k.a. wine country, traveled up the California coast through the redwoods, fell in love with Portland, and relaxed on the Oregon coast. And then we drove all the way to Seattle.
I’ll admit that Seattle being our last stop didn’t get the same attention as the rest. I was tired. Yes, I was 17 weeks pregnant but I probably would have been tired either way. Ten days on the road will wear you out. So there are plenty of things we missed (again, just reasons to go back!).
Seattle was a more expensive city than some of our other stops, more along the lines of San Francisco. That limited the things we did because we just didn’t want to spend the money. However, there were plenty of amazing free things too. Let’s jump right in to what to see, eat, and do in Seattle!
Where we stayed
We chose Airbnb for our accommodations in Seattle. Hotels are on the pricier side, especially when you factor in parking. We probably could have dropped our car off when we arrived in Seattle and used public transportation, but oh well.
Our Airbnb was located in the Fremont area of Seattle, which I chose after doing very little research and instead focused on price. Quick tip if you’re looking at Airbnb in Seattle: look and book early. There was so many great options when I was first planning and then BOOM, everything was gone.
All things considered, Fremont turned out to be the ideal area; a bit funky and a sweet little neighborhood. The place we stayed in was a large Victorian house turned into apartments and we had the top one. We had the most amazing view of downtown Seattle (until the haze moved in) and we could walk to lots of restaurants and shops.
What we did
Again, the best part of staying Fremont was the neighborhood itself. It prides itself on being quirky and you can spend a whole morning exploring all its awesome and sometimes weird landmarks. Be sure to check out and possibly climb the Fremont Troll. You’ll also want to confirm that Fremont is the center of the universe at the signpost in the middle of downtown. While you’re there you can shop at some of their adorable local businesses and look up to spot the rocket.
Another neighborhood worth checking out is Ballard, just a little further west of Fremont. We ended up being there on a Sunday which meant we were there for the farmer’s market. It’s one of the top farmer’s markets in the country and it was two whole blocks of vendors selling everything from vibrant bunches of flowers to honey to delicious tacos. It was definitely crowded but totally worth it.
Ballard also has great restaurants and shopping. We popped into a few spots and grabbed a bite while we were there. You could spend a whole day here just wandering if you want!
Visited a brewery or two
I was sure we would find great breweries in Portland but Seattle definitely has a budding craft beer scene that’s not to be missed. Our first stop was Fremont Brewing Company. Their taproom is pretty large and there’s an outdoor area that was pretty crowded but easy enough to get a seat. Fremont had a big tap list and the bartenders were super friendly, even offering up other spots to see in the city.
When we were in the Ballard neighborhood, we decided to pop down closer to the waterfront/industrial area where there were a bunch of other breweries. There’s a Lagunitas taproom there along with other smaller breweries. We started at Peddler Brewing Company, a bicycle and beer kind of spot. Again, there’s an outdoor area with lots of tables, a DJ booth/stage, and a dance floor. A food truck pulled right into the yard and there was even a chicken all ready for chicken shit bingo. We stayed for awhile listening to live music and it was a great time.
Another brewery we loved was Reuben’s Brews. It’s teeny tiny in there but their tap list is unreal. I was really, really sorry I couldn’t try the beer here. I also love that they choose a charity to give back to and they have lots of scheduled community events.
Based on a standout recommendation from one of the guys at Fremont Brewing Company, we traveled all the way out to Holy Mountain Brewing. Located in a big warehouse, the whole brewery was #goals. Everyone was really nice, the interior was bright white and minimal chic, and the beer was good (at least according to my designated taster, Nick).
Strolled through Gas Works Park
There are a lot of cool parks in Seattle but I think Gas Works Park is definitely one of the coolest. The city converted the former Seattle Gaslight Company gasification plant (whatever that is) into a public park. Some structures from the factory are still there standing tall and it’s really neat to see. Plus there are great views over the water of downtown.
Saw the Space Needle and more at Seattle Center
I don’t think you can go to Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. I will tell you that it is possible to visit Seattle without going to the top of the Space Needle.
We chose to skip the trip up for a few reasons. First, it was so darn hazy from the wildfire smoke. You could hardly make out anything. Second, it was quite a bit more than we wanted to spend on one attraction knowing that it might it not even be worth it. And last, there was a lot of people. So we stayed on the ground and just enjoyed the park. Which was more than enough with the fountain and gardens.
I think when we go back to Seattle, we’ll definitely do the Space Needle (weather permitting) and visit the Chihuly Gardens. We just didn’t have the energy to do more than just hanging out in the park. Plus maybe when we go back, Seattle will have its NHL team!
Got an incredible eyeful of downtown Seattle at Kerry Park
When we decided not to take the trip up the Space Needle, I found us the next best thing: Kerry Park. Located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, the park has amazing views of the skyline. Plus Queen Anne has gorgeous million dollar homes that are really fun to drive by.
Sampled all the things at Pike Place Market
I don’t think you can come to Seattle without going to Pike Place Market. It can be very crowded, like when we went, but I heard that going earlier is better. There are also a lot of places around the actual market that are worth visiting. I recommend grabbing a crumpet from the Crumpet Shop, topped with homemade butter and local honey, and a ginger beer from Rachel’s Ginger Beer. If you don’t mind waiting in line, Piroshky Piroshky has incredible Russian pastries. I would however skip waiting in line at the original Starbucks location. It’s not really worth a long wait in line.
Want to see something equal parts cool and disgusting? A little alley at the end of the market is the gum wall where gobs and gobs of gum line the walls. Honestly, I saw people get way too close and it was disgusting. But I also couldn’t look away.
Shopped for all the things at Moorea Seal
For years I followed Moorea Seal online and love her list books. It was a real treat to visit the brick-and-mortar location in downtown Seattle. The store is minimalist chic and, if you’re shopping on a budget, you can find really great things at reasonable prices.
Relaxed in the “living room” at the Seattle Public Library
Who goes to a library while on vacation? This girl of course! But if you see Seattle’s main public library downtown then you’ll definitely want to stop in. This modern glass structure is breathtaking and it’s so amazing to see how they’ve optimized the library experience for all patrons and visitors. We wandered around inside for at least an hour and I added a bunch of books to my to-be-read list.
Sampled lots and lots of chocolate at Theo Chocolate Works
Tired and feeling broke, Nick and I spent an afternoon wandering around Fremont. Looking for something to do in the area, we discovered Theo Chocolate Works. It’s an artisan chocolate company in a really cool old building. They offer many different tour options but all the options we would have done were sold out. That meant we could just sample all the different chocolate instead!
Sipped on some coffee at Starbucks Roastery Reserve
So I didn’t want to wait in line at the original Starbucks but we made time to hit up the Starbucks Roastery Reserve. This place is HUGE and is like coffee Disneyland. They’ve got on site roasting, a huge gift shop, and food options. You can order a flight of cold brews (like Nick did) or get any Starbucks beverage you could ever want. It was crazy when we went so be prepared!
Where to eat
Lighthouse Coffee Roasters
There are a lot of coffee shops in Seattle but I feel lucky that we stumbled upon Lighthouse Coffee Roasters. Tucked right in a neighborhood in Fremont, they roast their own beans in a vintage cast iron roaster. It’s definitely a community spot and it was just such a nice spot to get out of the hustle and bustle.
Paseo Caribbean Food
We thought about skipping Paseo because it’s basically a kitchen, a counter, three tables inside, and a few picnic tables outside. But this was recommended over and over so we placed an order and grabbed a lucky two-person table. Oh my goodness was this place good! We both got pork sandwiches and they were so juicy and delicious. Definitely not a “delicate” meal but so, so good.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Ever walked into an ice cream shop and gotten the most delicious and sweet smell of vanilla and crispy waffle? If you’ve been to Molly Moon then you most definitely have. They have the most amazing flavors, like the blueberry lemon cheesecake with little chunks of cheesecake that I loved! Plus the interior is all Instagram goals with white brick and marble counter tops.
Seattle has a lot of restaurants that take favorite basics and transform them into something a bit more gourmet. We stopped at Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard for lunch after the Ballard Farmer’s Market. The bbq was delicious, definitely just like we’ve grabbed down south. It’s tiny so plan ahead!
In Bocca Al Lupo
This was hands-down my favorite restaurant in Seattle. It’s just really good Italian staples like pizza fresh out of their brick oven. The interior is a bit dark and moody in the best way possible. We had ricotta on toast with fresh basil and colorful grape tomatoes and I think about it every day.
Definitely one of the more interesting spots we went to on this trip: it’s a wine store combined with a breakfast/coffee spot in a stand alone store with big glass windows. It wasn’t my favorite spot because it wasn’t as warm and welcoming as many of the other Fremont neighborhood restaurants we visited. But it was definitely a cool spot and was very minimalist chic, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Our flight home was late at night (and thanks to numerous delays, even later than we thought…) so we were looking for a casual spot to grab an easy dinner. Frelard hit the spot. It’s right on the border of Fremont and Ballard, hence the name, and serves whole pizzas and slices in an industrial chic spot. They also have outdoor seating but it was just too hot out there. It was also very kid friendly with a special area for kids to play while parents enjoy their pizza.
Din Tai Fung Dumpling House
We didn’t eat as much Asian food as I would have liked while we were in the Northwest but I’m so glad we made it to Din Tai Fung. There are a couple of locations but we went to the one at Pacific Place, inside a big downtown mall. There was about a 20 minute wait but it wasn’t too bad. The soup dumplings, which they’re known for, were so amazing and the other dishes we had were just as good.
When we went to the Space Needle, we looked for somewhere in the neighborhood to grab a bite. We found Toulouse Petit, a New Orleans/French inspired restaurant, just a block or two from the Seattle Center. While the service was not great, the food was good and simple. It also looked like it had a good wine list #pregnancyproblems.
And there you have it: my big PNW road trip is over!
This was a trip of a lifetime and I feel so lucky we could make it happen. Not to be corny about it but there are so many beautiful and interesting places in the U.S. If you have the opportunity to explore, go for it!