If you haven’t been to Seattle, Washington, aka the Emerald City you’re missing out. It’s got everything: lush forests, majestic mountains, an obsession with pop culture and more wineries than you could visit in a lifetime. You can also easily see all of these things in just a few days without totally exhausting yourself. In fact, we did just that recently, so here are some highlights for you to consider in your trip.
Pike Place Market
The first place to check out is Pike Place Market. This massive farmers’ market is home to vendors selling fresh fruits (be sure to get some Rainier cherries and local peaches if they’re in season), handmade crafts, vintage collectibles, and some of the most beautiful fresh flower bouquets you’ve ever seen. Pike Place is a treasured Seattle landmark; so much so you’re almost contractually obligated to film there if you’re doing a RomCom set in the area. (Most famously, you might remember seeing fishermen in rubber overalls throwing fish to each other in the movie Sleepless in Seattle.)
Our advice for the best shopping experience is to get there early to avoid the crowds, and then stay for lunch so you can enjoy any number of the fantastic food vendors. (The line for Beecher’s Handmade Cheese often winds around the block but it is so worth it.) You could opt to take one of the many culinary tours that are offered — one perk is you’re guaranteed free samples without waiting in lines — but we had plenty of fun exploring on our own.
Pro Tip: Bathrooms are few and far between and in high demand thanks to everyone chugging gourmet coffee like it’s going out of style. If you need to use the facilities, try to find somewhere market-adjacent for less of a line.
Located right at the base of Pike Place Market on the shores of Elliot Bay is the Seattle Aquarium. Their focus is educating people about the importance of preserving the natural beauty of the Puget Sound, and they do an excellent job. The highlights include a close-up look at a Giant Pacific Octopus, and their charming collection of marine mammals.
Museum of Pop Culture
Just a few minutes away from the waterfront’s activities and under the shadow of the Seattle Space Needle is the Museum of Pop Culture. Affectionately referred to as MoPop by the locals, this museum is surprisingly fun. Exhibits cover all the different aspects of pop culture you can think of — which is admittedly broad but they do it well. Everyone from sci fi nerds and music aficionados to fashionistas and film nuts will find an exhibit that fascinates them. One exhibit you should be sure to see is Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses, which celebrates those sons of Seattle with over 200 rare artifacts and photographs.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Right next door to MoPop is the beautiful art exhibit Chihuly Garden and Glass. The museum — for lack of a better word — celebrates the genius of Dale Chihuly, whose masterful glassworks adorn eight galleries and a magnificent glasshouse. The garden exhibit, which pairs his glass sculptures with a carefully designed landscape, makes you feel as if you’re strolling through Oz or alien terrain. Once you’re done ogling what Chihuly can do with such a delicate medium, definitely take the time to have a cocktail (or two) in The Bar, which has additional Chihuly collections paired with seasonal menus and artisan spirits.
For all the attractions Seattle offers, our personal opinion is that the city is best used as a hub so you can easily visit some other areas that aren’t exactly downtown. For breath-taking outdoor adventures, you just can’t beat the Pacific Northwest.
The snow-capped peak of Mt. Rainier is visible from downtown Seattle, beckoning outdoor enthusiasts from afar. The National Park is about a two-hour drive from the city, but the time spent on winding roads is well worth this bucket-list view. Once you’re there, adventure abounds; it’s just a matter of knowing your own limits. You can experience about a dozen sights right from the car, like Christine Falls and Narada Falls, while touring Ricksecker Point Road will offer an abundance of scenic views. Hiking options are myriad, but be warned: their definition of “moderate difficulty” is more like “you might catch your breath at some point on your way home,” even for the physically fit. That said, the hike to Comet Falls is strenuous but breath-takingly beautiful. (For more information on how to see Mt. Rainier’s many stunning glacier-fed waterfalls, click here.)
If you can’t make the trip to Mt. Rainier, at least do the pleasant 45-minute drive to Snoqualmie Falls, a beautiful park at the base of Mount Si. These waterfalls are a bit more touristy, with well-established walking paths and viewing areas, but because of that they are more accessible. The upper observation deck is just behind the lovely Salish Lodge and Spa (which has a delicious but pricey menu), but the lower observation deck is the superior experience, as it offers access to the river below. Be sure to take the time to do a little retail therapy along the main street of Snoqualmie while you’re there, too. The artsy boutiques are perfect for finding a souvenir for the folks back home and delightfully pay homage to the area’s obsession with Bigfoot.
Wineries – Woodinville
The neighborhood of Woodinville just to the northeast of Seattle has over 130 renowned wineries spread amongst four distinct districts: Downtown, Hollywood, Warehouse, and West Valley. But don’t be misled by the terminology: “spread out” is more realistically “overwhelmingly crowded into an area you can drive through in less than ten minutes.” Tasting with a unique and highly-acclaimed vineyard is available at just about every turn. The region is blessed with the perfect grape-growing climate and soil, so each of the wineries are worth trying — but we don’t recommend trying them all on the same day. Not only would your liver never recover, neither would your bank account; These places are expensive.
If you only visit one vineyard, we highly recommend Chateau St. Michelle. As one of the oldest vineyards in the area, Chateau St. Michelle is probably the winery with the most beautiful scenery. It has a gorgeous rose garden and grassy knolls designated for gluttonous picnicking. Their wines are also a personal favorite, but word to the wise: unless you find a rare vintage you must try, don’t purchase the bottles there. You can get them for half the price at home.
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