Seattle in September is a dream. Seriously. Somewhere on the bustling city streets, somewhere in the vibrant, lively market, somewhere on an old, wooden dock that provides a perfect view of the seamless marriage of sky and mountains to the waters of the gorgeous Elliot Bay, I left a piece of my heart that’s already calling for me, wildly, to return to the Emerald City.
This trip was a first for Jeremy and I both – neither of us having been to the Pacific Northwest before. And it, without a doubt, opened a travel door that we cannot wait to walk through more often.
While I was was primarily in Seattle for a work conference (perhaps the best I’ve yet attended) we couldn’t travel all that way without making some time for exploration!
We had a pleasant experience flying from Chicago into Seattle (the tail end of the flight is beautiful!) and getting to our first stop – a quaint Airbnb in the University District. We didn’t realize just how tired we were until we walked through the door and took some time to catch our breath. It dawned on me then that we’d woken that morning at midnight Seattle time (3 AM Indiana time) to start our day of travel and had been going non-stop for nearly 12 hours.
With that, we decided to take it rather easy the first night. We snuggled up for a nap that lasted a little too long and woke to grumbling bellies. After a little research on restaurants in the area, we decided on Wayward Vegan, which was an awesome start to our food adventures in the city!
Following dinner, we stopped at Ravenna Brewery before heading back to our cottage to crash.
The next morning, we felt well rested and ready to see the sights, and hit it hard. We had a great Uber driver (actually, most of them were wonderful) and Seattle native who drove us downtown while sharing his knowledge about the city’s greatest bands and his connections to them.
We were dropped off at Biscuit Bitch for brunch – which was top notch – even if it did require a lengthy (45 minute) wait. As a vegetarian, I’ve never experienced meat-free biscuits and gravy (topped with eggs, hash browns, and cheese) so needless to say, I was a happy, albeit, very full, camper!
After fueling up, we ventured down to Pike Place Market to see what it was all about. Going on a Saturday was intense. SO MANY PEOPLE.
But it was an experience not to be missed. We started outside, taking in views of the scenery just behind the market, stopping for a moment to marvel at the original Starbucks (and the enormous line, which looked to be about a 2-3 hour wait), and finding our flow in the slow-moving crowd to check out some of the outdoor vendors.
We then found ourselves inside the market – which was a mix of complete chaos with people pushing through and quickly moving forward onto their next stop and a more laid back, take-it-all-in, Saturday strolling kind of crowd.
It was a completely different atmosphere than I’ve ever been in – even though I’ve been to various markets around the world before. A mix of booths selling freshly baked goods, freshly caught fish, and so very many freshly cut flowers (every other person was carrying a bouquet!) to vendors selling custom made jewelry and art and textiles. Buskers were performing around every corner and the whole place had such an upbeat vibe.
Upbeat, though a little overwhelming, too. We both hit a point of needing to escape for some fresh air, and decided to try to find the great Gum Wall.
It took us a bit, but when we finally got close enough to smell fruity scents floating through the air, we knew we had arrived. Down the length of a long, dark alleyway, on either side, stood perhaps the most disgustingly interesting attraction I’ve ever seen.
Thousands upon thousands of wads of gum smooshed on the walls, some carefully positioned to contribute to some kind of design, others haphazardly placed, and some, unfortunately, fallen to the ground waiting for the bottom of some lucky tourist’s shoe to pick it up again.
Of course, we added our own wads, too. : )
Crazily, during our last day there, we passed by Post Alley to see a cleaner steaming all of the gum off the walls (see above!) We’re so glad we made it there when we did.
Just down the bottom of Post Alley, where the Gum Wall resides, is The Pike Brewing Company, so we wandered in there so Jeremy could try his first few Seattle brews.
Upon leaving, we continued down Post Alley until we saw a set of stairs leading down to a pier on the water.
We made our way down them and proceeded to surprise each other by both expressing interest in going on the giant ferris wheel to take in some better views of the city.
We don’t usually partake in the more “touristy” options during travel, but guys, this one was SO worth it. We caught it at a time where the lines weren’t bad at all and were seated with a couple of girls from the area who were able to point out specific locations to us and give us some great recommendations.
After our adventure on the wheel, we spent a few more minutes taking in the views from the pier, then started back uphill toward Post Alley.
While I didn’t have a single bad meal in Seattle, this place tops my list. They are totally vegan, are known for their cocktails, and their vibe is heavy metal inspired (which suits J perfectly.)
I had vegan fish and chips which were so convincing, it was almost scary. The restaurant is located in a neighborhood that reminded us of some of our favorite areas of Chicago and even Camden Town in London. We felt right at home and sat on their balcony outside, which overlooks the street, playing “who’s a local?” Guessing whether or not each person/couple/group that passed was from Seattle or a tourist, and why. It’s one of our favorite travel games to play. : )
After dinner, we grabbed a ride to Kerry Park, as I’d read it was the best place to go for views of the city, especially at sunset.
The recommendations were right and if you go nowhere else during your time in Seattle, you must stop here to take it all in!
We watched the sun set slowly, casting a warm golden glow over the city, with several others, before moving onto our last stop of the day – the International District for a Fall Harvest Festival, which was essentially a coming together of food trucks, music, art, and street performances.
We sampled a few treats and drinks while making our way through the massive crowd and ending at a little pizza shop – World Pizza – where we shared a slice before heading back to the Airbnb.
On Sunday morning, we woke up a little late and immediately packed up as we were headed to our next accommodation – The Grand Hyatt downtown.
We were so impressed with the service from the first moment we walked in, as we had expected to have to leave our luggage and check in later as we arrived several hours early, but they found us a room right away, allowing us to check in super early, and even threw in a free upgrade – which resulted in us getting a room with a view of Elliot Bay – which I will dream of for the rest of my life.
We unpacked and settled in for a bit before wandering out to find lunch. We ended up at Black Horse Tavern, which I wish I’d snapped a photo or two of as it was such a unique and gorgeous space, but I was so hungry, I wasn’t focused on taking photos!
On our way back to the hotel, we popped into Whole Foods to stock up on a few snacks for the week, and did a little window shopping at the many shops we passed on our walk back.
We did a little relaxing and then grabbed some Starbucks (I caved, usually I kick off Pumpkin Spice Season on my birthday with a PSL, but when in Seattle, start it early!) before walking down to the main piers along the waterfront again.
We perused some of the shops and watched ferries and tugboats and sailboats and seagulls do their thing on the water for awhile, then Ubered to the Fremont area where we planned to spend the rest of our evening.
Our first stop there? This guy.
The Fremont Bridge Troll! He’s so massive, y’all. I can’t even describe just how massive aside from pointing out that, under his hand there, is a real, life-size VW Beetle.
We spent way too long watching other people pose with the troll before moving onto Fremont Brewing.
We stopped in our tracks when we saw the view of the city through the docks and rows upon rows of boats across the street, though, and stood there to watch the sunset before walking into the brewery, which was another stellar location, with beautiful outdoor seating and a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Dinner was our last item on the agenda, and we ended up at Ha! Comfort House – a place known for it’s comfort food and great cocktails. If you find yourself here, let me make it easy for you: You want the mac and cheese. End of story. Amazing!
The next few days were full of conferences and networking and filling my brain with more information about marketing and digital tactics than it could handle (I’m still reeling) but we were able to get some additional exploring in.
We went all-out touristy again and took the Underground Tour one evening. I had no idea that Seattle had once burnt to the ground and they had to build on top of the old city. We had an incredible (and hilarious) tour guide and a really small group, and we learned so much about Seattle’s history (so many parallels between it and Chicago) while walking underneath the city’s streets and were giddy to talk about it over dinner at Merchant’s afterwards.
I’d highly recommend this tour if you’re looking to see another side of the city and learn about it’s history.
If we ever come back, we’ll definitely be doing the tour with a spooky twist – where you get to use actual paranormal investigation devices and conduct your own ghost hunt!
On our last full day, following my conference, we strolled through town and on down to Olympic Sculpture Park.
While the sculptures were incredible and we paused to “ooh” and “ahh” over plenty of them, what really grabbed our attention and held it for far too long was the ability to finally get close to the bay.
We crunched our way through the rocky beach and sat atop some driftwood taking in the sights and sounds of the setting sun, rushing waves, seagulls, tugboats and ferries, quiet chatter of passersby…
I could have stayed there all night and the next day, too.
When we finally decided to start moving again, we walked up, up, up a long, steeeeeep stretch of street to the Space Needle.
We didn’t have any major interest in riding up to the top, and instead admired it from below (it’s gorgeous and HUGE!), and wandered through the garden area surrounding it until dark.
Our final meal took place about a ten minute walk from there, at Serious Pie – a cozy pizzeria that serves fresh, wood-fired fare at communal tables.
We spent our last morning and early afternoon pre-flight in the city venturing to Top Pot Doughnuts, strolling Pike Place Market one last time, and saying our goodbyes to the bay.
It was the only period of time during our stay that the skies were gloomy and appeared to be longing to rain, yet it never did – and by the time we started for the airport, the sun had burst through the clouds again.
We have plenty must-dos and must-sees on our list for next time (a sailing harbor tour, the ferry to Bainbridge, a visit to Rainier, and exploring all of the neighborhoods we didn’t make it to), but I’m so very content with how much we were able to squeeze into our first visit to this beautiful city!
We’ll be back one day, Seattle. That’s a promise!