Long overdue is my favorite discoveries from the two days we spent in Seattle late last summer (September if we’re being accurate). I had visited the city once as a child with my parents but hadn’t been back since. Matt, with family in the area, had been several times when he was younger but hadn’t been in years. Coupled with the fact that Matt’s extended family now has several little ones around Jack’s age and additionally, some of our best friends moved up there a few years ago, we knew it was time for a visit.
Time of year:
Absolutely gorgeous. Not stereotypical Seattle weather at all. While we encountered some clouds, It was mostly sunny with no rain. Pretty sure we got the one week when that happens as our family and friends have been deluged by snow for the past several months.
What I Liked:
I’ve heard from many people that Seattle feels like a San Francisco north which definitely seemed to be true, but perhaps with a bit more diversity in the sense that I didn’t get the impression that the city is built solely on tech.
I loved the miles of waterfront in the city and the unique neighborhoods but it didn’t feel too large or overwhelming. We found people to be friendly, parking to be fairly easy, and were thrilled with our discoveries.
What I Didn’t:
I really didn’t dislike anything based on our visit BUT knowing the amount of rain Seattle typically gets, I would probably put this in the dislike category if we’d experienced it.
What To Do:
(Full disclaimer: with the weather so beautiful, we spent a good portion of our trip outside. We also weren’t there long enough to really take advantage of any of the great day trips or hiking trails outside of the city so this is limited to the few things we checked out. On a future trip, I’d love to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island, visit Mt. Rainier, and check out more of the coastal regions.).
Take the ferry from downtown to Alki Beach for lunch.
Visit Gasworks Park on Lake Union for lots of grassy space plus city and water views.
Let your little one run along the Elliott Bay Trail and enjoy the water and Olympic Sculpture Garden.
Looking at a map, Seattle has tons of parks and we would have liked to check out more (Discovery Park, in northwest Seattle, looks huge!). Alas, since we were only there a few days, our time was limited but we enjoyed every outdoor space we hit.
Alki Beach: Alki is a neighborhood that’s within the Seattle limits but on the westernmost edge of the city. It has a lighthouse, a beach, and a cute downtown, plus can be accessed both via car or by taking a ferry from downtown (which looked fun but we were limited on time). The main reason for our visit was to grab lunch at Marination Mai Kai (more notes on that below) but we really enjoyed checking out the area and I could see it being a favorite neighborhood if we lived in the area. It had a great low-key vibe, beautiful homes and water access, and was just minutes from downtown Seattle.
Myrtle Edwards Park/Elliott Bay Trail/Olympic Sculpture Park: We knew we wanted to grab lunch downtown, do a bit of shopping, and walk around and needed to make sure Jack had an opportunity to run around. We found it just west of the main downtown area in the form of the Myrtle Edwards Park, a narrow green space that runs along the water. The Elliott Bay Trail, which runs through it, was busy at lunchtime on a weekday with joggers and bikers but we were able to steer Jack towards the grass and a few of the less crowded areas. The Olympic Sculpture Garden, which is right next to the trail, is also cool to check out.
Gas Works Park: A big park overlooking the water and city.
Gardens around the Space Needle: I'm not sure if this has an official name but there are grassy areas, beautiful gardens, flowers, and some art installations around the Space Needle that were a great place to run around. I suspect on a weekend there may be more people, making it less than ideal with small children but on a weekday, it was great.
We stayed in a fairly nondescript chain hotel in the suburbs east of the city to be able to better see friends and family who live in the Bellevue area. While we’ll occasionally splurge on an amazing hotel (like the Four Seasons in Whistler), we’ll often opt to stay in a clean but simple option in the suburbs as a way to save money when we travel which sometimes works out great and sometimes ends up being a bummer.
Oddfellows Cafe + Bar: While I popped into their coffee shop in the adjacent Elliott Bay Book Company, they have a full cafe and bar next door which looked great. I only grabbed a coffee but it was tasty and I’d love to try the full cafe on a future visit!
Evergreens: We grabbed takeaway salads and wraps from their downtown Seattle location. Matt’s not the biggest fan of a lunch loaded with veggies but I liked their fresh ingredients and a lighter meal after lots of heavy food on the road was a welcome break.
Cupcake Royale: Just down the street from Evergreens and balanced out the healthy lunch. While not my beloved Sprinkles, they were good for a quick sweet treat.
Marination Mai Kai: We loved Marination Mai Kai! While they have a few locations in the Seattle area (the menus vary from location to location), we visited their restaurant in Alki Beach. I highly recommend going early. We had read that it gets crowded fast and arrived around 11:30 to a line of about 10 people. By the time I ordered, I would say the line had more than doubled. They have both indoor and outdoor seating (outdoors is a little cold since it’s right on the water but you get a beautiful view of Seattle). There’s a separate bar to order drinks from, which we splurged on since it was one of our last vacation days. Wanting to try everything from their menu of their Hawaiian-Korean fusion, we got fried rice bowls, one with kalbi beef and one with spicy pork, a taco, a Portuguese sausage musubi, and a kalua pork slider. While everything was tasty, the rice bowls were definitely our favorite and Jack loved the rice! It looks like from their website, they also serve breakfast from Friday to Sunday. I can’t quite remember what the bar menu looked like as it was seasonal and no longer posted online but I had some sort of a tropical drink with tequila while Matt grabbed a beer.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream: This seems to be the local spot in Seattle to go to for ice cream. They have eight locations throughout the city and in Redmond. We popped into one of their shops (I can’t remember which one!) on a weekday after lunch. We were outside of downtown and think we missed any sort of rush they’d get on the weekends. Thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream and would definitely go back. (I have rarely met a scoop of ice cream that I didn’t love and have been trying to cut back after eating a bowl every night when I was pregnant with Jack...which carried over into the nearly three years after he was born).
Elliott Bay Book Company: While I read most books via a Kindle, I’m a sucker for a good bookstore and can happily wander for hours. This one had a huge selection of books in various categories, a great kids section, and a very knowledgeable staff. When I brought my selections up to the front to pay, the clerk immediately made a recommendation for another book based on one of the kids books I had grabbed for Jack. Curious, I ended up getting it and it’s turned into one of our favorites.
Totokaelo: Next door to the Elliott Bay Book Company, I definitely wouldn’t let my toddler loose in this white, minimalist, beautifully-styled store. While I didn’t buy anything, I’d heard a lot about it (and it’s New York location as well) and enjoyed checking it out.
Nube: After checking out Totokaelo and the Elliott Bay Book Company, I was trying to get my bearings and stumbled across this cute shop as well as Brenthaven (listed below). Filled with clothes, jewelry, and household goods that are all U.S. made and sourced, many with organic materials, it had a fun and well-curated selection.
Brenthaven: I turned a corner the wrong way after Nube and ended up at Brenthaven, which sells bags and cases for just about every model of laptop and tablet imaginable. While I wasn’t in the market for one, they had an interesting array of options and appear to be local to Seattle.
Moorea Seal: A few blocks from the Space Needle (fun to check out and we’d walked by but had both gone as kids so decided to forgo it until Jack’s older) is Moorea Seal, a cute boutique with a mix of jewelry, household items, and odds and ends. The owner has a very pretty and widely followed Instagram account if you’re looking for some inspiration. I loved walking around her store, which from the outside is fairly nondescript but inside is a cute little space.
Nordstrom Flagship: While there are Nordstrom locations everywhere, we popped into the downtown flagship to use the bathroom and pick up a pair of sunglasses for me. It was a good thing Jack was a little restless because I could have browsed for hours. Much bigger than your average Nordstrom and filled with things not available in most (like a full Chanel handbag boutique), it was a very dangerous yet fun place!
We thoroughly enjoyed our brief visit to Seattle (and it’s surrounding suburbs) and can’t wait to plan a return trip to explore the area more widely!