A Day in Seattle and Around – West Coast Spring Roadtrip

Seattle and its neighbouring suburb of Bellevue are 2 destinations I have visited several times throughout the years since they are such an easy drive from Vancouver. Not only that, they are very similar in terms of climate and offers some excellent shopping and sightseeing, along with very tasty food! Rather than just cover the one day I was there on this roadtrip, I would compile a list of my favourite things to do while in Seattle and Bellevue for this post.

Public Market
Waterfront view from Pike Place Public Market

The best way to start a morning in Seattle is perhaps by a visit to the Pike Place Public Market which is conveniently situated in downtown. Morning is time where you can see stand owners setting up shops, delivery trucks moving their fresh produce and also a lot of other tourists jostling for spots to visit the old-style Starbucks store and queueing for Piroshky pastries. For those not interested in the queues, there are always something new at the market and even free entertainment in the form of the fish-throwing at the seafood stall facing the main driveway.

City Skyline in the morning
Seattle city skyline from the park in Pike Place

Those seeking more calm and peace in the morning can head to the small park at the end to watch the ferries plying Puget Sound or bask in the occasional sunshine. It is also a reminder that Seattle is after all a city as the highways start to increase the decibels by peak hour.

Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum

When one is done with the market scene, I would head next to Seattle Coffee Works for a cup of coffee and enjoy one of the few coffee roasters authentic to Seattle before heading out to the Seattle Art Museum which is recognizable from the ‘Hammering Man’ sculpture outside its main entrance. Alternatively venture to the futuristic Seattle Public Library located on 4th Avenue, or simply explore the hipster culture around Pioneer Square.

Cool architecture
Cool architecture in the Public Library

When it is time for lunch, head over to BOKA Restaurant + Bar located at the lobby of the Hotel 1000. The food served here are familiar hearty fares that also happen to showcase some of the best ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. At night they even have a happy hour special for those seeking supper.

Happy Hour at Boka
Happy hour at Boka Restaurant inside Hotel 1000 in Seattle

When you are sufficiently filled up, it is time to explore the various neighbourhoods in Seattle, and my favourite one is probably Queen Anne. Located north of downtown on a higher elevation, this upscale residential neighbourhood is also home to the Kerry Park which is probably one of the busiest parks since it offers one of the best views over the city!

Flowers on sale
Flowers on sale in Pike Place Market
Stately mansions in Queen Anne
Stately mansions in Queen Anne neighbourhood

As the sun starts to fall, the city beckons once again and heading back to the city centre one will pass by the Seattle Center, an area designated for arts and culture during the 1962 World Fair. This area is also home to the iconic Space Needle, the more recent Frank-Gehry designed EMP Museum and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. A lot of attractions and choices for the rest of the day and if still neither attracts you, there is always the waterfront piers along Alaskan Way that houses the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Great Ferris Wheel. Both attractions are probably great to wind down the evening and enjoy the setting sun. In addition, there are several restaurants serving a variety of food around both areas, though the nod for food probably goes to the waterfront since it is somewhat closer to downtown.

Seattle Waterfront at Night
Seattle Waterfront at Night

With all that done in a day, the next morning can be reserved for shopping. Though before starting all that, a proper brunch might be in order and one spot I would visit is The Wandering Goose, a bistro serving Southern delights like the ‘Hangtown Fry’ along with all kinds of pastries and muffins. The best thing is that located beside them is a branch of Cafe Victrola to get that dose of caffeine kick!

Hangtown Fry Platter
Hangtown Fry platter at the Wandering Goose

After filling up the tummies, head back to downtown Seattle which is home to the Nordstrom department store chain. There are also a lot of shops retailing in high end sporting gear from Arc’teryx to Columbia around 5th Avenue and Pine Street. Besides the usual downtown suspects, fans of shopping malls could head out to the open-air University Village located in the University of Washington campus or the Bellevue Square in the upmarket residential suburb of Bellevue. Bargain hunters would be heading towards the Seattle Premium Outlets about 45 minutes drive north of Seattle which is also home to the Indian reservation casino Tulip Resort.

University Village Shopping
University Village shopping
Open air courtyard
Open air courtyard at University Village

Being in the Pacific Northwest, there is a lot of nature and locals enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and sailing in the warmer and sunny months to skiing and snowboarding in the winter months. Ski resorts like Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass can be reached easily by car from downtown Seattle and one can even be back in town for dinner after skiing. On the other hand, there are ferries that bring visitors to Bainbridge Island and heading out to the waterfront on a sunny day is one way to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Puget Sound. Just opposite the shore along Alki Beach, there is a quaint little residential village with stores and a beach that offers visitors a view of the downtown skyline.

Columbia and Smith Tower
Columbia and Smith Tower in downtown Seattle
Washington State Capitol
Washington State Capitol in Olympia

For those seeking attractions further out, I might suggest a drive to Olympia, the state capitol of Washington. Located about an hour drive south of Seattle, past Tacoma, the state capital is a neat town with a very compact downtown and close to the bay which is quieter to enjoy the setting West Coast sun! Not to mention, there are lots of green spaces to spread out in Olympia when one seeks to escape the crowded downtown.

Sunset at Seattle in Winter
Sunset at Seattle in Winter from Kerry Park

With the ocean, the mountains and the bay, Seattle has grown to become one of my favourite cities to visit in the United States, and it has grown considerably the past few years with more flights into Seattle-Tacoma. Not to mention there are plenty to see, do, eat and explore in the area beyond Seattle such that I would not be bored visiting the city again since I always find myself enjoying the various facets of urban life with sprinkles of nature!

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