It seemed like everyone and their grandma has visited Seattle besides me - which is quite surprising, because of how much I travel and how close Seattle is to California. It was on my bucket list for the longest time, but then I finally decided to go because Alaska Airlines had a Black Friday sale! It worked out nicely with my schedule and it made for a great weekend getaway.
I visited towards the end of January, which isn't the most ideal time to go. People will tell you that Seattle is much nicer during the summer months (which also means more people). The forecast predicted rain all weekend, so I came prepared. But, the weather was mostly sunny! My friend told me that sunny weather is uncommon around this time. I got lucky, but you may experience more dreary weather in the winter time. Overall, I would definitely recommend visiting Seattle for a weekend. But next time, I would want to drive outside the city and see more of nature!
I landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport around 8:30am and decided to head straight to the city center. I wanted to make the most of my time there! To get around, I exclusively used public transportation (the Link light rail and buses) which was surprisingly more convenient than I expected. If you plan to only be in the city center, you don't need a car. I ended up buying a day pass for the two days I was there ($8/day) which was a great value because I was going all over the place.
To start off the day, I went to Pioneer Square, the Seattle Center and the Space Needle. There wasn't much going on because it was pretty early, but it was nice to just walk around. I would say the Seattle Center would be more lively during the day because it's a huge community space.
I was hungry after walking around, so I decided to eat at Tilikum Place Cafe. It definitely had the vibe of a classic brunch place. After poring through all of the choices, I decided to get their daily benedict which was super tasty! However, the best part were the potatoes and whatever sauce they made the ham in. I only wished it was a little bigger for the price. But, I definitely would come back in the future and try something else.
After finishing my meal, I decided to go to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. This is definitely one of the coolest Starbucks I've been to even though I rarely drink coffee. There's a lot going on and different areas in here, but I'll try to explain it the best I can! I personally thought the best part was having the hands-on experience. I would recommend coming here, even if you don't really drink coffee!
1. The Main Bar - This is the area where it most closely resembles your traditional Starbucks, where you could just order drinks. However, the drinks they make here are a little different than what you usually see!
2. The Experience Bar - I personally thought this was the most unique area, where you can order different flights of coffees and the guy makes it right in front of you. It reminded me of what you'll experience at a wine tasting. I wanted to try this but couldn't because I was on a time crunch. It's also pretty pricey!
3. The Mixology Area - Take your typical bar, cross it with coffee and you get the Mixology Area. You could buy boozy Starbucks-inspired drinks, which was also kind of cool.
4. A food section - Towards the back of the Mixology Area, there's a little area where they sell your typical bakery small bites and pastries. However, there's a lot of options - you could definitely choose a few things and call it lunch for the day.
5. Merchandise - This area has all sorts of little things you could buy (they have to make money somehow).
Then, I went off to meet up with a friend for lunch at Biscuit Bitch, which was pretty unique! They have a few locations, but we happened to go to the smallest one. It’s inside a cafe (Caffe Lieto), so don't get too confused! The place is also quite small, so you'll have to order inside and then (probably have to) wait outside to hear your name. They specialize in Southern-style biscuits and grits.
I got the Hot Mess Bitch (biscuits and gravy, eggs and garlic grits smothered in cheese, grilled Louisiana hot link and jalapeños), which was super good but pretty spicy. It's pretty big and kind of heavy, so I would definitely try coming when you're super hungry or split it with a friend. Eating beforehand at Tilikum didn't help either, but I would come back again with more people.
After eating, I wanted to walk around so I took the bus to Kerry Park, which has a very nice view of Seattle. The park is small, but the view is great - you could see the ocean and the Space Needle.
Then, I went to walk around Gas Works Park, which I think was my favorite park during this trip. There's a little hill where you can get another fantastic view, but it's a different perspective than Kerry Park. To get here, you'll want to type in Kite Hill into Google Maps. There are various random industrial-type structures around the park, along with a small playground. If it was during the summertime and I lived in Seattle, I would definitely come out here on a weekend, lay out on the grass and read.
After walking around, I headed towards the Fremont area (Fremont Troll and The Fremont Rocket). There's a lot of small shops and restaurants around here. As I was walking around, a small shop filled with plants called Peace Love and Happiness Club caught my eye. It was one of the most interesting shops I've been in. It's filled with all sorts of succulents and plants, which was a nice change from being outside most of the day. Overall, the shop was very cute.
Around this point, it was around the early evening so I decided to slowly make my way towards my hostel. I went towards Molly Moon's, an ice cream place my friend recommended to me! I'm a sucker for ice cream, so I was pretty excited to try it and I wasn't disappointed. After sampling a bunch of flavors, I decided to try one of their seasonal specialties (lemon bar) which tasted AMAZING. It wasn't too sour, but it was still sweet enough to taste the lemon without feeling like you're eating non-fat/non-dairy ice cream. I would highly recommend stopping by here!
After finishing my ice cream, I walked right next door to The Elliott Bay Book Company. What I liked most about this place was that there was a small area where you could buy coffee, but it also had ample space to sit there with your laptop and get some work done.
After walking around the bookstore, I went to check in at the hostel I was staying at (Hostelling International at the American Hotel). The hostel was good, but not spectacular. They provide a free towel and breakfast, but the hostel itself was clearly very old and it showed. However, all I really needed was a bed and it was a good deal - an Airbnb would have cost twice as much.
I left my things at the hostel and went to put my name down on the waitlist at Dough Zone Dumpling House. While I was waiting, I walked to a bookstore called Kinokuniya, which was attached to Uwajimaya, an Asian market. The bookstore and market reminded me of home because it sold all sorts of Asian literature (manga, etc.) and Asian stationary.
I went to check in at the restaurant to secure my spot on the waitlist but they were able to seat me right away because it was just me (perks of traveling solo!). The restaurant was very popular on a Saturday night, so expect to wait. I got the chicken veggie wonton w/ chili sauce and the beef-stew noodle which was pretty good! It was also on the cheaper side, which made it a good deal ($14 USD including tip). However, I was expecting more soup in the beef-stew noodle. This restaurant would be a great place to go family style and try different things, or if you don’t have a big appetite!
After eating, I went back to the hostel to get some rest as it had been a pretty long day!
To start off my 2nd day in Seattle, I made plans to get brunch with a friend at Portage Bay Cafe. They have multiple locations in Seattle, but we went to the one in the Ballard area.
This was another place one of my other friends recommended to me. There were a lot of options and we wanted to try everything! The menu itself is pretty intimidating. I ended up going with the Rancher's Breakfast (first two pictures of the slide show below), which combined the sweet and savory flavors that I was craving. My friend got one of the benedicts. Everything was pretty good, but you can definitely split the Rancher's Breakfast with someone else because it's a lot of food for one person. I would recommend choosing a dish that lets you go to the breakfast bar, which is an area where you can put various toppings on your toast or pancakes! They have all sorts of fruits, grains, whipped cream, etc. and I kind of got carried away. Overall, I would come here again as well!
After eating, my friend and I walked around the Ballard Sunday Farmer's Market. The market itself wasn't too big or small, which I really liked! The market had lots of local vendors selling food and products. There were also a lot of people with their dogs! We were both glad we ate beforehand because the food people were selling looked delicious. Coming here would be a great way to spend a Sunday!
I had plans to meet up with another friend at Pike Place Market, so I started heading towards that direction. We started off by seeing the "fish toss", which is when a few stalls toss fish to each other! It wasn't as exciting as I expected, but it was still interesting. We also saw the Gum Wall, which was just a wall with chewed-up gum on it. Interesting, but a little disgusting. Then, I went to Piroshky Piroshky and got an apple cinnamon bun, which was delicious. I was told the line could be pretty long, but there was a worker that walked along the line and let people take pictures of the menu! I thought that was a pretty smart strategy because when people get to the front, they know what they want.
We also walked by the “oldest” Starbucks (not actually the oldest) which was interesting but slightly underwhelming. There are also some great views of the water from certain points at the market, along with various shops a level down.
Then, we started to walk towards the Seattle Public Library, which was cool! I’m a fan of aesthetic libraries and their architecture, so it was nice to see. The library also had a floor with historical archives, so we looked around there for a while.
We eventually made our way back towards the market to get coffee at Storyville Coffee, In the queue, there was an iPad that allowed you to get a free mug if you typed your name and email and showed them the confirmation email! I thought there was going to be a catch, but there wasn’t. Also, there were a lot of people but we managed to snag two spots from people that were just about to leave. We were able to talk for a while, but then I had to go to the airport.
Overall, the trip was a great way to spend the weekend. I’ll definitely be back!