Take Me to the Emerald City

In honor of the Seahawks and the Super Bowl, I decided to write this week’s blog about the beautiful Emerald City.

The Space Needle
The Space Needle

I love Seattle. It’s my second home—with most of family moving to the Pacific Northwest recently, I’ve spent the last couple of summers exploring the city, and the immense amount of nature around it. Super welcoming and beautiful, the city and it’s residents have made me feel welcome in a short amount of time, and I absolutely love going back.

Public Market Sign at Pike Place Market

And what’s not to love! The Pacific Northwest is beautiful! Okay, well I guess I’m a little biased… I’m originally from the Midwest, so the first time I went to the Pacific Northwest, so seeing anything outside of the realm of flat land and cornfields outside the city was mind-boggling sight.

Besides the fact that you can see Mt. Rainier from the city, you have the Puget Sound, the Space Needle, the fish, the parks and lookouts, the nearby San Juan Islands (Orca watching), the Seahawks, the accessibility of getting to Portland, OR and Vancouver, B.C., the Sounders, amazing coffee, and oh so much more. Plus, you get to meet nice, laid-back, if sometimes eccentric, Seattleites that make the city feel like home.

Gas Works Park and Lake Union

Oh, where to start…

Fly in through SEA-TAC (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport), and fly Alaska Airlines (it’s the best, unless you find a cheaper flight, then do that). From there, you can take the Light Rail directly to downtown Seattle, and find your way from there.

The Puget Sound

I’ve never had to stay in a hostel in Seattle—perks of actually living there—but I have seen a few in passing, and I looked a few up. Keep in mind that hostels in the US and Canada are a little bit more pricey that hostels in other countries. City Hostel Seattle is right in the middle of the action, being right downtown. Dorms start at $29, with privates starting at $32.

The Green Tortoise Seattle Hostel is also pretty central (I’ve walked by this one a ton, and it seems pretty cool); Dorms start at $32. Lastly, there is the HI (Hostelling International) Seattle at the American Hotel. A huge facility, and housed in the International district (close to the downtown area, but in a different neighborhood if that’s what you’re looking for), dorms and privates start at $32.

Public transit in Seattle is wide and slightly confusing. There is the bus, the light rail, train, and ferries (if you fancy checking out some nearby islands during your stay. The bus and/or walking will probably be you best bet. If you plan on staying in the downtown area, walking will get you where you need to go. But if you want to check out some of the awesome, surrounding neighborhoods, the bus is the way to go. From the city center, take the E line express and head up to Greenlake (where you can rent paddle boards/kayaks, etc in the Summer) or take the 10 or 11 bus up to quirky Capitol Hill. Download the app OneBusAway, and you’re all set.

View from Rattlesnake Ledge, just outside of Seattle

If you are planning on getting out of the city to check out some hikes/other outdoorsy activities (which I highly recommend), you’ll need to rent a car. Doing so at the airport can be a little pricey if you’re only planning a day trip, so keep alternatives like ZipCar in mind.

There’s also this cute/quirky town a few hours from Seattle… Leavenworth is a town modeled after a small town in Bavaria, Germany, complete with multiple biergartens and other German themed shops and restaurants. Slightly weird, but it’s a nice little day trip by car to eastern Washington.

The Ballard Locks

If you want to head to Vancouver, B.C. (make sure you’re packing a passport) or Portland, OR, you can also get a Bolt Bus ticket pretty cheaply. It’s around three hours both ways.

As for things to do while you’re there, check out the staples like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market (where you’ll find the original Starbucks as well as a huge line out the door), the EMP museum, and the Fremont Troll.

4th of July Fireworks over Lake Union

Also, make some time to just troll along the waterfront, maybe make a stop in the awesome aquarium, and try some local restaurants for some delicious, fresh fish. Stuff outside the center of the city includes Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill, Lake Union, the Ballard Locks,Gas Works Park, the Woodland Park Zoo, Discovery Park, and the Washington Park Arboretum.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Park: Volunteer Park at sunset in Capitol Hill
  • Coffee Shop: Uptown Coffee in Belltown (“Home of the velvet foam”.. and the best latte you’ll ever have).
  • Activity: Paddleboarding/kayaking on Greenlake in the Summer
  • Thrift Store: The Goodwill Outlet (Macklemore literally wrote songs about how good the thrift stores are in Seattle).
  • Ice Cream: Bluebird in Greenwood, and of course, Molly Moon in Capitol Hill (Stumptown Coffee flavor, yum)
  • General Place to Walk around: Though it’s pretty touristy at times, I love walking through Pike Place Market, and then down by the piers on the waterfront. Go on a less crowded weekday and you can find fresh foods and products from Seattle’s farmers and artisans.

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