With its infamous reputation for being rainy and wet, Seattle might conjure a gloomy cityscape with grunge playing in the background. However, when I close my eyes and think of my current home, I see the beautiful transformation between seasons and the evergreen landscape that surrounds the city. On a clear day Seattle is anchored in the horizon by Mount Baker’s majestic snowcaps in the northeast, the Olympic Mountains in the west, the Cascades in the east, and Mount Rainier in the south. Meanwhile, the overcast days smell fresh and hang a mysterious curtain of fog over the Puget Sound.
The fabric of Seattle’s characters and cultures is woven by, among other colorful threads, the strong sense of community; the gastronomic sphere, in which flavors brought by immigrants harmonize with Pacific Northwest ingredients; and the many creators and makers who support one another and nourish the local art scene.
A perfect day in Seattle could take place during any season. It could be a warm summer day when dusk comes late and you marvel at the natural beauty in every corner of the city; a fall or spring day when Seattle’s many parks are immersed in the woodsy smell and colors of dry leaves or the fragrant scent of blooming spring flowers; or a gray winter day during which the city remains emerald green. Regardless of the season, as you travel through the neighborhoods of Seattle, you will taste many flavors from different cultures.
Volunteer Park Café
1501 17th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98112
Tucked in a quiet corner near a cul-de-sac between Volunteer Park and Interlaken Park, Volunteer Park Cafe is an airy, homey spot on the north end of Capitol Hill. Sitting in the light-filled dining room, surrounded only by residential homes, you might forget that you are in the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. The food is unassuming and rustic. For breakfast make sure to browse the selection of freshly baked goods before settling for one of the decadent early-morning offerings, such as brioche French toast or a brie-and-apple panino. A meal at Volunteer Park Cafe should give you plenty of fuel to stroll through the neighborhood and park.
3801 Discovery Park Blvd.
Seattle, WA 98199
Make your way across town to Discovery Park, a 534-acre green space on the shores of the Puget Sound. This, the largest park in the city, features several hiking trails and offers a glimpse of Pacific Northwest nature without making you leave the city. The loop trail takes you all the way down to the beach, where on a clear day the Olympic Mountains makes the scenery even more magnificent.
472 1st Ave. N.
Seattle, WA, 98109
The beloved nonprofit radio station KEXP traces its beginning to 1972, when it was a tiny station covering a range of less than 10 miles. Today KEXP is headquartered in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood in a 25,000-square-foot space. It features a 50,000-album music library, a performance studio, a community gathering space, and its very own coffee shop. La Marzocco Cafe showcases the breadth and diversity of specialty coffee around the world by serving coffee from a rotating lineup of roasters in residence. If you are a music lover, you will enjoy sipping on a coffee while watching KEXP’s DJs at work in a clear glass booth. Check with the front desk to see whether there are any public viewings of KEXP’s in-studio performances while you’re there; you might get a chance to see intimate live shows of well-known or upcoming musicians.
Pike Place Market
86 Pike Pl.
Seattle, WA 98101
From KEXP, walk 10 minutes to Olympic Sculpture Park to view a free collection of public art, curated by the Seattle Art Museum. The park is located on the waterfront and overlooks the Puget Sound. From there, stroll south to get to the iconic 110-year-old Pike Place Market, one of the oldest farmers markets in the United States. The market was created in 1907 to enable farmers to sell their products directly to customers and offset the high prices of produce. It is a landmark that truly represents Seattleites’ investment in their community.
Pike Place Market is well known for its fishmongers, fresh produce, handmade cheese, bulk teas and spices, and unique food and produce stalls. If you are in the mood for a snack, stop by Piroshky Piroshky and grab a fluffy pillow of Russian hand-held pie. If you are hungry enough for lunch, the Filipino food stand at Oriental Mart is the perfect option. The 30-year-plus family-owned establishment has a counter with a few stools and serves the most amazing chicken or pork adobo, longanisa, and lumpia. If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the counter, try a steaming bowl of salmon sinigang, and marvel at Milagros Apostol and her family, cooking away at their family recipes in the tiny kitchen.
Seattle, WA 98104
The Great Seattle Fire in 1889 destroyed most of the downtown neighborhood, including Pioneer Square. After the fire, the square was rebuilt on top of all the old buildings, and the entire neighborhood was elevated by 22 feet. Pioneer Square’s Romanesque architecture stands out with its brick and stone buildings. Strolling through the square, check out the many art galleries on First Avenue, South Jackson Street, and around Occidental Square. If you are in the mood for another coffee or snack, stop by Elm Coffee Roasters or The London Plane.
Seattle, WA 98104
As Seattle is home to the most extensive Asian community in Washington state, a trip to the Emerald City wouldn’t be complete without a stop in its Chinatown-International District, a neighborhood full of history and legacy. From Uwajimaya, a 90-year-old grocery store established by a family of Japanese immigrants, to Dong Thap, the restaurant that serves the world’s largest bowl of pho, featuring 4 pounds of noodles, 4 pounds of meat, and 4 liters of broth, the district is full of deliciousness and surprises.
For the history of the district, you’ll want to visit the Wing Luke Museum, whose mission is to connect everyone to the rich heritage, dynamic cultures, and art of Asian Pacific Americans. The museum bears the namesake of a Chinese immigrant who was the first person of color on the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest. The Wing Luke Museum has mounted several exhibitions inspired by its community, including the most recent show, “Day in the Life of Bruce Lee.”
Seattle, WA 98108
The industrial-turned-residential neighborhood is the destination for creative industries in Seattle. Georgetown’s sprawling warehouses and quirky location next to the railroad sets it apart from the rest of the city. Check out Georgetown Trailer Park Mall, which offers crafts made by local artists and eccentric vintage goods. Stop by Georgetown Records and Fantagraphics to browse their extensive collections of vinyl and comic books. Grab a pint of IPA at Georgetown Brewing Company or stop at Machine House Brewery for a locally-brewed British-style cask ale.
The Corson Building
5609 Corson Ave. S.
Seattle, WA 98108
The food scene in Seattle is vibrant, due to the many local chefs appreciating and paying homage to local ingredients. The Corson Building is well loved for this very reason. In a beautiful, small stone building next to the highway, this fine-dining restaurant provides a community for food lovers to gather and savor the most delicious meals. The menu changes daily but always highlights vegetables, seafood, and other produce from local farmers and fishermen.
925 E. Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98122
Neumos is one of the most respected venues for live music in Seattle and has a relatively small space that is always at capacity. Check out the lineup in advance, then go enjoy some live music and nightlife. Don’t miss it if the bill includes any of Seattle’s beloved hip-hop artists, such as Blue Scholars, Sol, Grynch, Dave B, or the Physics. If you are in need of a late-night snack after the show, try a Seattle hot dog—Polish sausage on a toasted bun topped with dollops of cream cheese, jalapeño, sauerkraut, and Sriracha—from the stand outside.