Ideas for Seattle, WA and Richmond, VA-specific gifts?
November 17, 2009 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Looking for info/tips/leads on local gifts for my Seattle- and Richmond, VA-residing brothers

My two younger brothers moved to opposite sides of the country: Seattle, WA, and Richmond, VA. For Christmas I want to give them "experience" gifts like gift certificates, tickets, etc. to cool stuff in their respective cities. Cool stuff includes but is not limited to: restaurants, bars, interesting stores, awesome museums, etc -- anything that gets them out and about and experiencing their new cities in a fun way. I'm located in the Midwest, so I will need to order stuff online or over the phone. I would LOVE your suggestions and leads here!

Some basic info on the brothers (who are in their early/mid-20s):

Seattle brother:
* grad student
* likes the outdoors and offbeat sports
* loves weird restaurants/bars - the weirder, the better

Richmond brother:
* "young professional"
* more standard, conventional interests (i.e. no dive bars, weird clothing stores)
* has a very classy girlfriend who will likely also partake in the chosen experience
* hidden nerd-tendencies

Á mis hermanos: apologies in advance if you somehow find this and thus have your Christmas surprise ruined
posted by Maarika to Shopping (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A guidebook to Seattle would be very, very useful. Wide World Books and Maps has many. You could call them for a recommendation. Or see if they will sell a gift certificate—it is an awesome store.

Archie McPhee is a cool store. Check that their gift certificates are usable in the storefront before buying.

If you think your brother in Seattle would like snowboarding or skiing, you could get a gift certificate to one of the nearby ski areas (Stevens Pass or Crystal Mountain) or REI (the flagship REI is in town and is a pretty interesting experience in its own right).
posted by grouse at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2009

For the secret nerd in Virginia, maybe a membership to the Edgar Allen Poe museum?
posted by Sara Anne at 8:05 AM on November 17, 2009

For your Richmond brother: Capital Ale House gift card, hands down. Depending on the location, they have up to 80 beers on tap and 250 bottled brews, with a constantly-rotating menu. The downtown one can be extremely busy on the weekends, but if it's not too much of a drive, the Midlothian one can offer a quiet table even at prime occupancy times.

Also, you might peruse the list of merchants in Carytown, a popular retail/restaurant strip downtown; for example, his "hidden nerd-tendencies" could be served at World of Mirth or Creatures & Crooks Bookshoppe.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:10 AM on November 17, 2009

If your brother is a history nerd, Colonial Williamsburg is only about 45-60 minutes outside of Richmond. It is also classy in an intellectual, public-television kind of way.
posted by weesha at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2009

For the Seattle brother, I would highly recommend (a gift card for) the Zig Zag Cafe. That Zig Zag is considered not only one of the best bars in Seattle, but one of the best in the country (Esquire, Playboy, etc.), is almost not the point. The place has a great vibe. There are as many interesting conversations to be had here as there are rare single-malts, ryes, tequilas, and aperitifs. That is to say, loads. It's the kind of place that sums up a city. It's kind of hard to find, but not in that goofy faux-speakeasy way. The light is low. The service is friendly and relaxed, but first rate.

Murray Stenson (who, along with Eric, and owners Ben and Casey, tends the bar) is widely considered to be one of the best bartenders in the country, but more than that he is a great guy and a sagely Seattle resource. You know the kind...he's never the story, but he's all the footnotes. He will find out what you like, make you a perfect drink all your own, and give it a name. And he will remember that drink the next time you walk in the door. Not kidding.

So that's really the gift here. You could, by way of Murray and Zig Zag, give your brother his very own drink, mixed by one of the best around. And a great place to sip it and meet people.

And that my friend, is a gift that keeps on givin'.
posted by nickjadlowe at 9:28 AM on November 17, 2009

I have to comment again to agree that Zig Zag is, indeed, fantastic. And so is Murray.
posted by grouse at 9:33 AM on November 17, 2009

You could get your Seattle bro a Bizarro gift certificate. That place is awesome.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:53 AM on November 17, 2009

Do you think your Seattle brother would like rock climbing? I've heard good things about Stone Gardens.
posted by sculpin at 10:24 AM on November 17, 2009

These are some awesome suggestions -- the Seattle brother would love his own personal drink at Zig Zag, and Bizarro is right up his alley!

I will be making some calls, and if gift cards are not available, I'll give cash plus a custom IOU :-).

But please keep the recommendations coming -- particularly Richmond options!
posted by Maarika at 12:29 PM on November 17, 2009

For the Seattle brother, perhaps a gift certificate for a class or workshop at SANCA, the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts? Lots of fun stuff and interesting people!
posted by Sublimity at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2009

Well, here's a legendary Seattle bar. And here's a really classic restaurant/bar that arguably makes the best burger in town. And finally I've heard this is a very offbeat tapas place, which by the way has live flamenco on Thursdays.
posted by bearwife at 4:41 PM on November 17, 2009

Also, you might peruse the list of merchants in Carytown, a popular retail/restaurant strip downtown; for example, his "hidden nerd-tendencies" could be served at World of Mirth or Creatures & Crooks Bookshoppe.

Since gift cards for local establishments can be hard to acquire, you might consider sending him money with the express directive that it be used at a particular store. Perhaps a pre-signed check for a particular store and amount?

As for Carytown, the two places sarahsynonymous mentioned are not bad. I also recommend Mongrel and Chop Suey Books for eclectic gifts and books and One Eyed Jacques for non-electronic games of all kinds (board, card, roleplaying, and miniatures). The Byrd Theatre is a beautiful "movie palace" from the 1920s that shows second-run movies and live performances; $20 would let him and his girlfriend see five movies, or $44 for two tickets to see Harry Shearer live.

The Capital Ale House is great, but if the weather's nice (albeit now it's a bit cold), the Legend Brewery has a great patio and great beer. Saturdays at 1 PM they have free tours, so if he's into that it could be pretty neat.

If you want to absolutely splurge on your brother, a night's stay at the Jefferson Hotel starts at around $400. The Presidential Suite runs a cool $2,100. The Sunday Champagne Brunch, on the other hand, is a more reasonable $42, and worth it for the experience alone, IMO.
posted by armage at 7:33 PM on November 17, 2009

For seattle Teatro ZinZanni is a great offbeat experience. It's like a miniature cirque du soleil almost in your lap. Plus dinner.
posted by jefftang at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2009

Get Seattle brother a chinook book. It's a coupon book sort of along the lines of the entertainment book, except that the businesses are local, environmentally friendly, unique, independently owned, etc. vs. chains. In particular they feature a lot of outdoor stuff and outdoor-related stuff (coupons for skiing/snowboarding/cabins/lodges, coupons for buying or renting gear etc.)

You can order it online and mail it anywhere :)
posted by groovinkim at 11:06 AM on December 3, 2009

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