Where to go in Seattle?
January 22, 2010 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Going to be in Seattle for around a month - where should I go and what should I do?

Asking on behalf of my bf. He's been asked to go out to his Seattle office for a month (we live in London). Never been to the States before. He's going to have lots of evenings free, as well as a few weekends. He won't have a car for the whole time he'll be there, though he can hire one for weekend trips away, so he'll be relying a lot on public transportation and walking. He'll be staying around the Kirkland area.
What cool stuff, in or around Seattle, should he know about? I'm thinking bars, museums, gallerys, parks - what's good in Seattle right now?
Thanks in advance for your advice!
posted by shewhoeats to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Take at least a day trip to Mt. Ranier. It's absolutely beautiful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:34 AM on January 22, 2010

Inland a bit, but Snoqualmie Falls--the Falls are amazing in their own rights, but it's also known as the setting for much of Twin Peaks, if you were ever a fan of that, the awesomest of TV shows.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:53 AM on January 22, 2010

If he's in the Kirkland area and wants to do things in the evenings after work, he may want to set aside additional money to rent a car more frequently than he's currently planning. Kirkland is at least a thirty minute drive from downtown Seattle, longer during rush hour, and by European standards public transit in the Greater Seattle area is not excellent particularly going back and forth across Lake Washington, which divides Seattle from the east side communities of Kirkland, Bellevue, etc. That said, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond are the locations of many tech companies so I'm sure there are things to do and see, but I'm a west side snob who rarely goes out there, so somebody else will have to fill you in. I hear the Bellevue Art Museum is good. In Seattle itself, this thread has a lot of advice that is still mostly valid.
posted by ga$money at 6:54 AM on January 22, 2010

Best answer: A month? You can do so much in Seattle in a month! Staying in the Kirkland area and relying on public transportation might be a wee bit tricky, but not impossible. If he is going in the next few months, expect it to be a bit overcast and rainy...not unlike London at this time of year, I'm guessing. Here are some of my favorite things to do:

SAM - good solid city art museum, with fine visiting collections.
The Henry - art museum on the University of Washington campus - focuses mostly on contemporary art and photography, with a lovely permanent James Turrell piece I adore. (My favorite art space in Seattle).
The Frye - medium-small free museum, containing a Seattle founding family's personal collection, plus usually a great rotating exhibit.
First Thursday Artwalk - In the South side of downtown Seattle, good to get there early if you hope to grab any glasses of free wine...does not run terribly late.

Tourist fun:
Underground Tour - irreverent and fact filled history of the disreputable beginnings of Seattle. Very fun!
Crab Pot - if you love seafood and butter, this is the tourist place to eat. I go a couple of times a year. They steam up a big pot of seafood, potatoes and corn and dump it on your table. Great fun and delicious.

I could go on and on about my favorite places to eat, but it would probably be easier to just look at my Yelp reviews: dawnoftheread.yelp.com

Let me know if you have additional questions! Seattle has a reputation for being a bit chill to newcomers, but some of us are genuinely friendly.
posted by dawnoftheread at 7:04 AM on January 22, 2010

I don't know if there are many of them in kirkland, but when I visited my friend who lives downtown we used the zipcar service if we needed to drive somewhere. Very convenient.

I definitely recommend SAM, Pike Place market, the SAM extension at Olympic Sculpture Park. If you're outdoorsy types, the rock climbing and mountaineering in the region is pretty great -- REI, a big outdoor outfitter, was founded and has their flagship store in Seattle. I enjoyed walking around the UW campus, although it was late and everything was closed at the time. Lots of bars both around the schools and downtown, to suit any taste. If your bf also happens to like architecture, there's quite a bit of neat stuff to see; James Cutler (Cutler Anderson Architects) is sort of the quintessential pacific northwest architect, to me. He designed Bill Gates' house, which is unfortunately not open for tours. Also Gehry's (infamous) Experience Music Project, the space needle, and the downtown library by rem koolhaas. Seattle was, of course, the birthplace of grunge, and there's still a pretty solid music scene from what I gather. I didn't get a chance to do this, but you should also take a trip out to see the olympic peninsula (olympic national park). Get out on the water, too; maybe go fishing or something. And the coffee, mmm, good coffee. Go to starbuck's once, if you must, but there are so many local cafes and they all have their own style.
posted by Chris4d at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2010

Pick out sunny day, and then go down to Elliot Bay and walk onto the ferry over to Winslow (Bainbridge Is.) It's gotten a bit trendy over there, but it's a very nice boatride, and walking around town for an hour or so is about enough to soak in some grooviness.

As a bonus, you could get a great view of Mt. Rainier on the way back.
posted by Danf at 8:20 AM on January 22, 2010

Can't believe no one has mentioned this yet. Along with the Hendrix stuff, which is enlightening and great, you will be amazed by how many acts you have heard of came out of the Northwest.
posted by Danf at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2010

If you have skiing or snowboarding gear, you should certainly bring it with you. Even though you won't have a car available, it's very likely that your colleagues will be taking day trips to Stevens Pass or other nearby snow resorts and you will be invited to join them.
posted by halogen at 8:31 AM on January 22, 2010

Go to the Hiram Chittendon Locks (aka Ballard Locks). Pick a nice day - it's one of my favorite places to take visitors, it's often hard to drag them away.
Take a ferry to Bainbridge Island, wander around Winslow, and if you have a car or bike, go to Fort Ward state park for fabulous views of Seattle.
Take a day trip (or overnight) to Port Townsend, a lovely Victorian-era former timber town on the Olympic peninsula. It's in the rain shadow of the Olympics so the weather is often stellar there when it's not so great elsewhere. There's a great Saturday Farmers Market, and a thriving wooden boat building/sailing community, including the Wooden Boat Foundation.
Back in Seattle, visit the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union, and take one of their vintage, restored wooden rowing boats out on the lake.
I could go on, but this should get you started.
posted by dbmcd at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Head up to the San Juans for some hiking on Mt. Constitution (Orcas Island) or at Lime Kiln (SJI).
posted by jgirl at 9:03 AM on January 22, 2010

Best answer: Here are some previous questions that you may have already seen.

Since you are going to be relying on public transit I'd highly recommend going to the international district (Chinatown) and spend some time walking around. It's a great mix of different cultures. This is a great site that reviews restaurants in that neighborhood. Check out our Japanese grocery megastore Uwajimaya. The Wing Luke Asian Museum. Feeling brave? You can purchase balut and a variety of other unusual ingredients at Viet Wah.

For a view the nearby Smith Tower is great - I'd recommend it over the Space Needle. And for sure, hop on a ferry, it's easy and very cheap. Here's a map of the routes you can take, two are available from downtown Seattle - I'd recommend Bainbridge of those. But, for an even better view head up to Anacortes and go out to the San Juans. Crazy beautiful.

I'm sure you'll spend some time on Capitol Hill (if you want to party and have an awesome time). But, walk up to Volunteer Park and check out the conservatory and Asian Art Museum. And, make sure to catch a show at Neumos.
posted by Craig at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2010

Best answer: I think I am starting to sound like a broken record with this recommendation, but...

He may want a way to fill some evenings as a solo (but attached) guy. I would recommend the Zig Zag Cafe. It's a cocktail bar tucked away down below the Pike Place Market. It's small, but lively, and is considered one of the city's (and country's) best bars. There are plenty of good bars around, so that isn't really the heart of the recommendation. The Zig Zag is the kind of place that really sums up our city.

The Owners are behind the bar every night, but the star of the place is Murray Stenson. Besides being featured in Playboy as one of the best in the country, he's a Seattle legend. Just tell him what kind of tastes you like in a drink and he will concoct something original for you. Your own drink. Come back a year later, and he will ask you if you want the same thing. But more interesting to your situation, he holds court for some of the most interesting conversations to be had on any given night. It is a fascinating place to go by yourself and just take it all in. Newcomers completely welcome here...hospitality is their thing. Most people there are there by themselves and at times, it has a salon-like feel. Many of the city's movers and shakers (artists, writers, techy folks) retreat to this place for happy hour or late (late) nights.

I lived in the same building for a number of years, and I can tell you that I learned more about Seattle and many of it's more colorful folks by hanging out at ZZ than I did in my previous 15 years here. The food is great, they have happy hour, and despite being crowded at times, it's never got a pick-up/cruise-y vibe. Good luck.
posted by nickjadlowe at 12:29 PM on January 22, 2010

Response by poster: These are all awesome suggestions - I should favourite them all :) I'm sure he's going to have loads great things to keep him busy!
posted by shewhoeats at 1:56 PM on January 22, 2010

It's a bit of a drive from Kirkland, being in Fremont (about 10 minutes north of downtown Seattle), but one of my favorite bars in town is the George and Dragon pub. Whether or not he's a footie fan, the beer selection will at least be familiar (Tetley's, Boddington's, Belhaven, etc.), and the atmosphere is usually casual and quite friendly.

Seconding the Zig Zag, it's an astonishingly cool place and should be on anyone's itinerary.

Another favorite place of mine is Sake Nomi. It's a premium sake museum and tasting bar. The owner, Johnnie, is behind the bar every night and has forgotten more about sake than I'll ever know. They have a weekly rotating tasting menu of 6-7 bottles; a glass of one usually costs about $10-15 but includes small glasses of each sake on the menu. It's a really interesting place unlike any other I've been to, absolutely worth a look. Hell, now I'm going to go there right after finishing this comment.

And should he end up wanting some drinking / eating partners, I have been known to arrange small posses on a moment's notice. I hope he has fun, this place is great.
posted by Errant at 6:28 PM on January 22, 2010

There are already lots of good suggestions here, but I'll add a few more.

* Gasworks Park: Cool park with a great view of the city. Worth walking around in.
* Mount Rainier and more: In pretty much any direction from Seattle, there are great hikes. From experience (and off the top of my head), Wallace Falls, Comet Falls, Mount Si, and Rattlesnake Ledge are all great hikes.
* Breweries/Wineries: There are several in the area that offer tours/tastings. I've done the Mac and Jacks Tour (Every Sunday at 3pm, free) and the Redhook Tour (2x Weekdays, 3x Weekends, costs 1 Dollar). Mac and Jacks is a little more authentic, Redhook is more touristy. Both are fun and both give you a free glass (although in the case of Mac and Jacks it's a full size pint glass).
* Le Pichet: Great small french restaurant near Pikes Place.
* Brad's Swingside Cafe: Some people think this place is overrated. They are wrong. Great Italian food.
* Museum of Glass: If you happen to find yourself in the City of Destiny (Tacoma), check out the Museum of Glass and accompanying Bridge. Also, Tacoma's Point Defiance Park is also worth a stop if you are there (it's one of the largest city parks in the US).
posted by pwicks at 9:02 PM on January 22, 2010

Elliott Bay Book Company. A fine and glorious independent bookstore. Until March or so, it is on Pioneer Square, down close to the waterfront.

That makes it within strolling distance of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, if he'd like to see the Feejee Mermaid while stocking up on Nephew Gifts.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:01 AM on January 23, 2010

He could take a tour (and lots of tasting) of the Theo Chocolate factory for $6. Or take a stroll through the Fremont Sunday Market. Or he could check out some of the surprisingly not bad soul food in Seattle: Thompson's Point of View, Ezell's Chicken, Catfish Corner.
posted by msbrauer at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2010

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