Lonelier Planet: Seattle
March 4, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I will be visiting Seattle March 12-19 and I'm looking for some of the hidden treasures that aren't in the usual travel guides. I'll be staying in the Space Needle area and won't have a car but I'm comfortable using public transportation and walking any distance. I will be using a CityPass for all my truly touristy needs.

I am in town for the Emerald City ComiCon if that gives you some insight into my interests. I am planning on hitting the Seattle Art Museum, the Paramount Theater on Monday for their silent movie, maybe the Underground tour, etc. I would like to hit Archie McPhee for some laughs, but I'm not so interested in shopping as an activity in general. I am a 39yo male if you have gender/age-specific activities in mind.

I will be combing through some previous threads for ideas if you want to avoid repetition. Any recommendations for out-of-the-way but unique eating/drinking establishments (no dietary restrictions) would be appreciated.
posted by JJtheJetPlane to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This is probably covered in travel guides, but I have to mention it because you shouldn't miss it given your interests: you must see the Fremont Troll.
posted by Emanuel at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have not been to Seattle myself, but I have a general source recommendation for travel advice -- Trazzler. It's a collection of quick travel tips submitted by new and experienced travel writers, covering everything from specific restaurants and bars to specific hotels to specific activities.

(Disclaimer: I've written for them, but chiefly in the NY area; nothing about Seattle, sorry.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2010

I highly recommend the Underground Tour, which you mentioned but I wanted to underscore.

If you manage to get all the way out to Archie McPhee without a car (I also highly recommend the store, but it's nowhere near downtown or the Space Needle), swing around the corner to Blue Star Cafe for a beer and/or brunch, or if you have the time to wait for a table, Bizarro . Or, better yet, put your name on the list at Bizarro, then go round to Archie McPhee for a bit, then stop at Blue Star for a beer before your table is ready (it will be a while at Bizarro, but is so worth it!).

CJ's is an excellent breakfast place near the Space Needle.
posted by arco at 2:29 PM on March 4, 2010

How do you feel about New Vaudeville? You might like the Moisture Festival.
posted by sculpin at 2:31 PM on March 4, 2010

Oh, and if you find yourself in Fremont, check out Theo Chocolate. I liked the tour. They're not kidding about those tours being popular, by the way; expect to have to make a reservation.
posted by sculpin at 2:34 PM on March 4, 2010

beth's [diner] is on 75th and aurora (i believe) and its a seattle staple. 12 egg omlet. srsly.

owl and thistle [bar] is on 2nd and madison (i believe) and is great.

the Frye art museum is i believe free, and pretty great.

tons of great music venues. the market show box always has cheap good shows. others to look for - the crocodile, chop suey, rebar, high dive, neumos, the comet. google "seattle stranger music calendar" to see who is playing where.

'theater sports' is an improve show at the pike place market theater. the entrance is in a well lit but shady alley covered in gum. enough that it breaches "ew" and enters "hey, take my picture with all this gum!"

the can-can also in pike place market does a great burlesque show.

if you're in town for it, look up soul night. lotsa funk and soul and white kids dressed to the mod nines workin it out.

first thursday of the month is an art walk. its not bad. downtown/pioneer square.
posted by nihlton at 2:39 PM on March 4, 2010

The #16 goes pretty directly from the Seattle Center area to Archie McPhee's.

I'd also take a walk up Pike/Pine to 10th/12th or so— lots of small stores along that corridor that might be interesting, plenty of places to eat or drink as well. The con's being held at the convention center, so you could just walk up the hill from there.

Taking a few hours to poke around the ID, Uwajimaya, Kinokunia, and nearby stuff would probably be worth your time too.

Other than comics, what kinds of stuff interest you? Parks/views/nature? Nightlife? Food? Wacky cultural wackiness? Non-wacky cultural stuff?
posted by hattifattener at 2:40 PM on March 4, 2010

These are all exactly the kinds of recommendations I was looking for. Keep them coming, Awesome People of Metafilter! I'd mark you all best answers already but I don't want to stop the responses from coming in.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2010

oh, great food but a little spency - tilth in wallingford.
posted by nihlton at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2010

hattifattener, yes, all those topics interest me, although I probably won't be packing any trail gear so hardcore hiking is probably out. Also, going hand-in-hand with my comics interest is an interest in video games, specifically Halo. If anyone knows of a way I could score a tour of Bungie, I would give my [body part].
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 2:47 PM on March 4, 2010

If you're interested in hiking at all (not 'hardcore' by any stretch of the imagination), an easy place to go on transit is Little Si. Decent views, not strenuous. Can be crowded. Still worth doing if you're from out of town and want a quick dose of PNW nature. I wish I knew good nerd destinations around here, but I've yet to find them.
posted by zvs at 2:56 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wayward Coffeehouse ("Home of the Seattle Browncoats") is about as nerdy as it gets. They'll even add iocane to your drink!
posted by grouse at 3:16 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some cool sites to visit: Fremont Troll, Green Village Restaurant in Chinatown, Bruce Lee's grave, the rock path at Bastyr University, the REI climbing wall, a ferry ride to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island, a 12 egg omelet at Beth's Cafe, a peroshky at Pikes Place market, dim sum in Chinatown, the Arboretum and Asian Art Museum, a raw food lunch at Chaco Canyon cafe, the Burke Gilman Trail, Microsoft campus, Alki Beach...that's all I can think of.
p.s. If you are at the Seattle Center (base of the Space Needle) on a weekend, you may be able to catch a Festal cultural festival event.
posted by MsKim at 3:43 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fantagraphics is in Georgetown (south of downtown)
posted by ljesse at 4:22 PM on March 4, 2010

Metro's Trip Planner and One Bus Away are two resources that will make your car-less Seattle experience much better.

Kerry Park is near your hotel; the climb and the view will get your heart rate up.
posted by soupy at 4:41 PM on March 4, 2010

If you want to check out some unique videogame stuff, there's Pink Gorilla (formerly Pink Godzilla) in the International district (a short, free bus ride south through downtown, or head to the University District, another short busride for the store with a full arcade).

Of course Gameworks will be another destination of choice, which will be obvious since ECC is more or less across the street from them. If you're into hip joints, then Shorty's in Belltown will have your hipster pinball fix. If dives are more your thing, then the Georgetown Liquor Company will do you right, but it's a bit out of the way without a car.
posted by anotherfluke at 6:32 PM on March 4, 2010

Oops forgot to mention that Georgetown Liquor Company is right next to Fantagraphics.
posted by anotherfluke at 6:33 PM on March 4, 2010

I agree with the Theo Chocolate tour (do it on a weekday if you can, the machinery will actually be running!) and nth the Underground Tour.

Maybe check out The Ave (pronounced ave, all one word, not avenue), basically vintage stores/cool bookstores/good, cheap food for the university students. People watching is quite interesting there as well.

A warning about Archie McPhee - I still recommend you go (and if you are in the area, hit up Molly Moon's. This location SO much better than capitol hill) but depending on what kind of places you frequent, you may have seen a lot of that stuff before. Freud Action Figure? Chicken Shooter? Bacon band aids? Wasabi mints? I know I've seen all that stuff elsewhere. Archie McPhee basically carries everything from the brand Accoutrements, which they (or their owner or whatever) manufacture but is sold elsewhere.

Don't know where you're coming from, but as a tip, I recommend using google maps to plan your transit - it is SO much better than the Metro trip planner. Just put in your same to/from addresses as always, but then select 'transit' rather than car. If you click options, you can pick a leaving or arrival time and it gives you a few different options of bus routes, which I love love love.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:34 PM on March 4, 2010

Frye Museum is indeed free.

There's also the Henry Museum, on UW Campus.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:36 PM on March 4, 2010

Oh yeah - totally got reminded of this by another thread, but the downtown library is a can't-miss.

No really. You can't miss it.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:37 PM on March 4, 2010

The underground tour is very cool, as others have mentioned. You'll also be close to the Seattle Center, which has some neat stuff, like the butterfly house and a huge IMAX screen.

You say you're staying in the Space Needle area, which I'm guessing means somewhere in the dozen or so square blocks immediately southeast of the Seattle Center. This area isn't much more than parking lots, hotels, and some light commercial--a bit of a cultural doldrums. You probably won't find much to do in the immediate area, but there are a few neighborhoods relatively close by that are worth checking out.

The closest starts just a few blocks away to the south, across Denny. At 5th and Denny is the 5 Point, one of our better dives, or so I hear. Walk south a bit more and you get into Belltown proper, which has some good restaurants, and farther south still you get into downtown, which has the SAM and the Pike Place Market.

The other close neighborhoods-of-interest would be Capitol Hill / Broadway to the east (not a pedestrian-friendly walk, I'd recommend a bus) and the commerical area just north of the Seattle Center along Mercer. There are some good restaurants there (Tup Tim Thai is my favorite). It's a few blocks uphill from there to Kerry Park, mentioned above, which has the best view of the city.

Taking a ferry ride across the sound, eating lunch, and coming back is a great way to spend a few hours on a sunny day. It's worth visiting Uwajimaya and the other shops and restaurants in the International District (I know there are some manga-type shops there, but I don't know specifics). You're relatively close to Jillian's on South Lake Union, which has arcade games and good pool tables, but would be more fun with a group of people, I would think (I only mention it because it's close).
posted by kprincehouse at 6:37 PM on March 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gomez is playing at the Crocodile Sat/Sun that weekend.

I would recommend Molly Moon's ice cream (~1000 E Pine St in Capitol Hill) and Cupcake Royale (1100 E Pike St in Capitol Hill).
posted by jacalata at 7:11 PM on March 4, 2010

There's a nearly-new restaurant not far from Pikes Place Market and the Space Needle called Night Kitchen - they're open from 9pm - 7am or so and have delicious snacks and meals. It's the sort of place that makes its own ketchup, which finally makes the puddles of red stuff make sense, but still doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
posted by lorimt at 9:05 PM on March 4, 2010

Great responses! I want to try as many of these as possible. I will be sure to check back after the trip and "mark as best" based on my experiences.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 11:22 AM on March 5, 2010

Thanks again for all the great responses. Since marking them ALL best answer would defeat the purpose, I had a tough time choosing. I didn't have time to see even 5% of what was suggested so I marked the items that I really WANTED to see, or at least walked by and could confirm that it looked fun. By no means does this imply the other answers were not spectacular.
posted by JJtheJetPlane at 5:20 AM on April 5, 2010

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