Palaces, barricades, threats, meet promises
November 8, 2013 9:53 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Seattle for a conference in late February. Seeking the hivemind's tips on climate, entertainment and dining.

Next year I'm attending AWP. I'm planning on arriving in Seattle on Feb 25 and leaving Mar 1. I'm sure I'll be pretty busy with panels, helping staff my publisher's table at the book fair and networking (maybe?), but I will still have some free periods. I'm coming in a day early and staying within walking distance of the convention center. I need to know the following:

1. How cold should I prepare for it to be? My walk from the hotel to the convention center should only take a few minutes, so how much bundling up should I expect? I'm probably also going to do other pedestrian travel in the area. I was thinking my Doc Martens would do fine as footwear, but will it be very wet? Would I need waterproof boots? How about jeans? Good idea or bad idea? I have a lightweight but very warm & waterproof coat that kept me alive through Xmas week in England & Germany that I'm planning to wear. Overkill? Should I bring gloves?

Sorry for all the questions, I come from the land of year-round shorts & flip-flops!

2. Are there things nearby I should be absolutely sure to experience? The hotel's website says it's very close to Pike Place Market. Is this worth a visit for someone who isn't interested in buying food/produce? I'd probably be more interested in indie or used bookshops, weird occult shops (probably a long shot, I know) or anything that might appeal to those of a gothy bent.

3. Where might be a good place to eat on the night I come in? I like Mediterranean & Middle Eastern food best.
posted by Kitty Stardust to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. In February you can expect temperatures of 40-50 (F) and light or sporadic rain. An umbrella and your waterproof coat would be fine. No need for waterproof boots unless it's pouring and you are determined to go on a long walk. In my experience wide-legged jeans get soggy quickly under these conditions but skinny jeans are fine.

2. Pike Place Market does have some indoor shops selling clothing, nick knacks, and vintage paper items (look for "down under" signs), as well as bakeries and cafes. For books, head east on Pike toward Capitol Hill--if it's not raining this is a pleasant uphill walk from downtown. You will find Edge of the Circle at Pike & Boylston, and Elliott Bay on 10th between Pike and Pine. I have not visited the former but it features crystals and pentagrams in the window and is beloved on Yelp. The latter is an indie bookstore. Capitol Hill would be a nice break from downtown--many restaurants, bars, and small shops along Pike/Pine.

3. For Mediterranean food, I enjoy Petra and Mashawi. For a Seattle take on Mediterranean food, try Lola. (Disclaimer: I prefer "tasty" over "authentic".)
posted by esoterrica at 10:29 AM on November 8, 2013

I live north of Seattle. Bring layers. It can be chilly (around freezing) but it's not bone-chilling cold.

An umbrella is pretty handy, as is an outer layer that is somewhat water resistant (ie, no wool or flannel outer layers).

If it snows and gets slushy I would not wear Doc Martin boots, because they will not keep out water.

As a tourist I thought Pike Place Market was okay (very visually interesting) but it can be pricey. The neighbourhood where Pike Place Market is located is kind of drab.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 AM on November 8, 2013

1. I was going to say that Seattle is not really that cold in February, but I see that you're in FL, so it's all relative. esoterrica is right that it should be between 40 and 50, though it could be a bit colder or warmer. I wear jeans all winter long and it's no problem, though skinny jeans are better than wide-legged since they will be less likely to drag on the ground.

Generally, you shouldn't really expect the kind of rain you'd get in Florida (ie, heavy). It's more likely to just be sort of damp, with overcast skies and drizzly precipitation, fog, or just heavy clouds. You also don't really need to prepare for snow - it is so, so rare here (I've lived here for four winters and it's snowed twice). Check the weather the week before you come and if snow is forecast, deal with it then.

My winter "uniform" here is flats when it's not raining, boots when it is (regular leather boots, not winter boots), skinny jeans, a t-shirt/cardigan combo, wool peacoat, and a scarf if it's especially chilly. This is fine for 99% of Seattle winter days.

2. Pike Place market actually does have a weird occult store, plus at least one bookstore and a few other odd/offbeat shops. The upper level is mostly food/produce, with the lower levels having shops. It's tourist central, but locals love it, too, and there's a lot to see. I always take out of town guests and they always enjoy it, and I do too. Oh, there's also a few occult-type places on Capitol Hill, which is a short bus ride from where you'll be staying, and a more interesting place for someone who's into counterculture-y stuff.

3. I don't know of any good Middle Easter/Mediterranean places downtown, but there are actually some decent restaurants in the market (though they're more expensive). The Pink Door nearby is one of my favorite places in Seattle and I bet you'd enjoy the vibe - kind of feels like a mythical Paris in the 1920s. Also, you'll be just a short walk from Belltown, which can be a bit of a party scene but has lots and lots of great places to eat.
posted by lunasol at 10:49 AM on November 8, 2013

Oh, and Capitol Hill also has Seattle's best bookstore, the Elliot Bay Book Company.

As for other things to do in the area, if you have the time, I always suggest heading to the ferry terminal and taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island. The island is nice, but the ferry ride is really special, and is a very uniquely "Seattle" experience. It will be cold, though!
posted by lunasol at 10:56 AM on November 8, 2013

I've had the opportunity to live in just about every neighborhood of Seattle. That said..

1. The temperature in Feb won't require you to completely bundle but since you're from FL you may find it a bit more chilly and prepare accordingly. A zip hoodie with an overcoat is probably the most commonly worn winter gear that I've personally seen. It seems to offer just enough warmth. Jeans are fine. Gloves seem unnecessary.

It may be rainy--so I would suggest an umbrella or your lightweight waterproof outer jacket. I think your DMs will be fine to tread rain. Seattle is known for its rain but the rain, in my opinion, isn't severe at all.

2. Even if you have no intention of buying food/produce, Pikes Place is a pretty cool, funky place to explore---it's way more than just food. There's artwork, street performers, bars, gift shops, and locals selling their wares (clothing, statues, flowers, ect.). It also has things you might find interesting---some cool little book and occult shops (these are found inside the buildings not street-level). There's the bubblegum wall (gross but kind of awesome) and just down the stairs is the very walkable pier. Tons of window-shopping to be had and at the north end you'll hit Sculpture Park where there's some wonderful artwork to appreciate.

If you don't mind hopping on a bus or if you don't mind a long(ish) walk, you could check out the International District (Chinatown) where you'll find tons of Asian goods and food. Nice old architecture here and there's also some magnificent murals in this neighborhood. If you've never had a Bubble Tea, ID would be the place to try it--Oasis is great!

There's also Cap Hill, where you'll find a lot more book stores, some amazing old mansions, and a place called Volunteer Park, where they sometimes play live music from the Seattle Orchestra. You can also find tons of places to eat on Cap Hill--far too many for me to list here.

3. One of my favorite Mediterranean places will actually be very walkable for you when you get in---just a few blocks from the convention center. It's called Petra Mediterranean Bistro. They have wonderful reviews on yelp. I've personally ate at Petra many times and the food is consistent and soooo delicious (lots of garlic! :9 ). Pricing is 10-$15 person.

If you like Sushi there's a walkable sushi place called Nijo Sushi. They have a great happy hour and sometimes you can find some groupon deals for them. I've personally ate at Nijo a few times as well and I would rank the sushi as good.

Hope you find some fun things to go while here. Seattle's a great place to explore.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:29 PM on November 8, 2013

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is down on the waterfront west and south a little from Pike Place market. It's weird and touristy, and I suppose occult like the Haunted Mansion is occult, but it's fun to visit.
posted by sevenless at 3:20 PM on November 8, 2013

I'll be at AWP too. When they had it in PDX it was late winter/early spring and the temps ranged from 40's to 60's F.

The Seattle art museum and sculpture park (same organization, different locations) are also within walking distance.
posted by brujita at 5:02 PM on November 8, 2013

Seattlite here. I'd avoid the umbrella, and instead bring a nice, sturdy hat. We get winds that comeup from the Sound through downtown, and the wind tunnels that form from the wind getting funnled by the skyscrapers has destroyed many an umbrella.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2013

I strongly disagree about not needing gloves and wearing lightweight things -- February is really weird here and can alternate being one of the most brutal months (I go to a convention in California in Feb. every year, and four separate times it's snowed while I was away or just getting ready to leave) and having a gorgeous week of sun and warmth. Since you never know, I think it's best to be prepared, and if it's really cold, you'll want gloves -- as spinalfex mentioned, there are these wind tunnels that come up the hills from the sound and those winds can be bastards.

Pike Place (not Pikes) Market is actually full of cool things to see and as others mentioned has at least one bookstore, not just produce. You can also go down the hillclimb to find some good places to eat, and hit Western Ave. and down to the waterfront.
posted by emcat8 at 5:06 PM on November 10, 2013

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