Your Best Seattle
September 20, 2017 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm meeting up with a VERY old friend in Seattle in October. She is visiting from England and has a free day from 11am onwards. I'm driving down from Vancouver so we have all of half a day to spend together before I have to come home and I want to maximize our time. What would you do?

I would like it to be the best of both worlds - time to catch up properly over coffee and lunch, and later dinner, but it would be nice to do something in between both meals.

What would you recommend to do, and also do you have any good recommendations for restaurants in the downtown area? My friend is a vegetarian so any recommendations of places that serve good vegetarian options would be appreciated.

I know my friend is a Starbucks fan so I understand we can visit the "1st Ever Starbucks" but it is quite touristy.

What else should we do? I've been to Seattle before and done the usual suspects; Space Needle, Music Museum, underground tours, Pike place etc. Are there any other cool things we can do that might be fun and don't take too long?

What are your best recommendations for the perfect day in Seattle? This is a friend that means a lot to me and as I'm more of a "local" than she is, I think she wants me to take the lead, and I'm fine with that, except I'm no expert when it comes to Seattle to be honest!
posted by JenThePro to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If she's a huge Starbucks fan and you don't want to wait through the long, long, long line to go tot he Starbucks at Pike Place Market, try the Starbucks Roastery. It's a really unique location for Starbucks and has pretty good coffee (especially compared to what you find in their average store). I've gone there and enjoyed multi-hour chats with friends. It's very relaxing and comfortable.

I don't have other specific ideas but I would find a parking garage you can leave your car at from 11 am - late dinner o'clock and walk, bus, or Uber from place to place. You definitely don't want to park at each place you go.

You can also try hitting up the Seattle Art Museum, Theo Chocolate Factory (though it's away from the downtown area), or the Chihuly Glass and Garden area at the Seattle Center.
posted by toomanycurls at 9:19 AM on September 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: How about a trip up to the top of the Smith Tower for a lovely cocktail?
Or head to the International District to see the Pinball Museum. While in the International District you can head up to Tamarind Tree for amazing Vietnamese Food with good vegetarian options.

Or walk up to Capitol Hill and go to Plum Bistro
which has great vegetarian food and then you could pop in to the Elliot Bay Book Company for a Seattle readers experience or go by Starbucks' Roastery & Tasting Room.

I sorta love the Harbor Tour, which is downtown and not too long, but you could also just hop on the Bremerton Ferry and go there and back.
posted by brookeb at 9:25 AM on September 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you have a car, the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal Way is really beautiful and would make for a nice break between other activities--we went there recently and although I wasn't expecting much it was my favorite part of our trip. It's kind of far from downtown but sometimes with old friends riding in the car together can be really fun!
posted by stellaluna at 9:29 AM on September 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Chihuly is a nice way to walk and talk and see something cool.
posted by k8t at 10:20 AM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding The Starbucks Roastery.

Seattle also has a large Ethiopian community, and Ethiopian food has a lot of vegetarian options. I love Blue Nile, which is on 12th and Jefferson.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2017

If you're going to take the ferry, I recommend the shorter Bainbridge ferry (35 minutes) instead of the Bremerton ferry (60 minutes) . Bainbridge has a small downtown within walking distance of the ferry.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Taking a ferry out and back will allow you to sit and talk while beautiful scenery rolls past you. That would be quite novel for someone from England.
posted by monotreme at 11:00 AM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bainbridge! Walk off the ferry, into town. The Bainbridge Art Museum is lovely, free and has a nice little cafe. Then, and you can thank me later, Mora Ice Cream. Dulce de Leche BA and Dulce de Leche with shaved chocolate (but it's ALL good!) Nice little shops, great bookstore, a glass of wine at one of the wine shops, back on the ferry and you're right in downtown Seattle again.
posted by lois1950 at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

If it's not raining, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a great place to walk and talk. Actually, I've been there when it was raining and it was still good.
posted by pangolin party at 11:58 AM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ooh that sounds like fun. Seattle's light rail system has recently expanded. So you can now get from downtown—Westlake station's under the Macy's on Pine—up to Capitol Hill or over to the U-district in just a few minutes. On Capitol Hill, there's Volunteer Park, an Olmsted bros. designed park. Sadly, the Seattle Asian Art Museum inside the park is currently closed for renovations. Though it isn't terribly large, my favorite bit up there is the Conservatory. Volunteer Park also happens to be situated right at one end of Millionaire's Row if you like wandering through old neighborhoods. More importantly, the park is just north of the business/restaurant corridor along 15th avenue.

I second the Bainbridge ferry if a shorter boat ride with lovely views is on the table. There's not a lot in Bainbridge on foot, so be forewarned, but the views on the ride out and back are spectacular as all of Seattle's waterfront and the iconic Needle are laid out for you.

The Smith tower is a good choice for views. I always warn visitors to avoid the Needle—what's the point? It's the best bit of Seattle's skyline, and you can't see it when you're in it. From the Needle, Seattle's just generic city skyline #12. The Chittenden Locks in Ballard are a nice spot to do a bit of boat watching and have access to the Ballard shopping area. You can also watch the salmon pass through them in a special viewing room, at the proper time of year. There's a decent garden attached, but as it's October you're looking at… They're also close to Discovery Park, which has a rather nice 2.8 mile heavily wooded loop trail on 500+ acres. It has some great views over Puget Sound.

To the east of Ballard a bit is Green Lake, and the nearby Woodland Park Zoo. I particularly like their Butterfly Garden exhibit, since you get to walk around with them. (On an unrelated note, I just realized our zoo has the address! Holy crap they must have had some luck or someone on the ball early on).

Most these are outside of downtown, but despite traffic often being ugly, the city itself is rather compact, so when on surface streets it's not usually too bad, especially outside of rush hour traffic. If you're just wandering around on foot however, you can do worse than simply exploring the downtown area while talking and catching up. I've lived here 16 years now, and always find new things down there when I roam. There are restaurants tucked away all over the place, but heading north on 1st or 2nd avenue gets you pretty quickly into a long stretch of restaurants in Belltown. Vegetarian options are generally pretty common in Seattle, so you shouldn't have any real issues there. Oh my, nearly forgot—there's the fantastic Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront! Most importantly, they've got sea otters! Truly, truly squee-worthy.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth I have two vegetarian friends who visit me here in Seattle from England and whenever they are here they go out of their way to eat at Cafe Flora as often as they can. It's not downtown but might be worth the trip for the all-vegetarian menu.
posted by Miss Matheson at 5:34 PM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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