Advice for Seattle trip.
July 29, 2008 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Please help me plan my trip to Seattle.

I am going to Seattle with my family for 9 days in mid-August. I have never been to the Pacific Northwest before, but I have wanted to travel there for a long time for the natural beauty as well as the culture. I would like to get a lot of outdoorsy activities into the end of my summer, as well as take in Seattle qua Seattle. General “Don’t-miss”es or “you-will-love”s will be appreciated.

Specifically, however:

Is there a nice place to rent bicycles and ride around a pretty path? What about riding mountain trails?

I would like to go on some nice day hikes. I will have a rental car while I go on these. What reasonably accessible 3-6 mile hikes would you recommend? Also, I would like to go on a 2 or 3 day hike somewhere in the area, sleeping in a tent. Any recommended hikes that I can get to/from without a car?

Sites local Seattlers are proud of that I should make a point to see?

Is there a good place I can play pickup Ultimate while I am there?

Any bookstores that a book lover should be sure to stop into?

Basically, I want to get a feel for the city, and enjoy myself before I head back to school. What is the best way to do this?

Other helpful advice for someone who has never been west of Texas?

Thanks in advance, everyone.
posted by milestogo to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Elliot Bay Books in the Pioneer Square part of Downtown is one of those places that makes me love Seattle. You just have to see it to believe it. Left Bank Books is a little way up on the north side of Pike street as you enter the market and is also pretty cool. Definitely the place to find all the left wing radical literature you never knew you always wanted.

Obviously you'll want to check out Pike Place Market as well, but don't be afraid to check out every nook and cranny. Some of the best places are tucked away in little tiny shops. My recommendation is Piroshky Piroshky. Russian pastries that are to die for.
posted by Smarson at 12:38 PM on July 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you have a rental car for going to a day hike, go to Mt Rainier! I haven't been in a while, so I can't speak to particular trails, but in any case, it is the iconic mountain. Plus the drive itself can be lovely.

As far as hiking/camping w/out a car, I was curious enough that I did a bit of Googling & came up with a recent article from one of the local papers, and then came across a (fairly old) online guide to bus hiking. (Heck, I'm tempted to try it myself!)
posted by epersonae at 12:57 PM on July 29, 2008

The Seattle PI has a semi-regular article about a different day hike that I seem to notice about once a month. I've had good luck with them. They give reasonable directions and a decent idea of what to expect on the hike itself.

I recommend the Seattle Underground tour, a trip to visit the Fremont Troll, and if you have any interest in the houseboats, but don't want to rent a kayak, you can take the Ducks.

If you walk the alaskan-way waterfront from the ferry docks all the way north to the new sculpture park, there are some interesting stories about the early city on plaques every so often, plus the bizarre statue of Christopher Columbus (SL) as a sort of mecha-warrior.
posted by nomisxid at 1:19 PM on July 29, 2008

You can rent bikes at Recycled Cycle, and ride a bit of the Burke-Gilman trail - it's a bit crowded, but a nice in-city bike ride. More bike rental info here. Recycled can also give you maps and good ride routes. Seattle is insanely hilly, so be prepared to huff and puff a bit if you want to cover a lot of Seattle by bike.

As for "local Seattle pride" things, hmmm. Seattle is rife with beautiful parks - Gas Works is really nice (and easily reachable from Recycled Cycle on that rental bike of yours), a bit further afield you have Discovery Park, and on the waterfront you have Myrtle Edwards. All very nice places to spend a couple hours.

Local Seattle things also include food. If you're a burger-eater, there are two places you must go - Red Mill for quite possibly the best burgers in the city, and Dick's because it's a local legend (been around since the 50's) - Dick's is good, too, but more in a post-bar-late-night-cheap-eats kinda way, where Red Mill is just plain fantastic any time of the day.
posted by pdb at 1:26 PM on July 29, 2008

Discovery Park is perfect for a short hike.

Seconding Elliot Bay, and adding Ravenna Third Place Books (right down the street from Ravenna Park, which is also a nice spot for a walk).
posted by ryanshepard at 1:33 PM on July 29, 2008

Make sure to check out Elliott Bay Books, which is located int he historic Pioneer Square district where you'll also find the Underground tour mentioned by nomisxid.

If you want to do something outdoors that's probably not on most tourist agendas, the UW Waterfront Activities Center rents canoes and row boats to the general public and you can paddle around the lovely UW Arboretum.
posted by donovan at 1:38 PM on July 29, 2008

take a ferry across to the olympic peninsula and drive over to sol duc falls -- there's a short pleasant hike in to the falls thru some lovely nearly-rainforest. also, you can go visit hurricane ridge on your way there or back -- a great view into the olympic mountains.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:02 PM on July 29, 2008

Mount Si
posted by Roach at 2:28 PM on July 29, 2008

We went for the first time a few years ago, and I'll second Mount Rainier. It has multiple amazing waterfalls as well as hikes that are as easy or difficult as you could want. Snoqualmie Falls is also impressive and fairly close to the city. I would also recommend an overnight trip up to Vancouver, BC if you have the time. It's absolutely one of the finest cities in North America.
posted by cnc at 3:18 PM on July 29, 2008

I lived in Seattle for almost ten years. I loved it, and I will live there again one day.

Take the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. Drive from Kingston down to Bremerton and take the ferry into Seattle. This will show you a lot of the local country, and the beauty of Elliott Bay. The view of the Seattle skyline from teh water cannot be beat. Keep your camera ready.

After you get off the ferry, hop on 90 East and hit Snoqualmie Falls. Hike to the bottom and wander around the rocks at the base of the falls. It's gorgeous.

Head back into Seattle to the intersection of 85th & Greenwood and park your car. If you like Mexican food, you have to pop into Gordito's. There are also quite a few antique shops along Greenwood to investigate.

Head toward Capitol Hill park somewhere along Broadway Avenue. It's actually easier to park in the residential areas within a couple blocks of Broadway. Walk the length of Broadway, up one side and back the other. Pop into the shops as the urge strikes.

Head downtown and hit the waterfront. Just wander - there's lots to see and do. Make your way to Pioneer Square for the evening. One cover charge gets into all the bars. There's usually lots of live music.
posted by eratus at 3:19 PM on July 29, 2008

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