Seattle is one of those cities that surprises you in every way imaginable. From the people, to the views to the food you will be pleasantly surprised with all aspects of this thriving city. Situated in the renowned Pacific North West of the United States it is considered the emerald city because of the abundant greenery in evidence year round. However, it might also be so named because it literally is a jewel in the crown that is this iconic region nestled below Canada.
A City on The Water
Perhaps the most obvious thing about Seattle is that it is on the water and not just any old water but the majestic Puget Sound that is home to Orcas, Humpback whales, Grey whales, Harbor Seals and many birds. Water seems to surround Seattle and it seamlessly glides into the beautiful mountains that form the spectacular backdrop that makes this area so special and revered by all who visit and more particularly live here.
Looking south toward Mount Rainier, in all its majesty, one might almost imagine you’re in Japan looking at the mighty Mount Fuji! Surrounded as it is by such amazing natural beauty it is hard to imagine you would need to venture into the city itself, but you will want to because Seattle is a brilliant place to explore on foot and has a lot of very cool things to see and do
Let’s start with the fact that Seattle just looks really inviting. The fast expanding skyline of the Down Town is full of the usual high rise, shiny buildings but they include a wonderful mix of architecture and look spectacular reflecting the ever present water and the often snowcapped mountains.
The air just seems cleaner and sweeter here so, even though it is a city with the usual urban features and its famous grunge, it has a vibe and atmosphere that is equally exciting and inviting. What is appealing about the city is that it is both glamorous in part yet eclectic in its mix of people who call it home and obviously feel comfortable here.
A good way to see the city initially is indeed from the water so if you start in the suburb of West Seattle, along its beach front called Alki, you can catch the water taxi that will swiftly take you across the Sound to the down town area. Looking out from the boat you will see the skyline head on and get an idea of the scale and beauty of the city as it rises up from the water into the hills behind. Ten minutes later you are in the heart of the city and a five minute walk will take you to one of the oldest parts known as Pioneer Square.
The City of Coffee
It doesn’t take long to walk the few blocks that comprise this part of the city that was once the original heart of Seattle when it was a simple logging and mining community inhabited by pioneers and native Americans. At this point check out one of the various companies that offer underground tours to learn exactly what Seattle was like when it was several feet further underground! Back in the present this area is now home to some of the best spots for food and shopping.
If you are looking for a little refreshment you know that has to include coffee! After all Seattle is home to the original Starbucks, still operating just by the famous Pike Market. However there are so many good coffee roasters working independently that you have to give the local businesses a try.
Elm Coffee, just off Pioneer Square, is one such place. The coffee is good the decor clean, modern and aesthetically pleasing for those all essentials selfies and instagram posts! The cardamom cake is pretty awesome too and if you like that and are still hungry maybe pop around the corner to the actual square and have lunch at The London Plane, where the afore mentioned cake is actually made.
They too have an attractive location in this historic district where you can enjoy a great lunch made in house in view of the dining area and also take home some of the specialty baked goods or perhaps fresh flowers from the adorable little flower section just inside the door.
A number of shops may catch your eye as you walk the square but be sure to turn the corner onto First Avenue and find the quirky E. Smith Mercantile store where you can purchase all manner of items from candles to clothing and then slip into the somewhat hidden back bar serving retro cocktails and small eats.
The Iconic Pike’s Market
A short walk back towards the water takes you along the ferry ports and the iconic Pike’s Market where all manner of fresh produce from fish to flowers will delight the eyes and senses. From here you can easily cut across into the main through streets that run parallel to each other and explore the numerous streets that intersect these to take you to small boutiques or the delights of mainstream shopping nearer the business quarter. Whilst here you will be able to appreciate the abundance of green, even in the city and its possible to walk through a variety of amazing little parks that keep you refreshed and in touch with the surrounding nature at all times. One such park is Freeway Park so named because it literally looks over the five freeways. It is a beautiful oasis in a busy neighbourhood providing quiet spaces for those who want to enjoy a peaceful break from shopping or work. Down by the famous Space Needle, once the tallest building but long since eclipsed by more recent additions, visit the amazing museum of Pop Culture and see where the Grunge movement got its start. Also the Chihuly garden and glass museum will blow you away with the unbelievably beautiful sculptures that seem to defy the realms of possibility.
Finally if you venture a little further up the hillside of the city you will find the area known as Capitol Hill home to a colourful mix of people and an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and the ever present café. Oddfellows is a popular spot on 10th Avenue especially for brunch on the weekends and cocktails in the evenings. Next door be sure to visit the beautifully presented Totokaelo, a clothing store that is a mix of shopping and visiting an art installation! You may not find yourself buying much but it is an experience just to walk around and appreciate fine things. The night life in Capitol Hill is lively too so if dancing and checking out the clubs suits your needs this is a good place to start.
Just a taste of Seattle is presented here but there is truly so much more and such diversity to be enjoyed that one really has to make the trip and explore this special gem of a location.