A Local’s Guide To Visiting Seattle

When I travel, I want to pretend like I live in that city and do what the locals do. If crowded Pike Place Market doesn’t sound appealing to you and you’re planning on visiting the Emerald City, I’ve rounded up the recommendations I send to family and friends when they’re visiting Seattle.

But first… I want to address the most frequent thing people ask me about Seattle: does it rain all the time?

If you’re visiting from October through May, the rumors are basically true. It doesn’t storm or downpour or monsoon, it’s more of a constant, grey drizzle. If you’re visiting October to May: bring your rain jacket and comfortable shoes that can get wet. Also, bring sunglasses.

The best time to visit Seattle? June, July, August and September. Please visit during these months if you hate rain It’s sunny and usually around 78 degrees. The sky is the most saturated shade of blue you’ve ever seen, and the water around the downtown waterfront literally sparkles. . Bring sunglasses.

Where To Eat In Seattle

Joule, Walrus and the Carpenter, the Whale Wins, Serious Pie, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Fonda La Catrina, Biscuit Bitch, Bateau, Salumi and Il Corvo (both only open for lunch on weekdays), any restaurant by Tom Douglas or Ethan Stowell – our local celebrity restaurant moguls.

The Best Coffee In Seattle

With all of the grey and gloom happening about 9 months out of the year, Seattle has gotten pretty good at its warm, caffeinated beverages.

Home to Starbucks, the coffee giant that everyone loves to hate, there really is coffee everywhere in Seattle. My first recommendation to visitors is the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Capitol Hill. I know, it’s Starbucks—but this is kind of like Disneyland but for coffee. You’ll get a one-of-a-kind coffee experience that’s unlike any Starbucks you’ve ever been too, and be sure to grab a snack at straight-from-Italy’s Princi. I know you’re tempted to go the “first Starbucks” near Pike Place, but I promise this one is much better.

For a more of a cafe/espresso bar experience: Espresso Vivace, Stumptown, Elm Coffee, Slate Coffee, Milstead & Co., Storyville Coffee (on Pike Place)

Or just scroll through my list of must visit coffee shops in Seattle.

For Dessert or A Sweet Treat In Seattle

Bakery Nouveau, General Porpoise, Crumble & Flake, or Dahlia Bakery.

Things To Do In Seattle

One of the United States first open markets is Pike Place Market. You’ll find local produce and handmade artwork from local artists. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir or just to wander around, but it gets VERY busy during the day. Go early in the morning to see local vendors. Beneath the Main market are three floors of unique shops and restaurants and a killer view of the Puget Sound.

Visit Seattle Center, the area of Seattle’s downtown is home that is home or the Space Needle and its surrounding attractions (the Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Glass Garden, Pacific Science Center). You can take the original Monorail from downtown (near Nordstrom Rack), which drops you off near the Museum of Pop Culture. Inside Seattle Center, there’s a fantastic food court with local restaurants (I’d eat at Skillet or Eltana). You can also walk a little further north and end up at the KEXP HQ for a cup of coffee at La Marzocco Cafe.

Seattle Art Museum is located a few blocks away from Pike Place Market, this Art Museum regularly has installations from contemporary artists like Yayoi Kusam and Andrew Wyeth.

Shop at Moorea Seal, my faorite local store.

Go to the Flatstick Pub for mini golf and beers.

Get a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory.

Greenlake is a 3.5 mile loop around a lake with a paved path.

Take the water taxi from downtown Seattle to Alki and get lunch at Marination Ma Kai, then walk along a several mile paved waterfront path with views of Seattle downtown and the Olympic mountain range.

Take the ferry from downtown Seattle and visit Bainbridge Island for lunch

If you’re into plants, the Volunteer Park Conservatory has badass cacti.

Go wine tasting in Woodinville at Chateau St. Michelle.

The best bars for craft cocktails in Seattle

I don’t drink alcohol, but my husband is very into craft cocktails. No Anchor, Sun Liquor, Canon (fancy craft cocktails), Unicorn (if shots called “unicorn jizz” are your thing), Radiator Whiskey. If the weather is nice and you want to sit outside: The Nest At the Thompson Seattle, or M Bar.

Go Hiking Near Seattle

Summer is the best time to hike near Seattle. With the Olympic Mountain Range, the Cascade Mountain Range, Mt. Rainier, and plenty of inner city hikes, there are a lot of places to be active around the Seattle area.

Big Four Ice Caves — 3 hours drive from Seattle, about 2.5 miles round trip
Rattlesnake Ledge
— 1.5 hours drive from Seattle, about 4 miles round trip
Little Si — about 2 hours drive from Seattle, 4.7 miles round trip
Wallace Falls –about 2 hours drive from Seattle, 5.5 miles round trip hike  

Author: Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

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