People are usually of two minds when they go on vacation: schedule a fierce itinerary and see everything, or wander your way through the city to see what springs out at you. Both methods have their benefits, and this Seattle guide is for the former type of traveler. The best way to fit in as much sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment as possible is to cluster your activities around a certain location for the day. I’ve selected three such locations that you can visit to get a good taste of the best that Seattle has to offer. So when you’re planning your next trip to Seattle make sure to consider these places.
The Capitol Hill area, which includes the Broadway neighborhood, is the most densely populated neighborhood in the city, with tons of high-rises and condos lining the streets. That also means it’s a hub for shopping, food, and entertainment, specifically the counter-culture variety. Pine Street and Pine Street both have lots of clubs and restaurants, and you should stroll up either of these corridors if you have time. Broadway itself does have some great places to visit, too. But here, I’m focusing on the quaint and beautiful area surrounding Volunteer Park.
Summer’s the perfect time to visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory (1402 East Galer St.) and see the treasure trove of exotic plants growing there. The rest of the park is definitely worth a walk around. And, as luck would have it, the park is also home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 East Prospect Street). The museum is right inside the park, overlooking the reservoir and features fascinating exhibits. The park could easily take up your whole morning, if not your entire day.
When you get hungry, the Volunteer Park Café (1501 17th Avenue East) is just east of the park, up Galer Street, which is nice since you’ll be tired after your trek to the Conservatory and museum. Dubbed “Heaven on the Hill,” this local favorite will not fail to delight you with fresh salads, soups, and sandwiches in a cut vintage atmosphere.
By that time, you should have hit mid to late afternoon, and it’s time for some shopping. Less than a mile to the south of the park is Red Light Vintage Clothing (312 Broadway E.), a famous local store where you’ll find the vintage jackets, shoes, and t-shirts to establish your hipster street cred. Now’s your chance to slink up and down Broadway, exploring shops like Metro Clothing Company or Quest Bookshop. I won’t bother making a dinner recommendation because you’ll encounter plenty of options here for a place to spend an evening with good food and great conversation in the local restaurants lining the streets.
We’re splitting half of our day here. Queen Anne is a ritzy neighborhood just west of Lake Union and northwest of downtown Seattle, and I’m recommending it because it’s home to the Experience Music Project Museum (325 5th Ave N). It’s one of the coolest museums in the world, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything like it anywhere else you go in the world. Just to give you an idea of what you’ll see, they have a science fiction exhibit, production art and props from the blockbuster movie Pandora, and an entire exhibit dedicated to AC/DC. They open at 10 am, and I recommend that you dedicate at least two or three hours to it.
After the museum, I recommend doing lunch at The Sitting Room (108 West Roy Street). It’s a charming café and restaurant, featuring European cuisine, and the intimacy of the space is a perfect place to digest and talk about the sci-fi icons you just took in at EMP.
As the evening starts to fall, it’s time to dive into Seattle’s famous music scene, and we’re going downtown to do it. I went to Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (2000 6th Avenue), which is constantly attracting the most amazing blues and jazz acts from all over the world. And since summer is music season, you don’t want to miss out on the performers that will be appearing there.
You’ll be making it a late night, so a late dinner may be in order. Right around the corner is the Palace Kitchen, and the food is fantastic. They’re open late, but you may want to make a reservation as it gets crowded at night and on the weekends. It’ll be the perfect end to a long day sampling Seattle’s best.
Fitting it All In
Everyone wants to get the most out of their time on vacation. Keep in mind, though, that you need to be realistic about what you’re going to be able to fit in. Time does fly when you’re having fun, and you need to build in some extra time to cushion your activities in case you run into trouble traveling from one place to another or something unexpected comes up. Just remember that the point of all this planning is to enjoy yourself, not just check some items off of your itinerary. And if you were too busy to enjoy a laid back city like Seattle, that would be an utter shame.