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A Guide to Seattle

May 9, 2017

There is so much to eat, see, and do in this beautiful city of ours. Here are some of the places we’ve enjoyed during the four years we have called Seattle home. I’ll be working on adding more neighborhoods and recommendations to this list, but this is a good start!

*= places I’d definitely try to make it to if I were visiting Seattle
**= places I’d visit if I was in the area or during a certain season



*Ballard Locks (a Seattle icon! cute park with walking trails and lovely gardens)
Ballard Farmers Market (every Sunday)
Cafe Besalu (delicious pastries)
Delancey (especially for the pizza)
Full Tilt Ice Cream (artisan ice cream)
**Golden Gardens (visit in the summer during sunset)
Li’l Woody’s (burgers)
Red Mill Burgers (a Seattle burger staple)
The Fat Hen (a cute brunch spot)
The Walrus and the Carpenter (an oyster bar)


*5 Point Cafe (one of Seattle’s best dive bars. open 24/7!)
Barolo Ristorante (an upscale Italian restaurant)
Bell Street Pier Rooftop Deck (located at Pier 66, and has beautiful views)
Black Bottle (gastropub)
Bookstore Bar and Café (a cute bar for happy hour)
Boston Street Baby Store (cute and unique baby clothes)
Café Fonté (good coffee and good food)
Central Library (a huge, beautiful library)
Cinerama (a landmark movie theater. come to see a movie, stay for the chocolate popcorn)
*Dahlia Bakery (delicious baked goods)
DeLaurenti (a specialty foods market, we visit mostly for the pastrami from the Carnegie Deli in NY)
Farestart (food for a great cause)
Freeway Park (not really a park, but interesting to walk through)
Macrina (bread and pastries)
Marination (hawaiian-korean cuisine)
Market House Meats (a mom and pop deli/sandwich shop. known for their rueben, pastrami dip, and corned beef sandwiches)
Matt’s in the Market (delicious food with a view of the market)
Michou (a deli)
Myrtle Edwards Park (walk along a paved path with beautiful views to the west)
*Olympic Sculpture Park (an outdoor sculpture museum)
*Pike Place Chowder (a seafood institution)
*Pike Place Market (see the fish throwers, visit shops, walk through Post Alley and grab lunch)
Le Caviste (french wine bar)
Le Panier (French bakery)
*Le Pichet (amazing French food)
Liave (beautiful gift shop)
Lola (great food, though the made-to-order doughnuts are the star)
**Lowell’s (if you’re already at Pike Place [and you’re not in the mood for french food] grab a bloody mary, a fresh tuna sandwich, and enjoy the view)
Mick’s Peppourri (if you’re going to buy pepper jelly, make it from this stand at Pike Place Market)
The Pink Door (italian food and burlesque)
Piroshky Piroshky (the best Piroshky in Seattle)
Seattle Art Museum (a quiet art museum)
Serious Pie (good pizza with inventive toppings)
*Sky View Observatory (observation deck on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the best view in the city)
Tilikum Place Café (good food)
*Top Pot Doughnuts (huge, delicious doughnuts)
Watson Kennedy (home goods boutique)


Capitol Hill

Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe (part cafe, part math/science/engineering bookstore)
Bakery Nouveau (pastry heaven. the twice baked almond croissants are awesome)
Caffe Vita (coffee shop)
*Elliott Bay Book Company (a huge selection of books)
Frye Art Museum
Garage (billiards, bowling, and food)
General Porpoise (delicious doughnuts)
Glasswing Shop (a gorgeous boutique)
Honeyhole (great sandwiches)
Lark Restaurant (small plates)
Oddfellows Cafe + Bar (nice atmosphere, good food)
Poppy (a restaurant with thali-style food)
Sitka & Spruce (a restaurant serving small plates, beautiful industrial setting)
Skillet Diner (locally-sourced comfort food)
Totokaelo (a clothing boutique)
Volunteer Park (stop by the conservatory, and climb to the top of the water tower)
Volunteer Park Cafe (for lunch and/or a cookie after spending time at the park)



Archie McPhee (a huge store of random oddities)
*Book Larder (cookbooks galore)
Fainting Goat Gelato (delicious gelato)
*Fremont Sunday Market (part farmers market, part flea market)
Fremont Troll (a Seattle icon)
Gas Works Park (a park located on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company. beautiful views of Seattle can be found here)
Molly Moon’s (ice cream and gelato)
Open Books (a bookstore for poetry)
*Paseo (amazing caribbean sandwiches)
Trophy Cupcakes (delicious cupcakes)
The Whale Wins (european and nw food in a beautiful setting)


Pioneer Square

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour (a tour of subterranean Seattle and what existed before the city was rebuilt on top of itself)
Cow Chip Cookies (tasty treats)
Damn The Weather (a gastropub)
Fireworks (a cute gift shop)
Salumi (delicious sandwiches)
Smith Tower (an iconic building with a unique view of the city)
Tat’s Delicatessan (for a quick bite/philly cheesesteaks)
*The London Plane (part cafe, part specialty foods grocery, part floral workshop)
Waterfall Garden Park (a quiet pocket park, a hidden gem)


South Lake Union

Brave Horse Tavern (gourmet pub grub)
*Center for Wooden Boats (a maritime history museum of the PNW)
Lake Union Park (a small park with some green space and views over the lake . also home to the center for wooden boats and the MOHAI)
Meat & Bread (tasty sandwiches)
Museum of History and Industry (a history museum with a primary focus on Seattle and the Puget Sound area)
Now Make Me A Sandwich (a food truck with incredible sandwiches. the “thanksgetting” is awesome)
**Portage Bay Cafe (if you’re in the area, stop by this very busy cafe serving local, organic, sustainable and seasonal fare)


Queen Anne

Bhy Kracke Park (a queen anne hidden gem with a pretty view. much quieter than Kerry Park, but tricky to get to!)
**Dick’s Drive-In (basic and delicious burgers, a Seattle icon. if you’re at the Seattle Center, why not grab a bite?)
Canlis (a landmark fine dining restaurant)
*Kerry Park (for the postcard view of Seattle)
*Seattle Center (home of the Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden & Glass, Pacific Science Center, and the Space Needle (+ SkyCity restaurant)
Parsons Gardens (a small but beautiful park near Kerry Park)


U District

Burke Museum (a small natural history museum)
Henry Art Gallery (an art museum on the UW campus)
Suzzallo Library (a gorgeous hogwarts-eqsue library located on the UW campus)
UW Quad (to see the cherry blossoms in the spring)


Getting around:
Seattle is a fairly walkable city. If your plan is to stay around downtown, South Lake Union, or even Pioneer Square for most of your visit, a car is not necessary. You can even take the Light Link Rail from the airport to Westake Station downtown. If you are up to explore other neighborhoods, you can also take the Light Link Rail to several of them including the International District, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and the U District. If you prefer a little more flexibility but still don’t want to rent a car, we do have taxis, Uber and Lyft to help get you around.

There is a streetcar that can take you from the Westlake Hub in the retail core to Lake Union (where you can find the Center for Wooden Boats and the MOHAI) and back in just a few minutes. The walk from the Westlake Hub to the lake is only about a mile, but the streetcars can get you out of the rain which is always welcome. There is also a streetcar that connects Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill.

Of course, we have also have buses. Some of the lines are sketchy, some are super crowded (especially after 3 PM), but most are average and get you to where you need to go. The express buses are particularly awesome and can take you from Downtown to neighborhoods like Ballard with either no stops or just a few stops between your starting point and destination.

There are many hotels here to suit many price ranges. We have boutique hotels like Hotel Max (near the retail core), Kimpton Palladian (in belltown), and Kimpton Alexis (near Pike Place Market) — all of which are beautiful. Of course we have hotels like Four Seasons (with absolutely gorgeous views), The Westin hotel (an iconic hotel, also with beautiful views) Hilton, Pan Pacific, Holiday Inn, and Marriott just to name a few. You can also find lovely airbnb’s, some of which can be found in several of the beautiful high rises downtown. There is not a shortage of places to stay, that is for sure.

Our “retail core” which begins roughly at 5th and Pine is home to shopping malls like Pacific Place and Westlake Center, as well as stores including Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Arcteryx, Columbia, H&M, Loft, J.Crew, Nordstrom and Macy’s. University Village in the U District is home to stores including Madewell, Land of Nod, Apple, Microsoft, and Crate and Barrel.

Food trucks:
If you’re looking for a good meal without having to wait for a table, you can check this website  to find out what food trucks are available in a particular location and on what day.

Seattle winters are notoriously overcast and rainy. While our total volume of rain is lower than places like, say, New York, we see many more days with measurable precipitation. We don’t have many downpours here, but we get anywhere from drizzles to moderate showers very often. The average temperature in January is 50*, though we see many days in the 40s and even upper 30s. Layer up! Umbrellas will serve their purpose if you decide to bring one along, but I recommend a rain jacket with a hood to free up your arms. Rain boots or hiking boots will make sure that your socks aren’t soaked by the end of the day. Ballet flats or shoes that are mostly mesh are really not your friend if you plan on walking everywhere, and I’ve learned that from experience.

Summers (especially from July-September), however, are beautiful. The average temperature is 75, and the rain all but stops completely for two glorious months. With daylight hanging around until past 9:00 PM, and mountain passes and hiking trails open, summer is a great season to visit.


The once-nameless place I love

May 6, 2016

Have you ever loved a place you have never been to? I know I have.

There somewhere I saw in a music video by Temple of the Dog (back in the 90s, if the name of the band didn’t clue you in), and from the second I laid eyes on the opening scene, I was in love. I was convinced that this music video was shot in California, mostly because I associated anything that was in the United States and beautiful with only that state during my childhood, and started on a 15-year-long quest to find where exactly this particular place was located so I could sit in that tall grass like Eddie Vedder, and see that lighthouse in person. This was before the age of Google, when we had to type “win” into the command prompt of a PC (then wait two minutes) to start Windows, and when I was so young that my dad wouldn’t let me access anything that wasn’t school related on the internet except for Yahooligans. It wasn’t a matter of looking up a location with an internet search engine for little me, but a matter of waiting, and searching, and wishing. At least until the early 2000s when I became a teenager, got a computer of my own, and had Google at my fingertips. I could have made quick work of obtaining the answer I sought, but by that time, I forgot about that rocky beach with the little lighthouse on it, and I continued to forget for another eight years.

When Alex and I moved to Georgia from Maryland in late 2008, I began playing the music from my early childhood — grunge, the dominant genre of the 90s — probably because I missed home so much. After listening to endless tracks by Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Stone temple Pilots, “Hunger Strike,” a song I hadn’t heard in years, started to play on the Spotify station I was listening to. All it took were the first few notes, and I was taken back to the image of the place I loved but had never visited — of a beach in dusky light, of an expansive view from a cliff, of a widespread meadow. I didn’t bother to do an internet search (which would have given that place a name), and my childhood quest to somehow find this place had resumed. It didn’t take long to realize that it was a bit of a far-fetched goal: there was no way to scour every inch of what I still assumed to be California while on vacation, and did not believe that I’d end up on the West Coast at any point in the immediate future to make my search a little more feasible. Instead, I decided to search for bits and pieces of the place I saw in the music video — wherever I went — starting with that tall grass, which I was pretty sure I could find even in Georgia. I’d get my fill of rocky beach on a trip to Catalina Island, and lighthouses in a variety of coastal towns, some just a four hour drive away. They wouldn’t be the same, but they would do. Of course, I was never satisfied with anything I found.

In late 2012, we were sitting in the car in Bogart, Georgia when Alex got the call from Amazon saying he was hired, and that we’d be moving to Seattle in three weeks. We were excited to live in another state, and even more excited that we ended up a few states away from California, a place we eventually wanted to move. After I thought about the rain, and driving on the steep hills of Seattle, I thought about the music video, and how much closer I was to eventually seeing the place I had been wanting to visit for over a decade. We were now only a two hour flight from California, and that place I saw in that Temple of the Dog video was even closer than I could have ever imagine.  The night we arrived in Seattle, knowing that I had to be less than 1400 miles from wherever it was, I pulled out my phone and finally googled where the “Hunger Strike” music video was shot. I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t filmed in California at all, but in Seattle, just a few miles from where we lived. How could such a beautiful place be in such a notoriously depressing city?  I was so surprised that the place I loved so much wasn’t in the state I loved so much. California, while still appealing, had been dethroned as “best state ever” in one fell swoop (I’m easy to please). And that was even before I set foot in the Enchantments, or anywhere outside of the city limits (which, upon visiting, placed me firmly into the “Washington is the best state ever” camp).

I was reminded of the time in my life when Seattle was on my list of “nevers.” In my childhood and adolescence, I associated seattle with the famous sign that read “Will the last person leaving Seattle — Turn out the lights.” Plus, the latitude and winter season equaled depression in my mind, and that wasn’t at all appealing. I could never see myself in such a place. But there I was at the age of 25, sitting in a Seattle highrise in early November, overlooking Puget Sound. The place I saw in a music video and loved for over a decade was only six miles away. It’s funny how that happens.

Discovery Park: the first place we traveled to see in the city, the place I had been searching for going on for nearly two decades. I took one look at the grass, at the lighthouse, at the radar tower that is barely glimpsed in the music video, at the sand and the meadows, and felt so lucky. The random, unknown place I loved the most, the place I only saw on MTV or on Youtube for so long, now had a name, and I was actually there.

I visit often and I still love it. It’s my favorite place in the city. It’s somewhere I can go to remind myself of my past and my present, and to remind me, even on the toughest of days, that life isn’t so bad in here in “rainy, overcast, depressing” Seattle — the beautiful city I never knew I was always drawn to.


Everyday Life, Seattle

Moments Ago

November 17, 2015

Darkness sneaked up on us again. It likes to do that when we’ve been sitting in the sun for too long, and especially when we least expect it.

If not for pictures, I don’t think I’d be able to remember how, just a few weeks ago, I sat with a friend on a rooftop in downtown Seattle, bathed in the warm glow of afternoon light. I looked at the expanse of my beautiful city, itself perched on the expanse of Puget Sound, and thought of how lucky, and happy, and grateful I was — particularly for the precious gift of life, for ended chapters, and for new beginnings — and it was all laid out before me, set ablaze in the western sunshine.
Then the clouds came.
And the rain poured.
And all that was light became lightless.
And it feels like it has been forever now.


But it has only been moments — just moments since I basked in the sun, above Seattle, on top of the world.