Seattle hasn’t quite realized she’s a big city. The locals here have held on to her small town charm, protecting it fiercely in the parks that speckle her landscape and the small alley-tucked restaurants that continue to thrive. Here, where green isn’t just cool, it’s a way of life, cobblestone streets bud up next to the base of skyscrapers; the smell of coffee frequently pours through open doors; and food is given such considered attention chefs regularly make patrons moan in pleasure.
Wear your walking shoes. Pack your camera. Bring your appetite. I’m going to introduce you to my city. This is just a day trip, a little handshake – an initial greeting. But it’ll get you started. It’ll give you a sense of her.
8:20 AM – Head to the Harbor Steps
Set into the hillside, the Harbor Steps connect Seattle’s downtown foot travelers with the waterfront. Their peak, located at the corner of University St. and 1st Ave., is just across the street from the Seattle Art Museum (aka SAM) and the Hammering Man, a 48-foot tall statue that hammers – all day and all night. Halfway down the Harbor Steps, just past the second flight of waterfalls and running through a large courtyard, you’ll discover Post Alley. Turn right. This mostly passenger traveled thoroughfare runs past the Gum Wall and right into Pike Place Market.
9:00 AM – Breakfast with a View
With the Market’s close proximity to the sound, it enjoys both a regular supply of fresh seafood and breathtaking views. On the weekends, you can’t go wrong with brunch at the renowned Tom Douglas’ Etta’s. You’ll find cinnamon French toast comes topped with vanilla mascarpone, shrimp and grits are packed with house made andouille and Dungeness crab is doused in crab-butter hollandaise. Looking to keep your morning pit stop a little more historic? Pop into Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar. Making its big screen debut in Sleepless in Seattle, this local joint’s been serving patrons since 1909. Expect down home fare infused with seafood and be sure to request a table with a view.
10:00 AM – Explore the Market
Mid-mornings are great time at the Market as vendors are just finishing their daily setup and the crowd has yet to swell. Be sure to visit Rachel, the Market’s piggy bank mascot. Located by the Pike Place Fish Market, where fish can often be seen flying through the air, Rachel’s been standing guard and raising funds since 1986. Wander through the stalls and stock up on a few mini picnic supplies. Favorites include: fresh crab, pre-cooked, cleaned and shelled; local fruit; handmade cheese from Beecher’s; and freshly baked baguettes from Le Panier. Pop into Seattle’s first Starbucks for a caffeine refill and a chance to see the mermaids’ – less than covered – appearance.
12:30 PM – Enjoy a Mini Picnic at the Olympic Sculpture Park
With mini picnic supplies in hand, head north to Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. (Along the way you’ll be able to visit the Victor Steinbrueck Park and the Lenore Street Walk, both excellent view locations.) Here, nine acres of waterfront have been transformed into a free, outdoor art exhibit. Massive sculptures and stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound make it a local favorite.
2:00 PM – Visit the Space Needle
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this iconic landmark tops off at 605 feet. The Space Needle's 360-degree view often makes tourists contemplate relocating. (Don’t feel bad if you’re among them.) Just how great is it from up there? You can grab a look on the Needle’s 24-hour, 360-degree view webcam.
3:30 PM – Refuel at Minstral Kitchen
Stunningly unusual, Minstral Kitchen’s many-nooked restaurant has never faltered in its full-flavored fare since opening in 2009. Its modern setting is paired with an equally modern kitchen. Here, chef and owner William Belickis loves to develop rule-defying preparations, putting unique twists on classic flavors. Though his menu changes regularly, you might find chicken doused in mole negro sauce and paired with cauliflower, oyster mushrooms, and Swiss chard; pork sweetened with apples and accented with black olive caramel; and short ribs served beside parsnips and a piquillo pepper puree.
5:00 PM – Make Your Way Back to Boeing Field
All good things must come to an end – at least for the time being. (There are more one-day itineraries coming or you can check out my two-day itinerary.) For now, head back to Boeing Field* and enjoy your scenic flight back home.
*You must be present and checked-in for all international flights 45-minutes prior to departure.