There are so many neighborhoods to explore in downtown Seattle. Queen Anne, with its historic houses, offers hilltop views of the downtown skyline. Ballard is essentially a fishing village for Nordic immigrants, with plenty of events to celebrate Scandinavian heritage. Capitol Hill is the place to go for nightlife and entertainment. Wedgwood is ideal for those looking for peace and quiet.
But I’m a city girl at heart. I love wandering the streets, the hustle and bustle of the world passing you by as traffic swirls around you. Walking in the shadows of the towering downtown skyscrapers just offers a feeling you can’t get elsewhere: one of freedom, and liveliness.
So on my most recent trip to Seattle, we only had one day to really explore the city, we stuck to the downtown area—and were pleasantly surprised.
I’ve been to downtown Seattle before, with visits to plenty of parks, dessert shops, restaurants and the famed Space Needle. But this time I’m traveling with my crew, and I wanted to hit the finest spots and show my friends the best Seattle has to offer.
We traveled down Stewart Street to Scout PNW for brunch. I can’t stress enough how much we loved this spot. Most of the furniture was made from wood, though the sea foam green mid-century modern chairs that lined the bar top added a touch of character. Exposed bulb lights hung from the ceiling and a giant wooden structure creates a space-within-a-space in the dining room.
As charming as the restaurant was, it was the food that really drew us in. Kicking things off with a cinnamon sticky bun bigger than my head—and a couple of mimosas—we were off and running. From the Dungeness crab eggs benedict to the two-egg breakfast with crispy herb potatoes.
Art and Animals
Next up, to walk to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Well, that was the plan anyway. The ice-cold winds and snowflakes floating through the air were a little much for us California girls. We hopped in an Uber, raving about the snow like star struck teenagers. Before we knew it, we were reaching our destination only a mile away.
Having snagged a Seattle CityPASS, we headed into the gardens to check out the glass art sculptures crafted by Washington native Dale Chihuly. From the 15-foot glass Sealife Tower in one room to the colorful glass pieces placed in the ceiling in another, the colors and intricate work was awe-inspiring.
An indoor glass garden in a jet-black room gave way to canoes filled with glass pieces. Then, we finished the tour with colorful hanging chandeliers and outdoor installations under the towering Space Needle.
Another jaunt across downtown and we were ready to tear off the next ticket in out CityPASS, at the Seattle Aquarium. Located on Pier 59 along the waterfront, the accredited aquarium is the perfect place for groups; split up and check out the various exhibits depending on what interests you most.
One of the more exciting exhibits for us was Life of a Drifter, where museum staff was on-hand to share details about the marine life. Stand underneath the 12-foot Ring of Life as laminated moon jellies float up over your head in a circular drift. Another popular exhibit features the salmon of the Pacific Northwest, which travel back and forth between the ocean saltwater and freshwater streams.
In the Marine Mammals section, you can spend hours watching the playful seals and otters flip through the water. The Birds and Shores area offers an open-air exhibit that showcases the birds that call the Puget Sound home.
On top of the array of animals, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the aquarium offer sweeping views. Take a peek at the water and the color-changing Seattle Great Wheel.
Everyone’s Favorite Market
After spending a few hours wandering and learning, we decided to make our way to Pike Place Market. A popular spot for anyone and everyone visiting Seattle, we decided to pay a visit to the gum wall.
After snapping some pictures with the grotesquely awesome oversized heart—yes, made entirely of gum—we walked through the indoor market, taking in all of the fish on ice, handmade crafts, fresh flowers and artwork.
Then we took to the street, stopping at produce stands to sample a variety of pears before deciding on the juicy Taylor Gold pears at the end of the line. Grown nearby, they were sweet and delicious—and our snack later that night as we made our way out of the city.
Before we hopped a bus to travel up to Canada, we went back to our hotel to unwind in the warmth of the lobby. Hotel Andra, located only a few blocks away from the market, is a Scandinavian treasure, full of wooden furniture, pops of color and books detailing the culture. While the rooms are sleek and sophisticated, it’s the Living Room that holds the true magic, offering a shelter from the weather and a cozy place to read a book or watch people pass by outside.
The granite fireplace was the perfect place to escape the cold wind and let our bodies heat up before we took off on our next adventure.