We fell in love with Seattle long before we moved to Washington. In fact, we fell in love with Seattle when we lived in that other Washington, in D.C., and traveled here on vacation.
Here are 5 reasons we love the place, now that we live nearby:
1. We haven’t found a better urban market in the U.S. than Pike Place — and the people own it!
It’s not just the fishmongers — although they’re always entertaining (and so are the prices for wild salmon!). It’s all the little food stalls, with everything from fresh herbs to handmade chocolates. It’s the noise of the place — all that joy in discovering new tastes, new artists (225 of them), and the throng of locals and visitors. In autumn, you dodge fewer tourists, yet the people’s market stays open 19.5 hours a day, 362 days a year. And the view, let’s face it, always the view.
2. Kathleen’s favorite bookstore in the entire world is here.
OK, there are many, many countries still to travel, and many bookstores to explore, but there is no bookstore like Left Bank Books.
Kathleen has been buying books at Left Bank since she had long hair, lived in Canada, and dreamed of studying at Berkeley. When she grew up, cut her hair, and moved to the U.S. to study at Berkeley, her exploration of West Coast bookstores convinced her that the little collective on Pike St. was unique. Love books? Just breathe in this place, and you’ll be smitten. (Open 7 days a week, 92 Pike St.)
3. That West Coast energy.
There’s an energy in Seattle that is way different than New York, Portland or Atlanta. The place buzzes, yet it’s not the money-amassing energy of Wall St., or the real estate-driven obsession of San Francisco. We love Seattle because its energy is more about enjoying life, and squeezing all you can from it.
4. The waterfront — all of it, from any angle.
Live in a city frequented by tourists, and locals tend to shun the “touristy” spots. Not so much in Seattle. This waterfront teems with locals, and visitors from all over the world. True, some parts of the waterfront are more local than others — Seattle has a large population of street people, just like every other West Coast city. But everyone shares that priceless view, whether they’re living in a condo penthouse or under the overpass.
5. Seattle eats.
Some say it’s the long rainy season that explains our love of food in Seattle. Some suggest it’s because we start and end our days over-caffeinated from all that organic, shade-grown, fair-labor, home-roasted coffee. We think it’s because there’s such a hunger for adventure here, whether it’s on the plate or in a dot.com start-up. Seattle has some of the best eateries — whether it’s a five-star restaurant or at a food truck — on the West Coast.
STAY: The first hotel we stayed at in Seattle is still our favorite — The Edgewater is the only hotel in the city right on the water. This is the only time we were excited about cruise ships (we’re not fans) — these mammoths park so close to your room, you can almost touch them. Big balconies overhanging the water are just the start of the appeal of this place. Great sunsets.
Edgewater Hotel: Pier 67, 2411 Alaskan Way; 206.728.7000/800.833.9795; edgewaterhotel.com. Check: online offers.
EAT: So many little plates, so little time. We fell in love with Wild Ginger the first time a Canadian friend recommended it, back in 2002. It’s still one of the hottest restaurants in this foodie city. Is it the wandering sage dumplings? The salmon curry? Must be the noodles, always the noodles.
Wild Ginger Asian Restaurant & Satay Bar: 1401 3rd Ave.; 206.623.4450.
PLAY: Every visitor should hit The Space Needle at least once, to get a sense of the city’s natural beauty. Watch every kind of boat on Puget Sound, from ferries to freighters, and marvel at Lake Union. (Yes, Sleepless in Seattle was filmed there, and yes, $1M+ houseboats are so expensive, they’re called floating homes.)
The Needle is 605 feet high, so if you’re on the “O”-deck, at 520 feet, you’ll see another reason we love Seattle — two mountain ranges and Mt. Rainier. There can be long waits for the elevator in high season, so fall is a good time to visit. The Space Needle celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and you’ll still find locals who talk about its role as Dr. Evil’s lair in Austin Power: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Space Needle: 400 Broad St.; 206.905.2100; spaceneedle.com.
WEST COAST WEEKENDS TIP: Visitors save on admission fees for a bunch of attractions, from the Space Needle to Frank Gehry‘s splendid EMP, by buying a CityPass ($49-$74). We’ve used these passes in a few U.S. cities, and they always saved time and money. The Seattle pass cuts almost half off admission to six major sites.