Seattle is a city I (David) lived in for 11 years and now visit about once per year. I enjoy taking friends up and showing them around and the chance to explore Seattle with Melissa was a lot of fun. The trip that is the starting point for this point was only a few days in length, but there are so many great things in Seattle to share so I am going to share some additional thoughts from a combination of other visits and my time living there.
This post is the first in a series about Seattle – Just too much to try to put into one post. We have broken this down by location to allow you to see many of the options available when visiting the Seattle area and allow you to put together your own itinerary that accommodates your interests, your travel style and your budget. Many of the options here are free, or only require paying for parking, a few are moderate and one or two are on the more expensive side, but worth it! Oh, the title of this post is a joke between Melissa and I…I had prepared her that it may be cloudy and a bit rainy but to just pack her rain shell and it wouldn’t stop us. Quick hint: Locals don’t use umbrellas, just wear a rain shell jacket and keep on going. Of course, the weather was beautiful for our trip and she teases me that it is always Sunny in Seattle.
For lodging, we were trying to save a little money and knew we would not be spending much time in the hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn near SeaTac International Airport – there are two locations, the older one and the new Hampton Inn and Suites. We stayed at the older one as I have used it many times over the years and it is clean, safe and a good bargain. I’m a Hilton loyalist for the Hilton Honors program – it serves us well with the locations and hotel chain varieties. For general Hilton Hotel Reservations
This first entry will cover downtown and then we will work out from here with additional posts. The downtown city area of Seattle is relatively compact, but the traffic can drive you a little nuts – just trying to be honest. There is a major rebuilding of the road infrastructure along the waterfront, be ready for several years of construction – if you remember the Big Dig in Boston you may have a good starting point.
Pike Place Market:
Time: 1 – 3 hours
Cost: Up to you
When you mention to friends that you are going to Seattle, most will recommend visiting Pike Place Market and for a good reason. It is worth the visit. Pike Place Market is probably on the list of “Must See” for most people and I recommend it. The earlier in the day you go, the better. The feel of the market changes as the day progresses and that is part of the charm. I enjoy the mornings there, it tends to be a little quieter, it is fun to see the vendors putting out produce and flowers. Grab a cup of coffee from the original Starbucks, across the street from Pike Place Market at 102 Pike Street and explore!
On the main level, watch out for flying fish, and make sure you hang around enough to see the show, just have your camera ready and on a high ISO and shutter speed and set for multiple exposures – this will increase your chances of grabbing a salmon in mid-flight. Take to time to explore not only the street level vendors, but work your way down to the lower levels.
One more hint about the original Starbucks, if you are looking for a souvenir, they sell special edition mugs, only available at this location. My wife and I are big coffee drinkers and the mugs we purchased at this location bring back great memories every time we use them.
Kerry Park, Queen Anne Hill:
Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
For one of the best views of the Space needle and downtown Seattle, find this small park on Queen Anne Hill – it is on Highland Drive between 2nd Ave W and 3rd Ave W. This is only about 10 minutes from Pike Place Market. The park is busy and it may take a little effort to find a parking space on the street, but it is worth the effort. You can see all of downtown, across Elliott Bay to the industrial area over to Alki Point. You will often find photographers trying to capture the perfect shot of Seattle, or a couple doing an engagement shoot. It is also fun to watch the tour groups come through – great people watching location. The photo above is from Kerry Park.
Time: Up to you
If you are looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy a walk, Green Lake is a great find. The park is north of the downtown core between Ballard and I-5. There are several large parking lots and plenty of street parking but on sunny summer weekend, these will fill up. The path around the lake is just under 3 miles in length and is busy with walkers, joggers and bikers. It is a great place for a picnic or an afternoon nap, or in our case, a great place to ask someone special to be your wife.