Note: This was originally put together for our wedding (Aug 2010) – some information here might be outdated. I briefly updated it in May 2019.
Full of touristy goodness! Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, EMP (Experience Music Project)/Sci-Fi Museum, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, etc… a CityPass would be your best bet if you’d like to visit multiple museums and/or attractions.
Updates (May 2019)
- Don’t go up the space needle. Just don’t bother. It’s insanely expensive and the view isn’t that great. INSTEAD I recommend going to the “City View Observatory” at The Columbia Center tower (Downtown – the tallest building in Seattle). The view is much better, it’s way cheaper, and they have some good beer and wine you can enjoy while exploring. Plus the Space Needle is in your view. (If you really want to do the Space Needle, though, do it). Kerry Park is a great way to see the space Needle for free.
- The EMP has been renamed to MoPOP. It’s awesome. Definitely check it out. By tickets online, you can present them on your phone and then go right in instead of having to wait in line for tickets at the museum.
Pike Place Market/Waterfront
Year-round farmers market/artisan foods/boutiques. Do not miss the Beecher’s mac & cheese, as well as Pike Place Chowder (Nicolette-approved, Newport chowder festival winner!) - the lines may be long but the wait is absolutely worth it. The Ferris Wheel is pretty new - we haven’t yet been on but it promises neat views of the city, and mountains when it’s clear. The Seattle Aquarium is also close by, and awesome (part of the CityPass). A hidden gem is Radiator Whiskey which specializes in meat dishes and barrel-aged cocktails.
Updates (May 2019)
- This list still looks pretty good. I’d add the Washington Tasting Room which is a cute little cellar where you can try lots of local wine. I’d also add Seattle Beer Co. which is a little taproom that showcases local beer. I’d definitely add Cloudburst Brewing (21+). It didn’t exist back then but it’s one of the best breweries in the city, and it’s owned by Elysian’s former head brewer.
During the day, Pioneer Square is full of a lot of Seattle history (can get a little sketchy at night) - bring walking shoes and do The Underground Tour! Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Benaroya Hall (if you have time for a symphony performance) are great places to visit. For dinner, check out Japonessa - a delicious sushi-Mexican fusion restaurant well worth the price.
As a rule of thumb, Downtown is boring. It’s where the hotels are, and office buildings, and not much else. If you happen to be in the area, though:
- RN74 (fancy expensive). Insane wine program, really good cocktails, famous chef, etc.
- Yard House (casual). Chain restaurant, 200+ beer taps, make sure to ask for the seasonal list.
- Pane Pane (counter service, I think maybe lunch only?) Teriyaki Meatball Sub.
Two adjoining neighborhoods northwest of Lake Union. Fremont has a great variety of boutiques, restaurants, bars (check out Brouwers (21+)! ), the Fremont Troll, and of course the Fremont Brewery. Theo Chocolate offers tours of the factory - check on their website for reservations. Ballard~~ (where we live)~~ has 11 microbreweries, most of them are family-friendly, our favorites being Stoup, Reuben’s, Populuxe, and Lucky Envelope. Also make sure to check out Ballard Avenue for a whole street full of restaurants & bars.
Updates (May 2019)
Fremont and Ballard need to get split up into two sections…
- For “fancy” food (like if you’re going to have a date night) try to get a reservation at Manolin. Or you could try your luck (with just two you might not have to wait as long) and plan to enjoy a cocktail or two while waiting for a table (could be 45+ min - 1hr depending, but their cocktails are really good).
- Schilling Cider House is a great taproom for cider. I’m not fond of Schilling’s cider but they have a ton of guest taps
- The Masonry (listed under Queen Anne in the list above) has a huge location in Fremont.
Seattle’s major nightlife hub. During the day there is some excellent shopping at local boutiques. At night, 10th and Pike is the place to go for clubbing & partying, but you can also find great restaurants (La Bete, Oddfellows), delicious beer (Elysian Brewing, Pine Box (21+), Hopvine), and small, but authentic, Montreal bagels at Eltana.
Updates (May 2019):
- Skip Elysian. It’s now owned by AB-InBev.
- Pine Box is still one of the best beer bars in the city.
- Knee High Stocking Co. is a cute speakeasy (we finally tried it last night) but definitely make reservations (you can book online - limit of 2hrs per table). They also serve awesome Filipino comfort food.
- Tavern Law is a fantastic cocktail bar, also has good food – but there’s a speakeasy within called Needle & Thread that’s really really good, reservations are typically required and they start taking them up to 1 week in advance. Check the website.
- I don’t think La Bete exists anymore
- There’s so much good food in Capitol Hill it’s hard to keep up to date. Suika is awesome Japanese food.
- Oddfellows is still one of our go-to places in the area.
- Next door to Oddfellows is Elliott Bay Book Co which is a great little bookstore and also has “Little Oddfellows” inside serving beer, wine and food (you can’t bring books into the cafe area until you’ve paid for them).
South Lake Union/Denny Triangle
The Holiday Inns/our reception are in this neighborhood. Has a bunch of fairly new bars and restaurants including several Tom Douglas (Serious Pie, Brave Horse, Cuoco),~~ the Wurst Place, 5-Point Cafe (our most historic dive bar, food served 24 hours!)~~, Bambinos… Definitely check out South Lake Union Park - you can rent boats for a few hours (kayaks to electric party boats to sailboats, depending on your nautical experience), and go to the newly renovated MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) to learn about Seattle’s past.
Updates (May 2019)
Honestly this neighbourhood is fairly forgettable – I don’t work for Amazon anymore so there’s no reason to be there ever (except for the MOHAI which is still awesome).
- Brave Horse Tavern is still great and I recommend for brunch, specifically. Their Bloody Mary is awesome.
- Wurst Place no longer exists. We don’t go to The 5 Point anymore ever since the owner was accused of sexual assault. Bambinos is still there, I THINK, but not sure.
- Teku Tavern is a great beer bar with a ton of taps
- MOHAI still rules. And it’s nice to walk by the lake. Watch out for goose poop.
Belltown/Lower Queen Anne
These neighborhoods are near the hotels, Seattle Center, and Downtown in case you need food and/or drink after your museum-ing and touring. In Lower Queen Anne, try The Masonry, Red Papaya, 10 Mercer (a bit pricey but delicious), T.S. McHugh’s, McMenamin’s (get the cajun tater tots). In Belltown, try The Innkeeper, Frontier Room & Belltown Pub (great happy hour, avoid at night unless you’re a frat boy), Whisky Bar, the list goes on. Have brunch at Lola - call in advance and make sure to order Tom’s Big Breakfast, with octopus.
Updates (May 2019)
The above section is probably the most out of date.
- The Innkeeper closed. In its place is a Jamaican bar that maybe is good? The best thing about the Innkeeper was the patio in back.
- I doubt Red Papaya still exists.
- 10 Mercer is like … overpriced fancy food. Yeah it’s good but there are better places.
- I’d skip Frontier Room and Belltown Pub ….
- Whisky Bar is still good IIRC.
- Rob Roy is very good.
- No Anchor is a beer bar and restaurant owned by the same folks as Rob Roy. Food is good but way overpriced. Beer selection is great and has a lot of hard-to-find stuff.
- Local 360 is a really good restaurant.
- Lola still rules. Definitely get the bloody mary and the octopus hash.
(Added May 2019)
- Flying Bike Brewing Co is a co-op brewery. Members brew their homebrews, then get together and taste them. The winners then get to be brewed on the big production system that they sell in the taproom. Nicolette is a member. You can order sushi and/or mexican food at the bar and it comes from the neighbouring restaurants.
- Chucks’ Hop Shop (the original) is a depanneur with 45+ beer taps and a huge bottle selection that you can drink in.
- Barking Dog Ale House (this is more in the Crown Hill neighbourhood) is a great neighbourhood pub with trivia on tuesdays. We go frequently.
- The Yard Cafe has good Mexican-inspired food and an awesome taplist plus a nice outdoor patio
- 74th Street Ale House is another neighbourhood pub and currently winning for one of my favourite Salmon sandwiches.
If you want to rent a car and go check out Seattle’s Eastside - a winery tour of Woodinville is a great way to spend the day. At Chateau Ste. Michelle, you can pack a picnic and enjoy lunch & a bottle of wine on their beautiful lawn. There are many other winery tasting rooms within a five minute drive of C.S.M. (as well as ~~Redhook Brewery ~~and Woodinville Whiskey), so make sure you choose a designated driver :)
Updates (May 2019)
- Redhook has closed.
- There are a lot more winery tasting rooms, some quick suggestions but there are dozens more.
- Columbia Winery (which I think is better than Chateau Ste Michelle)
- Airfield Estates
- JR Cellars
- There are some great breweries in the area too (Sumerian Brewing, Triplehorn Brewing, Black Raven, Hi Fi, Postdoc …)