[trip style = urban + weekend getaway + sightseeing]
Good weather; check. Great hotel; check. Weekend with no plans; check. Seeing old friends; check. Meeting new friends; check.
Although I've been to Seattle many times, this time was different. This time I wanted to be a tourist, yet avoid tourist traps. So I did my own kind of sightseeing. The kind that allows you to see a city for what it really is (with hands-on experiences), and who it really is (sharing it with locals).
Stay Stay at The Fairmont Olympic, the Pacific Northwest's only AAA, 5-Diamond Hotel. Although the Seattle area has other great hotels like The W or Ace, staying at the Olympic immerses you in Seattle's past. Open since 1924, the hotel icon's old-world charm is a stark contrast to the city's West Coast architecture and laid-back vibe. Don't miss having a drink in the hotel's lobby bar Friday or Saturday night. The pianist's sweet sounds make you wish you were crooning in a karaoke bar. [see my fairmont olympic + other hotel reviews here]
Not sure if it was the coffee culture or the crisp, spring morning, but I was raring to go at 7am. Talk about making the most of the day. First up, I grabbed a coffee at Verite and walked around Madrona, an adorable, yet sophisticated neighborhood 10 mins outside of the city. Enjoying the peace of the morning, the sunrise sparkling over the water, the scent of blooming flowers and the mix of modern and tudor-style homes made my morning picture-perfect, no joke, see pics below. Apres my jolt of
caffeinedecaff, I made my way to my fave brunch spot, Hi-Spot Cafe. *Make sure you order something that can be paired with their amazing raspberry jam. It's so good that once I'd eaten my jam-infested english muffin, I hid myself from other restaurant patrons and savored the rest of the jam avec spoon.
Pier/Pike/Starbucks We all know Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, the little coffee shop turned worldwide, caffeinated sensation. But, did you know that the first-ever Starbucks is located near Pike Place Market? But first, the pier. Walking along the pier is not only a quintessential Seattle experience, but doing so, you'll also pass shops, restaurants, the Seattle Aquarium and the SAM Olympic Statue park. Once you've had your fill of wind-in-your-hair, ocean-front walking, head up the hill to Pike Place Market. The eclectic and thriving mix of vendors may wow you as much as the famed fish-tossing. Once you've watched the 'fish throwers' launch dead fish like Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks, head to the original Starbucks [1912 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101] to grab a java. [fish tossing starts 17 secs in]
Lunching and Shopping One great way to see the downtown core is to lunch and shop. There are multiple restaurants in the shopping district, so stop into any of them to fuel-up. To get your shopping fill, visit the flagship Nordstrom or gaze at the Chihuli [instigator of Pacific Northwest glass movement] installation in Barney's.
Evening Dinner and Drinks Don't miss Black Bottle, a corner eatery and watering hole where the industrial design and downtown vibe makes the flatbread taste better than it already is. After dinner a dear friend of mine made a reservation for a few people (tourists and locals) at Zig Zag Cafe. When I told the Fairmont driver where I was going, he said "oh, Zig Zag has the best bartender in the city." Perfect! This out-of-the-way resto-lounge has grown by word of mouth and loyal clientele. At 8.30pm it's dead, by 11pm it's so busy I can't hear myself speak. Given my late lunch and early dinner, I didn't order much, but the appetizers and pastas are well known. Either way, I'm more than satisfied with our server's drink suggestion: the French 76---now in my cocktail hall of fame book---which I should really start.