Close to the Seattle Center, this Chinese vegan (and certified Kosher) restaurant has been in business for decades and serves amazing food that satisfies the appetite of carnivores and herbivores alike. Don't be fooled by the menu, which lists dishes under the categories of meat, poultry and seafood. Everything is made from vegetable protein products, but prepared in a traditional manner that makes it sometimes easy to mistake for meat. Only the fortune cookies contain eggs.
This place is seriously amazing – when I went I was so overwhelmed by the array of clothes, I had to go three times. They have designer pieces, costumes for fancy dress and even clothes going as far back as the turn of the 20th century. So much clobber to look at I think you could buy something for any occasion.
This is a really interesting museum in a stunning Frank Gehry-designed building. The music section was far more comprehensive than the sci-fi and had permanent displays including our favourite: interviews with a wide range of music industry types from musicians to those behind the scenes, which you could choose at your leisure while sitting at one of several computers. There was a good interactive section and two great temporary exhibitions on at the time we went of Jimi Hendrix's life and influences and Supremes costumes. The Sci Fi collection is smaller but has some impressive stuff including the only model of the Star Wars Death Star, and Charlton Heston's Planet of the Apes costume. My personal favourite was the original robot from the TV series Lost in Space - Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
It's a proper pub (an American one, not a faux Brit pub). It's been on Mercer Island since 1914 (apparently popular during prohibition.) It is still locally owned and is a real institution.
1825 72nd Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA, 98040, USA
Google map: tinyurl.com/ycgrf4u
Every room has been painted to a high standard by a local artist. Excellent service. They also won Best Hostel USA 2008.
An experience that is out of this world! It is one of the best things that I have ever done, exciting and yet peaceful. The sea lions were a blast and love nothing more than jumping all over the front of your canoe. It takes a good level of skill not to capsize. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would go back in a heart beat. If you're lucky you may even pass by Bill Gates' house; as he lives in the banks of the Puget Sound.
The EMP is a remarkable place where the most famous musicians from the Pacific Northwest area (Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain) are represented alongside other important but less commercially successful artists such as Sleater-Kinney. There are also exhibits offering a more general overview of the history of music and lots of interactive exhibits - including real musical instruments with tutorials!
Admission is usually $15 but they hold an 'all access' evening every month which is free and also features local live bands.
325 5th Avenue North (at the bottom of the Space Needle), Seattle, WA 98109
This small and friendly hostel is right on the beach, with great views of the Olympic Mountains.
Close to Golden Gardens beach, the hostel is 30 minutes from downtown, but is a great spot to soak up Washington's outstanding natural beauty before heading into the city, and a restful retreat after a hard day's sightseeing.
Housed in a modern beach house, there's a rooftop deck for watching the sunset, and the rooms smack of urban cool, with steel bunkbeds, a huge lounge and kitchen with funky sofas and fairy lights, and a glowing fireplace with floor cushions.
The rooms are clean, comfortable and there's a whole host of free extras, from wi-fi and breakfast to bikes for cycling around the local area.
If you're on foot, the surrounding area is artistic and quirky, full of boutiquey shops, cool taverns showing live music, independent cafes and a local Farmer's Market.
They say 'you haven't seen Seattle until you've seen it from a duck', and for once, the slogan rings true.
As the city surrounds a great lake, a boat tour is a great way to explore Seattle, with many of its most arresting sights reachable by water.
The 90 minute tour goes across land and water, and the 'duck' is a Second World War 'amphibious vehicle' - basically a truck that floats!
Popular with kids, the 'Captain' plays music and gets the passengers to join in with games and spotting sights - expect alot of quacking and duck noises to be made.
But the tour itself will please the more mature 'sailors'- the tour kicks off at the Space Needle, and rides past Pike Place Market, downtown, Pioneer Square and Fremont, until you hit Lake Union.
Across the lake, you get a fantastic view of the city skyline, and get to see the cute houseboats in the canals (made famous by 'Sleepless in Seattle'). Highlights of the trip also include a voyage past the GasWorks park - on a hill overlooking the lake, this is the first industrial site in the world to be made into a public park. The grassy hill (popular with kite-flyers)is dotted with groups of rusting machinary and pipes - almost like red sculptures against the blue sky.
The best part of the tour for big kids everywhere? You get to ride a truck into the water.
516 Broad Street
This tour is a truly unique way to sightsee around Seattle, and provides a remarkable look at the historic Pioneer Square's underground history.
The tour kicks off in an old saloon bar, before heading beneath the city's oldest streets for an eerie tour around abandoned underground shops, cafes and homes. After a great fire, tidal patterns and poor sewage caused houses to sink, the residents of Seattle were forced to build homes above the old city streets and abandon the first floors of every building, leading to the bizzare subterranean world you'll find today.
The tour guides have a great sense of humour and have loads of interesting anecdotes about the city you won't find on your average bus tour. If you go in the summer you might get a Senator or Councilman on holiday taking you around, which only adds to the amusing stories!
608 1st Avenue
Just down the road from Pike Place Market, this is an American Burger chain and diner with a kitsch fifties spin.
For cheap eats in Seattle, you can't go better than this blast from the past - the mock up fifties diner is surprisingly well done, with bright red booths, a jukebox you can request rock-n'roll tunes from, and perky staff who break into jive routines in the middle of a shift.
Kooky touches include old Coca-Cola ads on the walls, ketchup splodged into a smiley face on your plate, and a long bar for sipping shakes and malts, and watching the behatted chefs flip burgers.
Of course the main draw here is the food - all of it highly calorific but delicious fare. Oreo milkshakes so thick you're straw will get stuck (use a spoon, and don't be ashamed to drain the last dregs from the metal 'shaker' that comes with your glass), mountainous BLT's and oozing chili dogs. The burgers are even better; thick and juicy and come in all shapes and sizes, from the gut-busting Bacon Cheddar Double, to the 'Route 66' - complete with mushrooms, grilled onions and mozzarella cheese.
These burger's separate the men from the boys - don't even think about ordering a salad. After eating here, you'll never be able to face a McDonalds again.
600 Pine Street
Seattle, WA 98101
Ok, so it's a Seattle Institution and every tourist bus goes here, but it would be a crime not to visit this historic market.
America's oldest Farmer's Market hasn't lost any of its buzz, with an underground maze of mezzanines filled with weird and wacky shops, the overflowing blossoms of the Hmong flower market, and stalls laden with fresh fruit, vegetables and an international sweep of gourmet treats.
The entertaining fishmongers put on a good show, hurling fish over customer's heads, whilst street performers and musicians add to the chaos - look out for the kazoo and spoons player!
During the Spring and Fall harvests, the market hosts 'Organic Wednesdays', where you can scoop the best local produce for a cheap picnic.
You could spend hours browsing the stalls, but there are a few that really stand out - 'Read All ABout It' sells unusual newspapers and magazines from all over the world, Three Girls Bakery does the BEST garlic rosemary bread and peanut butter cookies in Seattle, and you can visit the very first Starbucks (quaint and nothing like the cookie-cutter chains across the country) for the original Tall Skinny Latte.
Between Pike and Virginia Street, from 1st-Western Avenue.
Seattle is a long city with many neighborhoods some of them barely mentioned in the tour guides and yet still full of local colour. Columbia City is my neighbourhood and if you visit on a Wednesday afternoon between May and October, you’ll encounter the farmer’s market which draws producers from both west and east of the Cascades as well as local performers and organizations.
You can eat here, joining dozens of families picnicking on the sloping park ground adjacent to this weekly festival. The Sicilian style restaurant ‘La Medusa’ serves a Wednesday dinner that has been cooked up using only produce purchased fresh that day from the stalls in the market (book ahead).
Within a short radius Columbia City has a pub (great local microbrews), a bookstore (Bookworm Exchange), a gallery, restaurants, a bakery (which serves coffee and treats), a cinema, as well as ethnic and independent shops that beg to be browsed.
If you are in town on the first Friday of the month then come along to ‘Beatwalk’ which starts kicking in around seven in the evening; many of the places described above are open until late, each with their own band, one five dollar payment gives you the freedom to wander from venue to venue people-watching and relaxing (you might even enjoy the music too).
It’s a lot of fun and not set up with tourists in mind, many of my neighbours arrange to meet up or just wander down knowing they will bump into friends. The 'south end' is the 'social end'.
If you have a car (or ride Metro 39) go down to Seward Park and walk the perimeter path that follows the lakeside around this peninsula, looking across towards the downtown skyscrapers, it is hard to imagine that you are in a major US city. Within Seward Park there is old growth with the biggest Douglas fir inside city limits, bald eagles nest here and one particular nest is easily viewed from the internal drive that goes up by the amphitheatre.
I have lived in Seattle since 1989 and I love the south end, it doesn’t get the ‘travel show’ attention of other more northerly neighbourhoods but it’s a quiet gem of an experience waiting to happen.
Head south down Rainier Avenue
This rough and ready Vietnamese take out and deli is cheap, friendly, and very good. I have the feeling that without crossing the Pacific this is as close as I am likely to get to Vietnamese street food. Please note: do not be put off by the plain unloved frontage; it is the food that counts.
Just east of 12th and Jackson on the edge of the International District.
The Henry Art Gallery, Woodland Park Zoo, Western Bridge, Brasa, Snoqualmie Pass, a ferry ride to Vashon Island, the salt water pool at Lincoln Park, the statue of Lenin in Fremont, the top of the Space Needle, How To Cook A Wolf, a walk around Greenlake, Matt's in the Market, Platform Gallery, Bumbershoot, the rain.
Saya is a simple Thai cafe that serves superb food. During several prolonged stays in Seattle, I think I tried everything on the menu - never found a dish I didn't like but the best by a country mile is Gai Yang. This is the tastiest barbequed Thai chicken ever. If you're in the neighbourhood, drop in - guarantee you won't be disappointed. I don't think I ever spent more than $7!
8455 212th St. Kent, WA 98031
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