Top places to go & things to do in Seattle and surrounding areas (from a first-timer):
1. Pike Place Market & Post alley
Probably the most popular place to visit for first-timers. You have people throwing salmon at fish stalls, peonies for $2 a stem, and the very first Starbucks store front, there is nothing lacking to do in this small and dense area on the waterfront of Seattle. The infamous gum wall is just below the market which the city attempted to rid the festering bacteria trap recently... but it came back with a vengeance in little to no time. No trip to Seattle is complete without a taste of chowder, and Post alley houses the best in the city. The market is also alive at night, we were surprised with a show at the Can Can right below the market. No - I don't have pictures, but if you saw my Insta-Story you for sure know what that's all about...
2. Bainbridge island
Taking a ferry, car and all, across the water to the island was an experience in itself. Charging up with champaign from a can and local chocolate milk, we were able to trek the walk on Bloedel Reserve - a 150 acre forest garden built by a chairman of a lumber company (aka a rich guy). Craving the full authentic Washington experience, surely we had to go on a nature trail. We got that on the island, far enough from the tech metropolis, and we just enjoyed the walk underneath towering evergreens. In the reserve is a Japanese zen garden where a poet apparently drowned himself in the pool... must definitely check it out.
3. The food
Okay - it's a given, you're going to eat here. Arguably the land of the foodies, Seattle and surrounding cities has some of the BEST seafood, the best coffee, and the best (vegan) ice cream. You don't need to study food blogs before you go, surely anywhere you happen upon will be a treat. Sadly, I was too busy eating to take many photos, so I guess that re-iterates how good the food is?
A quaint little waterfront town on the other side of the bridge, Kirkland was absolutely beautiful to explore on a sunny day. All the shops and restaurants had their windows and doors open, really embodying a Malibu vibe. While the boys were out riding sport bikes around a mountain, us girls got our hair done and went for happy hour.
Tips on traveling to Seattle if it is your first...
1. Don't plan on going anywhere during prime traffic hours
Unless you want to pay a hefty lyft fee or wait an hour to go some where 15 minutes away. Plan out your day avoiding the hours between morning and evening rush hour and sometimes lunch time.
2. take the Link light rail to the airport
For $3 a fare... that's pretty damn cheap to get to the airport from any station!
3. Hit up the market earlier in the morning
Pikes Market and Post Alley are in the same area and get VERY crowded around 10am and on. Make it a thing to go earlier in the day maybe 8am or 9am. You won't be brushing shoulders with everyone and you can take your tourist pics in peace.
4. Don't wait in line at the Og starbucks
Yes the first Starbucks shop is in Pike's Market, but a cup there tastes just about the same as any of the 5 surrounding Starbucks locations. So go snap your pic, ditch the line and get your coffee elsewhere (I would recommend Storyville on the 3rd floor of the building).
5. You're in a place that grows plants very well...take a hike
Even if you hail from the Midwest and trees are your friend, you'll be amazed at how well plants grow in Washington. I'm not much of a nature fiend, but going on a walk in the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island was definitely a highlight of the trip.
6. Happy hour is 3pm-5pm
Jesus, if you're legal and willing...take advantage of that every day. Use your alcoholic impetus to explore different parts of Seattle and even cross the bridge and hit up Bellevue and Kirkland. Spend your happy hour exploring all the crazy quirky bars in Ballard, Capitol Hill, etc.Seattle has pockets of areas with high density of shops and restaurants so walk around and bar hop. Spend your happy hour exploring all the crazy quirky bars in Ballard, Capitol Hill, etc.