Local highlights for Seattle’s best food, nature and design.
Last summer on my multi-city trip through Japan and Taipei, I decided to do a quick layover in Seattle first to visit my good friend Anna and check out what the big deal was with the Pacific Northwest. I knew Eva Airlines flew to all three places so it was an economical way to visit multiple places without paying that much more than a single round trip ticket. Then this summer I was able to spend a few weeks there and have compiled my favorite spots to experience local highlights in food, nature and design. Each day is organized by area so you won’t waste time traveling too far. Here’s my perfect 3-day Seattle itinerary. Let me know what you think or have anywhere else add!
Head to the Seattle Center, a park, arts and entertainment center in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. It’s home to many of the city’s icons and a nice park to walk around in. Some highlights include:
Space Needle: A Seattle icon, the Space Needle was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair and is now an observation deck with great views of downtown Seattle and various mountains and islands surrounding the area like Mount Rainer and Mount Baker. There’s also a rotating restaurant right underneath the Observation Deck called SkyCity that serves Pacific Northwest cuisine.
Time: 1 hour depending on the wait.EMP Museum (Experience Music Project Museum): This museum is like no other. They describe themselves as “a leading-edge nonprofit dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture.” With exhibits spanning from music, movies, fashion, sci-fi to pop culture, there’s something for everyone to appreciate.
Time: 2–3 hours
International Fountain: Located in the middle of the park, this modernist sculpture was also built for the World’s Fair and has 137 water shooters that spray water 100 feet into the air. It’s a nice break from the attractions and a fun place for people watching.
Time: 1 hour
Lunch at Taylor Shellfish Queen Anne: This family-owned shellfish farm has been around since the 1890’s. Famous for sustainable, “tide-to-table” shellfish, their oysters, geoduck, manila clams and mussels are all farmed in the Pacific Northwest. A highlight was trying geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”), a type of clam native to the Pacific Northwest and is normally eaten raw as sashimi.
After lunch, head back to the Seattle Center to spend the afternoon mesmerized at one of my favorite museums in the entire world:
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum: Showcasing the beautiful works of Dale Chihuly, perhaps the most famous glass sculptor of our time, this museum and garden walks you through Chihuly’s story and process while showcasing his breathtaking sculptures. Each of the eight galleries has its own distinct purpose in the overall vision. My favorite part is sitting on one of the benches in the Glasshouse, staring up at the 100-foot long sculpture that hangs from the ceiling, which feels like a gentle explosion of flower petals in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber with the Space Needle in the background.
Time: 2–3 hours
Early Dinner at the London Plane: Located in Pioneer Square, this adorable cafe, flower shop and bakery is so beautifully designed, I wish my apartment looked like it! Think modern meets rustic chic. The food is simple but all locally sourced and with great flavor.
The reason for an early dinner is so there’s room for dessert!Dessert at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery in the Ballard neighborhood: Be prepared to have a chocolate overload at this popular dessert spot. Their signature dessert is the Dark Decadence Molten Cake, made with Seattle’s Theo chocolate, salted caramel and nib toffee, with a side of vanilla ice cream. They also serve decadent milkshakes, puddings, cookies and sell their chocolate sauce to go. My favorite was a s’mores bar with fresh marshmallow. Definitely worth trying everything on the menu, but that’ll probably put you in a chocolate coma.
Coffee at Storyville: This is my friend Anna’s favorite coffee shop in Seattle, and I can understand why. As a creative, I was immediately drawn to their thoughtfully designed space and packaging. Their signature blend is top notch and the best part—with every purchase, they make a donation to a reputable organization whose mission is to end human trafficking.
Green Lake: There’s a reason this city is nicknamed the Emerald City—there are parks and trees everywhere! At the center of the Green Lake neighborhood sits this gorgeous lake with the same name. The loop offers runners 2.8-miles of paved and off-road trails with lovely scenery, but my favorite part was renting a kayak and ending up amongst thousands of lily pads.
Time: 2 hours
45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar for lunch: Inside this unassuming convenience store contains some of the best poke bowls in all of Seattle. Each bowl comes with a choice of fish, rice and different types of seaweed salad. Get the salmon and tuna with spicy sauce. You won’t regret it.
Quick stop at the Fremont Troll: Under the Aurora Ave. Bridge at North 36th Street is this giant troll sculpture inspired by Scandinavian folklore. In 1989 the Fremont Arts Council held a competition to create something that would help revitalize the area and seven weeks after being voted the favorite, the Troll came to life! It’s fitting for this quirky, eclectic neighborhood.
Time: 15 minutes
Seattle Japanese Garden: Another beautiful green space in the middle of the city is the Washington Park Arboretum, home to this 3.5 acre formal Japanese garden. Constructed in 1960, it was designed by world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juki Iida and considered one of the best examples of its kind in America. They offer guided and self guided walking tours that explain the concepts behind each section of the garden.
Time: 1–2 hours
Dinner at Sitka and Spruce: Located inside Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market, this charming, rustic restaurant uses seasonal ingredients in refined ways. Some highlights included the “pickled and fermented vegetables with a pickled egg” (I’m a pickler myself!), “gray morels, fino sherry, cream & an egg yolk on grilled sourdough” and “grilled rabbit loin, sour elderberries, salted plums & eggplant puree”. If you like ABC Kitchen in NYC, this is the Pacific Northwest version. Be sure to make a reservation.Molly Moon’s and Kerry Park: Famous for their homemade ice cream, Molly Moon’s serves some of the best flavors I’ve ever had. Signatures include salted caramel, Stumptown coffee and original strawberry with seasonal offerings like wild honey and vegan coconut. My favorite combination was Earl Grey and honey lavender! Be sure to get your cone to go and walk over to Kerry Park for the best view of the city and Space Needle in the forefront. It gets busy on the weekends so be prepared to hang out with 100 of your bffs on a beautiful Seattle summer night.
Brunch at Volunteer Park Cafe: Located in the cute Capitol Hill neighborhood, this cafe is located on a residential street corner—feels like you’re going to your next door neighbor’s house for brunch. They serve traditional breakfast meals, pastries and eggs direct from chickens in their backyard! I loved wandering back there after our meal and seeing this “farm to table” setup.
Seattle Public Library: Located downtown, this was one of the most beautifully designed libraries I’ve ever stepped foot into. If more libraries looked like this, I might be inclined to read more books. Designed by OMA or the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in partnership with LMN Architects of Seattle, this concrete, glass and steel building attracted more than 8,000 visitors a day during its first year of opening. Time: 1 hour
Pike Place Market: One of the oldest operating markets in the U.S., this public market was built in 1907. A popular tourist attraction, it’s home to the first Starbucks, local farm stands, craft stands, antique dealers and flower stalls. Some of my favorites include Rachel’s Ginger Beer, the Pike Place Market Creamery, Market Spice, Beechers and the unique (but slightly disgusting) Gum Wall.
Be sure to buy food here for a picnic on the beach for our last place on our three day adventure…
Golden Gardens: Head to this park and beach for the perfect sunset view overlooking the Olympic Mountains. With bonfire pits located all over the beach, it’s a cool place to hang out and watch the sailboats make their way around the Puget Sound. It gets windy so be sure to bring an extra blanket.
Time: 1 hour
Seattle may be one of my new favorite cities in America. It is the perfect blend of nature, culture and food. With its close proximity to multiple mountains and national parks, what a delightful central location to explore all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.