Updated on: May 4, 2023
For my friends and family traveling to Seattle –
YES. I’m so excited for you to explore the city I decided to uproot to. From the sunny, blue summers to the gloomy, but cozy winters, I fell in love with this city.
Here are my favorite viewpoints of the city, eateries, and things to do — especially for first-time visitors!
Pike Place Market
Visit Pike Place Market with an empty stomach, so you can try ALL the foods and drinks!
My recommendation (if you’re traveling with multiple people) is to share everything, so you can try all the items on the list and more.
The Market is open 363 days a year, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
- Pike Place Chowder | Crab & Oyster Chowder is my fave! Or grab the sampler to try all. If you want to bypass the long line, there is another location in Downtown in Pacific Place mall (which unfortunately doesn’t have my fave Crab & Oyster Chowder). Usually no lines though
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer | Can’t go wrong with any of the flavors. I either get the pink guava ginger beer or a Moscow mule. There’s another location in Capitol Hill, if you’re planning to check out that neighborhood later
- Piroshky Piroshky | Known for their Russian hand-held meat pies. My favorite is the smoked salmon. Other favorites are the beef ones. Bring to-go for a meal later or a picnic
- Beecher’s Cheese | Known for their handmade cheeses. Order their mac & cheese (which includes a blend of their cheeses) or their grilled cheese
- Storyville Coffee | Coffee shop right in Pike Place. If you look out the window, there’s a view of the Pike Place sign, which I find picture-worthy with Elliot Bay in the background. Love their coffees here too
- Oriental Mart Filipino Restaurant | James Beard Award winning salmon sinigang! I kid you not; this is the best sinigang I have ever had… Must try if it’s cold outside, and you need something to warm you up
- Old Stove Brewing | Walk over here for a breathtaking view of Elliot Bay. They have a large outdoor patio and indoor seating
- First Starbucks | Nothing super special, unless you want to take a picture of the inside or grab their special Starbucks merch. I’d rather enjoy the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Capitol Hill (Read below under Food in Capitol Hill)
Capitol Hill (or Cap Hill) is a hip and colorful neighborhood with tons of art murals, shops, restaurants, and coffee shops. Come here for Seattle’s main nightlife; you’ll be sure to find something going on while walking down Pike/Pine St.
Food in Capitol Hill
- Starbucks Reserve Roastery | If you’re into Starbucks, I think it’s awesome to see. Lots of unique coffees to try, like their whiskey barrel-aged cold brew or their coffee flights. (Update 2/20/2022: I know they’re doing espresso martini flights right now!) Plus cute and unique Starbucks souvenirs, which personally I’m a fan for
- Dick’s Drive-In | Local favorite! Ah…. I used to be such an In-n-Out stan, but Dick’s definitely found a place in my heart. Order their Deluxe burger, fries, and two tartar sauces plus a milkshake
- Salt & Straw or Molly Moons | ICE CREAM. Molly Moons is thought of as Washington’s “Salt and Straw”. Try out their monthly flavors
- Rondo or Tamari Bar | Sister restaurants to the beloved Suika (which closed down in 2020). My favorites are the Deluxe Bara-Chirashi Donburi and the Uni Udon, and wash everything down with a cold Sapporo
- Bakery Nouveau | It may be off the beaten path as a tourist, but if you do get the opportunity, you MUST try their twice baked almond croissant!!
- Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar | For the oyster lovers. Love coming here if I’m in the mood for oysters and wine… which is all the time?
- Seattle (Hot) Dogs | Read below under Nightlife in Capitol Hill
- Menya or Kizuki | If you’re craving ramen, especially if you’re visiting in the fall/winter
- Amazon Go | If you need something quick to eat. If you haven’t experienced the market with no checkout lines, it’s definitely a cool thing to see. Make sure you download the app before.
Shopping / Streetwear in Capitol Hill
- BAIT | Streetwear. Awesome collabs. Go in, and I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like
- Throwbacks NW | Come here for tons of vintage sports attire. I love coming in here and seeing the new stuff they have in store
- 35th North Skate Shop | Seattle skateboard shop
- Drip Tea Market | Sister streetwear shop to Drip Tea (boba shop)
Nightlife in Capitol Hill
- Unicorn bar | Grab drinks (must try Unicorn Jizz or their Caprisun), super outrageous bar with a bunch of crazy decor. Good spot to start your night
- Optimism Brewery | Large warehouse. OK beers, but good spot to chill and start the night
- Still Liquor | Good music, good crowd. Hip hop and R&B. Always a fun night!
- Seattle (Hot) Dogs | Cream cheese. In a hot dog. The End. There’s usually one right outside of the 76 gas station (called Hawk Dogs). Something you must have while you’re in Seattle. Come here late night (or for dinner) after going out for some drinks
- Honey Court or Purple Dot in International District | You MUST try late night Chinese food after a night of drinking. Game changer. Located in International District (known as Seattle’s Chinatown). It’s a quick Uber south from Cap Hill
Viewpoints & Food
- Gas Works Park | My favorite lookout to see the Seattle skyline. You can go to Kerry Park too, for a closer view of the Needle. But the Gas Works view includes Lake Union… my favorite for a reason. I’d recommend grabbing sandwiches from Paseo first, then picnic out here. Don’t forget to bring a blanket to sit on
- Ivar’s Salmon House | Popular for fish and chips and great HH. Go to the UW location for waterfront seating. They also have the fast food version next to the Giant Wheel near Pike Place, if you’d rather have a quick bite
- Mbar (Rooftop) | Favorite rooftop bar overlooking Lake Union. Make reservations
- The Nest (Rooftop) | Rooftop bar overlooking Puget Sound. I’d rather go to Mbar, but still a good option
Other Neighborhoods and Notable Restaurants
- Paseo or Un Bien | Fremont | Love! Caribbean sandwiches. Definitely a place I take my visiting guests. TBH I like Un Bien more, but you honestly cannot go wrong with Paseo. Get the Caribbean roast
- Biscuit Bitch | Belltown or Downtown | Grab a southern brekkie to go (if you’re close to Pike Place already). Louisiana hot link, eggs, and grits, all smothered in cheese, gravy, and topped with jalapeños. Need I say more?
- Umi | Belltown | If you’re craving sushi. Great ambiance and great option for a date night. Great Happy Hour, too, if you’re coming with a group of friends. Honestly, one of my favorite spots
- Shiro’s | Belltown | Omakase, especially if you’ve watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi
- Bongos | Green Lake | Everything on their Caribbean plates with a side of plantains is so comforting and delicious. Large outside patio and right next to Green Lake
- Seattle Fish Guys | Central District | Bomb, quality poke!! Definitely a must go when visiting. No indoor seating. This is more of a to-go style spot
- Harbor City | International District | My favorite dimsum! Another popular spot is across the street: Jade Garden. Helpful to put your name down on both, but I personally just wait for Harbor City. Go early to avoid the wait
- Sichuanese Cuisine | International District | Literally one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. The Twice-cooked Pork and Mandarin Spicy Fish NEVER disappoints
- Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge | Lower Queen Anne | Cajun-Creole restaurant. Come here late night for the HH specials, cocktails, or dinner. Love the ambiance in here. Great option for a date night. Make reservations just in case
- Communion | Central District | Make a reservation! Soul food, delicious dishes and cocktails. Also one of my favorites in Seattle
Other Things to Do
- Kayak | Around the UW Arboretum or Lake Union during the summer
- Hot Tub Boats | I’d advise doing this at night, or even during the winter time. It was 40 degrees at night in February, and we still sat outside of the tub, because it was so hot. Plus doing it at night, you can see the city skyline lit up
- Jump Bikes or Scooter | Ride around the city. Stop by the Needle and Gas Works park, or ride around Lake Union
- Fremont Sunday Market | Every Sunday, Fremont hosts a market involving tons of vintage finds ranging from clothing, furniture, and antiques.. as well as local bakers and food trucks. They’re open year round, rain or shine
- Fremont Troll | Personally, I wouldn’t go. Not worth going out of your way, unless you’re already in Fremont
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) | So many fun and unique exhibits for any age
- Catch the Seahawks play at Lumen Field or the Mariners at T-Mobile Park
- Find a show to watch at Climate Pledge Arena
- Brewery hop around Fremont (Great Notion, Reuben’s, Obec, Stoup, Urban Family)
Outside of Seattle
Tip: If you need a car to drive outside of Seattle, check out Turo for cheap car rentals from locals.
- Snoqualmie Falls | 35 minute drive | Gorgeous waterfall. Don’t worry; a parking lot is right next to it. No need to hike
- Stevens Pass or Crystal Mountain | 1 hour and 30 minute drive | If you’re here during winter, definitely snowboard/ski at one or both of these resorts
- Wineries in Woodinville | 30 minute drive | Message me for specific recs
- Deception Pass | 1 hour and 40 minute drive | Beautiful views of the ocean, beaches, and fresh seafood. Check out my post on My 7 Favorite Things to do in Deception Pass, WA.
If you’re in other neighborhoods, feel free to message me for more recommendations! 🙂