Where and how to make the most of a Seattle vacation

Seattle, Washington, is full of one-of-a-kind bites and sights. Whether you’re exploring the city for two days or two weeks, there are must-visit spots and mouthwatering meals everyone should experience on a Seattle vacation.

Where to eat and drink

Breakfast in Seattle

Ah, breakfast—the most important meal of the day. Receive a warm Seattle welcome at The Wandering Goose nestled in North Capitol Hill. It offers guests Southern-influenced cooking (think biscuits, gravy, hushpuppies, grits, and layer cake served by a community rooted in the traditional hospitality of the South). There are beehives on the rooftop—on purpose—because The Wandering Goose harvests, uses, and sells its own honey. Try it out on Aunt Annie’s fried chicken with bread-and-butter pickles and house mustard or on a fresh biscuit with butter and jam.

What’s for lunch?

There’s no better rainy day lunch than Ba Bar’s drool-worthy phở. Ba Bar has three locations—Capitol Hill, South Lake, and University Village—all cooking up fresh and savory Vietnamese foods inspired by the traditions of Saigon: simple food, big flavor. Making phở is an art, and Ba Bar has it down to a science. It’s made with fresh oxtail, eye of round steak and brisket from local farms, chickens that were raised in Washington, and broth that simmers for days. For the most classic version of phở, order Phở Tái Oxtail, a beef broth with vermicelli noodles and brisket, loaded with explosive flavors.

Dinnertime

For dinner and a show together, The Pink Door offers a dining experience like no other. It has been one of the city’s most beloved restaurants since 1981, providing guests with aerial entertainment in the bar every Sunday and Monday night. Dinner is built around Italian classics such as slow-simmered Bolognese sauce over homemade pappardelle pasta and osso buco with fresh horseradish gremolata. The Pink Door is nestled into the Post Alley at Pike Place Market, but with no signs, bells, or whistles to attract or direct guests toward it, you must find the pink door.

Another Seattle dinner hot spot is Momiji—a handcrafted Japanese restaurant in the heart of Capitol Hill. The restaurant’s ambiance transports you to the Land of the Rising Sun, complete with an indoor Japanese garden. The extensive cocktail list combines shochu and sake with familiar flavors like lychee and lime. Turn a traditional Moscow mule into a shochu mule, or try the Okinawa Cooler made with sweet potato shochu, lemon, strawberry, and shiso. You’ll find plenty of exotic sushi options that make Momiji’s dining experience uniquely inviting and delectable. For example, sea urchin (uni) from Japan, and the Neverland roll, which features sockeye Alaskan salmon, cilantro, and asparagus, and is topped with avocado, micro-greens, and seven-spice sesame soy sauce.

Drinks with flair

Just down the street from Momiji lie sister-bars Unicorn and Narwhal—Unicorn is on street-level, while Narwhal is downstairs. You won’t find any actual unicorns or narwhals. Still, after a few of the carnival-themed bars’ magical cocktails, you might start questioning which one is real. Create an enchanting night out with colorful cocktails, such as their famous concoction of mango vodka, triple sec, orange juice, sour, Sprite, and grenadine—complete with a name that will have you questioning why you’re ordering it in the first place (Unicorn Jizz??). Feel like a kid again playing in the pinball arcade and taking silly photos in the photo booths. If the munchies strike, Unicorn Balls are a treat of fried pork, ginger, and scallion, served with sweet-chili aioli. Unicorn and Narwhal each host events that include Mimosas Cabaret, Gayme Night, karaoke, trivia, and more.

Sweet tooth in Seattle?

If you’re craving a sweet treat, Molly Moon’s serves homemade ice cream at eight locations across the city. All ingredients are sourced from the Pacific Northwest and served with 100% compostable spoons, straws, pint containers, cups, and lids. But Molly Moon’s is more than just an ice cream parlor. Every year, it donates more than 3,200 scoops of ice cream to raise money for local nonprofits, support school programs, and treat food bank customers. It also gives 1% of its sales to nonprofits in the community, women- and girl-empowerment initiatives, and local arts organizations. Molly Moon’s—making the world a better place one scoop at a time.

What to see and do

Seattle sights

Seattle boasts one of the world’s most recognizable skylines in no small part due to the iconic Space Needle. The 605-foot-tall landmark is the pinnacle of Seattle tourist spots, yet the floor-to-ceiling windows and glass floors that provide a 360-degree city view make it hard for even locals to stay away. They offer traditional admission year-round as well as day/night passes that allow guests two visits to the top—one during the day for an Instagram-worthy panorama and another to watch the sun set over Puget Sound and admire the glistening city lights. Lines can get long, so it’s best to buy tickets ahead of time.

Adjacent to the Space Needle, in the Seattle Center, lies another Seattle bucket-list visit: Chihuly Garden and Glass. This museum showcases Dale Chihuly’s colorful and lively glassworks through eight exhibitions, a lush outdoor garden, and a glasshouse. Stroll around the museum’s grounds. When the Seattle sun is shining, watch as its rays glisten through the shapes and electrifying colors of the glass. Visitors hoping to stop by both the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass can find package admissions through the Seattle Center.

I like Pike!

For coffee aficionados, connoisseurs, or just straight-up caffeine addicts, Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room offers an immersive experience guaranteed to perk you up. The Seattle Roastery is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, just blocks away from the original Starbucks Pike Place store. Learn about the finest brewing methods, unlocked and explained by master baristas themselves, all while sipping on flights and pairings of select brew combinations and creations.

Although, the best paring is simply Starbucks and Nordstrom—two companies that call Seattle home-sweet-headquarters. Nordstrom’s flagship store stands tall in downtown Seattle with five wondrous floors of heels, handbags, and housewares. Get ready, get caffeinated, and get lost exploring the never-ending shoe department.

No Seattle vacation is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market. Soak in the sights, smells, and flavors at the city’s epicenter of fresh produce. Since 1907, Pike Place Market has been connecting Seattle citizens and visitors with local farmers, bakers, butchers, and fishermen. There are more than 200 independently operated shops and restaurants within the district and more than 100 years of tradition—such as Pike Place Fish Market’s fish-throwing routine.

To get an off-the-grid Pike Place Market experience, venture down the ramp under the “Market Theater” sign to the left of the main entrance to Pike Place Market. At the bottom of the ramp, find Post Alley, one of Seattle’s most charming streets, and Gum Wall, an expansive brick wall covered in colorful, decaying, chewed bubblegum that will blow you away.

The one and only Seattle

Seattle exudes explosive flavors, unique traditions, delicate art, exclusive experiences, and a breathtaking skyline that shines through even on rainy days. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to stay away.

Now that you’ve got insights for your Seattle vacation, take a closer look at the city—above and below.

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