Seattle Travel Guide: A Seattleite’s Tips for the Enchanting Emerald City
Before I jump into today’s interview, a quick note: I know times are extremely difficult right now, and I hope you’re all doing well and that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Whether you’re under mandatory lockdown or you’re staying home voluntarily, travel is, of course, out of the question. That said, we all need a little joy right now, and one of my favorite sources of optimism is dreaming about the trips I’ll take once this is all over. Though we may not know when it will be, we all have plenty of adventures to look forward to. Therefore, I may be posting less frequently, but I’ll continue to share travel content in the hope it brings a dash of inspiration to your socially distanced day.
Before this all began, I spoke to Marcie Cheung about her hometown, Seattle, Washington. Marcie is a family travel blogger at Marcie in Mommyland and was born and raised in Seattle. She lives there with her husband and two boys and shares her insider ideas for visiting the city.
Hi Marcie! Thanks for talking with me today. What do you love most about Seattle?
Seattle is a gorgeous city. And when the sun comes out, its beauty is unsurpassed! It’s a perfect mix of city life and the great outdoors. I mean, you can sit in a coffee shop overlooking water and mountains. That’s my kind of place!
I love that! What’s your favorite spot in Seattle?
My all-time favorite spot is the Seattle Waterfront. The area is so vibrant with performers, artists, attractions and family-friendly activities. But, it’s just as enjoyable to find a nice spot to relax and soak in all the natural beauty.
If a traveler only had 24 hours there, what should they make sure to see?
Pike Place Market is the first place I’d suggest. It’s one of the best spots for fun Seattle photos. Plus, there are so many tasty treats available! Stop in at Storyville Coffee for an incredible drink and pastry. Then, walk down to Pier 57 on the Seattle Waterfront where you can ride the Seattle Great Wheel and Wings Over Washington. After exploring the waterfront, hop aboard an Argosy Cruise for the best views of Downtown Seattle!
Sounds fun! What should travelers know about Seattle culture?
Tourists often complain about the “Seattle Freeze.” No, they aren’t talking about the weather. They mean that Seattleites aren’t very friendly. I don’t think that’s the case at all. We just don’t want to commit ourselves to hanging out (when we really just want to put on Netflix at home).
“Blue Friday” happens every Friday during Seahawks season, and you’ll see tons of people decked out in their Seahawks gear everywhere you go. Seattle Seahawks fans are called the “12th Man,” and we are proud to support our local team.
The most important thing for travelers to know about Seattle is that you better know your coffee order BEFORE it’s your turn to order. That’s the quickest way to make a slew of enemies!
Got it! Any cool historical tidbits or important history that visitors should be aware of?
Seattle is located on Duwamish tribal land, and the city is named for Chief Sealth. You’ll see nods to Native American culture all over town (including the Seattle Seahawks logo!).
Seattle had a huge fire, which resulted in a part of the city that’s underground. There are a couple of underground Seattle tours available in Pioneer Square that are fascinating! Some of them involve ghosts!
Spooky! What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path thing to do that wouldn’t be found in a typical guidebook?
Did you know Seattle has an ice cream cruise? It runs year-round on Sundays, and it’s a fun (and super affordable) way to cruise around Lake Union. You’ll see the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle, Gasworks Park, the Ballard Locks, and more. Plus, you’ll probably see tons of seaplanes taking off and landing. For extra fun, check out the Museum of History & Industry (way cooler than it sounds) or rent a toy boat to push in the pond.
What’s a cool neighborhood you’d recommend to visitors looking for something a little different?
Capitol Hill is the place to go for hip restaurants, unique boutiques, and the ultimate “Seattle cool” factor. This is the neighborhood Macklemore and Sir Mix-a-Lot feature in their music.
Tell me about your favorite restaurant in Seattle.
There are too many to choose from! Of course, I have to include a seafood restaurant. We really enjoy Elliott’s Oyster House, because it’s right on the water, and their seafood is fabulous! Kau Kau in Chinatown is also super tasty (especially their famous BBQ pork!). And 5 Spot in Queen Anne frequently changes up their menu to feature new countries.
Great tips! Is there any food, dish, or cuisine that you MUST try when in Seattle? Where’s the best place to try it?
Poke! There’s a huge population of people from Hawaii here in Seattle, and we had poke places here before they became all the rage! My favorite thing to get is the poke tacos from Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max in Columbia City. OMG they are good!
Where would you recommend tourists stay when visiting?
The easiest place for tourists to stay is Downtown Seattle. You will be able to walk to many attractions or easily drive (or catch an Uber). For a splurge, rent a room at the historic Fairmont Olympic Hotel or The Edgewater Hotel right at the Seattle Waterfront.
What are the most photo-worthy spots in Seattle?
Definitely Pike Place Market (get there EARLY in the morning,) the Seattle Great Wheel on the Waterfront, Molly Moon’s, and any rainbow sidewalk in Capitol Hill are awesome for Instagram. Kerry Park and Gasworks Park are great for getting iconic shots of the city.
I’d love to check them out! What are Seattle’s must-see museums and monuments?
The most famous is the Space Needle! They just finished a huge renovation (their first in 50 years!), so it’s definitely worth visiting. That’s where you’ll find the world’s first revolving glass floor! Check the weather before you go up to make sure it’s a clear day.
One of my favorite museums here in Seattle is the Museum of Flight. It’s right at Boeing Field and features some incredible aircraft, both indoors and out in their Aviation Pavilion. You can climb inside many of them!
At Seattle Center, there’s the Chihuly Garden & Glass that is gorgeous! Dale Chihuly is a world famous glass artist, and his work is incredible. Be sure to take lots of photos in the atrium!
And there’s the Fremont Troll, which is always an interesting stop. It doesn’t always smell the greatest in the summer, but it’s one of the quirkiest attractions!
What tips do you have for travelers looking to avoid the crowds?
Tourist season in Seattle runs late June to early September. Usually September is one of the best months to visit Seattle, especially if you want to avoid crowds but still enjoy the outdoors.
What should visitors know about transportation around Seattle?
If you are visiting during the summer or fall, Seattle has a free waterfront shuttle that’s really convenient. There’s also the Seattle monorail that is a 2 minute ride from Seattle Center to Downtown Seattle. And Link Light Rail is another great option to get to Columbia City, Sea-Tac Airport, University of Washington and places in between.
Good to know! Anything else you’d like to share about Seattle?
When you are planning your trip to Seattle, make sure to leave room to explore another area of Washington State. The San Juan Islands are a truly special place to get away from the city. There’s also Winthrop, a non-kitschy Wild West town where families can ride horses and enjoy a cowboy lifestyle.
Can’t wait for my next visit to Seattle once it’s safe to travel again! Thanks for your insights, Marcie! Be sure to check out her blog, Marcie on Mommyland, and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.