I am going to visit Seattle - what should I do?

I’m starting a new job in early March, and for the first month will be in Seattle for product training. We are planning to have my wife join me from New Zealand for 10 days or so, with one weekend in Seattle and environs and the second weekend maybe taking the train to Vancouver (tips for this would be appreciated, too).

So we need ideas for some places to eat and must-see things to do in Seattle, both for us together, and things I can do when I am on my own. I am going to try to get to Emerald City Comiccon (my wife will be around that weekend, but she does not want to come - not her scene - but almost all my favourite writers will be there so I don’t plan to miss out).

If you enjoy music at all (and who doesn’t?), EMP is a must-see. It’s located right next door to the Pacific Science Center and the Space Needle, so you could make a day of that. Pike Place Market is also worth visiting, and the very first Starbucks in the world is there if you want a photo-op.

Foodwise, Seattle has a very cosmopolitan restaurant scene, and you can find pretty much any kind of food imaginable. I’d recommend, at the very least, grabbing a bowl of Ivar’s chowder (which just can’t be beat) and a burger from Dick’s (which is sort of what McDonald’s would be today if it had never expanded beyond San Bernandino).

One of the best meals I’ve had was at the Steelhead Diner at Pike Place.

If you can make a day of it, make sure to visit the Museum of Flight just south of the Seattle city limits. It’s got an astonishing collection from a Concorde and 60s Air Force One you can walk through, artifacts from Apollo 12, and a full floor each of WW2 and WW1 planes.

It’s definitely touristy, but the underground tour is really cool; and give you an entertaining history of the city.

It’s amazing to me that some of the buildings in Seattle that you see from street level are actually the 2nd floor of those buildings, and the first floor of those building still exist but are now underground and used as basements.

The student district around the University of Washington has many interesting stores selling cultural items - both past and present.

You are sure to find some things there you will like and even if you don’t, walking around makes for a very interesting afternoon - very inexpensive too.

The University of Washington bookstore is very modern and carries a huge selection of books and other supplies - both for university students and for others as well. I used to love just walking around and looking at all the wonderful things they had for sale.

For Seattle:

Underground tour for sure. Quite interesting.


Salumi - they’re only open 11-3:30 Tues-Fri. I recommend getting in line about 10:45 and ordering anything off the specials. Their non-specials are also fab, but the specials are especially good. Plan on taking it to go.

Serious Pie, Palace Kitchen or really any of Tom Douglas’s restaurants

Lots of good oysters to be had, if you happen to like oysters. I’m partial to Elliott’s but there are lots of good oyster places to choose from.

The Ballard Locks are fascinating. Especially during the salmon runs, but really any time.

On a nice day, take the ferry to Bainbridge or Bremerton and just enjoy the views.

For Vancouver:

Legendary Noodle (they make their own noodles right in front of you

Salt Tasting Room - get a couple of daily plates (the ones where they choose the meats, cheeses and condiments for you) and be sure to include a couple of wine flights - let them choose!

Bring an umbrella.


We enjoyed this museum. Here’s a summary of their permanent exhibits:

The First Floor
The Dream of America is the story of immigration told in an exhibit of life-like dioramas. Travel with your family back to the nineteenth-century Scandinavian countryside to begin the journey to America, starting with the move to the city. The voyage continues as you board a ship to make the Atlantic crossing, and land at Ellis Island. The adventure goes on to experiences in New York, and the expansion to the Midwest, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest, ending in Ballard. Here the growth and development of a typical small Northwest community is displayed, complete with a post office, church, drug store, blacksmith shop, and a family home.

The Second Floor
The Promise of the Northwest includes two galleries that focus on the logging and fishing industries, which employed many immigrants who brought skills learned in the old country. These galleries show the contributions of the Nordic pioneers to the settlement of the Pacific Northwest. The Folk Art Galleries display treasured and useful items the immigrants brought with them, including folk costumes, textiles, tools, and furniture. Temporary art, history, and heritage exhibits are housed in the three galleries at the west end of the hall.

The Third Floor
The third floor exhibitions illustrate the differences and the common bonds among the Scandinavian people. There is one gallery for each of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Each gallery highlights that group’s special achievements in the Pacific Northwest.

Second the recommendation for the EMP. Try to get there right when it opens and head immediately to the top floor. You can play around in little private “recording studios” that guide you through guitar, drums, vocals, mixing, etc. The rooms can get very crowded, but if you run up there while everyone else is slowly working their way up, you’re fine.

If the weather is decent (lower your standards a little), we enjoy Agua Verde. You can rent kayaks, paddle around on Lake Union, then enjoy a margarita on their deck after.

If you make it to the Comiccon, look up the fantasy/sci-fi model exhibit. There are some first-rate model builders in the PNW, and a significant number of them are going to be participating in the exhibit. Including yours truly (altho I dunno about the “first-rate” part).

Pioneer Square for the shops, pubs, and people-watching. Pike Place Market for everything food, and artisan items. Check all the levels of the market (excellent comic book shop on the second level, if it’s still there), and then cross over to the waterfront for touristy things, souvenirs, etc.

Snoqualmie Falls would be a nice short side-trip, but I don’t know how much water will be falling in March, and hasn’t there been a shortage of snow?

Seattle doesn’t have much of a central downtown. All the best stuff is at the north and south end.

Near Salumi, in the Pioneer Square area is the smallest national historical park - the Klondike Gold Rush Museum.

You might enjoy a visit to Fantagraphics.

I think the EMP and Tom Douglas’s restaurants are laughably overrated, but YMMV.

It’s not only rainy but also windy. I’d bring a raincoat, not an umbrella.

Seconding recommendations for the Ballard Locks, Bainbridge Ferry, Underground Tour, and Museum of Flight.

The Stranger is good for finding live music, readings, movies, theater, etc.

You could always join a bunch of Dopers for pub trivia. :slight_smile:

This is exactly what I came to recommend!

Agree with all of these.

Several great acts performing at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in March, including Sergio Mendes, Arturo Sandoval and the Rebirth Brass Band.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass is nice if you like that sort of art. It’s over near the Space Needle and the EMP Museum.

Seattle’s got a very good local jazz scene too, if you’re into that sort of thing. Full calendar of gigs here. The Royal Room and Tula’s have consistently good music and are a lot cheaper than Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley or The Triple Door (which are also good).

Only if you want to declare that you are a tourist. The rain here is rarely more than a drizzle. We just walk around in it.