Seattle is an essential vacation spot. Here’s how to spend a weekend exploring this Puget Sound gem
No matter how you slice it, Seattle is a Northwestern gem. Located on the beautiful Puget Sound waterfront, Seattle a host to arts and culture of all kinds, and home to a wide array of delicious food and outdoor markets. Whether it’s kayaking in the Puget Sound, buying produce at the Pike Place Market or posing next to a giant concrete troll, Seattle is a perfect destination for a summer adventure. There’s no shortage of things to do, but you’ve got to know how to see it all so you don’t miss the highlights. So pack your light raincoat and head north for a long weekend in Seattle.
Friday: Downtown and Capitol Hill
Seattle is home to the first Starbucks, so where better to start your weekend than the original Starbucks? Stop by the storefront on Pike Street for a coffee and light breakfast. We’re not saying you need to get there at the 6 a.m. opening time, but it doesn’t take long for a line to wrap around the block for this iconic attraction. Earlier is better in this case.
Starting your day at the original Starbucks will put you right next to the Pike Place Market, another one of the city’s best attractions. During the summer, weekdays in the morning are the best times to visit, so walk over after finishing breakfast. This vibrant outdoor market is over 100 years old, and it boasts 500 produce and craft vendors in its several levels. On the outdoor level, pick out a bouquet of seasonal flowers and sample enough produce to tide you over until lunch. Watch the Pike Place Fish Market fishmongers sling fresh tuna, salmon, halibut, and swordfish over the heads of onlookers. Before you leave the market, get a photo with Rachel the Piggybank, and, if you’re not too weirded out, add a piece of gum to the Gum Wall.
When you’ve finished exploring the market, catch a bus up to Capitol Hill for the afternoon. It’s funky neighborhood that’s great for shopping and has a ton of fresh eateries. Once the samples from the Pike Place Market have stopped keeping you full, you can stop in to Tacos Chukis for lunch. The authentic Mexican food is filling and won’t break the bank either. Afterwards, you can wander the rainbow-striped crosswalks while you pop into all the vintage and thrift shops your heart desires. Be sure to drop in the multi-level Elliott Bay Book Company and page through their selection of new and bargain books.
For dinner, grab a classic burger, fries, and shake from Dick’s Drive-In on Broadway Avenue. Dick’s is a Seattle staple, and the Capitol Hill location has been in operation since 1954. Macklemore even filmed one of his music videos at this location, so it’s just about as Seattle as you can get.
Saturday: Vashon Island
Day two features a tour of Vashon Island, which is an easy way to preview one of many beautiful Puget Sound islands. This day will come as a nice rest after the fast-paced energy of the downtown and Capitol Hill. The King County Water Taxi is a quick and cost-effective way to get to Vashon Island for a day trip. Pick up a late breakfast at the Alaskan Sourdough Restaurant And Bakery before setting sail. The water taxi is a brief 20 minute ride, so you’ll have plenty of time to eat on board and watch for whales from the hull.
Once you’ve arrived on the island, head for Jensen Point Park. The waterfront park hosts a watersports hut where you can rent kayaks or canoes to paddle in the warmer, shallow water of the Puget Sound. It’s a great workout and a fun way to see both Vashon and its neighbor, Maury Island, from a different point of view.
Kayaking or canoeing will work up your appetite, so head up 99th Avenue for a late lunch. Be sure to stop on the way and get a picture at the Bicycle Tree, where a rusted bike sticks out of a tree trunk 20 feet off the ground. For lunch, visit Bramble House for a refreshing farm-to-table meal from local producers, including Vashon Coffee Company, Herban Bloom, and Burton Hill Farm. Bramble House was founded by Lia Lira of “Top Chef,” so you know it’s top quality in food.
In the late afternoon, head north to Palouse Winery for wine tasting. This location is only open on the weekends from 12-5 p.m., but where they lack in hours, they make up for in tasting experience and views. Try a Cloud Nine Riesling or the Red Satin Cabernet Sauvignon under twinkling patio lights before heading out for a Thai dinner at May Kitchen. Just be sure to catch the water taxi back to Seattle before the last one leaves at 7 p.m.
Fremont loving dubs itself “the center of the universe,” and it’s just a short bus ride away from downtown Seattle. Start your day at the Fremont Sunday Market. It opens at 10 a.m., rain or shine, so it’s a great for brunch or a late breakfast at your pick of one of the many street food sellers. Then, you have until the market closes at 4 p.m. to peruse the over 200 vendors for antiques, local and world art, produce, and any other treasures the market offers. There are also plenty of musicians in the market, so be sure to listen and take in the atmosphere as well.
When you’ve had your fill of the market, visit the Fremont Troll under Aurora Bridge. Based on the Three Billy Goats Gruff tale, this massive concrete fixture is great for photo opportunities. After braving the troll, relax at Gas Works Park. The park is a former gasification plant and still is home to several large factory remains, all of which give the park a cool ambiance. Gas Works Park has a great view of Lake Union and the downtown, including a picture-perfect look at the Space Needle.
In the evening, go to Fremont Brewing and sit in their Urban Beer Garden to try some of the local beer on tap. The beer garden is BYOF, Bring Your Own Food, get takeout from Cafe Turko nearby before you go. They have a great selection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free Turkish food for all.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in Seattle, but it is a starter guide for a nice weekend getaway. Just don’t forget a light raincoat and possibly some boots before you go.