Recently, a friend from San Francisco reached out about a trip to Seattle she has planned for January. She was excited about booking a room at the Ace because she loves its sister hotels in PDX and NYC. "NOOOOOOOO!" was my immediate reaction. Shamefully, the original Ace on Seattle's 1st Ave is basially a hostel. Not that I have a thing against hostel living (There was this one, ahem, intersting night in Aix. Oh! And Amsterdam.) but I know what the other properties are like and it would be a huge mistake to think that Seattle's version is on par. With our exchange, I realized I needed to craft a WEEKEND AWAY for my (adopted) hometown.
This is a list to get started. As of December 1, 2013, these are my recs!
STAY The dirty truth about SEA is we have shitty options for lodging. Embarrassingly bad. A good frined of mine is working to correct that and I hope to ammend my text by 2016.
cheap and chic(ish): Ace Hotel, 1st Ave
institution: The Sorrento on First Hill. The location is not great. Another is The Fairmount Seattle. Better location but really dated interior. (this matters to me. a lot.) The Inn at the Market. No opinion (but I LOVE the Korean fusion place downstairs Cha:n).
posh: Four Seasons at Pike Place Market (get the Bellini with fresh peach puree at the bar!)
Most of these are downtown, if you are cool (or think you are or like cool people) you may want to stay on The Hill (aka Capital Hill). Really, all I can offer is Silver Clouds on Broadway. It is like The Gap. Basic and safe but not going to generate oohs and ahhs.
EAT This list could get LONG so I am being selective.
cheap and chic(ish): Pike Street Fish Fry. Good for either a snack before drinking on The Hill or to soak everything up before stumbling home. WARNING: loud RANDOM music (kinda awesome). Paseo in Fremont (and Ballard) has the best effing sandwiches. Carribean sandwiches. I know, confusing.
sushi: Tsukushinbo, in the International District. Try to make a reservation or get there at opening. Ramen at lunch on Fridays is sacred. (Full disclosure. I worked 100 yds from Tsukushinbo for 7 years and found out about it 6 months after I vacated my studio. Hugely embarassed and blaming on babies.) I also love the tatami room at Maneki in the ID for large groups.
Mexican: Yes, Mexican gets its own category. My blonde child once asked me if we were Mexican. "Why?" I asked. "Because we eat burritos and chips everyday." You get the point. I didn't put Rancho Bravo in cheap and chic because it is 1) Mexican and 2) in an old KFC, which negates any hope for chic. Get food to go and hit the park across the street to people watch. (Seattle people watching is epic!) la Carta de Oaxaca. Be still my heart. Go for lunch Tues-Sat (dinner is insanely crowded) and sit at the bar. Drink the margaitas and try all the salsa at the salsa station.
seafood: Little Gull is a new raw bar. the Walrus and the Carpenter also offers oysters but I go for the moules broth. Again, do not miss and expect a wait. If you have a half a day, drive to The Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive. View. Check. Random, Check. Fresh shells from WA. Check. I would hit this on the way to...see posh.
posh: Worth the bang for the buck in Seattle requires a day and night. The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. This takes planning but you knock out a visit to the San Jaun's, a meal from an apprentice of Noma (in Copenhagen and voted best restaurant in world 2x) and bragging rights because this is on everyone's national best reataurant list. When we sat in the dining room, the only couple spaeking English was visiting from NY. Seriously. (WARNING: accomodations atrocious)
institution: I guess I should tell you to go to Canlis. The view is amazing and the Canlis salad is my favorite. I would say this: Go for dinner if you are with parents (who are paying!). Sit at the bar and have a martini and the salad to start your night with a friend or siginificant other. I love the bar here. Very Sinatra.
SEE This is obvious (and a certain unnamed photo journalist whose name rhymes with Podd Melby made fun of me for suggesting) but if it is a clear day, go to the Space Needle. If you were in Paris, you would go to the tower. The needle is our tower. We have the mountains, the water and the needle. And the best view of the former is from the deck of the latter. Be a tourist. On a sunny and warm day, go to Golden Gardens and picnic. We have a great zoo. First in the US to create natural habitats for animals and shun cages (A fun fact my husband reminded me of on a recent trip when I was bitching about being at the zoo.) Olympic Sculpture Park! I love museums and if you have time for just one- go to SAM downtown (before your Bellini at the Four Seasons across the street). And do not worry with a pilgrimage to Kurt Cobain's house. There is a gate and the park beside it is small with no view. Just saying. Better off having a drink at Linda's (back patio!)where he was reportedly last seen.
PLAY In the summer, rent a boat. In the winter, go to the Russian spa Banya5. All year, rent a bike and hit the Burke Gilman Trail. HIKE. Seriously. This is easier than it sounds. In less than an hour, you are so far from the city and earning your night out!
SHOP Totokaelo. An internet shopping sensation around the world and Seattle hosts the only brick-and-mortar. Isadora's is simply the best for vintage jewelry.
I am losing steam but will continue to add to this as people write and tell me I forgot something! Like coffee (so many that are all great!) and where to drink (can you really go wrong?).