July 12, 2021

Seattle Area Travel Guide

In June, I returned from my two-month trip to the Seattle, Washington area! Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures in the mountains, a perfect boating day on the Puget Sound, or the perfect coffee roaster, Seattle is the perfect city for you! Don’t let the “it rains all the time in Seattle” stereotype fool you. It doesn’t rain as often as I had imagined, and even when it did, there were still plenty of things to do inside! All that said, here’s your travel guide to Seattle.

What To See

City Adventures

Pike Place Market
girl standing in front of pike place market sign in seattle washington

Pike Place Market is definitely one of the most iconic spots in Seattle! Even without buying anything, the experience itself is worth checking out. Beautiful bouquets of flowers line the market, fishermen throw fish across the aisles, and you could walk around all of the shops for hours.

Notable Shops:

  • Three Girls Bakery: My mom and I tried their Focaccia bread and loved it. They had a wide selection of pastries, breads, and sandwiches, and their service was incredibly fast!
  • Golden Age Collectibles: Even though I’m not a big comic book/toys/games type of gal, this was a super interesting store to visit! They had rows of scripts for popular movies and housed collectibles for popular TV shows such as Grey’s and The Office!
  • MarninSaylor: I would honestly return to the market for this store alone! Even though I didn’t walk away with a purchase, visiting the store was such an experience! MarninSaylor is a handmade Pastry Pet store. They sell plush, pet donuts, all handcrafted in the Seattle! The aesthetics of the store were unbelievable, and they even had a photo wall for images!
  • BLMF Literary Saloon: The best bookstores are those with overflowing bookshelves and stacked books! If you need a good read for your plane ride home, this is the perfect place to stop!
Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is located right near the water and is a perfect spot for a rainy afternoon! Though I didn’t tour the aquarium on this particular trip, I did visit on a previous trip to Washington, and I would definitely go back in the future.

Note: If you’re looking to visit popular Seattle spots such as the Seattle Aquarium, Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture, etc., I highly recommend the CityPass! It gives you access to popular attractions at a lower cost than buying the tickets individually!

Space Needle

The Space Needle is another iconic attraction in Seattle. While I have walked around Seattle Center and have pictures with the Space Needle in the background, I haven’t actually visited the inside of the attraction itself. Still, the area surrounding the space needle is a great place to explore, and I’ll definitely be touring the inside on my next trip!

Kerry Park
A view of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park in seattle, washington

If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, then you’ll definitely recognize Kerry Park! Only a short distance from downtown, Kerry Park rests atop a hill with a beautiful view of Seattle and the Puget Sound. Because there isn’t much to do in the park itself besides admiring the view, I recommend bringing a picnic or a book!

The Great Wheel

Similar to the Seattle Aquarium, I visited the Great Wheel on a previous trip to Seattle! The Great Wheel is a giant Ferris wheel overlooking Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle. On clear, sunny days, you can even see Mt. Rainier in the distance. While it’s definitely a great experience to do once, I would likely opt for visiting Kerry Park next time instead for the views.

University of Washington
upper view of the cherry blossoms blooming at the university of washington

I was lucky enough to visit the University of Washington during the peak cherry blossom season in April! The University was crawling with tourists during my visit. Even if you aren’t able to visit during cherry blossom season, the campus itself – with its gorgeous architecture – is worth checking out and exploring. Shortly outside of campus is University Village – a gorgeous outdoor mall and the perfect spot to stop for an afternoon Starbucks drink after exploring campus.

Outdoor Adventures

Rattlesnake Ledge
lauren posing in front of rattlesnake ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge was my first ‘real’ hike – ever. Only about 45 minutes from downtown Seattle, it’s the perfect day adventure if you’re looking for gorgeous views! As a new hiker, the entire hike took me approximately two hours (minus the time spent at the top enjoying the views). Because I was hiking by myself, I chose Rattlesnake Ledge due to its popularity, in case something were to have happened to me while hiking.

If you’re looking for solitude and a hike away from others, Rattlesnake Ledge probably isn’t for you. I recommend arriving early in the morning, especially if the weather forecast is warm and sunny. By the time I was on my hike down, the parking lot I had parked in was almost full.

Leavenworth

If you don’t mind a train ride or a long car ride, I would recommend visiting Leavenworth! Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade mountains. Between the town signs, music in the square, and German food, you really feel as if you’re in another country!

Similar to Rattlesnake Ledge, this can become extremely busy on the weekends. And with most shops still practicing COVID restrictions, there are often lines to enter shops on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. There were a lot of shops and interesting handmade trinkets to view. My favorite shop was definitely the Christmas store!

Suburb Adventures

Green Lake

Green Lake is a neighborhood on the northern side of Seattle. Not only is it lined with restaurants, shops, and cafes, but it’s also home to Green Lake! Surrounding the lake is a 2.8-mile walk/bike path and a public park. The waterfront shack also offers snacks, coffee, kayak rentals, and stand-up paddleboard rentals.

I only took a short walk around the lake before returning to work, but I would absolutely return for a kayak rental.

Kingston or Bainbridge Island

This recommendation is two-fold: first, it gives you the opportunity to ride on Seattle’s ferry system. Second, both stops offer their own unique experiences.

Kingston, located across the Puget Sound from Edmonds, is a cute, charming small town. During my short visit there, we ate at Westside Pizza. & if we didn’t have to run and catch the ferry, J’aime Les Crepes would’ve been on my to-eat list, too!

While I didn’t explore the area of Bainbridge, I did stay on the island for one night. I can’t tell you much about the island except that – as a Minnesota who hadn’t explored the Pacific Northwest – I was blown away by how beautiful it was! It felt like I was straight out of the Twilight films nestled in the evergreens.

Edmonds
marina beach park in edmonds washington

Edmonds is where I spent the majority of my time in Washington. Restaurants, cafes, and local shops line the downtown streets. Outside of exploring downtown, I spent a handful of nights at the Marina Beach Dog Park. Marina Beach has gorgeous mountain views and was the perfect place for me to spend afternoons working outdoors.

If you happen to visit the Edmonds area during your trip to Washington, I’d recommend the following restaurants: Girardi’s Osteria (an Italian restaurant with all-day happy hour!), Anthony’s Homeport Edmonds (for your west-coast seafood fix), or Daphne’s (for drinks and cocktails)!

Coffee Shops

Cafe Aloe

Located in Bellevue, WA, Cafe Aloe is a coffee and Asian pastry cafe. During my visit, I had the Coconut Latte and Piggy Bun. Of course, I discovered this coffee shop from a Seattle coffee Instagram account and had to check out the massive plant wall and neon sign. Not only was the inside of the shop modern and clean, but the outdoor patio made it the perfect spot to work on a summer afternoon.

Sip House
red velvet latte in front of siphouse wall mural in seattle

Sip House is the first Seattle coffee shop I discovered on Instagram that I knew I had to visit. Located in the U-District, Sip House offers hand-crafted coffee and tea. Visiting the shop was an absolute experience – the gorgeous floral mural, the playlist, the plant wall, and even their choice of furniture.

I order the Red Velvet Cream Latte which was extremely sweet, but delicious nonetheless.

Outside of Seattle – Things I Missed:

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I had to cut my trip short due to car trouble. I was forced to cancel all of the following stops to shorten my visit but will absolutely be exploring on my next trip.

Mt. Rainier

Mount Rainier is located about two hours from Seattle – it’s even visible from the city on clear days. Primarily, I wanted to visit the wildflower meadows at Paradise (peak season from mid-July to mid-August). If you’re traveling alone but still want to check out the National Park, you can search for guided tours from Seattle to Mt. Rainier!

Olympic National Forest

One of the must-sees on every travel guide I researched was Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. Previous hikers have described it as having a jungle feel or not something you’d expect to see in the Northern United States! As another tourist hot-spot (along with others I’ve recommended here), arrive very early. Once the lots are full, they only let one car in for every one car out.

Forks

I grew up during the peak Twilight craze. Knowing Forks would be only an hour from Hoh Rain Forest, I knew it would be worth the trip. Though the movies were actually filmed in Oregon, I thought it would still be interesting to explore the area where the books were based. The town website even has a Twilight map to visit notable locations from the book!

San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands is the location I was most looking forward to before having to cancel. The San Juan Islands are famous for not only a beautiful, temperate climate, but whale watching is also an extremely popular tourism draw – the reason I was planning on visiting! Prior to my cancellation, I had booked a half-day whale watching tour on a sailboat with the promise of spotting orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, and other wildlife. This is on the top of my list for my next Washington adventure.


Washington is absolutely my home away from Minnesota, and I can’t wait to return.

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