Seattle Summer Travel Guide Pt 2

Coffee

The first thing to do in Seattle is to seek coffee, obviously. The home of Starbucks, you can visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room in Capitol Hill. If you’re a massive Starbucks fan, you may also consider making the trip to the industrial area of SODO to see Starbucks Center clock tower with the iconic mermaid topping the tower. You can even venture to the original location at Pike Place Market, but unless you’re planning to get the location’s special roast, you might as well go to a different location. There are local coffee places everywhere you turn, but Herkimer Coffee is by far my favorite.

With a cozy roastery in Greenwood and architecturally modern location near the south of Lake Union, it has the best coffee I have ever had in my life, hands down. Diva Espresso is another local coffee chain with great pastries (and a location available in the airport near the baggage carousels). Eater has a great list if you would like to do some coffee tourism while in Seattle with a variety of shops across the city.

Free Things

Seattle is an expensive city, so to balance your trip, some free things can easily supplement and round out your trip. I’m a bit of a nerd, so on my solo trip, visiting the Central Library was up on the list. They offer self-guided or group tours of the library, which is pretty fun and free. Another notable library to visit is the UW Reading Room, which looks like the Great Hall from Hogwarts.

They have a guided digital tour online, and again, it’s free! Picnics are also an easy option for Seattle on sunny summer days with Gasworks Park (at the North side of Lake Union) and Discovery Park as ideal locations. Discovery Park also has fantastic hiking trails, as a 534-acre park. My favorite thing was hiking out to the lighthouse on the peninsula of the park with a pebble beach surrounding, it has massive logs deposited on the beach perfect for sitting on to have a snack and watch cargo ships entering the sound.

North of Discovery Park is the Ballard Locks. Lake Union has a man-made canal that connects it to Puget Sound (as well as another to Lake Washington) and given the water level and elevation difference, the locks are gates that allow for water displacement to occur safely for boats and kayakers to safely pass through.

Salmon season (June to September), also means salmon are attracted to the fresh water coming from the locks, which is why there is a salmon ladder for the fish to get from the sound to the lake. With a viewing area and exhibit to walk through, you can quickly fill an afternoon. Plus there are plenty of docents, elderly men that are knowledgeable about the varieties and stats on salmon, that are willing to fill you in on how the salmon season is and answer any questions you have. The salmon also attract seals to watch as they play and hunt, and you may see a jellyfish or two as well! The locks also have a botanical garden on the North side, again perfect for a picnic, or to watch squirrels. The Fremont Troll, an art installation under the Aurora Avenue bridge featured in the iconic film “10 Things I Hate About You” is another stop if you’re touring Fremont, with the statue of Lenin and other art installations to see.

For all of the things I mentioned (unless they are in walking distance) the only money you need to spend is transportation to and from and are all accessible via public transit with the Orca card. Finally, Kerry Park has one of the best views of Seattle with many iconic photos taken from the hilltop of Queen Anne. You can get a great picture of yourself from this spot, or from West Seattle with the city skyline in the background.

Inexpensive Things

Disclaimer: a majority of inexpensive things are food related because I’m a massive foodie and scoured the internet for some of the best places to go in Seattle. Besides grabbing a coffee from Herkimer, the first thing I did was hit up Ivar’s Fish Bar on the waterfront, part of a more extensive network of Ivar’s restaurants.

Featuring seasonal fish, as well as regular and cajun seasoned breaded cod, it is some of the freshest fish and chips you can get. If you like kayaking, you can dock right at Ivar’s, and you may get a peek into Chiluly’s workshop in the warehouse next door from the water. Next, Dick’s Drive-In is like the classic style burger spot (think the original style McDonald's) with walk-up windows, and they’re open late for the drunken fast food cravings. Non-food related, Woodland Park Zoo is a fun way to spend a day, even if it’s sprinkling. You can get a $2 discount for taking the bus or cycling to the zoo, which makes admission $20.95. With a carousel and penguins you can feed, my favorite animals are the lemurs and the snow leopard. Another fun thing to do is go to the Chinatown–International District for shopping and food. Located on a hill with a streetcar to get you to the top, the district is composed of Chinatown at the base of the hill, Japantown, and then Little Saigon at the top. With markets to shop for imported products and authentic cuisine, it can fill a whole day. Phở Bắc Restaurant is the best place in Little Saigon for traditional pho.

The restaurant is airy and modern, but the pho is based off of a traditional family recipe. The owner’s father created a thriving business with the recipe in the 80s, as legend has it, the first pho restaurant in Seattle. They serve up the most comforting bowls of soup you can get, tasting the love and care put into the broth, as well as a mean cup of Vietnamese iced coffee. Another spot to try is Dough Zone Dumpling House in Chinatown, one of the top places for soup dumplings in Seattle. The Museum of Flight is another option on the south end of Seattle for $25. Given the presence of Boeing in Seattle, the museum features both aircraft and spacecraft, exhibits, and simulators. The National Nordic Museum is also in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood for $15 admission (first Thursdays are free admission), which many may not realize the significant presence of Nordic and Scandinavian culture in Seattle. Finally, the Museum of Pop Culture is a fun way to spend a day with $25 for general admission, and you can save $2 buying your ticket online. You can also get a CityPass which admits you to 5 tourist locations for $99, but I wasn’t interested in going to the Space Needle and other crowded tourist attractions. Finally, a cat cafe. Seattle Meowtropolitan cat cafe, serving Herkimer coffee, was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon with admission only $13 (it included a drink), I was able to play with some delightful adoptable cats. I had seen the cafe the week before on Cat Man of West Oakland’s Instagram and had to go. I made friends with a cat named Peppercorn, sipped a mocha with cat foam art, and was perfectly content with my life.

There is so much to do in Seattle whatever your travel preferences are, but exploring the city alone for 5 days made me fall in love with it all over again each day. There’s no wrong way to visit Seattle with bars for those that want to party, attractions for the tourist dad inside of us all, and the funky cool corner coffee shops where you can sip an espresso and read a good book on a rainy afternoon. Just like any metropolitan area, you can always find something new to do in Seattle with each trip. On my next visit, I plan to visit the Schilling Cider House in Fremont for my favorite hard ciders fresh on tap as well as discover a few new favorites.