“It was like… magic”
-Sleepless in Seattle
Ahh, the emerald city… I will never forget your windy mountain drives through evergreens, your beautiful summer weather, your breathtaking hikes, and of course your coffee.
If you’re looking for a restful vacation, you will miss the best of Seattle.
When (not “if”) you visit, tour the city on a bike, paddle board around Lake Union, spend all afternoon walking through Pike Place market, and hike as many mountains as possible.
Snoqualmie Mountain is home to some of the best hiking in Washington, and it’s only a 30 minutes drive from Seattle!
Rent a car, drive to the Snow Lake trailhead, and park in the Alpental parking lot so you can check out this bridge before starting your hike! (The view from the end of Snow Lake trail is the picture at the top of this post…breathtaking right??)
Pike Place Market is clearly a must-see in Seattle. I could have spent an entire afternoon trying free samples, watching the Pike Place Fish Co. guys throw fish everywhere, and of course eating a world-famous Seattle fish sandwich?!
Right across the street from Pike Place Market is the original Starbucks.
Pro tip: make sure you get to Starbucks fairly early in the morning, unless you want to stand in a 2 hour line
Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in Washington, and trust me, it is worth the 3 hour drive from Seattle!
I’m not even sure if I would call it a “drive”…between the landscape views, waterfalls, evergreens, wild animals, and mountains- it feels more like you’re watching an episode of Planet Earth.
When you finally reach Mount Rainier National Park, you pay a $20 seven-day access pass, and they hand you a map. From there, the world is your oyster! Spend at least one full day hiking as many trails as you can.
Our favorite spot was Skyline trail at Paradise visitor’s center.
Pro tip: learn form my mistake and mayyyyybe don’t accidentally let the map fly out the car window, because you will have zero cell service inside 263,000 acre national park;)
Three words- GOLDEN. GARDENS. PARK.
Do not go home without experiencing a Seattle sunset. Cotton candy pink and blue colors paint the whole city.
Grab a package of firewood at Safeway on the drive over to Golden Gardens and build yourself a fire right on the beach.
Ray’s Boathouse & Cafe is right there on the beach and is known for having the best sunset view in Seattle.
Would you believe me if I told you that this is where we stayed on Lake Union? I have officially decided that I want to live on a houseboat.
I mean… just check out that view of downtown Seattle.
My brother lives maybe 100 yards from Tom Hank’s houseboat in Sleepless in Seattle, so we lucked out big time!
Where to Eat:
- Pike Place Market- get a salmon or halibut sandwich from one of the market grills
- Ray’s Boathouse & Cafe- known for it’s stunning view of Shilshole Bay, so go here for an unforgettable sunset dinner!
- Place Pigalle- this farm-fresh french restaurant is located inside of Pike Place Market. Grab a table outside and enjoy the view of the bay!
- Pho Shizzle, Pho Than Brothers, Pho Tran- there are more pho restaurants in Seattle than I can count. If you love pho, go to University District and just pick a place. If you don’t love pho… then pho-get you.
- Milstead & C0.- I know this isn’t teeeechnically a restaurant, but I would be doing Seattle a disservice if I didn’t include a coffee shop in my recommendations. The coffee is carefully hand-crafted and delicious, and the indoor/outdoor shop sits under the stunning Aurora Bridge
- Hike, hike, then hike again- make this is priority, even if you have just one day in Seattle! If time is an issue, the best hiking that’s closest to Seattle is Snow Lake in North Bend. If you have a little more time, drive out to Mount Rainier National Park, hike Skyline Trail, and grab lunch at the Paradise visitor’s center
- Pike Place Market- you could easily spend an entire afternoon here between the free samples, delicious food, and infamous fish market
- Original Starbucks- it’s on the same street as Pike Place Market (thus the name “Pike Place Roast”)
- Gas Works Park- don’t waste your time and money at the top of the space needle. This park has the best view of Seattle, plus its free!
- Stand Up Paddleboard on Lake Union- this is the lake that separates Gas Works Park and downtown Seattle, so you pretty much have the best view of the entire city while getting in a fun workout. Paddle over to Tom Hank’s houseboat in “Sleepless In Seattle” and just bask in the nostalgia
- Golden Gardens Park- make a bonfire on the beach after enjoying the most gorgeous view at Ray’s Boathouse. Everything from the sand to the water to the mountains in the distance turn cotton candy pink & blue as the sun sets
- First and foremost, rent a car. Even if it’s your largest expense, it’s worth it!
- Bring an old school map, because you won’t have cell service in most national parks
- Call the visitor’s center before you drive to a specific mountain and find out if they are open, even if Google Maps tells you otherwise (we found out the hard way after driving 2 hours and an entire mountain was closed due to forest fires)
- Bring more food and water than you think you need!