I recently went south of the border for a belated holiday visit with my family for a few days, and it was one of the best trips I’ve had to Seattle. Obviously, it was a great trip because I got to have a Christmas celebration with them (and my mommy still spoils me with gifts whenever she gets the chance), but the most fun I had was showing my brother around town; he just moved to Seattle short-term and we got to most of the places I liked to go while I was traveling there for work. I realized that it’s been a couple years since I’d been down there and I had become pretty nostalgic for some of the places I frequented. We covered a lot of ground and the following is a round up of things I try not to miss when I’m there — not a list of secret spots (I couldn’t do that to you locals) or even the best-of-the-best, but things that just bring me a lot of joy.
- I came into town via BoltBus. It has pretty decent wifi, extended legroom, outlets to keep your gadgets charged the whole time, and it’s super cheap. The earlier you book your tickets, the cheaper it is; they can be $1, even — and they go from Vancouver to Portland. (I have seriously been jones-ing for a Portland trip; hopefully we’ll get one soon.). You get dropped off on the edge of the International District, perhaps only temporarily, as the train station is getting renovated. Anywho, if you’re starving and want to eat right away, you can walk to Shanghai Garden and get the hand-shaved green barley noodles; I can’t speak to anything else on the menu, but these noods are amazing.
- My brother and I walked around downtown for a couple hours: dropped into one of my old stores, discovered Nordstrom Rack had moved, which by the way, is a big time weakness of mine; don’t knock it until you see the shoe selection. I had to pop into Sephora real quick, since it’s right there and considerably cheaper than in Vancouver, and I discovered that my brother is as big of a product whore as I am — he nearly bought the entire Jack Black line. If you have a man in your life, this is good stuff to get him.
- After we grabbed a quick lunch from Jimmy John’s, we went through the Pike Place Market a bit. We’ve both been there before, so we didn’t wander too much, but if you’ve never been, you should go; there are local handmade goods, vintage and collectibles, and you can watch the fishmongers do their thing — maybe they’ll even let you get real close like they did for this guy.
- The other thing I love is that there’s now a Target downtown and its as gorgeous as a Target can be. Not so big news to most of you, but truth be told, I have a serious love affair with the Targeé; it’s got me through some rough times when I needed a little shopping therapy. I’m also obliged to note that I’m continually impressed with the list of designer collabs they’ve been pulling off. I was excited to find that this location had a ton of the Neiman Marcus collection left (I bought the Tracy Reese top, in case anyone was wondering.)
- We went to check out the Melrose Market, which is another happy place of mine. I just love the atmosphere here; I used to hit up Homegrown for they’re amazing sandwiches and homemade potato chips. I can’t recommend anything, since the menu changes — but if I was there now, I’d be tempted to try the Bluffernutter (bacon, marshmallow fluff, and peanut butter) which is on the kids menu; apropos, no? Sitka & Spruce is also quite lovely and I love wandering the little floral shop, Marigold and Mint.
- There is a ton of shopping along the Pike-Pine Corridor, but for me, the trip wouldn’t e complete without hitting up two spots: (1)Value Village on 11th. I almost always score some great finds in this three-storey monstrosity and if you’ve never been, it’s fun to check out the historical photos of the building in the stairwells. (2)Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream. I got the Maple Walnut, which was incredible, and my brother got the Bourbon Toffee Crunch — which he didn’t offer to let me try; a sure sign that it was too delicious to share. Besides thier ice cream, I love that you can watch them make their waffle cones and that they have free wifi.
- If you’re dying for a hot bevvy, it’s worth mentioning that the best Americanos I’ve had — or possibly will ever have — we’re gotten from Espresso Vivace’s sidewalk bar. You must go — but if you absolutely must have your Starbucks, check out this one that serves beer, wine, and small plates alongside their reserve coffee.
- There is so much to see in this quiet little area. Tons of boutiques, antique shops, and the cutest little restaurants. You have to set your mind to “exploration mode” for a while and just start walking. One of my favorite furniture stores down here is, Space Oddity — full of mid-century wonderment. On the same street we discovered Blackbird Apothecary, a place that makes many of their own beauty staples, as well as stocking some favored lovelies like Diptyque, Ursa Major, REN, and Malin+Goetz. Swoon on all accounts.
- Just around the corner from this is was a Pho place — my brother had never had Pho!! — so we got a couple bowls. It was amazing, but just about any Pho place is going to be amazing in Seattle, amiright? The conclusion, get Pho in when you visit Seattle.
- If it’s a gorgeous day in Ballard, you should check out Golden Gardens Park. Hit up a Trader Joe’s and make yourself a picnic; they have bbqs, fire pits, and the sunset over the water will be gorgeous.
- I just have to mention the Goodwill Outlet, just south of downtown. I had a major comeuppance there when a pile of clothes protruding from my outstretched-arms became mine for a mere $3. What, you say? Yep, three dollars. A lot of people come with gloves on, as you have to dig, I mean dig through bins of clothes to find the gems; for me, that’s fun.
- As we were en route to the Goodwill, I spotted Emerald City Trapeze Arts. wait, it’s aTrapeze school?? If I lived here, I would for sure be checking this out. Ever since my parents took us to Circus Circus in Vegas, I’ve been enamoured with the craft. Oh, to fly…
P.S. If you like vintage Americana as much as I do, check out this site for all kinds of beautiful shots from Seattle’s past.