Relocating from Los Angeles to Seattle is a big change, from a city that is sunny almost 365 days a year to one that rains pretty much 80% of the time, it is quite an adjustment. But when you are in a new city, it is always interesting to find fun things to do, discover the local food scene, and explore different pockets of the city.
As there are already many tourist guides out there, true to Pinky Espresso fashion, we will share with you some of the more local activities that we have discovered in the past 6 months. Whether you are a newbie like us, or a visitor who is looking for non-touristy things to do in Seattle, hope you will find this list useful!
To Seattle’s defense, summertime in the city is quite pleasant, and SUNNY! Thanks to global warming, it had one of the warmest summers last year, which was perfect for boat trips in Lake Union. You can easily rent a boat, drive it around the lake, and take in the city from another perspective. And no, you do not need a license to drive it, just make sure someone in your group is coordinated enough to operate one. The boat we rented easily fit 10 people, we brought all kinds of snacks and drinks on board, spent 3 hours just cruising around, and waving at those living in floating homes who probably found us very annoying.
Surprise, surprise, there are actually quite a number of wineries in the area! Woodinville itself is only 30 minutes away from Seattle. The biggest and most well known is Chateau Ste. Michelle, also the only one we’ve visited so far. It is the world-leading producer of Riesling. Unlike Napa, you will not see fields and fields of vineyards, as most of them are located in Columbia Valley. Definitely check out their free winery tour though, which you get to sample 3 wines at the end. Free alcohol, check.
Bloedel Reserve is located on Bainbridge Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle. The island is like any other suburban areas with a charming little main street where you shop and dine. What we found most memorable was the Reserve. For $15 dollars, you can submerge yourself into nature completely for a 1 to 3 hours walk (depending on how often you stop and take pictures), including a visit to the house where the Bloedel family lived in. It is well worth the money spent, and everywhere you look you see something new and different. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes, and heads up – they WILL get covered up in dirt and mud! After the visit, go back to the city center and grab some ice cream at Mora Iced Creamery for some gigantic scoops of creamy goodness.
For those who are avid vodka and whiskey drinkers, visit the Bainbridge Organic Distillers. Its vodka won “World’s Best Vodka” award, and its whiskey the “Best American Wheat Whiskey” at the World Drinks Awards in London. Their whiskey was in such high demand, they didn’t even have any available for tasting when we were there! The tasting includes a mini shot each of regular vodka, vanilla infused vodka, gin, and whiskey. That was more than enough to get us tipsy. Did we mention the tasting is free?
For all your chocolate lovers out there, this is a must do when you are in Seattle. Located in Fremont, Theo Chocolate is the first organic and Fair Trade chocolate maker in North America. They source their own cocoa beans and manufacture the products in-house. The tour is $10, which you will be given a brief history of chocolates, how cocoa beans are grown, and how they go from beans to chocolates. ANNNDD you get to sample different kinds of chocolates along the way. It is just awesome! After the tour you are taken to the one and only Theo Chocolate store, where you will be unable to contain your excitement and purchase a basket full of chocolate bars and ganache, while stuffing more free chocolate samples down your throat like there is no tomorrow.
Seattle is home to Kurt Cobain and Macklemore, needless to say, it embraces music. SoCal has Coachella; Seattle has Bumbershoot, which takes place over Labor Day weekend. Bumbershoot isn’t as big as Coachella, but it has been around way longer, since 1971. It was actually on the verge of being cancelled due to financial issues. But guess what? AEGLive, the organizer behind the music festival of all music festival, Coachella, is now backing Bumbershoot. Whether or not it will become a commercialized monster like Coachella, no one knows. But who cares? We love music festivals! Last year’s headliners included The Weeknd, Elie Goulding, and Hozier. Like Coachella, it is a 3-day event, but much more affordable. And instead of prancing around in the desert, you will be prancing around on green grass. However be prepared for the moody Seattle weather, as the festival is outdoors and mother nature may like to pay a surprise visit.
Seattle is known for its green scenery and many hiking trails. But many of the good ones require quite a bit of a drive, and sometimes you just don’t feel like sitting in a car for that long. Discovery Park is a good option when you want to “hike” and still stay in the city. We say “hike” as it is more of a stroll without much inclination. The most well known spot is the lighthouse, which is located at the most western edge of the city of Seattle. What we found more interesting was walking through the former Army Reserve facility. With the old houses and lands of overgrown grass, it felt eerily like we were on a set of The Walking Dead.
If you know Los Angeles, the best way to describe Capitol Hill is that it is a blend of West Hollywood/ Silverlake/ DTLA, at least that is the vibe we get. It is definitely the happening area of the city, full of restaurants and bars where you find the young hip crowds. On an average night you can find many dining at one of the hip restaurants, then grab a drink or bar hop at the many quirky alcohol establishments. It is also a good area to take your out of town friends. They won’t be seeing much of the scantily clad girls as let’s say LA or Vegas, as the night scene is a tad different there, which we aren’t complaining.
Of course we save the best for last! We love food, and we love to find new spots anywhere we go. Here are some of our favorites so far:
Blazing Bagels – Their tag line is “best bagels east of New York”, get it? They have over 30 flavors to choose from, and many yummy sandwich combinations. Some of our favorite bagel flavors are bacon cheddar chive, rosemary, and wait for it, French toast! The choices are so overwhelming you don’t even know how and what to decide, but whatever you get, you will not be disappointed.
Cascina Spinasse – Located in Capitol Hill, the former chef of Spinasse, Jason Stratton, was on season 13 of Top Chef. It specializes in Northern Italian cuisine, and makes its own pasta in house. Their most popular dish is the hand-cut egg pasta with butter and fried sage, which everyone we know would rather order the dish all for themselves instead of sharing with the table.
Maneki – Located in the International District, Maneki is a traditional Japanese restaurant that serves melt in your mouth sushi and sashimi. Of course they have cooked dishes that are also mouth wateringly delicious, but we can’t take our minds off that fatty toro… Make sure to call and make reservation in advance.
Mike’s Noodle House – LA has a mind-blowingly awesome and diverse Chinese food scene. Can’t really say that’s the case in Seattle, but glad we found Mike’s Noodles. It is located in the International District, best known for its wonton noodle soup and congee. It definitely hits the perfect spot and has the seal of approval from the Vancouverites (which FYI has the best Chinese food scene in North America, hands down).
Molly Moon’s – It is “the” ice cream shop of Seattle, making artisan ice cream, which is the craze across the country right now. They have locations all over the city, and there is usually a line out the door. Our favorites are Maple Walnut and Honey Lavender, but you honestly can’t go wrong with any of the flavors. And the scent of waffle cones hitting your nostrils the second you walk into the store…!
Monte Rico – We thought we had to say goodbye to Mexican food for good when we moved to Seattle. When a fellow Cali transplant took us to Monte Rico, we knew it was legit the second we walked in. It is located inside a convenient store in Bothell, totally unassuming, but incredibly authentic. It brought us immediately back to all the amazing taco truck moments in SoCal.
Taco Chukis – Can you tell we love tacos? If you have patience and look, there are some gems in this city. Located in an unassuming mall in Capitol Hill on the second level, Taco Chukis is another good find. We have never had tacos with a piece of pineapple on it before, but we were pleasantly surprised. The meat was perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of heat!
Traditional Korean Beef Soup – Located in Lynnwood, it is the one place that satisfied our Korean food craving. Everyone who lives or lived in LA knows it has the best Korean food in the country, so our standard is extremely high. This place serves exactly what its name says, and it is perfect for a cold rainy day or to sooth a hangover. The seafood pancake is also delicious! Now we just need to find a decent tofu soup and Korean BBQ place…