Pamela inspired me to come up with a list of my favorite places in Seattle after a post in March about her favorite Portland places. I often see tourists wandering around the streets of downtown Seattle and wonder why they’re here when they could be any of a number of places offering sunshine, gambling or The World’s Largest Christ. Beyond the stereotypical Seattle eyesores sights that I can’t believe people would waste their time on, there is a lot to love.
Pike Place Market is one of those places that I never want to go if I think about it too much. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like being bumped and touched by strangers. I especially don’t like when people stop in the middle of the walkway for no good reason and no apparent regard for the people walking behind them. Pike Place has all of this, but it also has so much more, like fresh, hot mini donuts at Daily Dozen (a dozen mixed for less than $3.00). Best of all, however, is Bavarian Meats, a small deli filled with the nicest German ladies you’ll ever meet filling orders for all my favorite German treats. There’s also that place with the fish tossing, but who cares, I can do that in my house as long as Janie isn’t there to stop me. Most recently, Janie and I made our way to the produce stands to get some fresh grapes, brussels sprouts and tomatoes which were so delicious that I might have teared up a bit when we ate the last of them. We also picked up some flavored sticks of honey which only set us back a few bucks for 25 of them. Raspberry and peach were my favorites.
Olympic Sculpture Park is a beautiful stretch along the waterfront where you can meander the trail, gaze at some art and look out into, what is that, Puget Sound? I don’t know. Water, there’s water. My favorite piece of art is Roxy Paine’s Split, a stainless steel tree. My friend Dana and I made many trips to Sculpture Park during our training for the Breast Cancer 3 Day last summer. We’d walk along the waters edge at Myrtle Edwards Park to Sculpture Park for a brief respite. It’s a beautiful place to relax on a sunny day and be ignored by the asshole sales clerk in the gift store.
The Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is one of my favorite places that , admittedly, is not in Seattle. It is stunningly beautiful and quiet and calm and beautiful, did I say that already? I’ve spent some of the happiest, most serene hours of my life there and I absolutely must go back many more times. Bring your camera for some fantastic photo opportunities or just take a relaxing walk through the grounds. Reservations required.
At the heart of the land of Starbucks lies a small coffee shop called Pegasus Coffee Bar. In this coffee shop you will order a grande nonfat decaf white chocolate mocha. You will not regret it, and you will leave a tip.
Alki in West Seattle is another place from which you can gaze into the water and, during summer months, enjoy some beach volleyball. Dana and I walked countless miles along this waterfront for the 3 Day and this is where, after many miles of walking in the hot sun, I was given a fudgesicle to stick in my maw to muffle the whining. Before you spend your weekend afternoon walking this long stretch of shoreline, go have brunch at Salty’s. Their buffet is the best in town, loaded with seafood, an omelet bar, pasta bar, Belgian waffle bar, oyster bar, dessert bar and a fountain of chocolate for dipping fruit and marshmallows and, for Easter brunch, Peeps! Maybe you’ll have a star sighting. We saw Mike Holmgren, coach of the Seattle Seahawks and as Janie reported, “he even gets red in the face when he’s eating brunch.” If you’d prefer something less formal than brunch, head up to the Admiral Way Metropolitan Market and put together a picnic. I suggest the pork loin sandwich with caramelized onions – made to order.
Seward Park (it’s a neighborhood as well as a park) is a fairly new discovery for me – I had not been before last summer – and is another one of those places that my friend Dana and I burned a trail around while training for the 3 Day. On our first walk there we saw a family of turtles in the shallow water and in subsequent walks we came across several bald eagles perched above in old trees. What I love about Seward Park is that it’s not as crowded or stinky as Green Lake, making for an easier, more pleasant and solitary walk. It also offers some trails through its forest, many spots for picnics and barbecues as well as stunning views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, better known around here as the Ballard Locks, is one of my favorite local destinations for photography. In the summer and fall months you can go underground to watch the salmon rest before a big leap out of the fish ladder. Up above you have an aerial view to see the fish flying from one step to another. There are also birds a-plenty and the occasional sea lion or harbor seal, not to mention the locks themselves. The park offers rolling hills for enjoying a sunny day along the water, a small botanical garden where there is often a brass band playing. Just outside the park are several restaurants serving fish and chips, so get them while you’re there and eat them on the grass with your best buddy. After your visit at the locks, take a walk down to Golden Gardens and go fishing on the pier, play in the sand or propose to your lady, like I did.
When Janie and I dine out, it’s usually to one of only a few spots that we consider favorites. For sushi we love Umi Sake House but only in larger groups where you can sit in the private room, because the service is fantastic and the level of noise is far less than that of the main area. They are open until 2am, making it the ideal location for a late-night sushi craving. Try the Blondie roll. For a standard sushi lunch or dinner, our default location is Blue C. Sushi at University Village. Its counterpart in Fremont is smaller and less ambient. They don’t break out much more than the standard nigiri or rolled sushi, but the upside its that prices are reasonable and you can just grab your favorites from the conveyor belt as soon as you sit down. If your wait is longer than 15 minutes, wander around the village and visit Barnes and Noble, the up and coming H&M store or The Confectionery for a delicious piece of chocolate covered marshmallow. For Mexican food we usually end up at Azteca’s Northgate location. The downside to this restaurant is that I always worry that while I’m enjoying my cheese enchilada with verde sauce, I’m worrying that someone is stealing my car. When we feel like getting a little crazy, we’ll brave lower Queen Anne’s ridiculous parking situation and head to Jalisco’s. I love, love, love their enchilada Jalisco. The Capitol Hill location is also an option, but it’s less inviting and the Roosevelt location has a disgusting fly problem. Red Mill has awesome burgers (the deluxe with cheese is a favorite for me while pre-Celiac Janie loved the blue cheese and bacon burger. The verde burger is also a worthy contender.) and the most delicious chocolate/banana shakes, and I don’t even like bananas. Don’t forget to order the tub o’ tartar to go with your fries. For breakfast we like the Bay Cafe at Fisherman’s Terminal. It’s nothing fancy, but the California omelet is awesome and the hash browns are buttery and perfect. For dessert, top it all off with a delicious Black Ty Affair cupcake from New York Cupcakes at in Downtown Seattle.
This summer my goals are to spend more time taking photo walks around town and visit some local parks and museums. Janie and I once had a fantastic date at the Seattle Asian Art Museum at Volunteer Park. We grabbed lunch from the store and had a small picnic on the grass, which was wonderful except for the fact that the deli employee at QFC put mayonnaise on my sandwich. Volunteer Park has a beautiful conservatory where, a few years back, some friends and I checked in on a corpse flower that was in bloom (it smelled like a dumpster). It also offers Shakespeare in the Park performances during the summer and, until recently, hosted the after-party for the Pride Parade which was hot and crowded and really, really gay. The Seattle Art Museum (including the aforementioned Asian Art Museum) has free entry on the first Thursday of every month. I’m also looking forward to visiting the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and following it up with a stroll along the marsh trail to take some pictures. Discovery Park, located just north of downtown in my lovely Magnolia neighborhood, is another scenic locale. It offers beach access, a lighthouse, many miles of trails and wildlife galore. It does not offer refuge to the police ponies, which is how Janie coaxed me out of the house for a long, long, long walk that time six years ago when we weren’t married and I was too shy and nice to say no, thank you. Keep an eye out for the coyotes, or more importantly, for that one guy who said he’ll hunt the coyotes down with his bow and arrow.
Despite several days of cold and wind and snow (!!) this past week, I remain hopeful that the sun is going to come out, the temperature will rise and this summer will be a fantastic time to visit all of my favorite places in Seattle. Come find me. Bring candy.