Coffee (of course), ice cream, Capitol Hill, and Snow Crab
The best way to start the day is, of course, with a cup of coffee. There are hundreds of places to choose from Seattle, but I liked Analog Coffee (View in the Directory) in Capitol Hill; a hip corner café where my Americano was served strong and with a smile. Piles of comic books and magazines made a colourful addition to its stylish, white-washed interior.
Afterwards, walk to Broadway and have a root around two vast floors at vintage menswear, womenswear and crazy fancy dress at Red Light. Amble down Broadway and consider an early burger brunch at the Dick’s Drive In - a retro joint with a sunny orange sign, that has been serving burgers, fries and hand-dipped shakes since 1954.
Make the brief walk towards the Pike/Pine Corridor – the heart of the city’s hip Capitol Hill neighborhood - stopping to soak up the sunshine at the Cal Anderson Park. Turn onto 10th Avenue, where you should take the time to browse the myriad boutiques, cafes and stores in Oddfellows building. Enjoy a falafel salad at the elegant and airy Oddfellows Cafe, pick up sleek menswear, womenswear and homeware in chic emporium Totokaelo (View in the Directory), and reward yourself for not buying the Acne boots with a Salted Caramel ice cream at scoop shop Molly Moon’s (View in the Directory). If you’re lucky enough to be served by the same enthusiastic staff member that I was, be assured that she will let you taste every single flavour before you buy.
After you’re finished browsing the endless cute shops and coffee houses of Capitol Hill, jump on a bus to the middle class neighbourhood of Madison Park and stay put until it spits you out at the park on the end of the line. There you’ll find a small but charming grassy beach, right on the shores of Lake Washington. Go for a swim. The water is neither as cold nor as dirty as you might expect. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Bored of sunbathing? Jump back on the bus and head downtown. The Pike Place market area is touristy at any time of day (although the incredible seafood stalls are still worth investigation) but it calms down at night. Take an obligatory photo of the original Starbucks location, then head for dinner at sister restaurants Seatown or Etta’s – both offer a view of the waterfront and super-fresh seafood. If you go to Seatown, get the snow crab clump. If you go to Etta’s, get the ‘Rub with Love’ salmon, which is seasoned with a mix of paprika, brown sugar and thyme that you can buy in tubs to take home, such is its popularity.
Still in the mood to stay out? You party animal. Probably best to cab it back to Capitol Hill for a nightcap at Tavern Law – currently the coolest cocktail bar in town. If you’re ready for bed then head to Hotel Max, a comfortable boutique hotel with friendly staff and free gobstoppers in the lobby. Sold.
Bainbridge, Ballard, and Local Breweries
Rise and shine, it’s coffee time. If you stayed at Hotel Max, get your morning fix at Moore Coffee Shop, a teeny tiny café that does a rich Mexican Mocha made with whole milk and real chocolate. A delicious, if decadent, start to the day. If the sun is still shining, take a walk towards the waterfront ferry terminals and hop on a boat to neighbouring Bainbridge Island. It’s a sleepy, residential sort of place but the boat ride itself is a lovely way to see Seattle’s port in crisp panorama.
Once you’re at Bainbridge, have a wander round its pleasant (if slightly sedate) streets, stopping en route for fancy charcuterie at Hitchcock or healthy salads and sandwiches to go from Fork & Spoon.
Getting bored? Take that ferry right back to where you started.
Once you’re back downtown, you can get a bus to Ballard; a hip, industrial neighbourhood on the city’s Northwestern side. Proceed immediately to restaurant The Walrus & Carpenter (View in the Directory) and join the line that will already have formed for its 4pm opening time. Take a seat at the bar and prepare to enjoy the best oysters of your life. The smoked trout, crudo, cheeses, and cocktails are also sublime.
Wander down Ballard Avenue on an oyster high, stopping to browse the adorable boutiques and cafes that line its sun-dappled streets. Pick up some smokey Lapsang Souchong tea by Mariage Frères or a chic notebook (you can never have too many) at Lucca Great Finds then explore a concise but impressive edit of vintage clothes at Lucky Dry Goods.
By now you’re pretty familiar with Seattle’s bus network. It’s quite good, isn’t it? Hop on another bus on Market Place; this time, one heading towards the nearby neighbourhood of Fremont. Get off somewhere around the top the N36th street and stroll down till you hit Fremont Avenue. You’ll come across a basement store called Fremont Vintage Mall; be sure to go inside. Down those stairs you’ll find a cornucopia of amazing furniture, books, records, clothes and oddities. Everything is cheap, everything is cool. This is how vintage shopping should be.
By now you’re probably weary – understandably so. You deserve a trip to The Whale Wins for dinner number two. It’s the sister restaurant to The Walrus and Carpenter and the menu is quite similar, except on the meatier side. Order the bone marrows (towers of unctuous fat, served with crisp toast and topped with a sprinkling of local salt) and any of the seasonal vegetable plates – the pickled beets with ricotta are especially good.
Cap off the evening with a pint at the Urban Beer Garden, where all the Fremont Brewing Company serves up its own, hugely-popular range of local ales. Keep things seasonal with the Fremont Summer Ale; a cool $4 drink of honeyed sunshine in a glass.