Seattle is booming. With Amazon, Google and Microsoft all expanding their operations here – not to mention a skyline full of cranes – the Emerald City is filled with renewed energy. Whether you head straight for buzzing bars or try some outdoor adventures, you will find Seattle a city on the rise.
It boasts both the city’s best views and some of its freshest seafood, but don’t go thinking you need to dress up for dinner at Westward. Seattle is just not that kind of place. If the weather is nice, nab one of the outside seats beneath the stripy beach umbrellas and savour delicate dishes like the scallop crudo with a cucumber-liquorice vinaigrette. Be sure to order something from the wood-fired oven: the gigante beans with tomato, marjoram and feta are stellar.
Each of chef Rachel Yang’s Asian-inflected eateries has its own character. Revel is the place to go for next-level rice bowls, noodles and pancakes. The most Insta-worthy is the squid and garlic chive pancake, tinted black with squid ink and topped with bonito flakes; the noodles with Dungeness crab are also a must-try.
Tucked into a compact back room, the cleverly-named The Walrus & The Carpenter is Seattle’s best-loved oyster bar, so bookings are recommended. If you want to do more than binge on bivalves, other seafood treats on offer include rockfish ceviche and grilled sardines.
There is no hipper spot for a bit of bar hopping than the trendy neighbourhood of Ballard, and the most inviting bar in the area is the lovely Little Tin. In nice weather, the back patio is the place to be; otherwise, seat yourself in a cosy booth and enjoy some of the city’s best cocktails.
In a city where the dress code is always casual, high-end cocktail bars are not a big thing. If you enjoy a sense of occasion, however, M Bar is the place for you. This rooftop bar in South Lake Union has panoramic skyline views, an encyclopaedic drinks list and superior small bites courtesy of the team behind the equally inviting Mamnoon restaurant.
Move over Oregon; Washington’s wineries are increasingly making a name for themselves, and you don’t even need to leave town to enjoy a spot of wine tasting. Hand-crafted malbecs are the big draw at Elsom Cellars; at Charles Smith Wines, opt for a crisp riesling or one of their bold syrahs.
Turn just about any corner in Seattle, it seems, and you will find yourself facing the water again. So why not go with the flow and take a sea kayak tour? Head out during the day and you may spot some seals; otherwise, try a sunset trip or, for something completely different, a full moon tour (the evening skyline views are incredible).
Alternatively, join the city’s fleet of cyclists on a two-wheel tour. The Ballard/Fremont tour lets you explore two of the city’s most eclectic neighbourhoods; what’s more, this is one of Seattle’s less hilly districts. Along the way you will check out the street life, do a circuit around Lake Union, and make a stop for handmade chocolates.
Seattle is surrounded by great hiking country, but you don’t have to leave town to put your best foot forward. The gorgeous 216-hectare Discovery Park feels less like a park and more like a little slice of wilderness, complete with forests, cliffs, beaches and meadows. There are plenty of scenic spots; West Point Lighthouse, framed against a backdrop of mountains, is one of the best.
Forgot to bring along a book? Well done; you now have an excuse to visit Elliott Bay Book Company, a haven for bibliophiles. This airy multi-level emporium has an amazing array of books covering everything from natural history to technology to science fiction.
From totem poles to intricately decorated bentwood boxes, the indigenous nations of the Pacific North West have rich artistic traditions. Stoneleigh Gallery showcases the works of the best contemporary practitioners across a range of media from carving to glassblowing. A great place to pick up a memorable momento.
The world’s first cashier-less grocery stores come to you courtesy of who else but Amazon? To enter any of Seattle’s three Amazon Go outlets, you will first need to download the app, which will also register anytime you pick up an item (it also knows when you put it back). When you’re done, simply stroll out the door; your purchases will automatically be deducted from your credit card.
Saturated colours and flowing shapes are the trademarks of Dale Chihuly’s large-scale glass sculptures, on display at the impressive Chihuly Garden and Glass. Child-like wonder is the most common response to Chihuly’s arresting pieces, which include a flower-filled ceiling inspired by Persian carpet.
Every city has a tallest building, but few can boast such an elegant structure as the Space Needle. Channelling the best space-age aesthetics, a trip to its observation deck is a must-do. The newest additions are glass panels in the floor of the viewing platform which let you look straight down at the streets below – if you dare.
Pike Place Market is a feast for the senses, with more than 200 vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal products and a whole lot more. Unless you enjoy queuing, get here early to try local favourites such as Beecher’s Handmade Cheese or Pike Place Chowder.