best of Seattle, what to do in Seattle, insider's guide to Seattle

Dear Curious SooN Adults of the Internet,

206 is my area code — a symbol of the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve lived throughout the region since 1994, having lived and worked in Seattle proper for 15+ years.

These are my highlights.

If you visit — I am curious to learn about your SooN Seattle discoveries and hope to hear about them in the comments section!


Happy SooN LIVING!


I’d love to share how my self-proclaimed super power of bringing process to chaos has influenced it. You can learn about the SooN LIVING origin story on START HERE


It takes time to waste time. Skip right to it!



Air Travel

SeaTac is the international airport servicing Seattle through a variety of airlines with plenty of direct flights to choose from. It also happens to be the HQ for Alaska Airlines which I “fan” over as it’s my primary airline provider.  

Travel to/from SeaTac airport is simple via the LightRail. From downtown Seattle I usually allocate 1 hour for the trip and end up +/- 15 minutes upon arrival at the airport [direct where the LightRail stops].

If traveling by car — depending on traffic it can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes to reach downtown.

Ground Travel

A car may be more of a hassle than a benefit depending on where you are staying and your trip itinerary.  Start first by crafting a tentative Seattle itinerary. From there:

  • If your time in Seattle is concentrated to the downtown area, then walking + public transportation + Lyft/Uber will be the most hassle-free.
  • If you plan to travel more than a 10-mile radius outside of Seattle’s core — consider renting a car.


Commercial Rentals

I have personally visited each hotel listed in this category. These are the stand outs for me in Seattle commercial properties.

Alexis Hotel at 1st and Madison | learn more

I give this Kimpton hotel a walk score of 100! A convenient location and the perfect balance of affordable luxury. Don’t miss the unique art Michael Birawer Gallery or the delicious fresh pastries at Storyville Coffee [which are both part of the building].

The Edgewater Hotel on the Seattle waterfront | learn more

This is the only Seattle hotel located directly on the waterfront.  Think cruise ship views with no risk of getting seasick.

Pan Pacific Seattle at Denny and Westlake | learn more

This a beautiful hotel in the heart of South Lake Union.  It sits on top of a Whole Foods and is surrounded by Amazon HQ.

Motif Seattle at 5th and Union | learn more

I find the vibe to be more focused on the younger/single crowd. A convenient location with an excellent rooftop deck. It’s affordable without having to compromise towards the budget/motel experience.

The Arctic Club Seattle at 3rd and Cherry | learn more

This historic Seattle hotel has a ton of character. Perfect venue for a large event — I attended a wedding here in 2015 and found the staff to prioritize customer experience above all else. Congrats again to Lisa and Hwan and thanks for exposing me to this landmark Seattle treasure!

Fairmont Olympic Hotel at 4th and University | learn more

Luxury. Hotel. 5 stars!

I’ve been visiting this hotel since childhood and it is the stand out for me in Seattle grandeur.  The afternoon tea service, teddy bear suite and life-size gingerbread house are a holiday tradition that I mark on the calendar to enjoy even without being an overnight guest.

Four Seasons Hotel Seattle at 1st and Union | learn more

Luxury with a view. Steps from Pike Place market and the Seattle waterfront. Another standout for a large event — I attended a wedding here in 2016 and was impressed at every turn. Congrats again to Mariel and Brian and thanks for exposing me to this unforgettable Seattle venue.

Private Rentals

If you want to step away from the downtown circuit and settle into a more residential lifestyle, I would focus on these neighborhoods which are still close enough that you could walk to all the action. There should be plenty of Airbnb or VRBO options to choose from.

Capitol Hill | learn more

The place that I called home for 10 years.  Great food and unbelievable personality.

Queen Anne | learn more

The other “hill”.  Also great food but a calmer personality when compared to it’s sibling [Capitol Hill]

Belltown | learn more

Not a hill, more of an extension of downtown.  Food — check. Nightlife — check. A very distinct personality.


Provisions & Essentials

Grocery Stores

Metropolitan Market in lower Queen Anne | learn more

This is literally my favorite grocery store in Seattle.  So many delicious in-house products and a large variety of high quality commercial products/ingredients. I’m a huge fan of their house made mozzarella, ricotta, croutons, baked goods, wine, canned tomatoes and poke bar.

Rain Shadow Meats in Capitol Hill | learn more

My go-to for farm fresh eggs in the city.  They also have an amazing selection of local and unique cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, duck.

Delaurenti in Pike Place Market | learn more

Seattle’s own Little Italy! The best selection for antipasti!  A wide variety of housemade products. An amazing offering of imported goods.

 Uwajimaya in the International District | learn more

The largest and most diverse selection of Asian groceries in Seattle.  I challenge myself to try something new with each visit.  There is also an excellent gift selection.


All Occasion Restaurants

Anything Ethan Stowell | learn more

He’s a local/fresh fan and does “from scratch” really well.  The pasta is always a nice balance of unique and authentic. Tavolàta Belltown and Rione XIII are my favorites.

Anything Tom Douglas | learn more

He is probably the most well know Seattle chef.  If you are up for a challenge, the “Culinary Quest” is the official Tom Douglas passport that will set you on an adventure through all his downtown restaurants. [You need to spend a minimum of $10 at each location and will receive bragging rights and a $100 gift card in exchange for your efforts.]

If you don’t have that much time in Seattle — the coconut cream pie [which originated in the Dahlia Bakery] should not be missed. Even more exciting is that it is available at any of his restaurants.

Anything Renee Erickson| learn more

Bateau is a pretty cool concept: meat straight from their farm in Moses Lake. The fresh cuts are butchered in house and sold by weight with limited availability.

Willmott’s Ghost is a great way to experience the Seattle Spheres [which is only open to the public once a month]

Japonessa at 1st and Union | learn more

Hands down, the best sushi happy hour in the city.  Also a very generous happy hour as it runs EVERY DAY from open – 6:30pm restaurant wide and then in the bar until 8pm and then again starting at 10pm.

The Tasting Room in the heart of Pike Place Market | learn more

My favorite wine bar in the city, great Washington wines!

Purple Café and Wine Bar at 4th and University | learn more

The ambiance in this spot will not let you down.  Great wine selection and an incredible Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Le Pichet at 1st and Virginia | learn more

Another Pike Place Market treasure.  Think of this spot as a taste of France in Seattle. The Chicken Liver Pâté will not disappoint.  The Croques Madame [ham and cheese sandwich with a sunny side egg on top] is my go-to brunch item.

Café Presse on Capitol Hill is their sister restaurant, also delicious but with its own unique personality.

Salumi at Occidental and S. Jackson St. | learn more

I consider this Pioneer Square gem to be the best cured meat in Washington.  If you are not a vegetarian, this spot should not be missed.  You can also find it at most local grocery stores. All their meats are delicious but the mole salumi is a unique flavor that is nothing but perfection!

Din Tai Fung in Pacific Place | learn more

Pretty universal rave reviews — they specialize in noodles and soup dumplings.  Not to be missed: Kurobuta Pork
XiaoLongBao, Sauteed String Beans, Shanghai Rice Cakes with Shrimp and the Sesame Bun.

Il Corvo Pasta on James b/t 2nd and 3rd | learn more

This place is amazing but only open for lunch. I’ve consistently seen the line around the corner! It is pretty small, so plan to get in line before it opens if you want a guaranteed spot.

Taylor Shellfish — multiple locations | learn more

Taylor Shellfish Company is the largest shellfish producer in the country. If you are interested in oysters — look no further. They also offer a wide variety of other shellfish that you can order in house or pack for an adventure in your own kitchen.

Tamarind Tree at 12th and Jackson | learn more

Don’t be discouraged by this restaurant’s location.  This hidden gem offers excellent cocktails and diverse menu.  Please don’t miss the Tamarind Tree Rolls — I love these so much that I basically get 2 orders and I keep it all to myself.

The Pink Door in Pike Place Market | learn more

This Italian restaurant offers excellent food, a great water view and even burlesque and trapeze entertainment. The lasagna should not be missed and if you are not afraid of anchovies then the Bagna Cauda is a win.

Lark on Capitol Hill | learn more

Farm to table — a great Pacific Northwest showcase. I’m a huge fan of the Short Rib Suppers on Sundays and Mondays.

Marination — multiple locations | learn more

This is a great spot for a quick bite, takeout or delivery.  My go-to is the Kimchi Fried Rice but the Aloha tots, sliders and tacos are also crowd pleasers.

Special Occasion Restaurants

Altura on Capitol Hill | learn more

This is my first choice when it comes to fine dining.  I love to sit at the counter and watch everything come together.

Shiro’s in Belltown | learn more

To fully enjoy this Edomae-sushi experience — order the omakase and dine at the sushi bar.

Sushi Kashiba, in Pike Place Market, is their sister restaurant.

Canilis off Aurora  | learn more

Upscale dining in a modern but elevated environment. Be mindful of the dress code.

The Butcher’s Table in South Lake Union | learn more

Not your average steakhouse.  They specialize in high-quality Mishima Reserve Wagyu beef.  You can dine in or get a cut to make in your own kitchen from their butcher shop.

21 + Restaurants/Bars

The Nest Rooftop Bar in the Thompson Hotel | learn more

Great view — especially in the summer. Plan ahead because it can get packed quickly and they regulate entry in the hotel lobby.

Black Bottle in Belltown | learn more

The blasted broccoli will not dissapoint. It is my favorite thing on the very delicious menu.

Adventure & Entertainment

All Ages

Pike Place Market runs off 1st from Pike St. to Virginia St.  | learn more

Seattle’s iconic public farmer’s market.  Fresh produce, flying fish, restaurants and a wide variety of local merchants. Grab some fresh food/wine and then head to the Sculpture Park for a memorable picnic.

Olympic Sculpture Park in Belltown | learn more

Seattle Art Museum’s outdoor masterpiece boasting almost 10 acres of unique sculptures and landscape architecture. Water views from almost every angle make this an excellent spot to hang out or take pictures. The walk along the waterfront is also an adventure of its own — make sure you check out the 1.25 mile bike and pedestrian path along the waterfront in adjacent Myrtle Edwards Park!

Capitol Hill Sunday Farmer’s Market off Broadway | learn more

Make Sunday a Capitol Hill day and kick off your adventure here. With a wide-variety of farm-fresh ingredients — grab some cheese, charcuterie [wine] and a Columbia City baguette and enjoy a picnic at the Washington Park Arboretum or Volunteer Park.

Washington Park Arboretum between Montlake and Madison Park | learn more

Enjoy a beautiful walk + pictures in this botanical garden managed by the University of Washington.

Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill | learn more

This Olmsted Park [same landscape architects who designed Central Park in New York] boasts almost 50 acres of manicured land, incredible Seattle views, a conservatory, art museum, children’s wading pool and water tower.

Seattle Center at the foot of Queen Anne | learn more

Created for the 1962 World’s Fair the almost 75 acres offers a wide variety of activities for all ages.  I reccommend kicking off your experience with a ride on the Seattle Center Monorail from downtown and putting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture on your must see list. There is a wide variety of food options at the Armory and across the grounds.  However, if you are looking for something more elevated — a Taylor Shellfish is nearby at 124 Republican St.

Ride the Ducks of Seattle departing from Seattle Center | learn more

This land + water experience offers a solid “Seattle tour”.

Kayak or Paddle Board in Lake Union | learn more

The Agua Verde Paddle Club offers a unique opportunity to checkout the water view with hourly kayak and paddle board rentals. Carve time out in your adventure to visit the onsite Agua Verde cafè!  It offers a wide variety of Mexican food which for me typically includes at least one of their delicous margaritas!

Bike, Skate, Walk or Run the Burke-Gilman Trail | learn more

If you are passionate about incorporating exercise during your Seattle visit — look no further than the Burke-Gilman Trail

Sky View Observatory in the Columbia Tower | learn more

The Columbia Tower is the tallest building in the city and this spot will give you a view from the top. Boasting a 360° panorama view — see everything Seattle has to offer plus all its glorious natural surroundings.

Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square | learn more

Fun Fact: After the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the city was rebuilt and in the process — leveled up. This tour will take you through the original city of Seattle.

Let’s Go Sailing departing from the Seattle Waterfront | learn more

Pack your favorite snacks and beverages and sail the Puget Sound in style. I highly recommend the sunset sail.

The Victoria Clipper departing from the Seattle Waterfront | learn more

Offering daily departures to the San Juan Islands and multiple Canada locations — a day trip or overnight adventure is made simple thanks to the Clipper!

The Ballard Locks in Ballard| learn more

It’s where the Puget Sound and the lakes of Washington meet! Watch boast pass through, visit the botanical garden or see how salmon migrate through the fish ladder on their incredible journey [from June to September].

Bainbridge Island | learn more

This is my hometown.  Take it from a local: if the weather is decent — don’t miss this Island adventure. The ferry + downtown Winslow is a great activity for all ages!  This post will offer you a complete guide to Bainbridge Island.

Just for Adults

Woodinville Wine Country | learn more

30-minute drive to Washington’s best wineries.  Passport is a good option and you could probably get reasonable transportation for the day if you worked with your hotel concierge for a car service.

Pro Tips

Mountain Sports in the Winter | learn more

If you are a skier or snowboarder the Seattle winter may be more your style.  There are plenty of excellent mountains to tackle — some less than 2 hours away!

Seafair in August | learn more

This annual citywide festival has been a Seattle tradition since 1950.  Highlights include the Torchlight Parade, hydroplane races and air show featuring the United State Navy’s Blue Angels.

Pike Place Sunset Supper in August | learn more

This 21+ benefit for the Pike Place Market foundation is one of my favorite events of the year! The market is closed to the public and filled with a wide variety of breweries, wineries and celebrated Seattle chefs/restaurants for an incredible evening.

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  1. Josh Fogerlie

    AWESOME! Thanks for all the great info 🙂

    • Elisha Herzog

      Happy to hear it was helpful Josh!


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