While the East Coast roasts, Seattle, as usual, keeps its cool
Though the Seattle area’s wooded trails are a shady refuge during the summer months, the city’s streets offer another kind of cool. Here are our favorite places to soak up Seattle’s culture, coffee and craft beer.
Take advantage of your jetlag and head over to Pike Place Market (www.pikeplacemarket.org) before the crowds make it difficult to navigate. Pick up some Rainier cherries, a fresh, buttered crumpet (The Crumpet Shop, 1503 1st Ave.) and a latte from the original Starbucks. Enjoy your spoils on a bench with a view of the Puget Sound.
Thus fortified, you can explore the 105-year-old stall market, which sells local produce, seafood and meat, as well as books, clothes, jewelry and other handmade crafts. At 11:30 a.m., grab a seat by the window at Matt’s in the Market (www.mattsinthemarket.com) for a plate of local oysters. If you’re accustomed to Atlantic bivalves, Seattle’s will knock you down with their delicate texture and sweetness.
Fifty years after it was built as the site of the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle Center (www.seattlecenter.com) remains a vibrant hub of arts and culture. Current attractions include the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project, a skate park and the new Chihuly Garden and Glass (www.chihulygardenandglass.com): an exhibition of the artist’s dynamic glass sculptures curated by Chihuly himself.
The Fair’s centerpiece, and the city’s architectural mascot, is the Space Needle. There may be a long-ish line, but get on it — it’s worth the wait for panoramic views of the city and the mountain ranges beyond, as well as the “Mad Men”-esque decor of its gently rotating restaurant.
It’s difficult to get a bad cup of coffee in Seattle, and it may be even harder to get a boring pint. The Ballard neighborhood, home to the Ballard Locks shipyard, is rich in small bars and coffee shops. Ballard Coffee Works (www.ballardcoffeeworks.com) serves “standard-setting” espresso drinks and bags of its self-roasted beans for you to take home to stoke your new caffeine habit. Nearby, The Walrus Bar (thewalrusbar.com) offers plates of local cow, goat and sheep cheeses that pair beautifully with neighborhood brewery Maritime Pacific’s Islander Pale Ale or Old Seattle Lager.
When happy hour rolls around, you may need a drink to temper the effects of the high-test espresso in your system. Sun Liquor Distillery (www.sunliquor.com) slings updated classics, made with its brightly flavored housemade gins. Around the corner is Sitka and Spruce (www.sitkaand
spruce.com), a casual farm-to-table restaurant whose kitchen is situated right in its dining room. Sit at the communal table so you can gawk at your neighbor’s food with impunity. For a more intimate setting, reserve a table at Crush (chefjasonwilson.com) in Miller Park, which serves artful arrangements of the seasonal fare you saw that morning in the market.
Where to stay
Among its many perks, The Alexis Hotel (www.alexishotel.com) is located a block from the waterfront and is a short walk from the Pike Place Market.
It even issues a jogging map with routes that take you along the water and through the Seattle Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. And its warm, relaxed Bookstore Bar is an excellent starting point for sampling local drafts.
If you’re traveling with children, check the schedule for Seattle Center’s The VERA Project (www.theveraproject.org), an all-ages venue where kids can catch a rock show or a silkscreen workshop, and pick up a little bit of the DIY ethos that made you fall for Seattle back in the ’90s.