Recently, my boyfriend Brendon and I decided we wanted to take a domestic trip to a city neither of us had ever visited. As we both love food and drink — he’s actually a chef — as well as the outdoors, Seattle seemed like the perfect choice.
And it was. In fact, we both felt a week wasn’t enough to experience all the Emerald City and its surrounds had to offer, though we certainly tried. Our jam-packed Seattle travel itinerary meant we were able to meet a number of the city’s personalities; and thanks to my recent partnership with Hedgren, a European company creating functional unisex bags that are great for travelers of all kinds, I did so in style.
Here’s how, with three different Seattle theme itineraries and looks to choose from.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Uber; however, when I get off a plane I don’t feel like wandering the terminals trying to find my driver or waiting in line for a taxi. Blacklane was awesome for this, as my driver Raj had already texted me. I simply texted him where my baggage claim was and he was there less than five minutes later in a luxurious black suburban. I enjoyed getting to know his story — he was a Seattle native and was full of restaurant recommendations — and absolutely loved hanging out the window of the car as Seattle’s stunning skyline came into view from the highway. Raj was super courteous helping me with my bags, and allowing me to take photos of him and the car.@Blacklane is awesome for travelers, offering #airport pickup in style. #travel Click To Tweet
For getting around the city, we used a mix of Link Light Rail, Uber/Lyft rides and Budget-Rent-a-Car car rental (for day trips), though bus and monorail service is also available. Seattle also has a bike share program, though note some areas of the city are very hilly. Bring comfortable shoes and you’ll be able to walk to most destinations. For instance, Brendon and I walked from our hotel in downtown Seattle to Belltown, Pioneer Square, the International District, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne easily, which was great as these were the neighborhoods we spent the most time in.
Itinerary #1. Savor Seattle
The Stay: Hotel Vintage, A Kimpton Boutique Hotel. This beautiful boutique property in downtown Seattle had an immersive wine theme through cork artwork, vino-themed wall quotes and pillows, local wine in the minibar and decanter-like lamps. And in true Kimpton fashion, a complimentary wine hour took place each night to show off Washington’s delicious homegrown offerings. Other highlights of this property: complimentary in-room yoga mats, free Wi-Fi and a mini bar credit for Kimpton Karma members, an expansive Starbucks coffee station in the mornings, free bike rentals, a 24/7 fitness center and in-room spa treatments like a wild lavender body wrap and spray and a hot stone massage enhanced by rosemary, juniper and grapefruit essences. Starting rate: $229 per night.
The Style: I’m a big fan of crossbody bags, especially when traveling as they tend to have lots of zippers and ensure you’re valuables are right in front of you. My Hedgren Sputnik Shoulder Bag ($69) looked small upon first glance but fit so much gear; as in, on a dinner date I was able to bring my camera flash, an umbrella, a book for the train, makeup and valuables, storing them in a protective RFID-blocking pocket to ward against identity theft. The bag fit closely next to my body, and the nylon/polyester material meant that when I clumsily dropped cream sauce on the bag I was able to wipe it clean with one napkin swipe.My #Hedgren Sputnik Shoulder Bag looked small upon first glance but fit so much #travel gear! Click To Tweet
The Experience: Brendon is a chef and I’m a food and drink writer, so we obviously focused a lot on cuisine. In the week we were there we didn’t encounter a single venue that disappointed, though we also did research using Eater, Foursquare and the help of locals we met to plan our eating itinerary.
For food, Brimmer & Heeltap was our first Seattle dining experience, and happily so. Located in the Ballard neighborhood, the country-inspired space is uber local, including seasonal ingredients with a noticeable amount of Asian influence. Brendon and I sat at a table near the wooden bar to catch a glimpse of the mixology and chef magic, nibbling on dishes like seasonal kimchi (a generous portion of black radish), local grass fed beef enhanced by grilled king oyster mushrooms and bonito aioli, and grilled halibut done in a lemongrass broth with fish cakes. All showcased Chef Mike Whisenhunt’s penchant for marrying bold, full flavors. The standout for us was dessert: an awesomely atypical koji rice sorbetthat moved from savory to sweet on the palate and makes use of the koji they use in their ferments.
Another standout: Shiro’s Sushi. Most have heard of Jiro Dreams of Shushi. Well, Master Chef Shiro Kashiba actually studied under Jiro Ono — considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef — in Japan before heading to Seattle in 1966. His talents show through surprisingly reasonably-priced rolls, nigiri, sashimi and hot dishes. They even offer sushi counter seating and complete Omakase dinners for $65+.
Because we’re fat, before dinner we went to happy hour nearby at Local 360 Cafe & Bar, a two-floor space with lots of raw wood, natural lighting, chalk boards, pendant lights and Mason jars along with vintage elements like rotary phones and silver candelabras. Food features ingredients sourced 90% from within 360 miles of Seattle (get it?). At happy hour, we loved the Dungeness crab-topped deviled eggs ($4), rabbit liver mousse ($9), fried pumpkin seeds ($3) and “Sage in the City” cocktail with 100% blue agave tequila, vermouth, fresh lemon, honey sage simple syrup and nutmeg.
This being said, one of the best ways to sip local booze is on a distillery tour with Road Dog Tours. Brendon and I both lean toward whiskey and tequila, and the excursion totally transformed our taste buds by introducing us to sips like apple pie moonshine, gin that was more cucumber than juniper, bourbon that tasted like bread pudding and vodka that actually had flavor — and I don’t mean the sticky artificial whipped cream kind. It was a fun afternoon meeting the local distillers and really diving into the local craft booze scene in Seattle.
Itinerary #2. Urban Romance
The Stay: A whimsical Airbnb in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Opening the wooden gate and walking into a beautiful backyard with bright flower petals littered the ground, hanging trees and tons of chairs and loungers for relaxing, we immediately fell in love. The apartment itself was spacious with a full kitchen, dining room, bedroom, bathroom, living room and free Wi-Fi. We made this our little haven for escaping the buzz of the city, spending a night cuddled on the couch with some Washington wine and a movie (the Airbnb has cable). Starting rate: $75 per night.
The Style: A Hedgren Breeze Backpack combined comfort and style (and budget, at only $75, currently on sale for $51.99). This multi-compartment bag held my lady essentials like lipstick, concealer and deodorant powder as well as larger electronics and camera gear. Along with the roomy main compartment with 16″ padded laptop sleeve AND padded tablet sleeve, there was an exterior pocket and side water bottle pocket. What was really awesome about this backpack was that it had easily adjustable straps, wasn’t bulky, was water repellent and featured a trendy look with a sophisticated yet relaxed color palette and accents of silver from the hardware.Love the padded laptop AND tablet sleeve on my #Hedgren Breeze Backpack! #travel #gear Click To Tweet
The Experience: Start your day with a meal at the French Quarter-themed Toulouse Petit with spacious seating, lots of natural light through arched windows, and funky orange pendant lights against green and beige speckled walls. You’ll be further transported to NOLA with dishes like crawfish beignets, housemade Andouille and mussels doused in saffron, Dijon and thyme. We paired our meal with a classic “Sazerac (apt, as this libation is said to originate in New Orleans) and a craft “Red Snapper” with bourbon, amaretto and cranberry juice. If you get there before 11am there’s a Breakfast Happy Hour with $10 meals and discounted drinks.
If you’d rather not sit, taste your way through the Pike Place Market, an artisanal institution since 1907 and a US National Historic Landmark. Today you’ll find 11 buildings chock full of local vendors, many with free samples of cacao body lotions, pepper jellies, honey, truffle chocolate cherries, apple pie butter, cheese, pickles and more.
We were big fans of the market’s Athenian Inn for fresh seafood with a stellar Puget Sound view.
For romantic activities a Seattle Winery & Waterfall Tour with Customized Tours of Seattle is the epitome of it — I mean, it even includes homemade chocolate tastings at a historic 1956 candy shop resembling a German gingerbread house. The Cascade Mountain views, wooden bridges and small antique shop-filled streets add to the whimsy offered by sampling local wine in the USA’s second-largest wine state and visiting waterfalls taller than Niagara at 268 feet.
While Brendon and I stumbled upon Seattle’s dancing International Fountain in the Seattle Center accidentally, it made for a lovely spot to hold hands and enjoy the fountain’s shooting and splashing to music with the Space Needle in the background. Here’s a sampling of the music mix played.
We also had fun being kids again in the many parks around Seattle. There are plenty of chances in this city to get silly with your special someone on slides and swings. Our pick: Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, which also happens to be near the ambient Sitka & Spruce (yummy farm-to-fork fare and craft cocktails on the pricier side) and Machiavelli’s (tasty Italian on a budget).
End with a cocktail at the speakeasy-esque Bathtub Gin & Co, where you’ll enter through a back alley into a sultry space with moody blues and jazz, a private library and small books for cozying up with your special someone and sipping cocktails like the “Death Star” with bourbon, maple syrup and fig (sweet yet balanced, my favorite) and the “Holden Caufield” with Applejack, Fernet Branca, lime juice and creme de cocoa (bitter and citrusy, Brendon’s favorite).
Itinerary #3. Active Adventures
The Stay: Motif Seattle, a Destination Hotel. The aerial downtown city, waterfront and Olympic Mountain views from their 319 rooms certainly inspire an adventure. Active travelers will also enjoy the onsite fitness center, Tesla charging stations and onsite parking (we rented a Prius from Budget Rent-A-Car nearby for $35 per day to see all the parks easily). It’s also near the light rail, a budget-friendly option for getting around at about $3.00 per ticket depending where you’re going. We had the pleasure of dining at the onsite Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, which along with great food — seriously the most tender octopus I’ve ever had — offered free board games, a patio with table tennis and bocce, and dancing on weekends. Starting rate: $309 per night.
The Style: A Hedgren Connect Junction Backpack made sure I had all my essentials and stayed connected all day despite being away from outlets in the outdoors. This is the bag all you flashpackers and tech-obsessed road warriors need, as well as those wanting extra space for multiple gadgets. Along with RDIF-block capabilities for valuables, there’s an integrated battery for charging multiple devices with slip pockets, cord separators and an entirely separate bag section to keep it all organized and untangled. I loved the hard side pocket for my GoPro and small accessories, the two front exterior pockets for regular use items and the separate wallet that dangled off the shoulder strap (awesome for grabbing my passport and documents quickly at the airport).#Tech-obsessed travelers, meet the organized #Hedgren Connect Junction Backpack. #travel Click To Tweet
The Experience: Brendon and I spent a day hiking around some of Seattle’s best parks, our favorite of which we agreed was the 534-acre Discovery Park, located on Magnolia Bluff and overlooking the Puget Sound. You’ll wander the trails and encounter beaches, harbor seals, woodland, sand dunes, meadows, duck ponds and bird life to truly feel like you’ve left the city.
For a mix of views and art, the 20-acre Gas Works Park was amazing. The edgy park is like a giant installation with remains from a gas-from-coal manufacturing plant (natural gas importation in the 50s’ shut it down) that have been preserved and painted. Locals fly kites on a hill overlooking Lake Union, and you’ll see tons of birds and boats. This is an awesome picnic spot pending you’re not experiencing Seattle’s infamous wind and rain.
To get inspired, the 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park features 18+ larger-than-life works and is right on the beach. Get a strawberry shake made with 100% real ice cream from the nearby classic Dick’s Drive-In before wandering the free-to-enter grounds and taking a stroll along the water. There’s also a cafe onsite with snacks and coffee, though the surrounding Belltown has plenty to offer on its own. Here we also found tons of local shops for further perusing Seattle creativity.
A few other suggestions for getting active within Seattle: body work, healthy eats and yoga classes at Urban Yoga Spa; city exploring through Pronto Bike Share ($8 for 24 hours or $16 for three days); joining the Seattle Hiking Meetup Group; climbing indoors at Stone Gardens; and taking salsa lessons at Salsa N’ Seattle (first class is free!).
*Have another Seattle travel recommendation to add? Please share in the comments below.
*A big thank you to Hedgren Connect and Blacklane for helping to sponsor my trip. Both of your products and services were beyond expectations!
11 Epic #TravelFail Stories From The Road [Blog Inspiration]
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Seattle: Including Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma by Andrew Weber [Great Reads]
TiggerPoint NANO Foot Roller Massager [Travel Health]