Our Favorite Places to Eat, Sleep, and Explore in Seattle

Including, and certainly not limited to, the world’s first revolving glass-bottom bar.

<p>@ Didier Marti / Getty Images</p>

@ Didier Marti / Getty Images

Known as the birthplace of grunge, Starbucks, and the beloved Space Needle, Seattle is one of America’s most underrated cities. Sure, the weather may dampen things a bit for some people, but the fresh food scene, stunning natural beauty, and excellent hotels more than make up for it.

Its Pacific Northwest location puts it roughly 100 miles south of the Canadian border and 180 miles north of Portland, Oregon. Composed of dozens of neighborhoods to explore by bus or bike, favorites to wander include Ballard, Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and Fremont.

As with any major city, booking a hotel, making a few dinner reservations, and mapping out the must-see attractions are crucial. In a city with as much on offer as Seattle, we’re here to help you narrow things down. The following spots set up the perfect itinerary for your next trip to The Emerald City.

Where to stay

From buzzy boutiques to legacy brands, Seattle runs the gamut of hotels. The Four Seasons Seattle includes sweeping views over Elliott Bay, but the real standout is the dedicated coffee concierge, which caters to all your caffeine needs with a complimentary cup sent to your room each morning. To top it all off, its 147 rooms and suites got a facelift in 2019, resulting in stylish caramel leather accents, calming blues and grays, and marble bathrooms.

If you plan on stacking your trip with restaurant visits, Hotel Ballard is located in Seattle’s foodie epicenter. The boutique hotel’s 29 rooms are simple but elegant, with California king beds, soaking tubs, a charcoal color palette, and a rooftop fireplace. But its prime location in Ballard means weekend farmers markets and the city’s top restaurants are a stone’s throw away.

Design enthusiasts take note: Lotte Hotel opened its doors in late 2020, making it a relatively new addition to the Seattle hotel scene. This South Korean brand took over 16 floors of the F5 Tower in downtown Seattle for its 189 rooms and suites. Abstract patterns and timber are an ever-present theme throughout the hotel, but go out of your way to check out the front desk, which was carved from a 3,000-year-old Sequoia.

Where to eat

Known for fresh-from-the-bay seafood and a stellar restaurant scene, diners are spoiled for choice in Seattle. Canlis, where the kitchen is helmed by 2023 F&W Best New Chef Aisha Ibrahim, is arguably the city’s granddaddy of fine dining. In business for over 70 years, it focuses on New American and Pacific Northwest dishes and ingredients, such as local porcini mushrooms with koji, pear, and leek; and farm-fresh sweet potato with mochi marshmallow, ginger, and rye whiskey.

For a more energetic atmosphere, OOLA Capital Hill serves up farm-to-table fare in the city’s oldest craft distillery. Gin-cured Steelhead Trout, braised kale, and a 24-hour bone-in short rib from a nearby farm appear on the seasonally changing menu, alongside distillery-based cocktails.

The Walrus and the Carpenter shot now-celebrity chef Renee Erickson into the culinary stratosphere. Opened in 2010, it focuses on local oysters and seafood like grilled sardines and scallop crudo, but they also offer up an unforgettable steak tartare. Since then, Erickson has opened other acclaimed restaurants, including Bateau, Willmottʼs Ghost, Barnacle, and the James Beard Award-winning The Whale Wins.

Paju is all about updated Korean classics. The menu here is small, but its flavors hit like a smack to the face. The signature fried rice with squid ink, bacon, kimchi, and smoked quail egg is worth hopping on a plane to Seattle to experience. Another must-visit: Musang for Filipino fare. At this Beacon Hill restaurant named after her father, 2022 F&W Best New Chef Melissa Miranda serves recipes from her childhood, like sisig, lumpiang, and fried chicken. Pair it with an clever cocktail like the Kasama Mama blended with Filipino rum, Campari, and lemongrass.

Things to do

Every day in Seattle should start with one thing: coffee. Kill two birds with one cup and try the original Starbucks location inside Pike Place Market. Here, customers can order a roast that’s still scooped by hand and then sip it surrounded by the shop’s original 1970s fixtures, including the iconic logo. Take the time to wander the market’s many stalls. Opened in 1907, Pike Place has been supplying the city with farm-fresh goods ever since. More than 100 vendors hawk their wares in the country’s longest continuously operating market, from florists to bakeries. If you want to see the Fish Market’s famous fish toss, you can buy a whole one from one of the stalls, offer up a tip, or simply stand by and wait.

Sure, the Space Needle is touristy, but for good reason. With incredible views from 518 feet above the city, you can see as far as the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges. Book a table at The Loupe Lounge (located inside the Space Needle) and sip on a cocktail. You’ll get the spins — in a good way — in the world’s first revolving glass-bottom bar.

You can’t leave Seattle without taking in a live show. Central Saloon may be where Nirvana played their first gig, but it also welcomed Jimi Hendrix. Unassuming from the outside, the inside is full of history, from the Gold Rush days through to grunge. Stop in any day of the week to sip on an Espresso Martini and listen to new bands perform. When you’re ready for some fresh air, embrace nature at Seattle’s largest green space. Discovery Park spans 534 acres along the picturesque Puget Sound. It’s easy to spend hours walking the park’s trails, traversing meadows and quiet beaches, while breathing in Seattle’s ocean air.

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