A First Timer’s Guide to Seattle Washington

Growing up in the hot and sunny Southeast United States I had always pictured The Pacific North West as a dreary and cold area (at least that’s how it looked in Grey’s Anatomy and 50 Shades of Grey). Visiting for the first time I discovered that couldn’t have been farther from the truth (though definitely colder even in summer).  In Seattle I found an incredibly vibrant city that seemed to celebrate all aspects of the human condition.

Read below to get a small sense of what this amazing city has to offer!

Where to Stay

Budget Friendly – Hostels

There are plenty of budget friendly hostel options located in the heart of Seattle. The Green Tortoise Hostel receives some amazing reviews and is pretty consistently sold out (so definitely book here ASAP if this is the route you choose!)

The original plan when going to Seattle was to stay at the HI Seattle Hostel. I have stayed at HI hostels in other cities before and never had an issue. Unfortunately when we arrived at this hostel it was not in the safest area of Seattle and had no parking available for our rental car. Thankfully we were able to find different lodging.

Boutique Experience – Air BnB

If you want to experience Seattle like you live there I cannot recommend renting an Air BnB. We stayed in an amazing basement apartment across the bay (which worked for us since we had a rental car) and had the best experience. There were an incredible number of different options both in homes and rooms in hotels for a variety of prices! There is something for everyone.

Brunch at Biscuit Bitch

The place to start any day is this hilariously inappropriate breakfast spot.  There are three locations scattered around Seattle and close to different attractions.

I write more about this delicious spot in my Foodies Guide to Seattle but know this is the perfect place to start your day of exploring off with a laugh and some amazing food (though if profanity bothers you I’d suggest skipping this stop).

Explore Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

If you can only explore one spot but want to get all the culture and fun of Seattle this well known is the place to go. I mean where else can you get a giant fresh fish, beautiful hand painted artwork, and antique magazines all in one building?

This is a building you can easily spend hours getting lost. Definitely budget out a good chunk of your day to wander around the multiple floors. The layout of the building can also be a little odd and maze-like so be sure to go down every staircase and corner to be sure you discover every bit!

The First Starbucks

Seattle is definitely most famous for its most amazing worldwide contribution – Starbucks! Across from Pike Place Market is the first Starbucks. Having trouble finding it? Just look for the very long line and you’re there!

This stop on your exploring can be expedited if you don’t actually want a drink. You can bypass the line and pretty easily take a selfie with the sign/go and buy a souvenir. There are no special drinks and they taste exactly the same as a regular Starbucks so I’d save your time and just grab a picture.

Stop by the Bubble Gum Wall

Seattle Bubble Gum Wall

A grossly fun highlight of Seattle is the appropriately named bubble gum wall (which is actually a whole alley).  What started as a funny joke outside a theater in 1993 has turned into a disgusting must see.

The wall is located beneath Pike Place Market and is a perfect quick photo stop while exploring the many levels of Pike Place.  Feel free to add to the wall yourself.  It’s a perfect way to leave a lasting mark on the city.

Bubble gum wall Seattle Washington

Climb to the Top of the Space Needle

No guide to the city of Seattle would be complete without mentioning the Space Needle. This iconic landmark was created to honor the World’s Fair in 1962 and show “humanity’s Space Age aspirations”.

Now this building provides an incredible 360 degree view of Seattle and the surrounding natural areas such as the Puget Sound and Mount Rainer. With the latest upgrade this past year the top building also boasts see through flooring to provide you a look at Seattle from above (definitely not a stop for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights).

This is another stop that can get incredibly crowded so it’s a great stop to make early in the day to avoid excess people in a very small space.

Enjoy a Coffee (or Wine) at the Starbucks Reserve

While Seattle is home to the first Starbucks try skipping the overly long line and head to the Reserve instead! My favorite (and most surprising stop) on my Seattle tour was stopping by the Starbucks Reserve.

I had never heard of a Reserve before but basically it is a very VERY fancy Starbucks with beverages you could not normally find.  Think incredible drip coffees made right before your eyes and iced coffee made with ice cream.  For those of you like me who do not enjoy coffee no matter how you make it fear not there is alcohol!

This reserve had a wonderful selection of local and imported wines and beers.  Truly something for everyone and a great spot to hide out from a quick rain shower.

Tour Theo’s Chocolate Factory

Located in the Fremont neighborhood this delicious building is like the hipster version of Willy Wonka’s factory. Sadly through a rookie mistake this was one stop I was unable to make (turns out you book the tour beforehand if time matters).

We arrived at the factory thinking we could tour at our leisure only to discover they were scheduled times and could be booked in advance. The next tour was a few hours ahead so instead of waiting we explored the gift shop portion and made a note to take the tour on our next go around.

Strike a Pose with the Fremont Troll

Fremont Troll - Seattle, Washington

Underneath an overpass in the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont is a friendly bridge troll. Thankfully no riddles are required to stop and grab a picture with this quirky art piece. This stop is perfect rain or shine since it’s completely covered by the overpass.

A pro tip to get some alone time with the sculpture is to try and get there early as tour groups/buses do stop by at close regular intervals. However if that doesn’t fit in with your schedule don’t worry! It’s also pretty easy to hop on in between buses you’ve just got to be quick.

Grab Dinner at Machiavelli’s

I write more about this incredible hidden gem in my Foodies Guide to Seattle but let’s just say this place is not to be missed!

The building is small so it’s best to get there early or expect to wait a bit (I promise it’s worth the wait!). You have your choice of different Italian staples and a great selection of local wines. I promise no matter what you choose you can’t go wrong!

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A Foodie’s Guide to Seattle