Seattle's Argosy 1-hour harbour tours offer stunning views of the city
Seattle, WA, is the perfect weekend escape for British Columbians looking for fabulous food, incredible cultural attractions and sumptuous hotels
Just far away enough to give you a sense of real travel (complete with border check and foreign currency) but close enough to make it an easy weekend escape, Seattle shares that easy-breezy-West-Coast vibe, so it’ll feel familiar, but it also has that inescapable rush that comes with being in a big American city.
Best Places to Eat in Seattle
Seattle is a foodie town, so if you’re inclined to spend your weekend sampling the local fare, you’re in luck. Keep in mind that you’ll need dinner reservations at most places. However, if you don’t have reservations or want to keep things casual, many places are open throughout the day, so grabbing a mid-afternoon meal or tasty treat al fresco is always a fun option.
Seattle has plenty of casual but flavourful options. In the heart of downtown, Purple Cafe and Wine Bar has perfected "the fine art of grazing" with its impressive selection of artisan cheeses, small plates and full entrées. Be sure to try the Lobster Baked Mac and Cheese. And you can’t leave without tasting the salted caramels, all lovingly made by Purple’s in-house pastry chef.
If you prefer to venture away from the downtown scene, Barrio in Capitol Hill is definitely worth a stop. Located in the gentrifying Pike-Pine corridor, Barrio offers a tantalizing array of Mexican-inspired fare, including tacos of every imaginable kind, a variety of fresh salsas and made-to-order guacamole. Its yucca fries are dangerously moreish, be forewarned.
Back on the waterfront, the Seatown Snack Bar at the north end of Pike Place Market is a lovely place to sit and enjoy some fresh seafood and a glass of wine on a fine patio. The menu is extensive for a snack bar – with everything from snack plates (rabbit terrine, butter-poached and Dungeness crab with avocado and tobiko), to entrée platters.
If you’re more inclined toward something sweet, get thee to Dahlia’s Bakery. While it does serve breakfast and lunch, you can’t walk in without trying its baked goods. The peanut butter cookies are heavenly, but the star attraction is the coconut cream pie.
When the sugar rush subsides and you’re ready for a sit-down meal, there’s no better place to indulge your palate than the Four Seasons' ART restaurant. With floor-to-ceiling windows offering glorious views of Elliot Bay and the Olympic Mountains, it’s a perfect backdrop to the stunning meals.
Be sure to try the stuffed squash blossoms and Indian-spiced wild salmon. And with more than 100 wines available by the glass, ask the sommelier about a wine pairing. The best part though? The incredibly whimsical and delightful offering of the most elegant watermelon cotton candy to finish everything off.
If your palate has you craving a little Pan Asian comfort food, look no further than Wild Ginger. A staple of Seattle’s culinary scene for decades, it remains as hip and current with both décor and flavour profiles as ever. Starting with a selection of satays is a must, as are the Sichuan green beans, to be followed by the Wild Fragrant Ginger Duck or the Princess Prawns or the Seven Flavor Beef. Wild Ginger also offers a wide range of vegetarian and fish options, so ask if you don’t see your favourites on the menu. You can also try their steamed salmon recipe at home.
British Columbians love their weekend brunches, and you won’t be disappointed with Seattle’s offerings. Salty’s on Alki Beach has garnered too many awards to list
here, but they include Best Seafood Restaurant, Best Waterfront View, Best Outdoor Dining and even Best Brunch in the Nation, as declared by MSN.com. As one hotel staffer commented, "Wear stretchy pants."
Brunch is buffet-style with many made-to-order stations including crepes, omelettes and pasta. And if all you want are sweets, there are numerous banquet tables laden with cakes, pies, tortes, squares, puddings, cupcakes, cookies and, of course, a chocolate fountain.
If you prefer to stay downtown, Lola has everything you might be looking for in a quintessential brunch... and maybe a little more. The scrambles, toast and bennies are all there, along with homemade granola, house-cured gravlax, smashed garlic fried potatoes, made-to-order doughnuts and even octopus hash, which is braised for hours, then grilled and tossed with seasonal vegetables.
Best Places to Stay in Seattle
Of course you’ll need somewhere to rest after eating, and the Alexis Hotel is the perfect place to cleanse your palate between meals with its complimentary wine hour every afternoon. This luxury boutique hotel is a favourite destination for travellers looking for a stylish home-away-from-home. Feel free to bring Fluffy along too – this is pet friendly territory.
It’s also eco-friendly. The Alexis has done away with convenience packaging and provides every bathroom with permanent dispensers featuring London-based Gilchrist & Soames luxury products.
Brought a hybrid car with you? Let them know and parking’s 50% off. Want to do away with the car entirely? The Alexis offers two complimentary bicycles for guests – perfect for exploring the waterfront or taking onto the ferry for day trips.
For luxury on a larger scale, the Four Seasons never fails. With the average room measuring 450 square feet, they’re larger than other city hotel rooms. And the bathroom is nothing if not grand. Highlights include the enormous soaker tub, and the TV embedded in the mirror – complete with waterproof remote.
The hotel’s décor embraces the outdoors and this Pacific Northwest theme is played throughout hotel. The lobby walls and floors are tiled with natural limestone. The long fireplace is anchored by a gorgeous piece of polished reclaimed lumber. The infinity pool is flanked by cabanas and lounge chairs and in the summer offers an outdoor bar and grill service.
In the cooler months, it’s a lovely spot to enjoy the view, thanks to the large firebowl. And the spa, with evocative treatment names such as Deep Forest Bliss or Emerald Rain will leave you feeling like a sparkling woodland nymph.
Best Things to do in Seattle
Seattle offers ample activities to amuse yourself between meals.
Start with an hour-long harbour tour with Argosy Cruises to get your bearings. You’ll sail around Elliot Bay and get to see some magnificent scenery. You’ll also hear some amusing trivia about Seattle’s development, such as how stately Magnolia Hill didn’t originally have Magnolia trees, and how they had to level Denny Hill to make way for the Space Needle, and exactly which building along the skyline houses the women’s bathroom with the best city view.
If you have kids to entertain, go the Seattle Center, a campus with more than a dozen attractions and venues, just north of downtown. Highlights include:
- The Pacific Science Center, complete with IMAX theatre, hosts incredible exhibits such as the science behind Harry Potter.
- The Experience Music Project is housed in a spectacular Frank Gehry-designed building and gives you a chance to interact with displays that explore the innovation and creativity of pop music.
- And, of course, there’s the Space Needle, which uses technology to help showcase the spectacular views. And don’t worry, the lineup to get in actually moves quite quickly. Each elevator ride up and down is a mere 41 seconds long.
No Seattle trip is complete without a visit to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). With a schedule of exhibits that include artists such as Picasso, Warhol, and Michelangelo, you might even think you’re on a European holiday.
And for all you Team Jacob Twihards, SAM has a display showcasing the art and history of the Quileute Native Peoples of La Push, Washington.
If you don’t return from Seattle feeling thoroughly fed, well rested and entertained, fortunately, it’s just a quick hop across the border to try all over again
See more photos of Seattle in our Weekend Getaway Guide photo gallery.