Seattle - Gems from the Emerald City

Wonderguide by

Sarah Johnson

Seattle - Gems from the Emerald City

These are my favorites from my adopted city and beloved neighborhood of Green Lake. There's no place like home.

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Top Things to Do

Image - Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Sarah:Locals love this spot just as much as tourists. Parking is tricky, but it is a must-see and do and eat.
Image - Space Needle
Space Needle
Sarah:Go early on a clear day to maximize the experience, and make a day of exploring the rest of the Seattle Center.
Image - Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
Sarah:It's a little goofy, but what fun to see the old city of 1900s Seattle, buried underneath today's downtown!
Image - The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight
Sarah:From Nixon's Air Force One to awesome space capsules, a wonderful museum.
Image - Museum of Pop Culture
Museum of Pop Culture
Sarah:So Seattle! Permanent exhibits include Fantasy and Sci-Fi, while rotating ones highlight local artists, famous shows. There's also a column of electric guitars!
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Nature in the City

Places walkable from my AirBnB are marked with a (W)

Image - Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park
Sarah:(W) The 2.8 mile loop takes about an hour to walk; keep an eye out for our resident heron and bald eagle, as well as baby ducks and geese in springtime. Has a rec center, playground, boat rental, and coffee shop as well. Even a beach in the summer! Yes, you can swim in the lake.
Image - Carkeek Park
Carkeek Park
Sarah:A less crowded park to take in views of the Sound and Olympics. Kiddos can slide through a giant salmon slide, and all can cross the train tracks on an elevated bridge down to a lovely rocky beach.
Image - Discovery Park
Discovery Park
Sarah:This park is extensive, with options to hike on different length trails, explore a driftwood beach, visit a lighthouse and more.
Image - Arboretum Foundation
Arboretum Foundation
Sarah:Beautiful most months of the year, this is a nice option for those who prefer level walks.
Image - Alki Beach
Alki Beach
Sarah:Watch kayakers, seals, and if you're lucky one of our orca pods. The beach has a nice balance of cultivated boardwalk with traditional PNW beach walks.
Image - Golden Gardens Park
Golden Gardens Park
Sarah:Bring a sweater as this place gets a lovely cooling breeze off the Sound year round. Make a bonfire at Sunset, play some volleyball, grab an ice cream from the concession stand, and take in the views of the Olympics.
Image - Saint Edward State Park
Saint Edward State Park
Sarah:Technically on the eastside of Lake Washington (and not in Seattle), this state park has an extensive trail system for adventurers.
Image - Kubota Garden
Kubota Garden
Sarah:A huge labor of love, this Japanese garden was developed in private hands by Mr. Kubota, then gifted to the city as a park. Each vignette of the park carries its own grace.

Dining Out

Places walkable from my AirBnB are marked with a (W)

Image - Ray's Cafe
Ray's Cafe
Sarah:Not as pricey as the boathouse downstairs, this place is where we take landlocked out-of-town guests who want a "seafood restaurant" that never disappoints. Inventive and classic menu options, great views.
Image - Latona Pub
Latona Pub
Sarah:(W) One of the first pubs to get in on the 90s microbrew scene, LP is going strong with a solid menu, occasional live music, and an incredible list of draughts beyond the requisite IPAs to include sours, whits, ciders and more.
Image - Mykonos Greek Grill
Mykonos Greek Grill
Sarah:(W) Family-owned favorite Mykonos is our go-to gyro spot, but we also branch out into other traditional greek fare and keep an eye on the 'dessert of the day'
Image - Rosita's Mexican Grill
Rosita's Mexican Grill
Sarah:(W) Delicious and huge portions make this a crowd-pleaser for multiple palates. The handmade tortilla bar (for tips only) can't be beat, as well as the extensive margarita selection.
Image - Tsui Sushi Bar
Tsui Sushi Bar
Sarah:(W) Very good sushi and other Japanese fare, reasonably priced
Image - San Fermo
San Fermo
Sarah:Cosy and inventive spot in Ballard
Image - Cantinetta
Image - Joule
Sarah:Korean fusion - this is the "it" restaurant of the moment
Image - mkt.
Sarah:(w) Tiny gem in Tangletown, so small it's not kid-friendly
Image - Pintxo
Image - Cafe Munir
Cafe Munir
Image - Stoneburner
Image - Sawyer
Image - Sushi Kashiba
Sushi Kashiba
Image - Kisaku Sushi
Kisaku Sushi
Sarah:(W) Great service at this well-established sushi restaurant


Places walkable from my AirBnB are marked with a (W)

Image - Slate Coffee Bar
Slate Coffee Bar
Sarah:If you are a self-confessed coffee snob, like my light-roast-only husband, then Slate is the place for you. Pour overs, presentation, brainy discussions of beans. Enjoy.
Image - Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company
Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company
Sarah:(W) Very pleasing and professional coffee spot with wonderful blends, lots of single origin options, and baked goods to complement in our tucked away gem of Tangletown.
Image - Cafe Lulu
Cafe Lulu
Sarah:(W) If Central Perk from Friends were a coffee shop in Seattle, this would be it. Even though it feels like everyone knows everyone, Karen the proprietor will go out of her way to make you feel welcome.

Fun with Kids

Places walkable from my AirBnB are marked with a (W)

Image - Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium
Sarah:Your kids may want to race through this place flitting from excitement to excitement, so leave time to do two rounds so you can take your time to find the octopus, gaze at the jellyfish bridge, touch the tidepool creatures and more.
Image - Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo
Sarah:(almost W) Lions and tigers and bears, for sure. But also a Northern exhibit of Grizzly bears, wolves, mountain goats and our own Seahawk! The Zoonasium looks like a fun indoor playground idea, but be prepared for complete chaos. I always tell my kids it's closed for repair.
Image - Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks
Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks
Sarah:The salmon run through an underground viewing window from May to November, and the roses are in bloom in roughly the same period. While that's arguably the best time to visit, we like it year round for the ship action, and maybe a whale or seal or two.
Image - Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center
Sarah:Pricey but magnificent, this spot is best for elementary and middle school-aged kids. The exhibits give the most to those who can read independently. And the IMAX theater is a bonus.
Image - International Fountain
International Fountain
Sarah:On a hot August day, there is no place better than the International Fountain which offers a synced musical spouting performance as well as free spray park action for the kids. Steep sides mean it's a little tricky for toddlers, but so far all have survived.
Image - Meridian Playground
Meridian Playground
Sarah:(W) This is a lovely shady playground set in a pesticide-free apple orchard. On Wednesday nights in the summer, it also hosts a darling farmer's market.

Day Trips

Image - Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island
Sarah:Bainbridge offers an upscale feeling main street, biking tours galore, a fascinating historical museum, and old-growth forest.
Image - Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls
Sarah:If you need some ionic therapy, head here to bask in a beautiful waterfall and explore the mountain towns near the falls. North Bend was a Twin Peaks shooting location and a good place to stop for lunch.
Image - Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
Sarah:Sometimes the best way to see Rainier on a hazy day is to get up close. The drive is what you'd expect from driving up a volcano, and the stops along the way are awe-inspiring. Consider bringing something to slide on as the Paradise Visitor's Center has snow well into May and June.
Image - Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island
Sarah:Fort Ebey State Park feels deeply wild and lovely, and is a great sunset spot after a day exploring the charming town of Langley or the awe-inspiring Deception Pass.
Image - Skagit Valley
Skagit Valley
Sarah:Not just for tulips, Skagit Valley is Seattle's agricultural backyard. We head out here for u-pick strawberries and blueberries, to grab lunch in Edison, and to get out of the urban jungle.

Wonderguide map

  1. Pike Place Market
  2. Space Needle
  3. Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
  4. The Museum of Flight
  5. Museum of Pop Culture
  6. Green Lake Park
  7. Carkeek Park
  8. Discovery Park
  9. Arboretum Foundation
  10. Alki Beach
  11. Golden Gardens Park
  12. Saint Edward State Park
  13. Kubota Garden
  14. Ray's Cafe
  15. Latona Pub
  16. Mykonos Greek Grill
  17. Rosita's Mexican Grill
  18. Tsui Sushi Bar
  19. San Fermo
  20. Cantinetta
  21. Joule
  22. Esters Enoteca
  23. Perihelion Brewery
  24. mkt.
  25. Pintxo
  26. Cafe Munir
  27. Stoneburner
  28. Sawyer
  29. Sushi Kashiba
  30. Kisaku Sushi
  31. The Whale Wins
  32. Slate Coffee Bar
  33. Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Company
  34. Cafe Lulu
  35. Seattle Aquarium
  36. Woodland Park Zoo
  37. Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks
  38. Pacific Science Center
  39. International Fountain
  40. Meridian Playground
  41. Bainbridge Island
  42. Snoqualmie Falls
  43. Mount Rainier National Park
  44. Whidbey Island
  45. Skagit Valley
  46. PCC Community Markets - Green Lake Village
  47. Whole Foods Market
  48. QFC
  49. Bartell Drugs

Like these tips?
High Five Sarah