Back in 2013, my parents, brother and I went on a vacation to Washington. We spent a few days out in Port Angeles, then a few days in Seattle. I was 14 years old, but the city made a strong impression on me, and I always wanted to go back. After visiting Portland last summer, my resolve to return to the Pacific Northwest was strengthened, and earlier this year I booked a plane ticket and an Airbnb in preparation for my first solo vacation.
With a flannel, cuffed jeans one size too big and a Google Map with all the important locations starred, I ventured out to the West Coast. Here’s the whole story.
Day 1 – Tuesday, June 19
I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and, thanks to my dad’s unending support, had a ride to the Denver airport. The thing about air travel is that you’re always way too early or cutting it too close. Tuesday morning, I experienced the former. I was sitting at the gate by 4:05 a.m. for a 5:20 boarding and a 6:00 flight.
After a shorter than expected flight, I rode into the city on the train, like a real local. The Seattle trains–Link Rails–are very fast and very quiet. So pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m used to. I rode North to the Westlake station, wandered around for a few minutes, then settled down and got some (much needed) cold brew at Victrola Coffee Roasters.
Next, I had to eat. Eat breakfast. After being awake for almost ten hours. That meant even more wandering around until I found where I’d wanted to go, Mr. West Café Bar on 8th and Olive. I ate toast with almond butter and strawberry rhubarb compote, and sat as long as socially acceptable. At this point, it was 10:45 a.m. I needed to last out in the city on my own until 3 p.m., when check-in at the Airbnb was allowed. I sat outside, because apparently Seattle isn’t always cold and rainy. In fact, the weather has been good every time I’ve been to the Pacific Northwest.
Because I apparently think ice cream is a meal, I went ahead and got a Pressed Juicery Freeze after breakfast, then sat around in the sun for a little while, then finally decided I should go up to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where my apartment was. I went into yet another coffee shop, where I got an iced chai. And y’all aren’t gonna believe this: it was UNSWEETENED. Which was awesome but so unexpected.
I managed to spend an hour and a half in the coffee shop before deciding to wander around and see the neighborhood. I stopped at a little store called Marine Layer, where I bought two pieces of clothing that were not cheap (but both on sale) and met the two nice women who worked there. I’m very glad I went in, because one of the women mentioned that there was a Salt & Straw just 3 blocks away. I immediately made my purchases and walked to Salt & Straw, where I had some ice cream for the second meal in a row.
My ice cream adventure took me just past 3:00, so I finally was able to get into the apartment and lie down. And damn it felt good. And I did NOT want to move an inch, but I got up and edited some photos for this post anyways.
Next, I went to dinner. At 5 p.m. Because I am an old person, and also still sort of on Central time. I was exhausted, so I chose Stateside, an Asian fusion place on the same block as my apartment. I had a daikon and cucumber salad and some crispy duck spring rolls with herbs.
Afraid I’d fall asleep as soon as I set foot in the apartment, I walked to Cal Anderson park, then to a local thrift store to buy a belt so that my too big jeans would stay up. It’s a testament to how college changed me that I didn’t once question why I was walking a mile away and a mile back for a belt, but I’m glad I got the exercise in.
Day 2 – Wednesday, June 20
Because I’d gone to bed at 9 p.m., my 7:30 alarm wasn’t at all problematic. I got up, walked around the corner to Victrola Coffee and got myself a latte with almond milk to fuel up for the day ahead.
I walked West until I hit Pike Place Market, and wandered for about half an hour before I realized I was hungry and needed to eat something. I was cornered briefly at a fruit stand and given a cherry and two slices of peach, but I was going to need something more substantial if I planned on walking around all day. So I went to a biscuit place, stuffed my face with the glutenous deliciousness, and continued on my way.
The coolest thing about Pike Place, in my opinion, is the fact that it’s this super crazy bustling place that looks out over a really peaceful harbor. Taking a moment to stare out at the water was really calming. Then you turn around and see the expanse of the city–tall buildings, construction cranes, people.
Then, I wanted more caffeine and needed to sit down, so I headed to Storyville Coffee and got myself an iced chai with their in house almond milk (sweetened with dates!).
From there, I went to the Seattle Art Museum, where I saw an exhibit about Native American representation in photography and video, called Double Exposure. I definitely don’t think enough about the hardships the actions of the American government put the indigenous people of this country through, so it was a good reminder of the work we still have to do to even begin to make it up.
After the walk home, I needed lunch. I took a Lyft to Portage Bay, and had a very interesting conversation with the driver and the other passenger about AI, single payer healthcare and how, with the advent of more AI and robots doing human jobs, the economy would have to change. I ate my sandwich, got a raw dessert at Jujubeet, then walked back to the apartment to sleep before getting dinner.
I told myself that I’d get fresh seafood at least once here in the city, so I stopped by an oyster bar. For those of you who don’t know, oysters are expensive. But I wanted them badly, so I bought only three, just to get a taste. And, for those of you who haven’t tried oysters, they taste just like the ocean.
Satisfied but not full, I walked 0.6 of a mile to Frankie & Jo’s and got myself a giant ice cream cone before heading back to the apartment. I have no photo of the ice cream because it was a giant tower that I could barely keep up with one hand, but I got tahini chocolate and brown sugar vanilla.
Day 3 – Thursday, July 21
So the problem with staying somewhere with no AC and no screens on the windows–especially if you’re irrationally afraid of birds flying in–is that it gets hot. Really hot. It took me what felt like forever to get to sleep, but I was still ready to go at 8 a.m. when I walked down to Storyville again, this time to get myself a cold brew. I’m not saying it was absolutely necessary, but it made me happy.
Then, I did the tourist thing and walked to the Space Needle. Except I didn’t want to pay to actually go up, so instead I just hung out in the park below and shot photos from the ground.
I realized then that I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and ate at Portage Bay for the second time in less than 24 hours. I had to wait half an hour for pancakes, but they were really good pancakes.
On the way back to the Hill, I passed the Bulletproof store and decided to pop my head in. I only spent $3 there, but the woman behind the counter complimented my $12 sunglasses, and I now feel even better about that purchase.
(This is a good time to chat about the hills in Seattle. Admittedly it’s not San Fransisco, but Seattle is built on a set of hills that run down to the ocean. If you’re walking West, you’re walking downhill. If you walk East, you walk uphill. Which meant that, going downtown in the morning, I got really far doing very little work, and coming back, I felt about ready to collapse. That might put in perspective the number of naps I felt like I had to take.)
Exhausted from not getting enough sleep, I went back to the apartment and napped. And then I watched Riverdale. I refuse to let anyone judge me for this.
Before eating dinner, I stopped by a thrift store that donates profits to AIDS treatment and I found a flannel for $1.10. It was very good. I was very happy.
Then, I walked East toward dinner. I made a reservation at a popular neighborhood sushi place called Momiji, because if there’s one thing I’m willing to splurge on, it’s sushi. I knew it would be a little pricey (and it was) but it was 100% worth it. For nigiri I got scallops, salmon and roe, and then I ordered three pieces of tuna sashimi and it was THE FRESHEST fish I have ever seen. It was just amazing.
Sushi made me happy. I wanted to be happier. So I went back to Frankie & Jo’s and got myself more ice cream. I stuck to the brown sugar vanilla (which is some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted) and then got a scoop of “California Cabin” which was a vanilla base with an applewood smoked pine flavor. It was out of this world.
Because I napped, I didn’t sleep well, but I did watch a lot of Riverdale. I recognize that it’s not actually good tv, but I refuse to be judged for it.
Day 4 – Friday, June 22
I set my alarm for even earlier than usual, because I knew I wanted to hit Storyville one more time before leaving my Airbnb. For those of you wondering, I’m an idiot that can’t count, so I booked the place for one day fewer than I needed it. Which meant I spent my last night in Seattle in a different part of the Hill.
But that’s not really integral to this story. It is integral to mention that the woman behind the counter at Storyville on Pike Place recognized me from the day before (and possibly the day before that). I wanted to make sure I could sleep, so I drank chai instead of coffee.
Then I walked back to the apartment and cleaned all my things up and hung around for a little bit, watched more tv and got excited to head into the suburbs.
As much as suburbs are antithetical to my beliefs as a person, I have to admit they’ve given me quite a lot. Evanston is, after all, a suburb of sorts. Lots of my hometown has suburban vibes. And on Friday, a trip to the suburbs gave me the chance to meet a fellow food blogger and insta friend in real life.
Bianca (of Balancing Bee) suggested we go to Homegrown and then get some ice cream, and I was in no position to refuse. I got myself a delicious sandwich on some of the best bread I’ve ever had.
After lunch, we walked ten feet over to Molly Moon’s to get some ice cream. Yes, I’m lactose sensitive. No, I really shouldn’t be eating ice cream. But I love it. In the photo below, you can see my scoop of Stumptown coffee, my scoop of cookie dough, the waffle cone and the background of a suburb. You’re welcome.
The only downside to all of this is that I needed to use a ride share app to get to and from the ‘burbs. Both on the way there and on the way back, the driver got slightly lost. And on the way back, the driver assumed I was a real, functioning adult with a job and a home. I was very tempted to lie and say that I was 24 with a salaried job, a fiancé and a studio apartment in the West Loop. I ended up telling the truth instead.
The “hotel” I stayed at Friday night wasn’t much of a hotel at all. I never saw any staff, save for at breakfast, and the front door and room doors had four digit passcodes instead of keys. It was interesting, but I preferred it to forced and overly peppy human interaction.
I wanted a lowkey dinner, so I walked to a nearby Japanese restaurant and got seaweed salad, miso soup and some gyoza. And then I realized I was on a street I recognized, and went back to Frankie and Jo’s. Because I have no self control and I really like ice cream.
On my way back to the North Capitol Hill, I found the beginnings of Seattle Pride, which took place the 22nd through the 24th. I thought Iowa City Pride was good, but Seattle Pride was awesome, which I can tell even though I was there for about half an hour. I met a very soft and friendly dog and bought some small pride flags.
Day 5 – Saturday, June 23
Overnight, it rained. And it was cold. I had planned on going to Volunteer Park and seeing Bruce Lee’s grave–not because I feel as though I have a personal connection to Bruce Lee, but because it seemed like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the weather and my own weakness confined me to Capitol Hill, and I got tea and breakfast instead of going to the park.
After breakfast, I packed up my things and, carrying what felt like everything I owned, went downtown to hang around until it was socially acceptable to head to the airport. My first stop was Pressed Juicery, because I always feel the need to overeat that stuff when I’m in a city where they have it (Pressed, please come to Chicago).
Then I hung around a Cherry Street Coffee and read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s We Were Eight Years In Power. Being who I am, I got a chai.
Once I was peer pressured into leaving that particular location, I wandered around until I found a cheap enough Mediterranean place. I ate lunch, then went to an ice cream place to get some ice cream for dessert. I was out of control. I still am.
I continued to walk around a little bit, and spent some time in the more common areas of downtown until some people with Jesus t-shirts and handouts got to be too much. I got myself on the Link and headed to Sea-Tac.
Traveling was, for the most part, uneventful. I made friends with some people at my gate so they would watch my things while I used the bathroom and got food and such. The flight was delayed, first formally. Then we sat in the gate for another hour and a half before taking off.
I didn’t exactly sleep on the plane, but I dozed just enough to have one of those crazy incongruent pre-sleep thoughts. This one was about a foolproof way to deliver drugs. I’m not going to get into it.
Another shoutout to my father for showing up to get me from the airport at 3 a.m. We drove back to Boulder, and I was out the second I hit the pillow.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you. I had a lot of fun writing it and even more fun exploring Seattle. Catch me living there in ten years.
Peace, love and 10.1% sales tax,