do seattle--like a local would

This post was featured on Travel. Write. Repeat. and I wanted to showcase it here too.

Being a native of the great city of Seattle, I feel its my duty to give my readers some insight on great Seattle day. Forget the Pike Place Market and Space Needle tour and grab your fleece, your birkenstocks (socks optional), your messenger bag and enjoy your day--local style.

1. Start your day with sleeping in-- to hopefully beat the early morning rain showers (common during the Spring in Seattle) and then head to the U District (University of Washington area) for some wandering on the gorgeous campus. See the noted architecture of the buildings and the blooming quad, get in some shopping on the 'Ave (excellent thrift store The Red Light plus a coffee must stop at the Ugly Mug Cafe on 43rd (you thought I'd send you to a Starbucks, didn't you?)

2. After getting your caffeine buzz on and working up an appetite shopping, hoof it up to 45th for an unforgettable lunch at a Seattle landmark: Dick's Drive-In. (Order recommendation: Deluxe, Fry, two tarters, a ketchup and a chocolate shake). Man, I am hungry just thinking about it.

the quad on the UW Campus


3. After the U Dist, head south just a bit to experience a legendary Seattle store: Archie McPhee's. Archie's was originally located in Ballard (more on that in a second) and has recently moved to the nearby Wallingford area to bump elbows with other sweet stores like my favorite travel store Wide World Books.
At Archie's you'll find all of the '80's candy you miss (candy cigarettes, ring pops and pop rocks) as well as the necessary household items such as bacon bandages, backwards clocks, pickle soap and my personal favorite, nunzilla wind-up toys, that shoot adorable sparks from the mouth.

4. To curb the candy buzz and giddy feeling from buying things you don't need but can't resist, take a leisurely stroll to the peaceful Ballard--just down the way from Archie's. Ballard, once its own city, a few decades ago was enveloped into Seattle proper. Ballard has kept its individuality though boasting the largest Norwegian population in the US and a bustling main street with sweet mom and pop shops, a movie theatre and and the nearby Ballard Locks where you can easily become hypnotized by the methodological process of water rising and falling as boats pass from Lake Washington/Lake Union into the Puget Sound and vice versa. The fish ladder at the locks, where the world famous Washington Salmon swim their hearts out, is very calming and entertaining--and FREE.

5. After the tranquil visit to the locks and surrounding gardens, press on past the lure of fish and chips at nearby stands (way too pricey) and head to the Tractor Tavern just a few short blocks away. Let the Tractor serve you up a locally brewed beer while you scan the upcoming live band list. Not only does the Tractor host big name bands, but also up and coming acts in their intimate venue. My claim to fame, or not, with the Tractor is that some friends from work were heading there for a happy hour cocktail years back and I passed on the invite just to find out the next morning that the unheard of band playing that night was Pearl Jam under a cover name. (Dammit-- it still hurts like it was yesterday.)

6. After a few beers at the Tractor you're probably feeling nice and loose so grab a cab and head straight to the Virginia Inn-- another Seattle Landmark.
You may recognize this bar as the one from the movie Singles, where Matt Dillon's character brainstormed with his "band mates" (real life Pearl Jam members). Sit in "their" booth and order another local beer or something a bit more crazy 'cause now you are in the Belltown area of Seattle, officially the newest "hip" place to be. Sit here a while and take in the scene.

7. Hungry? Probably. Close out your evening by dining on a Seattle staple: Sushi.
The Wasabi Bistro is just a block away from the Virginia Inn and is famous for its fresh Japanese fusion menu. They have a long happy hour (until 6 every night) and live music Sunday through Thursday. Order some sake, feast on some of their sushi roll specials (so fresh you may have seen these fish at the locks earlier) and enjoy the fact that you are in Seattle-- a very friendly, recycling, green city that will always welcome you back.


  1. Captain Key said...

    Awww.. love it Dirty! Dick's IS the place where the cool hang out...  

  2. Lauren & Caitlin said...

    Thanks for the suggestions. Even after 5 years there are a few places we haven't been. Thanks for the sushi rec too. We have yet to find a good sushi place out here. Us, along with many transplants we know, seem to be stumped as to why it is so hard to find as good a sushi on the coast here as we find in less likely locals around the country. THANKS!!!