A Whirlwind Pre-Cruise Tour of Seattle

Starbucks, Boeing, Nirvana, the Space Needle, and that place where they throw the fish - until earlier this month, that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the city of Seattle. After a short trip to the Emerald City, that's still just about all I know.

Like many this time of year, our visit to Seattle was a stop-off before boarding a cruise ship bound for Alaska. It was the secondary destination, and thus merely a bonus feature on our itinerary in the Pacific Northwest. But although our time in Seattle was short, thanks to MJ's ever efficient planning we managed to squeeze in most of the highlights - all in a single day.

First things first...

Aside from my caffeine-driven affection for Starbucks, two other things that I hold dear come together in a unique way in Seattle: hotels and The Beatles. During the height of Beatlemania, the lads stayed at The Edgewater Hotel, and snapped a now famous photograph fishing out of the window in their suite. Some 50 years later, it was our turn to do the same, but more on that later...

As I've shared here many times before, the morning stroll for ice coffee is my favorite tradition when traveling. In Seattle, my leisurely saunter came at a price: the climb to Pike Market. You see, The Edgewater is located, well, on the edge of the water, with the rest of Seattle rising roughly 100 feet a mere two blocks inland. Translation: getting just about anywhere means a never-ending climb up the hill or staircase. I can assure you I'm not accustomed to such strenuous activity before I've had my first sip of coffee, but the payoff was worth the extra effort.

Ice coffee from the original Starbucks and insanely awesome mini-donuts...
What life is all about.

Two pieces of advice for anyone planning to visit the original Starbucks and/or Pike Place Market: get there early. When I say early, I mean like 6am early. Yeah, it sounds crazy, but trust me on this one. For starters, the sun comes up during the summer at like 2:30am so you'll probably be up anyway. But, more importantly, if you go any later in the day the line at Starbucks will be out the door and the market will be overrun with tourists. Go early and you'll have both places to yourself.

Sadly, they didn't offer free samples.

After the far more leisurely stroll back to The Edgewater with coffee and donuts in hand, we took the hotel's complimentary car service up to Seattle Center - i.e. the Space Needle. We were only going to snap a picture with the famous flying saucer, but with a little time on our hands we decided to take the ride to the top. The view was spectacular, and was worth the $18 "just to say we did." This is another one of those things that's probably best done on a weekday morning - the queue infrastructure in place was rather lengthy. 

The view from the Space Needle.

Seattle Center is also home to the EMP and Chihuly Museums. We opted for the EMP due to its emphasis on music, plus once you've been to one Chihuly museum, you've sort of been to them all. The EMP was a good time killer, and for a 90's kid the Nirvana exhibit was worth the cost of admission. Speaking of which, buy your tickets online - there's a $5 discount vs at the door. 

Original mockup for the Nevermind cover.

By now the donuts and coffee had worn off and it was time for lunch. MJ dug up a place called Local 360, the concept of which was written right on the sign: all of the food is sourced within 360 miles. For future reference, the grilled egg & cheddar sandwich pairs remarkably well with their version of the old fashioned known as Old Mischievous Ways. Yes, an old fashioned at lunch...don't judge.

Seriously good lunch.

From here we had a choice: go back to the hotel for a nap, or sprint to the docks to try and catch the ferry to Bainbridge Island. As much as the old man inside of me wanted a nap, we opted for the latter and I'm sure glad we did.

Panorama from the ferry.

The sun came out just as we boarded the ferry for the half hour ride to Bainbridge. The view of the skyline was magnificent to say the least, and we enjoyed walking the shops and caf├ęs once on the island. And yes, we even did a little wine tasting. The trip to Bainbridge ate up most of our afternoon, but it proved to be the highlight of our time in Seattle.

$10 wine tasting...Sign us up!

Of course, no visit to any great city would be complete without at least one blowout dinner. For that, we decided to hit Black Bottle, a tapas place just a few blocks from The Edgewater. The atmosphere was great, the cocktails were inspiring, and the food - well, let's just say that the fried chicken was the finest I've ever had in a lifetime of living in the South. But please, don't call me a Southerner. 

The collards were a miss, but the chicken changed my life.

A few years ago, a friend of mine visited the Seattle area and basically never came home. After our short visit to the city, I can completely see how that would happen - Seattle strikes me as a great place to visit, but an even better place to live. There's no doubt our whirlwind tour barely scratched the surface of what Seattle has to offer, but for anyone visiting either before or after a cruise, this secondary destination will not disappoint. 

Enjoy Your Stay