Summer of Go: Seattle
ABOUT OUR “SUMMER OF GO”
In true Tommy Bahama fashion, we're celebrating the season of sun in style from coast to coast. Over the years, we've made friends in all the right places: Boston, Baltimore, Tampa, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco and Kona, to name a few. During this “Summer of Go,” we'll share our favorite things to see, do and experience in each of those locales.
OUR LOVE NOTE TO SEATTLE
Editor's note: We may be a little biased in this article. Believe it or not, the global hub for Tommy Bahama is in Seattle. Click here if you don't believe us. Of course, if you subscribed to our email, you'd already know that since our address is at the bottom of every email we send.
Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful confluence of nature, technology and people. Visit once and you'll understand how the city got its nickname. Between the landscape, the eco-sensitivity, the thriving businesses and shimmering waters of Puget Sound, there's green everywhere you look.
We're happy to wax philosophic on this wonderful city we call home. From our hoppy microbrews to our Midwest-meets-Silicone-Valley sensibilities, there are many things that make Seattle a special place. But it seems that there are a lot of common questions people have before visiting the area. So here are our preemptive responses...
1) No, it doesn't rain nearly as much as you might think.
2) Yes, there are coffee shops everywhere.
3) Yes, we know where Bill Gates' house is.
4) No, not everyone works for Microsoft or Amazon, but it often feels like it.
5) Seriously, it doesn't rain as much as you might think.
SEATTLE'S BEST: THINGS TO DO
Rub Elbows with the Locals
You can't talk about Seattle without mentioning Pike Place Market. Step through the main doors by the brass pig (it'll make sense when you get there) and watch the fishmongers hurl orders at Pike Place Fish Market. Want to see a weird, icky exhibit you'll probably add to? Head outside and down the stairs to the Gum Wall. Back in the Market, stroll down the corridors and browse booths of fresh flowers, veggies and local, seasonal delicacies. The Chukar Cherry booth is a popular source for samples. Down the street, you'll find Beecher's Handmade Cheese, plus the very first Starbucks. From there, the waterfront is just a short walk away — why not take a spin on The Great Wheel? The views are incredible.
Get Seattle Centered
It's in almost every picture you've ever seen of Seattle. The Space Needle is easy to find from almost anywhere in the city. At 605' tall, it sort of sticks out. Head up to the observation deck for an incredible look at the city; on a clear day you can see Mount Rainier, our regional volcano. (This is what locals are referring to when they say, "the mountain is out.") While you're up there, take a moment to appreciate the architecture of the Experience Music Project, inspired by a smashed guitar, à la Jimi Hendrix, a local legend. For music lovers, a trip inside EMP is worth all the time you can spare. (Get the audio tour headset.) For the kids in the group, the Children's Museum is a unique environment where young ones can get the wiggles out before heading near the fragile and priceless art at Chihuly Garden and Glass. There are lots of entertainment options, too. From ballet to Reign, you never know what act, sport or event might show up while you're here.
101 Reasons to Take a Drive
Sure, there's a lot to do in the city, but there's a rainforest to explore! Hop on a ferry and take a shortcut to the Olympic Peninsula or the San Juan Islands. Head towards the coast and take a cruise on Highway 101 — the roads are twisty but the views are breathtaking. Or, stay on the east side of Puget Sound and take a jaunt down to local volcanoes Mount Rainier or Mount Saint Helens; they're about two and three hours from Seattle, respectively.
Get Sand on Your Feet
Arguably the best stretch of sand in the city, Alki Beach has it all: fire pits, plenty of space, lots of volleyball courts, unfettered views of the city, an excellent walking path and plenty of places to grab a cocktail and food across the street. You'll often see the water dotted with SUP riders, kayakers, SCUBA dive flags and the occasional seal or sea lion. Ballard residents are quick to point out that you can find all of these things (except a view of the city skyline and nearby bars and restaurants) at Golden Gardens. Plus you can stop by and pay respects to Leif Erikson.
Go, Beast Mode!
With the Legion of Boom still ringing in the ears of America, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Seahawks. However, all of the tickets for the entire season sold out in record time, so if you want to catch a game, you'll have to resort to the after-market markup. But don't despair; there are plenty of sports to be enjoyed. The Mariners aren't half bad, the Sounders are tearing things up and the Storm are wrapping up the regular season with a home game on August 17.
Raise a Glass
Just 30 minutes from downtown, Woodinville is a hub for wineries, breweries and distilleries. There are dozens of tasting rooms, but one of the finest settings is at Chateau Ste. Michelle; they host a summertime concert series that draws great acts and big crowds. Looking for a change of pace? Head down the road to Red Hook Brewery for a tour and lunch — there's an on-site pub, of course. And a relatively new player on the scene, the Woodinville Whiskey Company is turning out some decent whiskeys, plus they sell white whiskey and an age-it-yourself barrel for any aspiring distillers.
Get Enlightened and Learned
Arts, culture, education and architecture — there are a lot of ways to enrich yourself in Seattle. We mentioned the Museum of History and Industry in a previous article, but it's worth mentioning again. Our downtown public library is an architecture-lover's dream, and that's just down the street from the Seattle Art Museum, but a longer walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park. Airplane aficionados will want to head to the Museum of Flight for a hands-on experience with aviation history. For a unique look at Seattle's oft-seedy background, make time for the Underground Tour, a walking tour that leaves from Pioneer Square.
SEATTLE'S BEST: PLACES TO EAT
4225 Fremont Ave N / 206.545.7440 / paseoseattle.com
Why we love it: Pork. Onions. Sauce. Pork. So good. Seriously, the very popular Caribbean Roast sandwich reduces this humble writer to communicating with monosyllabic words, grunts and gestures with messy fingers. Also, the black beans and rice are remarkable and the corn on the cob is heavenly.
Marination Ma Kai
1660 Harbor Ave SW / 206.328.TACO (8226) / marinationmobile.com/ma-kai
Why we love it: "Ma kai" is Hawaiian for "beside the sea." A short walk from Alki Beach, this Hawaiian/Korean-fusion taco stand has been repeatedly lauded with "Best of" awards and it's easy to see why. The sweeping views of the city across the water are bested only by the tacos and Spam® sliders. Plus, Hawaiian-style shave ice. Yum.
6049 Seaview Ave NW / 206.789.3770 / rays.com
Why we love it: Waterfront dining with delicious seafood, delectable cocktails and amazing views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. It's been a Seattle favorite for decades.
The Whale Wins
3506 Stone Way N / 206.632-9425 / thewhalewins.com
The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW / 206.395-9227 / thewalrusbar.com
Why we love them: These sibling restaurants each warrant their own write-up, but piling praise on their founders, much-lauded Chef Renee Erickson and friends, would get a bit redundant. Her unique approach to both locations has won the attention of the city's taste buds. A self-described "oyster haven," the Walrus and the Carpenter has been recognized by pretty much every publication that matters, including Bon Appétit, who listed it as one of their "20 Most Important Restaurants in America 2013." For The Whale Wins, Erickson took a more rustic approach, complete with a wood-fired oven and vegetable-focused menu (though there are plenty of carnivorous options, too). It also was commended by Bon Appétit as one of the Top 10 New Restaurants in America 2013. You can't go wrong at either place.
2000 4th Ave / 206.441.1430 / tomdouglas.com
Why we love it: We can't talk about Seattle eats without mentioning a Tom Douglas restaurant. The celebrity chef runs 15 eateries around the city, with rumors of more on the way. Each is noteworthy, but Lola is one of the darlings of the family. They describe themselves as having a "Greek spirit," fusing modern Mediterranean and North African flavors with local ingredients. Plus, they have amazing breakfast and brunch menus, making this a popular destination for hungry folk all day long.
2576 Aurora Ave N / 206.283.3313 / canlis.com
Why we love it: Though the location is a bit odd (it's only accessible from the northbound lane of Highway 99; detailed instructions are on their website), Canlis has defined elegant dining in Seattle since 1950. Perched on a bluff overlooking Lake Union, the setting, architecture and décor are truly remarkable and the meals themselves are works of art.
SEATTLE'S BEST: PLACES TO DRINK
Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium
928 12th Ave / canonseattle.com
Why we love it: Claiming the biggest selection of spirits in not only the city but the Western Hemisphere, this is a mecca for cocktail lovers. Their "Captain's List" with all of their bottle offerings is 100 pages long!
5210 Ballard Ave NW / 206.432.9280 / thegeraldseattle.com
Why we love it: Like their website says, they're "easy on the eyeballs and quick with the highballs." Reminiscent of cocktail joints of yesteryear that were frequented by Don Draper types, The Gerald turns out tasty food, amazing drinks and a relaxed atmosphere.
1406 12th Ave / 206.322.9734 / tavernlaw.com
Why we love it: With a Prohibition-era vibe and friendly, knowledgeable drink slingers, Tavern Law has been recognized by many organizations and publications as one of the best bars around. In 2010, GQ Magazine named it one of the top 25 bars in America — and other than the seasonal offerings, not much has changed. For a truly Prohibition-era experience, get a reservation at the Needle & Thread bar, a secluded, separate part of the bar accessible through a vault door. If you secure a reservation, they give you a secret word to gain entrance. The eagle has landed.
1112 Pike St / 206.583.7177 / rumbaonpike.com
Why we love it: A bona fide rum bar, they specialize in delicious, boozy creations. If you're looking for the best Mai Tai in Seattle, this one is worthy of your consideration. Besides, what better place to celebrate International Rum Day (August 16) than at a rum bar!?
912 12th Ave / 206.325.5409 / vontrapps.com
Why we love it: With beer, bratwurst and indoor bocce, Von Trapp's knows how to get our attention. Over a dozen rotating taps (and dozens of bottles) keep bier lovers content, while the house-made wursts (bratwurst, knackwurst, veggiewurst, etc.) satisfy the most rigorous of appetites.
1225 4th Ave / 206.829.2280 / thepurplecafe.com
Why we love it: With 70 wines available by the glass and hundreds more by the bottle, Purple is a must-visit destination for any lover of the grape. A delectable menu, casual atmosphere and friendly energy will keep you coming back for more. Seattle Met Magazine calls it, "The people's wine bar."
927 9th Ave / 206.397.4053 / vitosseattle.com
Why we love it: A Seattle institution since the 1950s, Vito's maintains the glamour and style of the period. There are rumored ties to "connected families" back East, and the stories about the bar's past make its history nearly as interesting as the perfectly concocted cocktails the barkeeps keep crafting. Their signature drink is called the Tom Handy, which is their spin on the classic Sazerac.