We live in a moderate size town in Southwest Washington, less than an hour from Portland, OR. When we get the urge to visit a big city we usually head south to explore more areas of Portland. On occasion we will head north and explore places like our 3 Days in Vancouver, B.C., or when we had a relaxing weekend on Orcas Island.
We have made the 2-3 hour drive to Seattle a few times and have favorite destinations, like Pikes Place Market or Top Pot Donuts. We have spent time in a Seattle suburb where we stayed in an AirBnB but I felt like I hadn’t really experienced downtown Seattle since we were always short on time. We had never spent a night in Seattle (downtown), so we decided to change that.
We had initially planned to ring in the New Year in Seattle, but plans changed and we decided to go on New Years Day instead. I used my free annual night at any Hyatt that I got when I had my Hyatt credit card. We stayed at Hyatt at Olive 8, in the heart of downtown. The hotel was conveniently located and the room was really nice. There was a saltwater lap pool, but we had forgotten our swimsuits so missed out. There is a spa onsite too but it was way outside of our budget.
Pikes Pace Market was an easy 10 minute walk from the hotel. The market was still decorated for the holidays, but unfortunately about half the shops were already closed when we visited in the late afternoon. My favorite things to do at Pikes Place Market is buy some new tea at MarketSpice, check out the many flower stands and of course, watch the fish throwing at the Pike Place Fish Market. The fish market was closed when we went through, perhaps due to the holiday.
There is a lot of ethnic restaurants near Pikes Place Market, especially Asian cuisine. I love trying food from around the world, but we were in the mood for more of steakhouse/pub food. We actually struggled trying to find a steakhouse around Pikes Place Market. The restaurants were either way outside our price range or were just quick, pop-in type eateries.
We wandered for about 20 minutes before stumbling across Tap House Grill. What a find! The prices were very reasonable and they had the largest selection of beer that I’ve ever seen! They have 160 beers on tap, including multiple ciders. I tried a pineapple apple cider that may be the best drink I’ve ever had. The food was to die for as well. We tried stuffed jalapenos, calamari, mac and cheese and the Morning After Burger. Some of the cocktails weren’t my favorite, but that’s just personal preference.
We were battling a little bit of a hangover still from ringing in the New Year the night before, so we headed back to our hotel for an evening nap. We had debated about getting an Uber to the Space Needle and using the Day/Night 24 hour pass so we could see it that night and again the next morning. The pass was $32 per person though so we decided to save that for another trip.
Instead we made our way on foot to Pie Bar, which is exactly what it sounds like. A bar that serves booze and PIE! The bar was super tiny though and was completely packed. Thankfully they have a To Go window where you can order your pie. The walk back was chilly but the peanut butter pie we both got was so worth it.
For breakfast the next morning we decided to eat at the restaurant located in our hotel, Urbane. The food was a little on the pricey side, but the service was fantastic. I like that they use local and organic ingredients too. I was still not hungry from eating so much the day before so I just got winter vegetable egg scramble. The entire menu looked good though and our party of 4 all enjoyed what we got.
Day 2 of Exploring
We had a decision to make. Visit the Space Needle or the Sky View Observatory, which I as a Washingtonian actually didn’t know about! The Sky View Observatory is significantly taller than the Space Needle; on the 73rd floor observatory you are 902 feet high. It is actually the ‘tallest public viewing area West of the Mississippi.’ It was cheaper as well, at only $14.25 for general admission, or $9 for students or military. The Space Needle costs $22 for general admission and does not have a student or military rate either. Also, with the Space Needle Observatory at only 520 feet it is almost half the height of the Sky View Observatory. The decision was easy. Bonus of visiting Sky View; since you aren’t in the Space Needle you can get that iconic shot of it in the city skyline!
The Sky View Observatory is located in the Columbia Center at 701 5th Ave, Seattle. The ascent to the 73rd floor observatory includes two super fast elevators that made our ears pop. When we walked into the observatory shortly after it opened there was hardly anyone there. We were greeted with the view of the snow-covered Olympic Mountains. There is 360 degree views, including mountain views of Mt Baker, Mt Ranier and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. Centurylink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders is also nearby, as well as the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field.
The Seattle Monorail, a city landmark, is a cheap and convenient way to get from downtown Seattle to the city center, 1 mile away. It costs $2.25 each way and departs every 10 minutes or so. We walked from the Sky View Observatory to the monorail location on 5th Ave. It was a bit of a walk, about 10-15 minutes or so. We grabbed some Peet’s coffee on the way to warm up.
The monorail was fast, in just a few minutes we were already to the Seattle Center.This area kind of felt like an amusement park for adults and children. The Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum, Pacific Science Center, KeyArena, McCaw Hall and the Space Needle were some of the numerous choices available at the Seattle Center. There was also seasonal ice skating open when we were there. It was a great place to hang out for the afternoon, although all we managed to visit was the Pacific Science Center and the Armory.
Admission to the Pacific Science Center was a little pricey, at $19.75 per adult. We explored most of the museum, including the butterfly exhibit, GROSSOLOGY exhibit, and just about everything in between aside from the planetarium. The museum was more geared towards children and families, but we still had a great tim
The Armory had a plethora of restaurants to choose from. I had BigFood BBQ (it was okay) and Jake had a personal size pizza from MOD pizza which was insanely good and well priced. It was a great place to eat since there was something for everyone.
If you plan on visiting at least 3 sites (including the Pacific Science Center) I would recommend getting the Seattle CityPASS, it would more than pay for itself. We didn’t get the CityPASS this time but it will definitely be something we do on our next trip so we can check out the EMP Museum, Space Needle and probably the Seattle Aquarium as well. For more info on the Seattle CityPASS you can click HERE. Right now they start at $69 per adult.
Safety in Seattle
Like many cities on the West coast, Seattle has a problem with homelessness. Additionally, Washington State has notoriously inadequate mental health care, so many people who struggle with mental illnesses end up on the streets. Coming from the Portland area the issue of homelessness wasn’t new to us. We have been on homeless outreaches in Portland where we pass out socks and food to the homeless. We have also volunteered at the Dream Center in L.A. which included mostly serving the underprivileged, low income families or the homeless. While we are compassionate, there is also a safety concern when there is a large number of homeless inhabiting an area.
As the sun was starting to set we found a little park near Pikes Place Market to take in the views. It became quickly apparent that about half of the people there were getting ready to setting in for the night. We got stopped twice by homeless men who were a little too pushy and ended up making me feel pretty uncomfortable. While walking around looking for a place to eat dinner we saw one man walking very briskly towards us and walked/sprinted past us. It felt a little off…and then a bunch of police officers rounded the corner chasing after the man, followed by multiple police cars.
Just be safe and use common sense. If you are out at night maybe think about getting an Uber or taxi if you are walking in places that don’t have as much foot traffic. We had decided to walk the 0.6 miles to Pie Bar at night and felt on guard the entire walk. I’m not saying Seattle is more dangerous than other U.S. cities but we just had a few experiences that made us feel like we needed to be more alert.