When it comes to summer vacation destinations, Seattle is second only to the lake cabin for Minnesotans. (A little rain seems practically tropical to people emerging from subzero temperatures.) In the summer months, Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport (MSP) averages 11 to 12 daily departures to the Emerald City via Delta, Sun Country, and Alaska Airlines.
In the spirit of Seattle’s start-up vibe (Starbucks, Amazon, Nordstrom), we tapped two of the city’s entrepreneurs for their on-the-ground recommendations. Eleanor Blackford is the owner of Bash & Bloom, a boutique event and floral design company, while her husband, Matthew Davis, runs the food truck and catering company, Wood Shop BBQ (“he has barbecue sauce in his veins,” says Blackford).
With Rainier tall boys in hand, the two graciously provided this Ultimate Guide to Seattle.
Where to stay: We love AirBnB and VRBO. Seattle has some pretty awesome properties from artists’ lofts downtown to houseboats on Lake Union, to beautiful craftsman homes with sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains.
Where to eat seafood: Westward & Little Gull on North Lake Union is right on the water and has the most amazing seafood. Cozy up on the outdoor Adirondack chairs under a Pendleton blanket and watch the boats sail past the downtown skyline—all while eating fresh oysters and seafood.
Where to eat otherwise: Besides Wood Shop BBQ of course, we like the cheap burgers at Dick’s, the garlic fries at Safeco Field, anything from the noodle bar at Trove, pizza at Bar Del Corso, sushi at Shiro’s, and farm-to-table meals at Local 360, The Corson Building, and Lark. (You can’t throw a stone without hitting a restaurant featuring food raised or grown within 200 miles of Seattle. We’re spoiled here.)
Where to take in the view: Skip the long lines at the Space Needle and visit the observation deck at the Columbia Tower instead. It’s free and you can actually see the Space Needle (the best part of the Seattle skyline), which, of course, you miss when you’re actually in it.
Where to take a stroll: The Ballard and Freemont neighborhoods are both worthy of their own day in Seattle. Ballard has a fantastic Sunday farmer’s market and great shopping. Visit the Locks to see the giant fishing boats, and take a short drive to Golden Gardens Park for a beachfront sunset beside a bonfire. Freemont has an eclectic Sunday flea market and some great food trucks. Tour the Theo Chocolate factory, visit the Freemont Troll, and check out the view of downtown from the Fremont Bridge.
Where to get caffeinated: Lighthouse Roasters in Fremont for its coffee and Vivace’s walk-up stand in Capital Hill for the experience. But ask any Seattleite and you’ll get a different answer—we have some of the best coffee shops in the world.
Where to grab a microbrew: The Ballard neighborhood has some awesome breweries. Go on a tasting tour and end up at Peddler Brewing Company (be sure to try the Snow Beer’d Winter Ale), or visit Chuck’s Hop Shop. Chuck’s sells more than 1,000 different beers with 40 on tap.
Where to observe the locals: The naked bicyclists ride that takes place before the Fremont Solstice Parade in June. It’s quintessential quirky Seattle. Just make sure you’re not sitting down when they ride past or you’ll find yourself eye level with lots of… bits.
Where to be a tourist: Pike Place Market downtown. Yes, there are a ton of tourists, but there are great stalls. Get the freshly roasted pistachios from the nut stall, a cup of chowder, and a cocktail at Zig Zag Café. You can also get gorgeous seasonal blooms (Peonies in spring; Dahlias in fall) from local farmers.
Where to take in nature: Kayaking the San Juan Islands. You’ll see Bald Eagles, whales, and red foxes—it’s incredible.