Celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.
The mention of Seattle immediately invokes memories of the 1993 movie “Sleepless in Seattle” for many. Others think of the popular medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy” (which although set in Seattle is primarily shot in Los Angeles). Known for its unreliable weather, the Emerald city is a jewel in the Pacific Northwest and the largest city in the state of Washington. Discovery Park and Mt. Rainier provide serious motivation to step out and immerse yourself in the natural beauty. And of course, the original branch of globally known coffee brand Starbucks is located here as well. However, there is a lot more in Seattle to take advantage of and here’s a sampling to spark your interest.
See and Do
Some of the usual suspects are the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, harbor cruise, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden and Pacific Science Center. All of these are available on the handy Seattle CityPass at one consolidated price, with express entry to venues. The futuristic Space Needle was built in the 1960s and is the city’s most iconic landmark. That aside though, many venues speak to the African American experience and that of the African diaspora in the northwest. The Northwest African American Museum is one such spot in the heart of the Central District where Black history, art and culture are celebrated.
Another is MoPOP where current exhibitions include Prince from Minneapolis, which celebrates the musical legend’s image and influence in popular culture. The Seattle Art Museum features an impressive African art collection. Lessons from the Institute of Empathy is the latest in their installations at the African art galleries. A visit to Pike Place Market is a given if in the area. Satiate your foodie side by walking around the area, taking in the sights of the freshly caught seafood and daily flower markets or the aromas of all the eateries opening shop for the day. Enjoying a walking tour with Savor Seattle to understand the history and importance of the market is a unique experience.
Eat and Repeat
Recent years have seen immigrants from several African nations move into neighborhoods in Seattle and as a result, locals and visitors can enjoy restaurants serving these cuisines here. Safari Restaurant offers traditional Somali and East African staples, while La Terana specializes in Senegalese food. Jebena Café brings in Ethiopian flavors — opt for bamiya, beef cubes and whole okra cooked in Ethiopian spices, or any of the vegan, vegetarian plates. Seattle is also one of the few places where you can savor some geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck), the edible saltwater clam found in its waters. You are in luck if it is in season.
Local chefs have played a part in making the city a culinary gem. James Beard Award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan of Salare and Junebaby has brought attention to Seattle’s dining scene. Plum Bistro by chef Makini Howell has an organic vegan menu with a creative spin on plant-based dishes. Marjorie by Donna Moodie is a lovely neighborhood hangout with a menu as eclectic as the décor. Though Jamaican-born, she offers a variety on her menu reflective of the dinner parties thrown by her mother, whom the restaurant is named after. Another spot to have on your radar is the Hyatt Regency’s Andare Kitchen where the signature cavatelli is a must.
Lola, one of many eateries owned by well-known local chef Tom Douglas, features Greek flavors — the manti (Turkish style dumplings) and meatballs are recommended. For a quieter lunch by the water overlooking rows of boats docked alongside, Palisade Restaurant by the marina shines a light on locally sourced seasonal produce, which finds pride of place in the crab and lobster bisque, or the chef’s special sesame crusted ahi tuna, among other preparations. Taste Washington, the annual wine and food festival, offers a four-day fiesta celebrating the nation’s largest single-region culinary event. This year’s edition starred more than 240 wineries with an overall attendance of 8,400 guests and a grand line-up of celebrity chefs.
Stay and Play
There’s no dearth of hotels in the city to claim as home base for a few days during your visit. If staying close to the airport is your preferred mode then Hotel Interurban is conveniently located nearby and just a quick train or car ride into the city to see all the attractions. The hotel provides complimentary airport transfers and their robot concierge Hazel welcomes you at the lobby. Waterleaf Restaurant onsite specializes in local seafood — head straight for the sushi, crab cakes or northwest cioppino, a hearty tomato-based soup bursting with flavor, and plenty of seafood in it. If traveling with dogs, there is a room service menu for your furry family members too.
For those visiting with a group and wanting to stay together in the city, Hotel Max has a creative option – the boutique hotel’s Bunk Rooms offer multiple beds within the same space so think nicer dorm-style living for a party of four or five. A separate seating area and work desk offer up some additional space and the daily beer craft hour is a chance to meet locals and fellow guests.
In the heart of the city, Mayflower Park Hotel is a historic building which s celebrating 91 years. It is one of the last remaining locally-owned and independent hotels here. Rooms are decadently furnished and the lobby chandeliers provide a glimpse of another time. The proximity to Pike Place Market and accessibility to other attractions are a bonus.
If planning a visit, some of the annual events to consider are Sundiata Black Arts Festival and Umojafest Africatown Heritage Festival and Parade. Also, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival every April showcases independent Black filmmakers and films. And if all this prep material to plan your trip doesn’t suffice, there is a fair chance Seattle will have something new up its sleeve soon enough.