When it was first announced that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)’s conference would be in Seattle while I was here as a resident, I was a little disappointed – one of the highlights of residency is traveling somewhere during your graduation year. Going to Boston last year made up for it, but still. After having traveled all over the US in the past five months however, my tune has changed and I am very excited to have a conference where I can sleep in my own bed.
So, if you’re coming to our current city, here are some of my favorite things to do. I hope you enjoy your stay as much as we have!
Within walking distance of the Convention Center (West, up the hill)
- This is the Capitol Hill neighborhood – the historic “LGBTQ neighborhood” now is filled with hipsters, fancy restaurants, art galleries and startups. A great infographic (made of course by an infographic specific startup in Capitol Hill) can be seen here.
- Sitka and Spruce: Classic Seattle farm-to-table dining with a menu changing nightly. The space is just lovely – the restaurant is housed within Melrose Market (which has Taylor Shellfish if you like oysters, a distillery or two and some Seattle-y small shops: flower shop, butcher, cheese shop etc)
- Mamnoon: Delicious Lebanese fusion that is still very “Seattle”
- Oddfellows Cafe: Great dining space and food. Takes reservations. Check out the Elliot Bay Book Company next door
- Barrio: One of my favorite fancy Mexican restaurants
- La Spiga: Excellent Italian food
- Dick’s Drive-In: Hometown hero Macklemore shot a video here and while the burgers are good, the fries aren’t awesome (acceptable if doused in tartar sauce). It’s a Seattle icon and cheap. Cash only.
- Really anywhere along The Pike-Pine corridor or along Madison – it will be hopping on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights
- Broadway is a street with a young scene. A lot of easy to grab food and funky shops. Seattle Central College’s campus is here.
- Cal Anderson Park – grab some Molly Moon’s ice cream and watch people play bike polo (it’s weirdly entertaining and some of the best in the world practice here).
- Starbucks Roastery – their uber fancy Seattle coffee room. Better than the Original Starbucks in the Market (and less tourists vying to snap a photo of the mermaid with boobs), but still Starbucks. Other great coffees include Caffe Vita, Broadcast Coffee, and Top Pot (which also has amazing doughnuts)
- Some of the best people-watching in the city, and very few of them will be tourists.
Within walking distance of the Convention Center (East, down the hill)
- This is the City Center/Downtown/Pike Place Market area – the touristy area that you should at least check out so you can say you’ve “been to Seattle”:
- Plenty of stalls to grab fresh fruit or veggies from in the Market
- Of course you’ll find all your chain restaurants in the City Center: Cheesecake Factory, Capitol Grill, Ruth’s Chris, etc (but you didn’t come all this way to eat there, right?)
- The Original Starbucks – it’ll be the one with a long line of tourists with cameras. It serves the same drinks as the others, but with a longer wait. You can get a specialty roast there that is only sold in that store, but otherwise, I’d just peek in and skip the line.
- Etta’s – or really any of the Tom Douglas restaurants. Grab fresh seafood here instead of the higher priced restaurants in the Market proper (Matt’s, Cafe Campagne, etc) or the decent, but panders-to-tourists Pike Place Chowder.
- Speaking of Tom Douglas, his other restaurants that are in walking distance: Lola (Mediterranean), Dahlia Lounge (new American), Serious Pie (pizza – delicious!), SeaBar (seafood/oysters), Palace Kitchen (comfort food, open late), Tanaka San (“unauthentic Asian street food” – his words, not mine), and most recenty Cantina Lena (Mexican).
- A little further out, but delicious: Bar Sajor is a Mediterranean/almost north African inspired, lots of great spices, still with a Northwest twist
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer – delicious and comes in a bunch of seasonal flavors. Also has a cute tasting room with great views of Elliot Bay and the ferries
- Local 360 and Spur Gastropub – both farm-to-table places and delicious
- We are home to the original Nordstrom’s and the flagship store for REI (two stories of gear with an outdoor bike track) – both fun buildings to check out.
- Once in the Market, stop by the Gum Wall: down Post Alley, gross, but a good picture
- Watch them throw fish on the corner at Pike Place Fish Company
- Wander down through the Market to the Seattle Waterfront. It’s under a lot of construction (we’re trying to replace the ugly double-decker Highway 99 that threatens to fall into Elliot Bay during an earthquake)
- Seattle Aquarium ($22): Play in tide pools and see the great otter exhibit. Good feel of PNW wildlife.
- Walk out on the piers for great views of the stadiums, Seattle harbor and Mount Rainier on a sunny day. If you look back and see Smith Tower (white, pointy building) – it was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi and someone lives in the top spire.
- Seattle Wheel ($13): I’ve never been able to justify the price and go up in it, but fun to look at.
- If you have time: a great hour to two hour trip is to walk onto a ferry and go over the Bainbridge Island. It’s $8 and gives you the opportunity to 1) ride on a Washington state ferry from the busiest ferry terminal in the US, 2) check out Bainbridge (there’s a great ice cream shop at the ferry terminal) and 3) have spectacular views of the city, the Sound, the Olympic mountains out on the peninsula and get some fresh air. One of my favorite things to do with out-of-towners.
- Also can ride the water taxi out to Alki Beach if you’re short on time and see where the first settlers tried to brave out a stormy winter.
- Also, just FYI: we’re currently protesting the Shell Oil rig on it’s way up drill near Alaska. You’ll see a bunch of people kayaking in the Harbor as “kayaktavists” #sHellNo
Will require either a taxi or an Uber ride, but worth it (organized by neighborhood)
All of these will be a $10-15 ride, but you can walk a lot or do other activities while you’re there and will show you a taste of how real Seattlites live.
- Lake Union/U-District/Wallingford
- You can rent a bike (maybe at REI?) and ride around it – great interurban lake.
- Gas Works Park: at the north end, one of my favorite views of the city. Great for a picnic lunch. If you’re going that way, stop by Paseo’s in Fremont for one of my favorite sandwiches of all time (cash only, expect a line).
- Rent a kayak at Agua Verde in the U-district (it’s really close to the dental school if you’d like to see that, but it’s old and kind of ugly, so would not recommend). You can paddle out to Lake Union (calmer) or Lake Washington (if you’re feeling brave) and enjoy tacos afterwards. Next to the University of Washington
- Center for Wooden Boats and the MOHAI – great Seattle cultural areas in South Lake Union (where Amazon reigns)
- Ivar’s Salmon House (a Seattle icon) or Westward (outdoor fireplace!) for delicious seafood and spectacular views of the city across Lake Union. Both take reservations.
- We live in the Wallingford neighborhood which we love – let me know if you have an specific questions about food there (or see our Seattle Survey).
- Queen Anne
- This is near the Seattle Center where the Reception will be. Since that’s included in the AAPD I’m not going to go into detail about it, but it’s an easy walk to Westlake Center (a shopping area) and then you can take the monorail down to it. There are only terminal stops on the monorail despite the vote every few years to extend it throughout the city.
- One of my favorite views of the city is at Kerry Park, up the hill and you can see Mount Rainier on a sunny day
- Fremont has a reputation for being where all the old hippies in Seattle live and they are the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe”. Funky shops and great food including Revel, The Whale Wins, Agrodolce, Joule and Roux.
- Awesome tasting room and some of my favorite beer at the Fremont Brewery. Get the Interurban IPA, it tastes like summer.
- Also to see in Fremont: The Fremont Troll, the Lenin Statue and the Ballard Locks on your way out to Ballard
- Ballard’s Market Street has a ton of great shops and restaurants including Bastille Cafe and Bar and the best oysters in the city at The Walrus and the Carpenter (does not take reservations, opens at 4pm).
- Grab a Paseo sandwich (cash only) and eat a picnic lunch at Golden Gardens – a fantastic park overlooking the Sound and Olympic mountains. You can have bonfires on the beach here.
Links to some of the things I’ve done with visitors
- Whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest with my mom: Part I and Part II. Itinerary is not for the faint of heart, but good pictures.
- When my brother and his friend came.
- The Duck Boat tour we kidnapped a friend to go on – worth it if you’ve only got a a few hours, but expect to feel embarrassed.
- And the list of places by neighborhood we’ve enjoyed.
Other “cultural” notes
Just some things to be aware of when visiting our fine city:
- The fine for jaywalking ($56) is higher than the fine for smoking pot in public ($27) and they love to write tickets for the former, not the latter. You’ve been warned.
- Our public transit isn’t great. The light rail won’t get you anywhere too exciting and the monorail only runs between Westlake Center and the Space Needle. Uber and Lyft are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around or a traditional taxi. Rides from the City Center to any of the places listed will run $10-15 (but check first to make sure there isn’t a rate hike due to demand).
- Most places will have three bins in which to dispose of your trash: landfill, recycle and compost. Use the signs that are usually attached to help you navigate them or ask a friendly stranger – people won’t judge you for sending things to the landfill, but they will judge you for putting a recyclable in the compost bin. Also any compostable utensil (usually they’re brown and feel plastic-y) will melt in your very hot food – just don’t let it sit in there between bites and you’ll be okay.