In which, here are some things to do in Seattle while at AAPD

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.
View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

View from Capitol Hill looking downtown

  • Food
    • 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
  • Sites
    • 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.
Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

Bike polo near Cal Anderson Park

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”:
Seattle skyline from the waterfront

Seattle skyline from the waterfront

  • Food
    •  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

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  • Sites
    • 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
Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest.  Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle's Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans.  Photo by Greenpeace

Activists participate in the sHell No Flotilla part of the Paddle In Seattle protest. Nearly a thousand people from country gathered May 16, 2015 in Seattle’s Elliot Bay for a family-friendly festival and on-land rally to protest against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans. Photo by Greenpeace

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.

Gas Works Park from the water

Gas Works Park from the water

  • 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).
View of the city from Gas Works Park

View of the city from Gas Works Park

  • 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
My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

My mom and I in front of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont

  • Ballard/Fremont
    • 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.
View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

View of the Olympics across the Puget Sound

Links to some of the things I’ve done with visitors

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.

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In which my mom came to visit – Part I

My mom had a big birthday last year and our present to her was a plane ticket out to see Seattle. We’ve been here a little over two years now, but the timing hasn’t been quite right to get her out here to see it. That combined with a busy summer and a need to put in vacation requests 6 months early, we had to wait until this summer season was almost at an end for the trip.

It was well worth it – every other visitor (Graham, Molly, Kuppy, Teresa and Larry, Roy and Nell, our Duke friends for the wedding) made the perfect practice for our amazing time. As Jeff put it so well: We did ALL of the stuff and things. If it was to be done, we won Seattle. Our amazing itinerary:

On Saturday we…

Picked mom up at airport mid-morning | Had her lashes done at Lash Noir | Ate a late lunch of chicken and waffles at the Bugundian | Walked down to Green Lake | Had tacos and quesadillas at TNT Taqueria & adjusted to Pacific Standard Time zone by going to bed early.

{No pictures apparently exist for this day because we were too excited to see each other – it’s been almost 2 years!}

On Sunday we…

Brunched at Bastille | Explored the Farmer’s Market and various cute shops in Ballard | Walked on the beach and enjoyed Puget Sound at Golden Gardens | Watched the boats, salmon and sealion (!) at the Ballard Locks | Visited a PNW Trader Joe’s | Said hello to the Fremont Troll | Made delicious BLTs with the fresh homemade bread and Benton’s bacon that mom brought in her suitcase along with farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes & then walked our dinner off around Green Lake:

Ballard Farmer's Market

Ballard Farmer’s Market

Fresh blackberries

Fresh blackberries – isn’t she adorable? I’m going to age so well!

Golden Gardens

Golden Gardens

Ballard Locks - we loved this public sculpture!

Ballard Locks – we loved this public sculpture!

Boats in the locks waiting for the water to fill

Boats in the locks waiting for the water to fill

This picture is for Graham and Nick who wanted to steal this sign when I brought them back in the Spring.

This picture is for Graham and Nick who wanted to steal this sign when I brought them back in the Spring.

Selfie with the boats - we could not have gotten luckier with the weather!

Selfie with the boats – we could not have gotten luckier with the weather!

Fremont Troll

Fremont Troll

Delicious dinner! Yes, my dear Southern mother loves me enough to bring me Benton bacon and 10 lbs of White Lily flour.

Delicious BLT and green bean (fried in bacon grease) dinner! Yes, my dear Southern mother loves me enough to bring me Benton bacon and 10 lbs of White Lily flour.

Walking off the BLTs around Green Lake

Walking off the BLTs around Green Lake

On Monday we..

Took an Uber downtown to explore the tourist district | Drank a chai tea from the Original Starbucks | Ate sweet and savory pastries from Piroshky Piroshky! in Victor Steinbrueck Park overlooking Elliot Bay | Were disgusted by the Gum Wall | Used the buggy escalator at the multi-level City Target | Rode the monorail down to the Seattle Center | Visited the extremely cool Chihuly Museum | Took pictures in front of the Space Needle & then, if that all weren’t enough – drove 2.5 hours to go hike up to Glacier View in Paradise at Mount Rainier:

{This day’s itinerary convinced me that this trip needed to be spread out over several blog posts, not just one!}

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Inside the Original Starbucks

Inside the Original Starbucks

Chai lattes in front of the mermaid with boobs Original Sign

Chai lattes in front of the mermaid with boobs Original Sign

Gum wall - thoroughly disgusted

Gum wall – thoroughly disgusted

Seattle Center - the line was way too long to go up in the Space Needle, plus, we had a lot to do this day!

Seattle Center – the line was way too long to go up in the Space Needle, plus, we had a lot to do this day!

Very cool Chihuly museum

Very cool Chihuly museum

We've been to Chihuly exhibits in Knoxville and Nashville stretching back decades. It was very fun to see him in his hometown.

We’ve been to Chihuly exhibits in Knoxville and Nashville stretching back decades. It was very fun to see him in his hometown.

I had never wanted to pay the $20 to go in because I just thought it was the garden area - but the other exhibits were totally worth the price of admission.

I had never wanted to pay the $20 to go in because I just thought it was the garden area – but the other exhibits were totally worth the price of admission.

These boats reminded us of the ones he did at Cheekwood mansion in Nashville

These boats reminded us of the ones he did at Cheekwood mansion in Nashville

View from the atrium

View from the atrium

Reflection in the garden's glass balls

Our reflection in the garden’s glass balls

On the way up I could tell it was going to be an amazing  hike - the top of the mountain was so clear!

On the way up I could tell it was going to be an amazing hike – the top of the mountain was so clear!

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iPhone photos don’t even do it justice.

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We chose to do the Skyline trail and since it was after 5pm and a weekday, we almost had it to ourselves. It was so much less crowded than the last time I was up here.

We chose to do the Skyline trail and since it was after 5pm and a weekday, we almost had it to ourselves. It was so much less crowded than the last time I was up here.

Only part of it was paved, but it was all straight up.

Only part of the trail was paved, but it was all straight up.

Views from all sides were perfect - we kept feeling like we were Maria in the Sound of Music

Views from all sides were perfect – we kept feeling like we were Maria in the Sound of Music

Because it was so late when we started, we decided just to get to the start of the glaciers, not more and stopped at Glacier View

Because it was so late when we started, we decided just to get to the start of the glaciers, not more and stopped at Glacier Vista

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Feet on the snow!

Feet on the snow!

On the way up we saw a couple of deer, and on the way down we saw a marmot!

On the way up we saw a couple of deer, and on the way down we saw a marmot!

He was a fat little guy, ready for winter.

He was a fat little guy, ready for winter.

As we left we had an awesome view of the sunset from so far up

As we left we had an awesome view of the sunset from so far up

Don't be completely fooled by the gorgeous scenery though - Mount Rainier is an active volcano!

Don’t be completely fooled by the gorgeous scenery though – Mount Rainier is an active volcano! This is the first of several Natural Disaster signs we encounter – the Pacific Northwest is a dangerous place.

All this, and we were only on day two!

In which Graham comes to visit

My little brother Graham got back from Afghanistan in May and he’s on his way out of the Marines next month!

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Fresh off the plane

On his way to Tennessee, he and his friend Nick stopped by for a few days in Seattle. I feel like I’ve been practicing for his visit every time others came through and now we have the Seattle circuit just about perfected. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, since our grandmother’s 90th birthday in Nashville, so we had some catching up to do. Here’s what we accomplished:

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park with the Seattle skyline and Space Needle across Lake Union.

The Fremont Troll under Aurora bridge

The Fremont Troll under Aurora bridge

Both Nick and Graham are in the 1st Marine Battalion - Engineers whose symbol is a castle. It took a lot of convincing for them not to steal it.

Both Nick and Graham are Marine Engineers whose symbol is a castle. It took a lot of convincing for them not to steal this from the Ballard Locks Engineers.

Ballard Locks

Fish ladder – Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks - in the Seattle rain

Ballard Locks – in the Seattle rain. At this point I don’t mind the misting, in fact, when a visitor comes I hope that it rains a little. I don’t want people thinking that I complain over nothing or that I’m lying about the meteorologic properties of this place.

Graham is going to hike the Appalachian Trail at some point in the next year or so, maybe even Nick will go with him. We visited the REI headquarters downtown so he could stock up on some gear and also bask in the outfitter wonderland that is that store. Naturally we needed to test out his new purchases out on a hike, and where better than Mount Rainier National Park? Unfortunately the Mountain was obscured on our drive down, so the boys couldn’t see her glory. We ended up going to an area in the northern end where I hadn’t been before to hike a trail called Green Lake.

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Graham and his new backpack – checking one National Park off the list. We stuffed it full with everything we could find in the car to simulate the real thing.

On the trail

On the trail – that is a fallen tree above Graham, they grow them big here.

Old growth forests, plenty of moss and waterfalls did not disappoint along the way.

Old growth forests, plenty of moss and beautiful waterfalls did not disappoint along the way.

Nick, Graham and I

Nick, Graham and I – Ranger Creek Falls

Green Lake - a little different from the Greenlake in Seattle we live near.

Green Lake – a little different from the Green Lake in Seattle we live near. A little more alpine-y and snowy.

It was about 10 miles up and back - a lakeside picnic broke up the trip.

It was about 10 miles up and back – a lakeside picnic broke up the trip.

Wubby and I.

Wubby and I post-hike in the valley 

On the way home, after stopping by the Carbon Glacier Distillery that was on the way from the trailhead, the clouds parted just as we were entering the city. I told the boys to look out the back window of the Jeep and there was stunned silence at the sight of Her. All day Graham had been joking that we should go to the top of Mount Rainier and I kept telling him that was impossible in May, but he hadn’t believed me. Now he did. It reminded me of my first glimpse when I was up in Seattle for the pedo interview so many years ago. She still takes my breath away – I swear one day I’ll wreck the car from staring at Her too much when I’m driving.

The next day we started playing tourists in my own city, starting with the Space Needle:

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View of the Mountain from the top.

View of the Mountain from the top. When I first went up in the Space Needle when I came out for the interview, there were clouds between it and downtown, so I had no idea there was even a huge-ass mountain yonder. Now I know that the Space Needle is not worth the $20 “airfare” unless it’s a clear day. We couldn’t have picked better weather for it though – 360 degree views from Mt. Rainier to Mount Baker to the Olympics, Sound and even our tiny Greenlake.

The boys enjoying the view.

The boys enjoying the view.

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To continue playing tourist in my own city, we took the Monorail downtown. For $2.50, it's worth it to get the 15 clocks downtown from the Needle.

To continue playing tourist in my own city, we took the Monorail downtown. For $2.50, it’s worth it to get the 15 blocks from the Needle. It was my first ride too. 

We started off in the Market with my favorite drinks - Rachel's Ginger Beer. I'd never actually been to the flagship store, we buy it at our local farmer's market (yes, I just hated myself a little for typing that), but it's super cute and they taste so refreshing - especially with rum!

We started off in the Market with my favorite drinks – Rachel’s Ginger Beer. I’d never actually been to the flagship store, we buy it at our local farmer’s market (yes, I just hated myself a little for typing that), but it’s super cute and they taste so refreshing – especially with rum!

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Then on to the Market itself.

Then on to the Market itself. Please note the ferry boat going across to Bainbridge.

We saw the trinkets, and watched the thrown fish.

We saw the flowers, and the thrown fish.

And took in views of Elliot Bay and the Cascades..

And took in views of Elliot Bay and the Olympics…

..and downtown with the waterfront from the pier.

…and downtown with the waterfront from the pier.

The boys liked the gum wall - Graham added to it.

The boys liked the gum wall – Graham added to it.

And they weren't too impressed with the original Starbucks. I blame the spoiling them with Rachel's Ginger Beer first.

And they weren’t too impressed with the original Starbucks. I blame the spoiling them with Rachel’s Ginger Beer first.

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The next day I had to go back to work, but not before dropping the kids off for kayaking in Lake Union at Agua Verde:

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Not pictured of the things we accomplished: running around Green Lake, eating Mighty-O doughnuts, taking shots of absinthe at Carbon Glacier Distillery, touring my work at the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, eating Paseo sandwiches, drinking at the Moon Temple and on Murphy’s back porch, eating home cooked meals, visiting the EMP museum and recovering from all our adventures in the hammock. We. Did. It. All.

Cheers to an excellent visit. Come again soon Wubby!

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