Imagine a vacation consisting of fresh salty air, leisurely time spent on the water, and an amazing array of activities accessible from the city. A vacation where your days are brimming with locally sourced food and breathtaking scenery as far as the eye can see. Where is such a place, you might ask? For those of us lucky enough to live in Seattle, we call it — home. Gone are the days of wasting precious time battling traffic, dealing with canceled flights and losing hours of your life you will never get back. Instead, opt for a staycation in Seattle as a great way to feel relaxed and refreshed.
Normally, you might reserve vacation time to board a plane. However, it only took us a global pandemic to realize just how awesome our fair city is. From new restaurants to enjoy, boutiques to check out and fun daytime activities there is a lot to explore in Seattle. Most importantly, what is more rejuvenating than visiting a familiar place you already know and love?!
Like many of you, my time spent thus far in the city has always been punctuated by time constraints, whether that be a ticking parking meter, a bus to catch or a water taxi to board. In the end, there was never enough time to experience the city the way I wanted to. So therein lies the beauty of the staycation; unadulterated time in the city you love with the people you hold dear. What would normally take you months to accomplish in bits and pieces, you can experience in only a few days.
First off, location is key. Select a hotel close enough to where your interests lie so you can jam-pack your days as much as your heart desires. If you want to do an early morning walk/run along the water, pop by General Porpoise for donuts, procure a picnic lunch from Pike Place Market, peruse the Seattle Art Museum as soon as it opens, enjoy an afternoon out on the water, a fabulous dinner, a late-night ice cream run to Salt and Straw it is a completely doable day. When you don't have to commute into the city, spend time searching for parking or participate in the ever-dreaded wardrobe changes in your car or bathroom stall, the city is a much more fun place to visit.
Aside from location, it is important to determine what you value most in an escape, whether that be a quiet spot to retire to in the middle of the day, proximity to the water, walking distance to attractions, a scenic view from your room or being close to a favorite restaurant. For unbeatable views and unparalleled service, choose the Four Seasons. For proximity to the market and views of the water, the Kimpton Palladian, for funky vibes and great rates, choose Hotel Crocodile.
The Seattle CityPASS was a great starting point to be able to check off a variety of interests without too much planning ahead of time. As locals, it is easy not to think to visit the newly renovated glass viewing decks of the Space Needle, hop on an Argosy Harbor Cruise or check out what is new at the Woodland Park Zoo. The biggest bonus to traveling is having both the space and time to elevate the every day, from enjoying a leisurely drink or meal on the rooftop deck of Frolik or Mbar to having the time and energy to check out the architecture you often miss as you keep your head down glued to your phone.
In my opinion, the best way to experience Seattle is on the water. Between the Argosy scenic harbor cruise on Puget Sound to renting a SUP, a kayak or an electric boat from the Electric Boat Company on Lake Union, there are so many different ways to take in some of the best views the city has to offer. Colorful houseboats, majestic billowing sails and seaplanes buzzing like bees remind us how exciting, dynamic, and photogenic a place Seattle is. For as much planning as you do on vacation, it is the unexpected moments that leave a lasting impression; the impromptu sunset sail with Sailing Seattle, the awe-inspiring and creative buskers at Pike Place Market, the scenic 20-minute flight with Kenmore Air or the hole in the wall restaurant you would not have come across had you not been out meandering around.
For an indulgent breakfast, try Portage Bay. Enjoy their thick slabs of french toast or towering Swedish pancakes, not complete without a trip to the breakfast bar. There you will find heaping mounds of fresh whipped cream, seasonal fruit and maple syrup to dress up your entree. Oddfellows Cafe serves up both breakfast and lunch from 9–3 p.m., offering everything from baked eggs to meatball sandwiches. Aside from a cult-like following, it is located a few doors down from Elliott Bay Bookstore, where you can easily spend a couple hours finding all the wonderful books only an independent bookseller would have on its shelves.
If you are feeling adventurous, hop on the pedestrian-friendly King County Water Taxi and head to Alki Beach in West Seattle. Borrow an electric scooter or rent a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals to ride up and down the path circumventing the shoreline. After you have worked up an appetite, enjoy lunch al fresco at Marination Ma Kai or Salty's on Alki.
Once you've headed back to the city, swing by your hotel to freshen up and enjoy a flavor-packed meal at Musang or Mamnoon. Both will leave you ready to hang up your apron forever and just eat at their restaurant for every meal. Always save room for dessert and head to Rachel's Ginger Beer for a soft serve float, Hello Robin for the best vegan Chocolate Chip cookie of your life or Gelatiamo for gelato as good as anything you'd find in Italy.
End the day taking in an epic sunset from a rooftop bar, sunset sail or from the Seattle Great Wheel.
If you are looking for a trip that checks all the boxes, from fresh air to exciting architecture, new experiences, and delicious food, then a staycation in Seattle is just what you need. If you haven't spent a day in the city from sunup to sundown, then you haven't experienced the true heart of the city. There is so much to fall in love with about Seattle, from the breathtaking scenery to the diverse neighborhoods and the hard-working people who keep our city a vibrant, safe and colorful place to live.
Lisette Wolter-McKinley is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. Find more of