There is nothing quite like the Pacific Northwest. With evergreens and mountain peaks that stretch all the way up to the sky, to bustling and vibrant city streets brimming with restaurants and cafés that fulfill every foodies dreams. It’s exactly for those reasons that Seattle has so much appeal. Nestled between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the perfectly named “Emerald City” is just that: a jewel. Here is my take on this place I now call home.
01. Pike Place Market
Seattle isn’t Seattle without the Pike Place Market. Overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront, this public market is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers markets in the whole of the United States, first opening in 1907. Adventure through its labyrinth-like floors and discover endless amounts of souvenirs, antique shops, bookstores, metaphysical shops, even fishmongers, fresh produce stands and family-owned restaurants. Also, be sure to say hello to the Pike Place Market’s unofficial mascot, Rachel the bronze pig, and hop on over to the first ever Starbucks just across the street for a cup of Seattle-born brew.
TIP: Walk Northward from the market to Victor Steinbrueck Park. Lay in the grass or grab a seat on a park bench (if it’s warm, of course). Be sure to check out the 50-foot cedar totem pole that commemorates the rich culture of the many Native American peoples of the Northwest. From here you’ll even be able to see Bainbridge Island and the Olympic Mountains from across the bay.
02. Mount Rainier National Park
About 2 hours from the city, Mount Rainier National Park is every nature lovers dream. This iconic peak (actually a volcano) has always been a revered destination. Native American tribes, including the Puyallup, Nisqually, Muckleshoot, Yamaka, Cowlitz and Squaxin Island tribes inhabited the area for over 9,000 years and, still to this day, maintain a deep connection to the mountain. Notably, John Muir strongly advocated for the preservation of Mount Rainier in the late 1800s, and it is thanks to his efforts that it is still preserved today.
Wondering about the best way to enjoy the park? Hike the everlasting trails arched with trees or lined with wildflowers, scale its surrounding summits, visit its waterfalls, lakes and meadows. Every season has its beauty and there are plenty of trails for everyone, at every level. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, the Wonderland Trail might be for you: a 10 day trek that explores glacier valleys, volcanic ridges, temperate rainforests, canyons… 93 mile (150km) of pristine trails all the way around the park.
03. Olympic Peninsula
Going West from Seattle is the Olympic Peninsula, which boasts the Olympic National Park and Hoh Rainforest, the last remaining temperate rainforest in all of North America. You’ll find old-growth forests with giant west hemlocks, Douglas firs and Sitka-spruce, crystalline creeks that shine a turquoise blue, and the most lush nature you could imagine.
Keep driving West to the coast and you’ll reach La Push. Home to the Quileute Tribe, La Push and its many beaches is a perfect place to disconnect from city life and reconnect (without the distraction of wifi signals) with yourself and the vastness of nature’s untouched magnificence. Watch the sun set over James Island from First Beach, surf the Pacific waters, and warm up by a fire by your campsite on the beach (of rent a cabin if camping isn’t your thing). Mostly, though, just soak in and breathe the wonders of this magical, sacred place. It is one of my favourite places in all of Washington.
04. Washington State History Museum
I don’t know about you, but whenever I explore a new city I like to know more about it through its history. The Washington State History Museum is an interactive and sensory adventure that walks you through time. From Washington’s earliest history, to its extensive section on Native American civilizations pre-colonization with a variety of artifacts including baskets, pottery, and tools from tribes all over the state, right on through to the industrialization period, woman’s suffrage and so much more. The Great Hall also features personal narratives about immigration and migration, putting you in the shoes of all the diverse people who made Washington their home. Be sure to add a pin to the giant map and see where other museum visitors have come from!
Sometimes history is about putting the books down and feeling the wisdom of a landscape, watching the fog rise on a cold morning overlooking a valley knowing people once traversed it on horseback, or driving along old country roads where homesteaders once lived in the 1800s. Maybe history can be understood in the vast and abundant array of plants that have grown there and been used medicinally by its indigenous peoples for millennia. So much of Seattle’s history isn’t found by knowing things written in history books, so try exploring without pursuing it and I have no doubt you will learn things you never anticipated you would.
05. Plum Bistro
Deemed Capitol Hill’s most loved vegan restaurant, Plum Bistro is only one of the many Plum Restaurants created by chef Makini Howell. Since I live a plant-based lifestyle, Plum fills my cravings when I want to treat myself to a hearty, delicious, comfort food meal. Their menu isn’t only extensive, with tons of sharing plates and small bites for a tapas-style approach, it’s impressive, and made with organic, seasonally grown and local ingredients. Their Jerk Tofu & Yam Gourmet Burger is my favourite, but be sure to try the famous Mac ’N’ Yease, a handmade pizza, or a protein rich grain bowl. Pair any meal with a Timbercity Ginger Beer – it totally hits the spot!
06. Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe
In three locations across the city, Chaco Canyon is a relaxed space to hangout in whether you’re feeling the need for a mid-day coffee or the itch for a healthy, nutritious meal. Their philosophy goes a little something like this: sustainably produced, organic, GMO-free, eco-friendly and local. I love their Hippie Bowl, a delicious quinoa-based salad with a garlic tahini dressing, but if you’d prefer something else, I recommend their Famous Lentil Burger, or you could always build your own bowl.
07. Heartbeet Organic Superfoods Cafe
Just a short distance from Green Lake Park on the corner of Roosevelt and NE 65th Street is Heartbeet Cafe, a mostly raw vegan restaurant with incredibly tasty superfood smoothies, juices and food. They have really great breakfast bowls, a really awesome walnut and sun-dried tomato burger called the Heartbeet Burger, and warm grain bowls, too. If you’re interested in the metaphysical, you’ll love that it’s across the street from the infamous East West Bookshop, which has the most amazing selection of spiritual books and hosts numerous spiritual talks and workshops all year round.
08. Capitol Hill
If I was going to recommend one central, lively and cool place to stay in the city it would definitely be Capitol Hill. For lovers of streets brimming with a vibrant nightlife, bars, restaurants and coffee shops all within the same vicinity. Although I’ve never had the need to rent an Airbnb (since I am living here with my fiancé), there are some really great apartments and cottages for rent for great prices.
TIP: Are you a coffee lover? Try a chemex coffee at Victrola on E Pike Street and Bellevue Ave.
09. Wellspring Spa, Mount Rainier
Just minutes away from the Mount Rainier National Park entrance near Ashford is Wellspring Spa and Retreat Centre. With cottages for the whole family or smaller cabins and cottages – even a yurt! – for a romantic getaway for two. Everything is maintained and operated with so much care and love, and feels like a home away from home. Be enchanted by the lush grounds and walk the trails around the Wellspring property. Have a dip in the hot tub and experience deep calm in the wood-heated sauna. Spend some time in the woodland labyrinth for a beautiful walking meditation outdoors. Your stay at Wellspring will recharge your spirit and leave you wanting to return again soon. I know I will, and may even have my wedding here in the early summer!
TIP: When you decide to venture here don’t expect to be received like you would in a typical hotel. The staff aren’t easy to find and there isn’t any cellphone reception for miles. They want to create a sacred, silent space for their guests; a retreat in every sense of the word. Go with an open mind and open heart to experience nature in an undistracted way. Go with the intention of deepening the relationship you have to nature and let the possibilities of your time there unfold – and be sure to take advantage of their spa facilities!
You can’t go to Seattle, no matter what time of year, without a trusty raincoat, umbrella or waterproof shoes. Also, as I always say, the most important thing we can carry with us is a smile and positive attitude. Let the magic happen without trying to control how the day goes because, more often than not, the best things happen without a plan.
Sonia is a storyteller. She expresses herself through photography, poetry and writing. She has an adventurous and wild spirit that takes her around the globe, from backpacking solo in Costa Rica to road tripping across the USA on her own. She is a strong advocate for authenticity, women’s empowerment, a conscious, organic and sustainable lifestyle, and living from the heart. You can find Sonia on Instagram and on her website.