During the midst of the new year’s resolution hype, my friend Yeng and I made it a goal to travel somewhere together in 2018.
We talked about how unpredictable the next couple years will be: graduation, job changes, moving to different cities, and the “m-word” seemed like upcoming life changes that could influence the pure freedom and ease that comes with traveling. While we are definitely excited to experience those moments in the future, we needed to invest in ourselves and take advantage of the privilege we have at this time of our lives. So we said “YOLO” and booked the flight to Seattle!
Here is an overview of some of the places we visited during our time out in the pacific northwest! We took the touristy route and saw some of the most popular spots. Keep in mind I am 100% still an amateur when it comes to traveling, but I hope this helps anyone who is interested in what Seattle has to offer 🙂
Sun Country Airlines ✈️ MSP to SEATAC: Hopped on a quick 3-hour flight from Minneapolis to Seattle. This mountainous view was gorgeous! From SEATAC, we took a Lyft to our Airbnb.
Chili & Sesame Korean Kitchen: For our first dinner, we ate at a Korean restaurant located at the corner of 2nd and Wall. It was the perfect evening for the outside patio and some casual people and dog-watching. The overall vibe, location, and food was pretty decent. I wish there were more options for the side dishes. A solid 3.5/5.
The Space Needle: We purchased (and printed) the Seattle CityPass voucher for $90 to hit up five different tourist attractions in Seattle. The Space Needle was so cool to see in person! We basically rode a packed elevator up to the top and caught the end of the sunset. It seemed like there were various concession stands that sold popcorn, ice cream, and beverages and an indoor area to sit and enjoy the view. These glass benches made me feel like I was going to fall backwards! Be prepared to fight for a good spot for a photo because it was very crowded.
The Wildrose Bar: I was able to meet up with my wonderful City Year friend, Anna, and her lovely boo thang Teasha. The Wildrose is a lesbian bar that is owned and operated by women and it’s located in Seattle’s LGBTQ hub, Capitol Hill. We were there on a Wednesday night so it wasn’t poppin’ but there was an opportunity for karaoke if we wanted to sing! If I could, I’d send fresh cheese curds and a hug to Anna and Teasha right now… Thanks for making time to see us briefly!
Pike Place Market: Ahhh…the ever-so popular, Instagram-worthy, culture-filled public market that is hard not to love. This was probably one of my favorite stops during the trip. It was a misty morning and the market was already packed with visitors before 10:30AM. We were greeted with lively street musicians, shouting fishermen, and lots of people chewing gum. Near the busy intersection across the Pubic Market Center sign was a Target, a popular souvenir shop/t-shirt store, and a Starbucks. When you walk past the beautiful buckets of flower bouquets, be sure to say “nyob zoo” because most of the vendors were Hmong!
Gum Wall: We followed the gum-chewing crowds at the public market and easily found the crusty and sticky walls of old gum down in Post Alley. I was fascinated at first, but I quickly started to imagine how nasty it would be if I was accidentally pushed into the wall 🤢 Back in the day, people attending the Market Theater would stick their gum on the walls because there was strict rule about “no gum under the seats”. Now you will see coins, Polaroid pictures, business cards, and other quirky things stuck with the gum. America is weird.
Le Panier: It’s not a big surprise that this cute little bakery shop had a line of customers going out their door for most of the day. When we finally saw the line go down, we stopped in to get some sweet treats. I believe I chose a chocolatine (a fresh croissant filled with melty chocolate, topped with toasted almonds and powdered sugar) It was warm. and butthery. and perfect. I wish I had a reason to get a baguette with butter that day!
Argosy Harbor Cruise: Our second CityPass attraction was a 1-hour boat cruise around the harbor. I had to pick up some non-drowsy Dramamine for this ride since I wanted to avoid motion sickness (there was only one super bumpy part from bigger waves). The tour guide did a great job pointing out different buildings, locations, and attractions along the way. We learned fun facts about the CenturyLink Field, the Starbucks headquarters, military ships docked by the pier for Fleet Week, and the various surrounding neighborhoods.
Seattle Aquarium: The third of the five CityPass stops was the aquarium. We made it in time to witness an octopus feeding and gathered around the octopus tank with other children and families. Personally, this was not the most impressive or biggest aquarium I have ever visited so it wasn’t super exciting for me, but I’m always down to see the cast of Finding Nemo! 🐡
Dong Thap Noodles: For dinner, we chose the Vietnamese restaurant that is nationally known for their “Super Bowl Challenge“! The actual pho noodles were a little different, more slippery and thicker than the usual pho noodles I use at home. But I’d have to say there was a noticeably generous amount of meat in the pho and the broth was well-flavored, even without the additional sauces and spices. The overall space of this restaurant was clean and minimalist, with hand-painted murals on the wall and the food/travel channel playing in the background.
Uwajimaya: Look! It’s the Japanese version of H-Mart! Tbvh, the stuffed Sanrio animals in the window attracted us to go in because we didn’t actually need any Japanese groceries. There was a section for household items like rice cookers and various tools to shape your food into cute animals. And I thought of Safiya Nygaard’s video about Japanese drugstore makeup when I walked through the beauty aisles.
Daiso: Our first time at a Daiso, the Japanese Dollar Tree! It was right across the street from Uwajimaya. Yeng and I both agreed that this was a good spot to get little trinkets and souvenirs for her siblings. I got v random things like: a bag with a panda face, drawer organizers, a scalp massager, spatulas for rice, and bandaids. All for under $11.
Museum of Pop Culture: MoPop was the 4th stop of our CityPass tour. I am not a huge fan of Nirvana or video games, but I was in awe of the colorful art, architecture, and interactive aspects of the museum. Yeng and I had too much fun in the Sound Lab playing in the recording studio and instruments! I couldn’t help but think about how much Charles would have loved this exhibit!
Chihuly Glass and Garden: The final stop of our CityPass tour was this gorgeous glass museum. Bring your headphones, connect to their wifi, and do the audio tour if you are able to. The audio narrative will provide more insight about each of the pieces and help you focus less on being physically surrounded by people with their fancy cameras taking too many pictures of every sculpture. Fun fact: Dale Chihuly was a part of the first glass program in the country, which was at UW-Madison!
Unicorn: On our last night in Seattle, we met up with my UW-La Crosse friend, Aly, and bar-hopped around the Capital Hill area. We were told by a Lyft driver that we needed to check out this super popular carnival-themed gay bar — and I can definitely see why it’s nationally known! There was whimsical and colorful decor and drinks with creative names. Be sure to ask the bartender for the “unicorn” helmet! Thanks to Aly and Tommy for meeting up with us and getting us Seattle dogs at the end of the night 🌭
Other places not mentioned (because I didn’t have a decent picture)
- A Dog in the Park (hot dog stand)
- Westlake Mall & food court
- Bobachine (boba tea)
- Link Light Rail
- Sugar Hill Bar
If you made it all the way to the end: wow. THANK YOU! There was so much to try to summarize and I guess I just wanted to pontificate through each experience. I hope to someday return to Washington and explore more nature and maybe even drive up to Vancouver. A huge shout-out to Yeng for being my travel buddy, for doing research, and for being so patient with me during the trip. I am so grateful to have you in my life and I’m so excited to see what this upcoming year has in stored for you!
We need to bring back YOLO: go ahead and book that flight. Use up your paid time off. Take the vacation that you deserve. Lemme add a Bourdain quote to make my point more convincing:
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom … is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
– Anthony Bourdain