Our trip to Seattle was a bit of a spontaneous one. We have a goal of going on a major trip every 3 months or so just to stay sane. Especially in the dead of winter, we were getting cabin fever! The cheapest and coolest option was Seattle, Washington!
I hadn’t given the city much thought, aside from the fact that they had the Space Needle and it rained a lot. Other than that, I was clueless. I was personally a bit nervous because of the time of year (February), I never really have traveled somewhere when it was cold. I didn’t know what to expect. My experience in Seattle had some bizarre twists and turns–and I want to share what I wish I would have known so maybe you can be a bit more prepared than I was!
The Culture: A Progressive, Modern Outlook
The first thing that you will probably notice when you arrive in Seattle is how progressive and modernized that they are. Coming from Pennsylvania (a place that is about 50 years behind everybody else), seeing a toilet that had water options for going number 1 or number 2 in my hotel was pretty fascinating. Thankfully, we never were offered a plastic straw, either (insert video of poor sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up it’s nose).
Everyone seemed to be generally young and fit which was a bit of a culture shock. Pennsylvania houses the second highest number of elderly people behind Florida, and while Pittsburgh is pretty progressive, the surrounding areas tend to be a bit more West Virgnia-esque. We invented a salad with fries on it for crying out loud! We aren’t exactly the pinnacle of health.
But I loved to see everyone biking or walking. An array of fitness studios. Everyone seemed to have dogs, and the state and national parks were gorgeous.
A little side note: like any large city, Seattle has a staggering amount of homeless people. I have seen a few in Pittsburgh, but I have never actually experienced a tent city or seeing homeless people just sleeping on the ground. It is certainly a sad sight, but just be cautious and stay safe while walking downtown!
City Attractions: The Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture and the Space Needle
You could fit probably 3 Pittsburghs into Seattle–so it wasn’t exactly a small city. There is a lot to explore and uncover. Me, being the touristy woman that I am, just had to see the most #basicattractions that they had!
The Seattle Aquarium was definitely focused on rehabing the marine life and was very educating and proactive. Not a tourist trap by far. It had a nice variety of fish and the adorable seals and sea otters that I could stare at swimming and scratching their bellies for hours! A little bummed they didn’t have sea turtles, my favorite creature ever, but just happy that these creatures are happy and healthy living their best life!
Be sure to check out the little Food Court next to the Aquarium called Miner’s Landing! It has a neat Gold Rush theme to it, you can grab some quick seafood and there is even an arcade and a carousel!
Museum of Pop Culture
Okay, just a heads up, the cool multi-colored pink and orange building they show on Google must have been a brand, spanking new picture of the place. I am assuming it’s copper or metal of some sort? Because when we saw the structure, it was faded and more coppery. I wasn’t mad about it, but I thought I would give you a heads up so you aren’t disappointed. Just keeping it real folks!
The inside of the museum certainly makes up for the outside! They have everything from music to movie genres of horror , fantasy and sci-fi. And being a bit of a pop culture junkie with video games, movies, Harry Potter, etc. it was pretty stinking cool. I won’t spoil too much of the attractions (plus I think they change out some of the exhibits every couple of months) but my favorite had to be seeing all of the classic horror movie props because I pretty much grew up watching Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Leather Face. I also fan-girled in the Fantasy/Enchanted section because 1) You get to open a giant hobbit-styled wooden door (ask Derrek about the look on my face when I found out I could open it) and 2) I saw a ton of props from beloved characters in the Harry Potter franchise.
P.S. Be sure to check out the gift shops because they have some pretty sick memorablia that you can take home!
The Space Needle
Spoiler: We didn’t go to the top of the Space Needle. I was a bit disgusted by the fact that this giant tower was built for purely tourist income and it didn’t serve an actual purpose. Derrek and I like to travel a bit more budget friendly and it costs $50 PER PERSON to go up to the top. I honestly would stand up there maybe for 5-10 minutes, say “neat!” and be done. Not really a $100 experience if you ask me.
However, cool picture opportunity–I mean it’s pretty much a given that you have to take a picture of this thing.
There are definitely some other cool things to discover downtown like the Chihuley Glass Museum, Olympia Sculpture Garden, The Bill and Melinda Gates Museum, Discovery Park and even an Underground Tour! It was a chilly February day when we explored so we were a bit limited!
The Beautiful Nature: Mt Rainier and Olympia Park
So, we didn’t have time to visit Mt. Rainier Park, but let me tell you–you could see that massive mountain from just about anywhere you were driving. I have never seen a natural structure so large in my life! Plus, the view from the plane was pretty awesome! I would love to visit the park spring/summer to see all of the beautiful wild flowers bloom!
We did get to go Olympic National Park and visit the infamous Ruby Beach. It was super chilly and windy, but we just had to see the Pacific Ocean and touch it! It was a pretty cool experience and a beautiful sight!
The Cuisine and Pike Place Market
In my opinion, nothing particuarly stood out in Seattle’s cuisine. There was definitely a lot of Thai and other Asian-inspired food, but nothing out of the ordinary. It all seemed a bit mediocre to me. It didn’t appear that Seattle really had a signature food, just a mish mash of average-everything. If anything, I had some incredible fish tacos at a chain-styled steakhouse that seemed to only be in the region. We also stopped at a small and worn diner that had some incredible thick french toast! It was sliced off of a baget and had a fried egg only on one side. I have never seen anything like it–but it was delicious!
Seattle’s infamous Pike Place Market did NOT disappoint however. It was certainly a melting pot of culture and experiences. The cool place about Pike Place was that it was founded in the early 1900’s and everything sold at this market is local and small business. So no big corporations with artificial ingredients and preservatives!
It was pretty amazing seeing all the neon signs, the array of meats, seafood, jams, and fresh produce. Local street performers would hang out around here trying to get a buck or two off of you. I don’t know if I could come here to do my grocery shopping everyday, but definitely a cool site to see!
BONUS: Stopping in Portland, Oregon
So, we ended up getting 3 inches of snow and ice when we were in Seattle. Apparently, this was their snowiest winter yet! The day after the SuperBowl, our little rental car was covered in snow and ice. All we got was a 2 inch ice scraper, what a sight that was!
They have very limited plows due to the lack of snow they get and they hardly put out salt, but rather sand (I guess use what you got, right?). It was another culture shock thing. The city of Seattle practically shut down. Some major businesses not even opening up until the afternoon and you saw public buses with chains on their tires.
A snow like this in Pittsburgh would just be another day. Maybe a two hour delay if you are lucky! But we checked the weather in Portland, about an hour and half drive away, and they didn’t have any snow! So, we figured what the heck let’s visit there!
Downtown Portland was essentially a less hyped up Seattle. Not as many big businesses, more of a Burlington, Vermont vibe. It was cozy with a bit more character. Unfortunately, the same homeless people problem. We traveled the outskirts of the city and took the time to visit Washington Park. A one stop shop if you ask me.
Beautiful nature paths, a crazy good zoo, rose garden, Japanese garden, etc. Again–it was still gently snowing and quite cold, so the zoo was about the only thing open. We managed to get a pretty cool picture of the beautiful forest there!
Overall, Seattle was a cool, modern and hip place. I can appreciate their culture and beautiful parks and landscape, but would I end up living there? No. I guess at the end of the day, I am a Pittsburgh girl at my core. Visiting a place known for their coffee and donuts, I still end up liking my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and my Peace, Love and Little Donuts better 😉