It has been a while since the last Cities for Less feature because we have been pretty busy hosting the #From Miles To Smiles 90 day challenge but given that Seattle is a city in the States I have yet to visit, this was too good an opportunity to miss. I am desperate to find out if it is possible to visit Seattle on a budget.
Written by a Seattle native, Danielle of Snaps, Scribbles and Suitcases has spent time living in New York City and travelling to over 15 countries. She and her husband are planning a round the world trip starting in early 2017 and are super excited for the adventure that lies ahead!
I will pass you over to Danielle so she can tell you a little more about herself and her beloved hometown.
I was born in Seattle a few *cough* decades ago, and have seen this city take on so many changes. While not all changes have been good in my opinion, I absolutely love my city and enjoy showing people the best it has.
Currently my husband and I are getting ready to pack our bags for a life of travel and will be leaving Seattle behind. I have to admit, it’s allowing me to see my hometown in a new light knowing that we won’t be back here for a long while.
We have a list of must-dos before we go and hope to take the opportunity to explore parts of Seattle we haven’t seen.
Welcome to Seattle
Seattle, Washington is located in the upper northwest corner of the continental United States. Known for its rainy weather, coffee consumption (hey, Starbucks HQ) and software/ tech industries (Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, Expedia, Google, and Boeing are all based here).
Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the US. You can tell just by counting the number of construction cranes that dot our downtown horizon. Amidst the boom that Seattle is experiencing, it’s still a wonderful city to visit! However, as with any developing city, things are getting more expensive. Here are some great ways to get the most out of this gem of the Pacific Northwest without breaking the bank.
Accommodation is more expensive the closer you get to downtown but there are some really wonderful condos on AirBnB that are worth considering if you want to stay right in the city center.
If you want something a little more hotel like, but still want to embrace all of the hipness that Seattle has to offer, check out the Ace Hotel. While it is a hotel chain with locations in Portland, New York, and Palm Springs, the Seattle location is still very uniquely Seattle.
The Ace Hotel explains their style as “unfussy luxury and intentional design ethos that drive the Pacific Northwest”. It’s hipster and glorious. Rooms start around $119 in the historic building.
A slightly more affordable option, is Hotel Hotel, located in Seattle’s artsy neighborhood of Fremont. Rates start around $30 for a shared dorm room like a traditional hostel, but they also have private rooms available for $85 and up depending on the season.
Flights to Seattle land at Seattle’s international airport, SeaTac, about 40 minutes south of the city. Cabs and shuttles are available, but I would recommend hopping onto our new Link Light Rail. It’s SeaTac stop opened in 2009, and the route continues to expand, opening up two new stops north of downtown earlier this year (2016).
A light rail ticket will only set you back $3.00 and will get you right to the heart of downtown Seattle from SeaTac airport.
Anne: wow this is a fantastic tip and what value, especially if you are travelling solo. I find airport transfers in the US bank breaking so this is a definite travel the globe 4 less result.
Once you arrive in town, public transportation is very easy in the downtown area. You can pick up an Orca card so you won’t have to worry about carrying exact change with you. The Orca card will cover you on all busses as well as the light rail you arrived on!
For later in the evening, Uber and Lyft’s are plentiful and a cost effective way to get around.
Food and Drink
While you are visiting Seattle, I challenge you to enjoy coffee that is not Starbucks. Yes, go to the original location if you must, but Seattle has so many local roasters worth trying out, save the bulk of your caffeine intake for one of them!
Here are a few worth checking out:
Milstead and Co. – Located in the heart of Fremont, Milstead provides excellent coffee well crafted coffee. While they don’t roast their own, they source the best that’s around!
Cafe Vita – Cafe Vita is a roaster that also has 6 locations located in Seattle. While they are branching out to New York and LA, Seattle is still home and their roasts are worth trying and maybe even buying to take home with you!
Other Food and Drink
One of the best happy hours in the nation (or so they say, and I’m not one to argue) is found at Toulouse Petit. High class New Orleans style dishes all for under $9! The cocktails is where they’ll fleece you on price, but plan for it, and save big on their amazing dishes. Try the jambalaya, fried green tomatoes, and whatever else your server recommends. Seriously, they’re never wrong.
Another spot that will be sure to delight your senses and not break the bank is the tapas bar Ocho, in Ballard, just north of downtown. Deviled quail eggs, prosciutto wrapped dates, and expertly crafted cocktails make this a wonderful spot to enjoy.
If you’re really on the cheap or just want to see what the fuss is all about, check out Dick’s Drive In. Five locations with burgers they’ve been making the same way since the 50’s. All are take out only, with the exception of the Queen Anne location, that has a dining area.
Things to do
Take a literal step into the past with the Seattle Underground Tour . Seattle used to be at sea level, which works for cities not built on tide flats, unlike Seattle. When Seattle had it’s great fire, they took the opportunity to fix the “twice a day toilet back up” problem that plagued downtown in the late 1800’s. What’s left are old store fronts and streets right below the modern ones. $20 per person. The history lesson and experience are well worth it.
Get on a boat!
Seattle is surrounded by water. Lakes and a Sound make boating a popular activity or mode of transportation. You can rent a canoe or kayak at the University of Washington and take a paddle though the arboretum or hop on a Washington State Ferry from downtown to Bainbridge Island for a nice day trip.
Other Seattle things not to miss
Pike Place Market is the United States longest running farmers market. Along with the famous “tossing fish”, the market has sights and smells to behold. If you’ll be in town for longer than a few days, pick up an amazing bouquet of flowers outrageously cheap!
*Note about the market, get there early! This photo taken an hour later has a sea of people.
Olympic Sculpture Park – This park created by The Seattle Art Museum allows you to wander through outdoor exhibits on display in a park that overlooks the Puget Sound. On a clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains. The park is free to visit during it’s open hours.
Your Best Splurge
Chihuly Garden and Glass – This is a museum that I personally haven’t been to yet.. because honestly, how exciting can glass be? But every single person I know who’s visited has loved the experience and said that the visit was well worth it.
Located in the shadow of the recognizable Space Needle, this museum features both indoor and outdoor hand blown glass exhibits. It will be my next Seattle splurge for sure!
You can also check out Unique Things to do in Seattle for more inspiration.
Musings from Anne
So there you have it, lots of great advice from Danielle. If you want to follow her on her upcoming travels be sure to connect on Instagram.
What do you think of Seattle?
In the meantime, what do you think of this city? Do you have other top tips (especially if they involve a good beer or wine in my case!) that you can share with us below?