There is a wide variety of things to do in Seattle, Washington during your visit, as the city is rich in parks, museums, interesting shops, gourmet restaurants, entertainment, beaches, and spectacular vistas. Seattle is a very "walkable" city with an excellent public transportation system. There are also many scenic day trips within a few hours of Seattle. Your innkeeper is an invaluable resource for enjoying the city, recommending sights and attractions, and providing directions.
The period of May through September can be quite a busy time for Seattle B&Bs. Advance reservations are recommended. Weekends fill most rapidly, so if you are able to choose midweek travel days for your Seattle stay, you may find more dates from which to choose. Most B&Bs have a minimum stay requirement during the summer months, although you may find one night openings especially midweek.
If you are ready to make a reservation or you are simply at a point where you would like more information, please check our online availability and/or call the innkeeper at any inn directly. You will find member innkeepers happy to answer any questions you might have about their B&B and about Seattle. We invite you to ask about the inn and the rooms that appeal to you most. Personal attention to your selection of rooms and of a B&B is part of the unique Seattle vacation travel experience that we offer.
Innkeepers' Favorite Restaurants
Seattle is a town for eating, everything from seafood - a Northwest specialty - with Washington wines, to any ethnic taste you desire. Each neighborhood and the downtown area have a large variety of restaurants to tempt your palate. The innkeepers have their favorite neighborhood places and will be happy to help you select the place that's best for you. Since many of Seattle's finest places do require reservations, we thought we'd list our top 5 favorites should you want to make a reservation before you leave home. For more information on area restaurants, we suggest looking at the Savvy Diner, Opentable.com, and Restaurant Row Web sites.
Ray's Boathouse: Featuring Northwest seafood with a view of the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound - this is one of Seattle's top spots for locals and tourists. Dining is available inside or outside. The deck is our favorite spot to watch the sunset and once the sun is down, they'll even give you a blanket to wrap up in while you finish dinner. 206-789-3770
Wild Ginger: Seattle's most popular Asian restaurant - this one does require reservations to be sure you get a spot. As one innkeeper puts it, "I've never gotten a bad review from a guest about this restaurant". 206-623-4450
The Flying Fish: One of Seattle's best and most often written about seafood spots. It's located in Belltown, just north of the downtown area. 206-728-8595
Daniel's Broiler: For meat eaters, this is our favorite place. You may have read about other more famous places for steak in this seafood town, but this is the one to which we go. With locations on Lake Washington and on Lake Union, you can view the water and have your excellent steak with all the trimmings and a great bottle of wine (and yes, they do broil seafood too!). On Lake Union: 206-621-8262. On Lake Washington: 206-329-4191.
Palisades: Great seafood and fabulous views. Located on Elliot Bay Marina, with views of the boats, city, and Puget Sound, this one is hard to beat. Seafood served simply grilled or with Asian influenced sauces, the food is hard to beat and the decor includes a tidal pool and waterfall. The view inside is almost as good as the view outside, and ... one innkeeper highly recommends the trio of burnt-cream custard for the perfect finishing touch! 206-222-2222.
Innkeepers' Sightseeing Tips
There are many things to see in Seattle, beyond the famed Pike Place Market. We have put together a list of other things to entertain you while staying in the city.
Water: Seattle is a port and lake city and water is everywhere (not just falling out of the sky). We suggest getting out on the water in one form or another. Various opportunities include not just taking a harbor tour, but including the tour from the downtown waterfront that takes you out around Magnolia bluff, past Shilshole Marina, and into the government locks. From there, you are about 20 feet higher and cruising the ship canal past the Alaska fishing fleet, under a couple of drawbridges, past house boat communities, including the one from 'Sleepless in Seattle', and into Lake Union, all the while taking in the spectacular views of the city and its neighborhoods.
Kayaking: For the more adventurous, you can rent a kayak at the Northwest Outdoor Center on the west side of Lake Union and paddle around the lake yourself. For a little less urban setting, you can rent canoes at the Waterfront Activity Center by Husky Stadium on the University of Washington campus and canoe through the north end of the Arboretum. It is a great place to take a picnic lunch.
Views: If it is vistas that you enjoy, but you are not into paying the $16 to go up in the Space Needle, then the water tower at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill offers the same height and only 100 steps, with an exhibit about our parks at the top.
Parks: Kerry Park on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill offers a view of the city that many will recognize from a famous TV show. Other places with great views include Gas Works Park on north Lake Union, Golden Gardens Park on the Puget Sound in Ballard, Alki Beach in West Seattle, any ferry ride into the city, the Palisades Restaurant at Elliott Bay Marina at the foot of Magnolia Bluff, and Magnolia Boulevard on top of the Bluff itself. The latest addition to the Seattle Art Museum family is the Olympic Sculpture Park located on the north end of downtown's waterfront.
Museums: Museums in Seattle, while not the Met or Louvre, offer a nice little slice of various interests. The Seattle Art Museum is in the downtown area and has a nice collection and great feature exhibits. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. The Museum of Flight is at the south end of Boeing Field and currently has the original Air Force One on display. The University of Washington has two fine galleries in the Henry Art Gallery, usually more contemporary pieces, and the Burke Museum which features northwest native art. The Pacific Science Center is great for kids and the Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum is open next door in the shadow of the Space Needle. It will likely be a must see for any musician or music lover.
Shopping: Antiquing in the city can be done downtown under the Viaduct, on First Ave. around the Pike Place Market, and in Pioneer Square. Also, there are a few scattered shops in almost every neighborhood.
Zoo: Near Greenlake is the fabulous Woodland Park Zoo. It has won numerous awards over the years for its exhibits, including the Tropical Rain Forest, Elephant Exhibit, Northern Plains Exhibit, and Nocturnal House.
Gardens: The Arboretum is our very own outdoor museum and the Japanese Gardens are something to be seen. It is located just east of Capitol Hill and south of the University District. Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill has its own Conservatory filled with year-round exotic plants. A short ferry ride away to Bainbridge Island takes you to the famous Bloedel Botanical Gardens.
Getting Around: Seattle is a fairly compact city with its share of traffic problems. With six drawbridges, two floating freeway bridges, and three high-over-water bridges, the bottlenecks are inevitable. Bus service from all the bed and breakfast neighborhoods is very good and provides convenient access to downtown and points mentioned above. While a car is not needed for most of the in-city sights, it is needed for the out-of-town day trips.
The Market: We saved the Pike Place Market for last, because it is the most popular and most asked about location by our guests. None of us is located at the market, but all of us are convenient to its location downtown. Average time spent at the market by our guests is about 2 to 3 hours. Many locals, especially the growing urban population, use the Market as their grocery store, florist, or specialty food store. The flowers are incredible and affordable and all the inns have extra vases to use if you should purchase some. It is also a great place to buy fish to take back with you as it is packed to keep for 48 hours in any weather. Browse through the many shops and tables of local crafts.
Coffee: Don't forget that Seattle also has a multitude of local neighborhood coffee shops beyond the one that has now gone global, plus a barista on most every block. Be sure and ask your innkeeper for their favorite local spot. Take the time to sit and relax every so often, whether at one of these coffee shops or back at the bed and breakfast.
Innkeepers' Favorite Day Trips
Western Washington offers plenty of sights within driving distance - in fact, the countryside is so beautiful that the drive is half the fun!
Water Falls and Hiking: Enjoy a day in what Seattle refers to as the 'Eastside' and 'Foothills'. Drive out to Snoqualmie Falls with its viewing deck and the 'Twin Peaks Lodge'. Take a hike to the bottom of the falls, or for the more enthusiastic hiker, continue driving east another 15 miles and hike up to an alpine lake. Closer yet, hike up Mt. Si or Tiger Mountain for spectacular views of the entire central Puget Sound.
Wineries: If you are not into hiking, then we suggest visiting the numerous wineries in the Snoqualmie Valley; most notably Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery, both next to the Redhook Brewery between Redmond and Woodinville. Downtown Kirkland is worth a little stroll among the shops and the waterfront if the weather is good as it is just west of the wineries on the northeast shore of Lake Washington.
Islands: North of the city, we believe that Whidbey Island is a great day trip. Drive north about 30 minutes to the Mukilteo Ferry dock for the short ride to the southern tip of the Whidbey Island. The island is 30+ miles long and narrow. The highlights being Langley and Coupeville for antiques and lunch, Ebby's Landing for a peaceful walk on the beach with a great view, and Deception Pass at the top of the island for a little hike and great pictures. You can be back in the city for dinner.
Seaplane Excursion: Flying a seaplane off the water from Seattle is a Northwest must do, visit www.kenmoreair.com. We recommend a day trip to Victoria or the San Juan Islands on Kenmore Air, the leader in the seaplane world. Flight times are about 45 minutes. You can enjoy a full day away, without long lines or wasting time en route. Return to Seattle in time for dinner, theatre, or a ballgame. Kenmore Air offers two Seattle area terminals, downtown on Lake Union and their home base on North Lake Washington. Or try their 20 minute flight-seeing options over downtown Seattle.
Whale Watching: If you have your heart set on visiting the San Juan Islands and going on a whale watching tour, the best way to do it on a day trip is to drive about 90 minutes to Anacortes and walk on the Ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Enjoy a beautiful ferry ride, a great little town with shopping and restaurants, whale watching tours and sea kayaking, and then take the early evening ferry back to your car in Anacortes. In the summer months, the Victoria Clipper runs a high-speed catamaran to Friday Harbor from downtown Seattle. Not up for such a long day? There is also a tour service out of Everett about 40 minutes north of Seattle that offers in-season whale watching tours.
Tulips: Also north is the town of LaConner, about 75 minutes by car. It is best known for the center of the Tulip Festival in April each year, but is worth a visit all year long for antiquing and strolling. Another town nearby that is better known for antiquing is Snohomish, which is a bit closer, but not on the water.
Bavarian Charm: For a little longer drive, Leavenworth, a quaint Bavarian theme town, is less than a two and a half-hour drive through the mountains past the Stevens Pass ski area that offers great hiking in the summer months.
Victoria, B.C.: Victoria is a great town that can be seen in one day if you take the Victoria Clipper in the morning. Take the bus to the Buchart Gardens first thing, then come back to Victoria and spend the afternoon and early evening having high tea, visit the BC Museum or Craigdarroch Castle, and stroll around the town. The Clipper will have you back in Seattle by 9 PM. The other alternative would be to take a Kenmore Air seaplane from Lake Union in the heart of Seattle up to Victoria Harbor, a fun experience with great views of the area.
Olympic Mountains: For those wishing to see the Olympic Mountains to the west of Seattle, in the late spring to early fall, you can take a ferry across the Puget Sound and drive up north to Hurricane Ridge, which is near Port Angeles. The hike to the top affords some spectacular views of the range and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island. The Hoh and Quinault rain forests on the west side of the Olympic National Park are at least a 3-½ hour drive each way and are great. Remember though that it is a 'rain forest', so it rains often and a lot.
Across the Sound: For a shorter day trip across the Puget Sound, we recommend taking a ferry from downtown to Bainbridge Island. The Bloedel Botanical Gardens are the best in the area, but require a reservation--206-842-7631. Poulsbo is a sleepy little Scandinavian town just off the north end of the Island with a fabulous bakery and antique shops.
Volcano: To the south, there is our resident active Volcano within just a few hours drive. The Mt. St. Helens Johnson Observatory and Interpretive Center views of the landscape are both educational and awe-inspiring. Enjoy good hikes and surprising wildlife.
Mount Rainier: Certainly, the 'granddaddy' of all day trips is Mt. Rainier and the encompassing National Park. Be reminded that all those pictures that you see of Mt. Rainier with the snow on it are true. It is huge and dominates the vistas from up to 150 miles away. The low trails are great for most of the year, but the high trails at Paradise and Sunrise are best after mid-June into early October.
We have very long days in the summer months with up to 16 hours of daylight at its peak. It does of course rain in the Seattle area, which means the foliage is lush and green and our gardens start blooming in February all the way into October. The summer months are the best with very little rain, low humidity, few bugs, and temperatures rarely above 90 degrees in July, August, and September. In the spring and fall, the rainfall of a "rainy day" often comes at night and in the morning hours with beautiful afternoons. Snow is rare, but when it does happen, we just kind of slow down and enjoy its beauty until it melts that afternoon or the next day.