Where to Eat and Places to Visit in Seattle
Looking for ideas of where to eat and places to visit in Seattle? You’ve come to the right place. I rode the train from Portland to Seattle last fall and explored the city for three days. It’s been a few years since I’ve visited Seattle, on top of being my first trip outside of Oregon since the pandemic hit, so it all felt shiny and new.
My three day itinerary covers classic Seattle spots like Pike Place Market, Volunteer Park Conservatory, and Chihuly Garden & Glass, as well as plenty of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, serving bagel sandwiches, Thai street foods, creamy coconut ice cream, and tropical cocktails. Read on to learn more about what I ate and where I visited during my three days in Seattle.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Seattle? I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Instagram @waz.wu.
Visiting Seattle from Portland
Taking the train is by far the most relaxing way to get from Portland to Seattle. The Amtrak operates several trains between the two cities every day. I caught a morning train and slept for most of the three and a half hour journey. Masks were required on board, and the train was empty enough that everyone could socially distance too. Hot tip: pack yourself a breakfast sandwich to enjoy on the train.
When booking accommodations for Seattle, we researched both hotels and Airbnb before landing on The Paramount Hotel in Downtown Seattle. It offered the right balance of luxury, location, and price. In fact, Seattle Airbnbs were much more expensive at the time of booking. We scored a good deal on a room with an extra comfy king-sized bed. The room was clean and comfortable, and I loved soaking in the bathtub at the end of a long day of walking — one of my favorite perks of staying at a hotel.
For the most part, I explored Seattle on foot and by public transit. Many of the places I wanted to visit were not far from each other (30 minute walk at most), but some areas of Seattle are extremely hilly. I deeply regret lugging my bags uphill from the Amtrak station to the hotel… do not make the same mistake I did! I quickly learned to double check the elevation gain when looking up directions on Google before deciding if I was going to walk or bus. Occasionally, I took a Lyft between places to save time.
Seattle Day 1
When I arrived in Seattle, I visited London Plane for tea before heading to the hotel. I noticed that this cute cafe and floral shop is a popular first stop for Amtrak arrivals as it’s located just a few blocks from the station.
After checking in at the hotel, I wandered over to the Seattle Public Library-Central Library. Visiting this spectacular post-modern steel and glass jewel is a rite of passage for any architect or architecture student. Don’t miss the neon yellow escalator and the blood red floor at the library.
Next, I made my way over to El Borracho‘s Pike Place outpost for lunch. Since my last visit to Seattle, El Borracho has switched from a vegan-friendly to a fully vegan menu (woohoo, we love to see it!). I enjoyed the jackfruit and “shrimp” tacos with a spicy margarita… channeling tropical vacation vibes even though it was the middle of December. Next, I explored the shops and vendors at Pike Place Market, including Left Bank Books Collective and Metsker Maps, before popping over to Piroshky Piroshky for a snack.
My first, early dinner was at Plum Bistro — one of the most talked about vegan restaurants in Seattle. I had the fried chicken seitan burger, which was a tad bit too greasy for my liking. Perhaps I ordered wrong that evening, but I didn’t love my experience as much as I thought I would. I’ll revisit next time I’m in Seattle. Next, I popped into Canon for a cocktail. It was very snug in there and not easy to score a seat, but the cocktails were truly exquisite. My second dinner was at Ramen Danbo. Asking for the thick, bouncy noodles with the decadent tonkotsu style vegan broth is definitely the move here.
Seattle Day 2
To kick off day two: breakfast at Westman’s Bagels. The carrot lox with vegan cream cheese on a pumpernickel everything bagel sure was tasty. Next, we enjoyed Cafe Flora‘s warm kale artichoke dip with hearty bread and refreshing beverages like rosemary lemonade and kombucha tonic. I adore the floral wallpaper and teal accents throughout the cafe. This neighborhood cafe was further out of the way from the hotel, but totally worth it!
Our next stop was Volunteer Park Conservatory. This Victorian-style greenhouse is home to a collection of thoughtfully curated and lush warm-weather flora that will cheer you up on even the most dreary winter days. It was quiet and fairly empty when we visited on a weekday, but I imagine it might get more crowded on weekends. This is a must visit Seattle destination.
After exploring the park, we stumbled upon Atulea matcha cafe. Trendy plant vibes meets matcha? Yes, please! I sipped on a butterfly pea flower matcha with oat milk as we continued our walk through the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Next, we stopped by Optimism Brewing for a hazy IPA, then Rumba for tropical cocktails. I would have loved to visit Inside Passage — the tiny bar tucked inside Rumba — but they weren’t open at the time. I got a quick peek of the giant octopus tentacles draped across the ceiling though.
The highlight of dinner at Lionhead was the fiery mapo tofu that will leave your mouth feeling numb… in a good way. I also had an intriguing old fashioned made with Chinese five spice. I was supposed to meet friends at Life on Mars afterwards, but the restaurant was hosting a private event. We ducked into another place nearby (I just snacked on fries and don’t even remember the name of the restaurant), then visited Frankie & Jo’s for a scoop. If you’ve ever wondered what a log cabin might taste like, try the smoked vanilla and pine flavored California Cabin ice cream.
Seattle Day 3
I started my day with a walk through Downtown Seattle to check out The Spheres. The three interlocking spheres double as botanical conservatories and Amazon workspaces, in addition to being home to Willmott’s Ghost restaurant.
Afterwards, I caught a Lyft to Kati Vegan Thai for my favorite meal of the trip. No relation to Kati in Portland, but I can confirm that both are excellent for vegan Thai food. I was temped by many dishes on the menu and eventually picked the kuay tiew kua gai — a fried wide rice noodle street food with napa cabbage and pickled radish served with chili sauce. I will definitely be back to try more of the menu.
Back in college, I was introduced to Dale Chihuly’s breathtaking glass art at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. I’ve always wanted to visit the Chihuly Garden & Glass museum to experience Chihuly’s intricate glass sculptures in their home exhibition. Skip the Space Needle, go to the Chihuly museum. The whimsical layering of glass shapes and vibrant colors, with Seattle’s moody grey (Grey’s Anatomy is set in Seattle, so that’s how we should spell it here, right?) skies as a backdrop, is so incredibly gorgeous.
For dinner, I had the chanterelle and pumpkin ragu at Cafe Pettirosso. I really enjoyed this hearty fall pasta, and I’m sad to learn that the cafe has since closed for good. I squeezed in a visit to Life on Mars vinyl shop and vegan restaurant for my final Seattle cocktail and got an order of grilled sweet corn cakes to go for the train ride back to Portland. Thanks Seattle… it’s been fun! See ya next time.