Seattle City Guide
| By Kate Zentall, CatalogLink Editor
|This classy, literate city boasts one of the best-educated populations in the country -- its public library has one of the largest circulations of any in the country. But that doesn't mean Seattle doesn't know how to get down - poetry slams, for starters, are de rigueur, and then there's the music. A disproportionate number of musicians and acts have originated here, from rock legend Jimi Hendrix to grunge music (Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) to the Dave Matthews Band, and before that the Ventures, the Wailers, and the Brothers Four.
In the early 1900s, Seattle saw the birth of Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer (which patented the first quilted down jacket in 1940), and what's now UPS. A generation or so later, the tech boom moved in, perhaps signaled by the landmark 1962 Space Needle that figures so prominently in the city skyline (and can be glimpsed on TV's Frasier and Grey's Anatomy, as well as Sleepless in You-Know-Where), and was followed a decade or so later by Microsoft, and then Amazon.com and RealNetworks, among other tech and biomedical companies. And lest you forget, Starbucks coffee started and continues to be headquartered here.
There's lots of lovely water in the Emerald City, courtesy of Puget Sound, plus equally lovely islands (Vashon, Bainbridge, Whidbey) that Seattleites actually live on, with the ferries servicing them an integral (and unique) part of the transportation system.
In 2005, Men's Fitness magazine named Seattle the fittest city in the United States. So tie on those running shoes and get set to explore and shop!
|Don't even think about shopping in Seattle without visiting its huge, signature Pike Place Market downtown, right on Puget Sound, a nine-acre stretch of stalls, specialty shops, and fresh and fabulous food to swoon over - fish, flowers, fiber arts, crafts, clothing, cookware, ceramics, antiques, jewelry, galleries, glass (glass blowing is big in Seattle). Buskers provide whatever entertainment you might not get from the panoply of produce, products, and happy humanity. In operation since 1907, Pike Place, one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the U.S. and the site of the original Starbucks, has a great energy and feel to it. (85 Pike St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-682-7453)
Also downtown and with an entirely different vibe is upscale Pacific Place,
where Tiffany & Co., MaxMara, Barney's, and Coach share the love with J. Crew, Chico's, Ann Taylor, L'Occitane, Restoration Hardware, Barnes & Noble, and Williams-Sonoma, among scads of others. Throw in an 11-screen AMC complex and a skybridge connection to the flagship Nordstrom store, and you're talking major shopping destination. (600 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-264-1400) … The nearby Westlake Center, a four-story, glass-enclosed retail pavilion and food court, offers a lively mix of national retailers and regional merchandise. (400 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-467-1600)
Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, which only means more interesting shopping. Expect to see lots of street fairs, the largest featuring hundreds of craft and food booths, plus live entertainment. At least half a dozen neighborhoods also have weekly farmers' markets, some with as many as 50 vendors.
A fine array of boutiques up and down 1st Avenue beckon to be explored, along with Pike Market, S.A.M. (the Seattle Art Museum), and the massive and marvelous Patagonia … Head to Pioneer Square for distinctive architecture, antiques, art galleries and art walks (many call this ground zero for Seattle's vibrant art universe), and scores of unique and independently owned shops in the many historic buildings.
Wander through upscale Madison Park for intriguing boutiques and knickknack stores … Same goes for the Fremont neighborhood, which also offers notable and unusual nooks and crannies … And the former industrial Georgetown area is starting to emerge as a hip destination, with its bars, coffeehouses, shops, art studios, and galleries.
Ask a local about the best place to shop in town, and chances are University Village will pop up. Located near the University of Washington, this beautiful outdoor mall boasts some basic higher-end stores -- huge Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Kiehl's, Apple, plus a rare Crewcuts (J Crew for lil ones)-as well as boutiques and other unexpected treasures, like Mercer with its high-end jeans and very current fashion, above-the-norm Impress for rubber stamps, and an H&M for less spendy stuff. Some swear by the kids' Daily Tea line at Village Maternity; others claim life is not complete without an earth-moving facial at Calidora or a stop into classy-nursery Ravenna Gardens. Red Mango frozen yogurt is a favorite in this not-yet-Pinkberry'd city, as are the Trophy Cupcakes. (2623 NE University Village, Seattle, WA 98105; 206-523-0622)
|We start, of course, with the grande dame of department stores, Nordstrom Downtown, founded in 1901 as a Seattle shoe store and still making its headquarters in the Emerald City. This tony little empire has wowed and inspired shoppers for more than 100 years, with its renowned customer service (it was one of the first major clothing stores to offer personal shoppers), generous size ranges, live piano players, and the best chocolate chip cookies in its café. (500 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-628-2111; stores also in Northgate and Bellevue) . . . A little rich for your blood? Head on over to the big treasure hunt that is Nordstrom Rack, Nordie's mega-popular overflow shop with three floors of discontinued lines as well as overstock, and all at greatly reduced prices. (1601 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-448-8522)
Hankering for something on a smaller scale? Crush on the gorgeous bags at Clutch, Seattle's only handbag boutique, with delicious leathers (some recycled) and huge selection of way-cool designers who don't need to affix their initials all over the merchandise. Plain and fancy, glam, and “too cute for words,” sez a fan. (1212 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-624-2362) … Locals go gaga for the beautiful handmade woven clothing at Ragazzi's Flying Shuttle, not to mention its one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories, each a work of art, in the heart of Pioneer Square (607 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98104; 206-343-976) … And then there's stylish upscale shopping gem Baby And Co., with its unusual EU (but mostly French) designers, a Seattle destination since 1976; innovative, high quality, expensive; new, fresh designs. Not for babies or those on a budget, but ooo-la-la. (1936 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101 ; 206-448-4077)
For a total change of pace, jog on into REI. Around since 1944, this awesome motherlode for anything you'll need for an outdoor adventure also offers a mountain bike test trail, gear-testing stations, a 65-foot climbing wall, and lots of other hands-on thrills, overseen by an engaging, knowledgeable staff. (222 Yale Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109; 206-223-1944) … In the same spirit is Eddie Bauer, where outdoor gear and fashion get a huge leg up, along with great service. (2695 NE University Village St., Seattle, WA 98105; 206-527-2646; other locations in town as well)
And then there's Seattle's largest vintage store, Red Light Vintage Clothing, which carries Victorian through early 80s clothing and accessories, plus costumes for a lot less than you'd be able to rent them for. Check out the cocktail dresses and theme party duds, plus vintage Levi's, bowling shirts, and clothes you'd actually wear in daily life. Stuff for men too. (312 Broadway Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98102; 206-329-2200; also 4560 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105; 206-545-4044)
|The small colored hand-blown glass vessels at glassybaby -- used as cups, candleholders, vases-have become a local phenom and collectors' items. First created as a distraction from the owner's chemotherapy, glassybaby come in myriad colors and carry with them a healing, spiritual vibe. (3406 E. Union St., Seattle, WA 98122; 206-568-7368; also in University Village and Bellevue)
Sur La Table Can you say fabulous flagship fast three times? Cooks on a culinary quest have headed to this popular Pike Place Market destination since 1972 for the 12,500 kitchen items on display, from terrific tabletop accessories to copper cookware to baking paraphernalia, plus cookbooks and serious knives. Store demos too. (84 Pine St., Seattle, WA; 206-448-2244) … Meanwhile, every possible thing you could dream of needing to make your favorite sweet snacks can be found at adorable Cookies, with its exceptional selection of cutters (40 of animals alone), bakeware, tins, decorations, and beguiling aprons. Not into baking? You will be now. (2211 NW Market St., Seattle, WA 98107; 206-297-1015)
For the luxe, lovely, and unusual, it's hard to beat Watson Kennedy Fine Living, where you can make your home smell and look beautiful or snag a sensational house gift, and where you'll find a balance of old and new: soaps, candles, chandeliers, letterpress & handmade cards, vintage keys and games, scents, jewelry, glass, antiques, lotions and potions. (86 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-443-6281) … In the same vein there's Kerr's, a cozy, tasteful gift shop with handpicked, unusual items, run by Penn Kerr, a Seattle native with a great eye. (612 W. McGraw St.,
Seattle, WA 98119; 206-285-2467) … Have fun at Queen Anne Mail & Dispatch for funky, inexpensive clothing and great shoes, cards, and an old-fashioned post office! (2212 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109; 206-286-1024)
Go to town (but don't leave it) at the CC Filson flagship store, whose classic clothing and luggage label are becoming très trendy (think old Abercrombie, or L. L. Bean goes Northwest). The rugged twill and bridle leather pieces recall pioneer Filson himself, who started out specializing in goods to outfit the stampeders to the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s and turned out tough, comfortable outdoor clothing for hunters and fishermen, engineers and explorers, mariners and miners. (1555 4th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98134; 206-622-3147)
Take a break and snuggle in at the homey Elliot Bay Book Co., Seattle's legendary, much-beloved independent bookstore/café/salon/community/author-magnet in very cool and historic Pioneer Square. Very “Seattle,” it's packed with beautiful new and old books, plus nooks and ladders. A true city treasure. (101 S. Main St., Seattle, WA 98104; 206-682-6664)
In this burg noted for its art and galleries, it's no surprise that the newly renovated Seattle Art Museum has a large and drop-dead gorgeous gift shop. Once you've checked out S.A.M.'s uncommon objets, jewelry, arts and crafts, toys, and arty (what else) gifts for discerning trendsters, stroll out to sit in the world-class sculpture park and marvel at the red Calder on a prominent spot overlooking Puget Sound. (1300 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-654-3120)
|Could it be the “Sleepless” label also refers to the effects of what's probably Seattle's best-known product: rich, steamy, fragrant java? Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, and Tully's, all homegrown and based in the city, have made this the coffee destination of your dreams. You'll find scads of cafes, counters, and corners at which to sip this bracing brew, but keep eyes peeled for the following places recommended by locals: Espresso Vivace, Stumptown, Trabant, Caffe Vita, Victrola, Zoka, Seattle Coffee Works, Herkimer, Neptune, Makeda, Aster, Kuma, and Verite.
Getting hungry? Take yourself to a Metropolitan Market (aka “Met Market”), a gem of a local chain with a Euro feel where you can expect to find decadent deli, cheeses, takeout, grocery, French bakery, meats, and wines. The attractive outdoor flower stand with large French vases of brilliant blooms, textures, and color year round is a thrill during the gray and rain, and Seattleites sometimes come here simply when they need a lift. (1908 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109; 206-284-2530; other Seattle locations as well)
Or there's Pasta and Co. with its great takeout for everyday and celebratory meals. Fresh foods -- appetizers soups, salads, entrees, desserts - plus frozen foods like ready-to-bake pizza and cookie doughs, lasagnas, fresh fruit crisps, and house-brand ice cream. The website offers recipes of their fave dishes, which is pretty darn generous and way tantalizing. (4622 26th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105; 206-523.8594; also 1935 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109; 206-283-1182)
Many swear by Baguette Box for its awesome hot and cold gourmet sandwiches (and wine too!) Take out (or eat in) the drunken chicken sandwich and truffle fries, or anything else on the tempting menu. (1203 Pine St., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-332-0220; also 626 N. 34th St., Seattle, WA; 98103; 210-632-1511)
Three Girls Bakery Not that you need an excuse to go to Pike Place Market, but in case you did, here it is, for fresh baguettes and breads to die for, plus Almond Joy cookies, coconut lemon bar, croissants, and amazing sandwiches just how you want them. Don't let the line discourage you; it moves fast and it's worth it. (1514 Pike Pl.,
Seattle, WA 98101; 206-622-1045) … More, you say? At Macrina Bakery it's all about the bread, they say - crusty, hearty, sweet or sourdough…as well as coffeecakes, bars, brownies, biscuits, and everything in between. Eat in at the cafes, or take out. (1943 1st Ave. S., Seattle, WA; 206-623-0919; also 2408 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98121; 206-448-4032; and 615 W. McGraw St., Seattle, WA 98119; 206-283-5900)
And yes, there's more …The new Bustle on Queen Ann café offers hand-picked beers and wines, coffee, French pastries, organic baguette sandwiches, and natural teas, and specializes in yummy French chocolate croissants, as well as savory versions of these irresistible buttery crescents. (523 W. McGraw St., Seattle, WA 98119; 206-453-4285) … Meanwhile, you'll find that cozy petit Le Fournil French bakery is the real thing, from soup to sandwiches to what you really came for, which is French pastries like you never thought you could get outside of Paris. And they're reasonable, too! (3230 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98102; 206-328-6523)
Finally, city landmark and classic European-style chocolate shop Fran's Chocolates entices with exquisite truffles, caramels and chocolate dipped fruits, all beautifully wrapped. Main attraction: salted caramels. Oh baby. (1325 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101; 206-682-0168; also University Village and Bellevue)