I’ve been dreaming about Seattle for a long time. Something about the idea of a city built on coffee and books with plenty of rainy days for ideas to take root and grow just sounds like a writer’s haven to me.
So this February I decided it was finally time to see the city for myself. Being the penny-pinching, starving-artist, born-to-travel type that I am, I walked everywhere.
Aside from my $3 light rail ticket to and from the airport (or, I guess “from and to” is more accurate), I didn’t use public transport at all. Not a single bus. Not one Uber.
Which is all the more impressive (I think) when you consider that I made it all the way up to Fremont to visit the troll.
Be sure to pack you’re walking shoes. We’re going on a tour of Seattle by foot.
Starting at Pike Place Market
I stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel, which was directly across the street from Pike Place, making the famous market the logical spot to start my day.
Beat the crowds by getting to Pike Place early and grab some oh-so-delightfully fresh mini donuts from Daily Dozen Doughnut Company or treat yourself to a melding of traditional English and Seattle flavors with a wild smoked salmon crumpet at The Crumpet Shop just across the street.
This is also the home of the close-enough, might-as-well-be original Starbucks. So give your day a caffeine kick start in the city known for its brews and in the place that started it all (more or less).
Most of the stalls at the market open around eight and the crowds are quick to follow, so when you’ve had your fill of fish throwing and shoulder bumping, take a quick peak at the gum wall south end of the market before heading north toward the Space Needle.
From Pike Place Market to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
1 mile – 20 minute walk
You’ll have a few short uphill stretches, but nothing that will warrant much huffing and puffing.
Once you reach the Space Needle, you can buy a ticket to ride the elevator to the top and enjoy the 360 degree views of Seattle, but if it’s one of the 155 rainy days a year (like it was when I visited), you’re probably better off keeping your feet firmly on the ground and taking your cash elsewhere.
Like thirty-two steps away (approximately) to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum!
I personally think this museum doesn’t get enough hype – this turned out to be one of my favorite parts of my trip and I had hardly heard anything about it.
There are several galleries of art installations created by (or under the direction of) Dale Chihuly, a world famous glass sculptor. If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel or gone through an airport with a glass sculpture so magnificent you actually stopped to marvel at it for a moment, chances are that was one of Chihuly’s pieces.
One of my favorite installations was a room with two row boats filled with glass. One of them had colorful globes and the other had lots of tall, asymmetrical pieces. The whole thing was set on a reflective black floor that made it impossible to get a bad picture.
But I think my favorite part was probably the gardens. It was just rainy enough that most people stayed inside and the glass and flowers were covered in picturesque raindrops, but not so wet that my light raincoat couldn’t do the job.
From the Space Needle to Kerry Park
1.1 miles – 25 minute walk
This is where you really hope the sun comes out.
You’re pictures of the city skyline will be just as Seattley with a rainy backdrop – maybe even more so actually.
In any case, this is one of the best places in the city to get some shots of that famous Seattle skyline, Space Needle and all (something that is rather hard to accomplish from the Needle itself).
If it’s dry, feel free to hang around and enjoy the park. If not, let’s keep on keepin’ on.
From Kerry Park to Theo Chocolate
2.1 miles – 45 minute walk
“But wait, Faith,” you say. “We’ve done so much walking and you haven’t told us where to eat lunch! You’re a terrible blogger.”
Hey, hey, hey now. You’re just hangry. But don’t reach for the Snickers yet. There’s something much better just ahead.
Take a deep breath and do what I did – have chocolate samples for lunch.
If you think you can hold off for another hour, take the factory tour before tackling the shop. You need to have reservations for the tour and it’s best to visit during the week when the factory is up and running (really this whole day is better suited to a weekday to avoid crowds though, so that shouldn’t be a problem).
And then once you’ve worked off an appropriate amount of calories – no, not from walking, just by the mere fact that you’ve just spent an hour salivating over this chocolate – the tour will end in the chocolate shop where you can sample all the chocolate.
Again, I’m being literal here.
With the exception of the truffles, all there are samples of all the chocolates out for the tasting, including the chocolate roasted coffee. It’s the perfect afternoon (or midmorning or evening or anytime) pick-me-up one dixie cup at a time!
From Theo Chocolate to the Fremont Troll
0.5 miles – 10 minute walk
That troll under the bridge that people told you about when you were a kid? He ate goats or something… Yeah, he’s real. And he lives on Troll Avenue.
What started as a creative project to keep people from vandalizing, dumping trash, and selling copious amounts of drugs in the once empty lot under the George Washington Memorial Bridge has turned into a tourist attraction and the iconic setting for scenes in several movies like Ten Things I Hate About You.
You might have to wait your turn for a picture with (or on) this gentle giant, but don’t worry – he’s not going anywhere.
And you’re full of chocolate, so what do you care if it takes and extra minute or two to shoo the kids off the life-sized Volkswagen bug he’s crushing? Or to shoo pesky, self-taking blogger out of the way, for that matter.
From the Fremont Troll to Gas Works Park
0.7 miles – 15 minute walk
Another filming location from Ten Things I Hate About You, Gas Works Park is the former site of the Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. There’s some really cool steampunk looking buildings and equipment left over from its days as a gasification plant – that even sounds steampunky, doesn’t it? – which makes for some really cool pictures.
There’s also a hill that you can climb for another cool view of the city (the Space Needle isn’t visible from here though) and a play area with a large barn. If you’re visiting during the less-wet season and don’t mind lugging your kite around all day, you can tangle strings with the locals.
From Gas Works Park to Your Home-Away-from-Home
For me this meant making it back to Pike Place, which was nearly four miles of lakeside walkin’ along Westlake Avenue. I made it back in a little over an hour and by then my feet and my stomach were protesting.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend Japonessa, a sushi restaurant that brings a fusion of Latin and traditional Japanese flavors. There’s also the Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar where they have some crazy yummy seafood pasta.
After all, you’ve earned it. If you follow this loop, you will have walked almost nine miles and burned at least 500 calories. Yay you!
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