Downtown I really liked the feel of Pioneer Square. This is a 20 block historic district with old architecture that was the center of Seattle during the boom years of logging, fishing, railroads and the Klondike Gold Rush. There are many galleries, bookstores and cafes. I liked the store Watson Kennedy Fine Home at 1022 1st Avenue, The Legacy Ltd at 1003 First Avenue, for Native American treasures and the Glasshouse Studio, at 311 Occidental, where you can see the hot shop in action in back of the store where artists are at work. There is a large art walk the first Thursday of each month.
From here it was a short walk to Elliott’s Oyster House, at 1206 Alaskan Way Pier 56; it is right along the water with outdoor seating. They have great salmon!
I really liked the pedestrian area on Occidental Avenue. You can stop in for a coffee at Caffe Umbria, at 320 Occidental, which has nice outdoor seating. I also liked the feel of Zeitgeist Art and Coffee, around the corner, at 171 S. Jackson, which in addition to coffee has art exhibits. Also in downtown I enjoyed seeing the Seattle Art Museum at 1300 First Avenue. I particularly enjoyed seeing the works by the Native American artists of the Northwest and the Indigenous Aboriginal Art from Australia with its amazing patterns which I had heard of but never seen.
Chinatown International District: Up from The Pioneer Square area is the Chinatown/International District which has influences from China, Japan, Vietnam and other Asian countries. I enjoyed seeing the old Panama Hotel, at 605 ½ S. Main, and stopped in for tea at the Tea and Coffee House on the first floor. It has many historic photos of the area before World War II. It is the center of the popular novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford which is about the neighborhood during WWII. I enjoyed dim sum at House of Hong, at 408 8th Avenue South, and walking the neighborhood checking out some of the shops and bakeries and seeing Uwajimaya Asian market.
Capitol Hill: I started my visit to Capitol Hill at the Seattle Asian Art Museum located in the attractive Volunteer Park at 1400 E Prospect Ave. It is a small but attractive museum, in a 1933 Art-Moderne building, with an emphasis on Japanese, Chinese and some Korean art. I walked through the Frederick Law Olmsted designed park and the surrounding neighborhood, with its large homes, to Broadway which I followed all the way back to Pine Street.
Broadway is a street that runs the length of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It has some interesting shops and restaurants and the neighborhood gets edgier as you get closer to downtown. You will find ethnic restaurants, vintage clothing stores, like Red Light at 312 Broadway East, and local flavor like Dick’s Drive-In which is known for its hamburgers (not bad ice cream either) at 115 Broadway East.
Belltown: I stayed on the edge of Belltown and Downtown at the Hotel Andra at 2000 4th Avenue. It was recommended by a local friend and was a great location from which to explore the city. It is near main bus stops, the street car line to Lake Union and the monorail station to the Space Needle. Pike Place Market and its nearby restaurants begins four blocks immediately south. The staff was most helpful particularly in maneuvering the bus system and which ones to take and Lola restaurant on the first floor which is a Tom Douglas restaurant and good for breakfast. The hotel has been totally renovated.
Also in Bell Town along the waterfront is the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. It is open daily and has great views of Puget Sound. There are large pieces by Calder and others. You should also check out Seattle Glass Blowing at 2227 Fifth Ave.; they have a gallery and offer events, tours, and classes.
Seattle Center: Having grown up hearing about the Space Needle from the 1962 World’s Fair, it was great to finally see it. Seattle Center was the site of the Fair which was entitled America’s Space Age World’s Fair. In addition to the Space Needle and monorail station it is the hub of the arts in Seattle. Here you will find the Bagley Wright Theater, home of the Seattle Repertory Theater; the McCaw Hall which houses the Seattle Opera, the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle International Film Festival; the Key Arena; The Seattle Children’s Theater; the Pacific Science Center; the Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Museum and Museum of Pop Culture (formerly called the Experience Music Project Museum). This is the facility that Paul Allen of Microsoft commissioned Frank Gehry to design to pay homage to Seattle’s role in rock music.
I was fortunate to be in town over Labor Day weekend where I attended Bumbershoot, the region’s largest arts festival which highlights musicians, dance, comedy, literary arts, film, ethnic foods and performance art in a three day event. I was able to hear music, see a wonderful dance program by the Spectrum Dance Company which was enjoyable, see a performance by the Improvised Shakespeare Company and a series of short films presented by the Seattle Film Festival at the new SIFF Film Center. There are multiple events happening from late morning to late night.