Once known as the city of grunge music and craft coffee, Seattle, Washington has grown to become one of the country’s most sought-after places to live and work. With a vibrant arts scene, varied culinary landscape, and easy access to outdoor activities, the once-sleepy city is a year-round destination for the creatively inclined. Journalist (and native Seattleite) Rachel Gallaher’s official HAP city guide awaits below.
Where to Stay:
Take in Seattle’s iconic waterfront views with a room at the Thompson, which sits just steps away from the city’s historic Pike Place Market. Designed by local architecture firms Olson Kundig and Jensen Fey, with interiors by Toronto’s Munge Leung, the Thompson embraces the region’s laid-back, artisan-forward aesthetic with artwork, fixtures, and furnishings sourced from local creatives.
Perfect for urban adventurers and solo travelers, the Palihotel is located in the heart of Seattle—a mere five-minute walk from many of the city’s top attractions. Situated in a building that once housed the historic Colonnade Hotel, the property exudes a sophisticated, Wes Anderson-esque sense of whimsy with stacked vintage suitcases, worn leather seating, desks inspired by old steamer trunks, and a layered green palette that nods to the Northwest.
Where to Eat:
Opened by Canlis alum Brady Ishiwata Williams, Tomo is a fine dining experience that focuses on seasonal, ethically sourced ingredients such as local oysters and fresh-from-the-farm produce. The minimal interiors—by Seattle-and-Amsterdam-based design studio Graypants—are inspired by traditional Japanese bars and inns, with lots of dark wood and gold- toned lighting that sit back and let Williams’ inventive take on Northwest cuisine take center stage.
Offering daytime dining, The London Plane packs a restaurant, bakery, flower shop, and mercantile into its airy, light-filled space in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. Come for the veggie-forward dishes with Mediterranean flavors—such as roasted carrots and Cippolini onions with pistachios and mint—and stay for the monthly floral arrangement classes.
Where to Drink:
Hidden behind a bookcase in the lobby of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Founders Club is a reservation-only speakeasy that serves aged, vintage, and limited-edition spirits in a sexy wood-and-leather-clad lounge. Among the bar’s popular offerings is the Waterhouse Syndicate, its take on a classic Old Fashioned, made with 1792 Small Batch bourbon.
With a nod from the James Beard Foundation for its design, Rupee Bar is a tiny jewel box space with food and décor that take cues from Sri Lanka and India. Built by the owners in collaboration with local firm Heliotrope Architects, the restaurant’s peacock-blue walls and dark casework transport guests far away from Seattle’s gray skies. Drinks bring a tropical kick with flavors of coconut, pineapple, turmeric, and lime.
Where to Visit:
An outpost of downtown’s Seattle Art Museum (which is also worth a stop), the Seattle Asian Art Museum sits at the heart of tranquil Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Housed in a 1933 Art Deco–influenced building that recently underwent a modern addition, the museum holds the largest collection of Asian art in the Pacific Northwest. After browsing the exhibitions, take a walk around the park, which was designed by the Olmsted brothers in 1901.
Spend an afternoon wandering the stalls at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. From booksellers to flower vendors—and the famous fish-throwing seafood mongers—the market offers the best of the Northwest for visitors and locals alike. Start the day with a latte from the world’s first Starbucks, wander over to DeLaurenti for charcuterie and cheese, then cap things off with a cocktail at the pint-sized, Spanish-style JarrBar.
A visit to the Northwest isn’t complete without a trip out on the water. And while the city is known for its ferries, the Center for Wooden Boats, located on the south shore of Lake Union, offers charter cruises, sailing lessons, and free one-hour rowboat rentals. The free Sunday sail program is currently on hiatus but expected to return in late 2022.
An internationally recognized symbol of Seattle, the Space Needle was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair. In 2018, the structure underwent a massive renovation led by Olson Kundig, and now features “The Loupe,” the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. Take the elevator up to the observation deck for some of the most breathtaking views of the city.
This always-busy neighborhood has long been the creative heart of Seattle. With a handful of live music venues (Neumos, Barboza, and Chop Suey), theatres (both stage and cinematic), and galleries (local arts virtuoso Greg Lundgren’s Museum of Museum’s is a contemporary art-lover’s dream), there’s an opportunity to support local arts on every block. Grab a coffee and browse records at Porchlight, or pop into Elliott Bay Books for your next favorite read. Known for its plethora of food and drink options, Capitol Hill boasts wine of tap at Rapport, sushi and craft cocktails at Liberty, and some of the best handmade pasta in the city at Spinasse.