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A Seattle sampler: an insiders' guide to sights, restaurants, and more

The popular port city is ripe with nature, glass art, and fun museums.

In recent years, Seattle has become a foodie haven and a popular embarkation port for Alaska cruises. On a recent visit, as if to welcome me back home, 14,411-foot-high Mount Rainier, some 90 miles away, emerged from the clouds in snow-capped splendor, forming a scenic backdrop as I shared with my husband, Paul, some of my favorite, classic Seattle things to do.

What to do

Dale Chihuly's glassworks

Photo by Leslie Mieko Yap

We started at Seattle Center, where museums nestle in the shadow of the Space Needle, which was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. From downtown, hop on the Seattle Center Monorail. Adult fare, $2.50 each way. 206-684-7200.

At Chihuly Garden and Glass (pictured above) in Seattle Center, artist Dale Chihuly’s brightly hued glass reeds and flowers looked as though they were growing among the greenery. Adult admission, $24. 206-753-4940.

At the nearby Seattle Glassblowing Studio, in 30 minutes you can create your own glistening flower, pumpkin, or other object. Prices start at $150. 206-448-2181.

The Museum of Pop Culture, Frank Gehry’s outrageously curvy, aluminum and stainless steel structure houses the world’s largest collection of artifacts from legendary Seattle-born rock ’n’ roll guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Adult admission, $28. 206-770-2700.

A friend drove us to the Fremont Troll, a playful 18-foot-high sculpture with a shiny hubcap eye. He lurks under the Aurora Bridge clutching a Volkswagen Beetle.

On our last day in the city, we walked the winding path around Seward Park, a 300-acre peninsula that juts into Lake Washington. We strolled through groves of Douglas firs and across grassy meadows, ending up at the beach where I learned to swim. I changed into my bathing suit and waded in. “It’s a lot colder than I remember,” I said. But I dove in, immersed in childhood memories.

Where to eat

I’m a fan of chef Tom Douglas, who all but invented Pacific Northwest cuisine and who has more than a dozen Seattle eateries. At casual Seatown Seabar, Paul and I split a King Louie Salad heaped with fresh Dungeness crab. 206-436-0390.

These days, Seattleites can’t get enough Korean food. At the bustling Trove on Capitol Hill, belly up to the cooked-to-order noodle bar or head to the cook-your-own Korean barbecue dining room, where you can get a meat “tower” of everything from Wagyu tri-tip and leg of lamb to octopus and cured duck breast. The ice cream truck window in front serves frozen custard topped with the likes of sticky-toffee pudding or spiced pecans. 206-457-4622.

I led Paul through the beehive of food and crafts stalls at the Pike Place Market. We cheered on the burly fishmongers in rubber aprons who playfully lobbed salmon back and forth before displaying them, like crown jewels, on beds of ice. “After seeing all this perfect food, I’m ravenous,” Paul said.

Where to nibble? Fresh oysters at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar? Szechuan flatbread at Country Dough? We settled on a crisp fried-chicken biscuit sandwich from Honest Biscuits. The market expansion includes a brewery and a viewing deck perfect for watching the ferryboats glide across Puget Sound. 206-682-7453.

A friend took us to the Fremont neighborhood, where we ate at RockCreek Seafood and Spirits (206-557-7532). In its upscale fishing lodge setting, we enjoyed fresh roasted oysters and mussels bruschetta.

The Nest, in the Thompson Seattle hotel, is the city's hottest rooftop bar. 206-623-4600;

Where to stay

The Arctic Club Seattle is set in a building that was a club for men who struck it rich in the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush. The hotel’s designers paid homage to the original with photos behind the front desk of stiff-collared club members. In the lobby bar, a life-size polar bear statue that lights up watches over the fireplace and the antique pool table. Rates start at $319. 206-340-0340, 

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AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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