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Guide to Seattle and Bellevue, Washington

Updated: Apr 17

Welcome to the first blog post about my Pacific Northwest adventures! I recently spent 5 days with my brother exploring Washington state and Canada, and while my favorite part was getting some much-needed sibling bonding time (yes, he did get tired of me quickly) it was really great for both of us to step foot and explore the cities, landscapes, and nature that make the Pacific Northwest a special place to be. In this post, we will focus on the city side with Seattle and nearby, up-and-coming Bellevue. In the next post, we will dive more into the adventurous, outdoorsy side of our trip by discussing Canada and Camano Island, Washington. Let's get into it!

Seattle, Washington

As an East Coast girl, I did not have much to base my expectations for Seattle off of because I had never been to this region of the country before. I am so glad that I didn't go in to my trip to Seattle with any expectations, because I ended up being pleasantly surprised by my experiences. Although, I did appreciate a good rainy, foggy day at Pike's Place Market (Seattle experiences 156 rainy days per year!). My first impression of Seattle was actually the evergreen trees that I could see outside the window of the airport - these trees were a constant source of tranquility and were a precursor to the beautiful nature that would continue to unfold during my Pacific Northwest journey.

Seattle Highlights:

  • Pike Place Market: Pike Place Market was founded in 1907 and is one of the oldest and largest continuously operating public markets in the United States. You might recognize this market from its iconic red "Public Market Center" sign. This market is fueled by 220+ independently owned shops and restaurants, 160+ craftspeople, 70+ farmers, and more. Here's a list of some of my favorite stalls that you should check out during your visit:

    • Pike Place Fish Market - Yes, this is where they throw the fish around! You can watch this livestream of this market here - it's some of the best people-watching you'll see.

    • Lor Garden

    • Daily Dozen Doughnut Company

    • Pike Place Market Creamery

    • The First Starbucks

    • Hellenika Cultured Creamery

    • Lowell's Restaurant & Bar

You can even book a culinary tasting tour of Pike Place Market with a local chef and indulge in a variety of samples from the local market vendors. Click here to learn more and book your tour!

  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery: The Starbucks Reserve Roastery provides the ultimate experience for coffee lovers. Located just nine blocks away from the original Starbucks store, prepare to be amazed by the massive roasting area where you will see Starbucks coffee masters brewing the coffee beans to perfection. Along with admiring the roasting area, grab an espresso drink at the main bar, enjoy an artisanal pizza and sweet treat from Princi Bakery & Cafe, and learn more about coffee craft and innovation at the Experience Bar. Note: This roastery does offer signature experiences, such as "Art of the Espresso Martini" and "Coffee Lab: A Journey of the Senses" that I didn't personally take part in, but they seem to be worthwhile while you're there.

  • Seattle Space Needle: To be completely honest with you, I thought that this famous Seattle needle was just a tourist trap. When my brother suggested that we buy tickets, I was skeptical, because the structure was shorter than I expected in real life. However, we eventually decided to buy the tickets and it did. not. disappoint. The 360 degree that you get of Seattle is unmatched - from the city to the nearby Puget Sound to the snow-capped Cascade mountains and all. While visiting the Space Needle, you can also check out the neighboring Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, which features the studio glass of Dale Chihuly. Book your visit to the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum here from only $65.63 per person! One of my favorite parts of the Space Needle, aside from the view up top, was the view from the revolving glass floor to the city down below.

Happenings around Seattle, Spring 2024:

  • The Seattle Moisture Festival is celebrating their 20th anniversary season from March 21-April 14. This is the world's largest comedy/varieté festival where each act or artist performs their routine within a 3-10 minute time slot while being accompanied by a live show band. Tickets can be found here.

  • Meet the Northwest Trolls which features six giant hand-built troll sculptures. There is no admission fee, and you have the ability to navigate the trolls using a digital guide with six geocache adventures.

  • View upcoming concerts and events here, including performances by Dylan Hayes and Camaira Metz.

Bellevue, Washington

Watch out Seattle - Bellevue, Washington is coming in hot with its cosmopolitan feel, access to the great outdoors, and culturally inspired cuisine. Bellevue is located only 10 miles outside of Seattle, and holds its own when it comes to offering visitors a fascinating take on the Pacific Northwest.

Bellevue Highlights:

  • The Bellevue Collection: Bellevue is the ultimate shopping destination as it's home to the Bellevue Collection, which is a 5.5 million square foot open-air shopping and dining district which boasts 200 shops, 50 restaurants and entertainment venues, and 12,000 free parking spots. The district is also home to three luxury hotels, including the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, The Westin Bellevue, and the W Bellevue (more on the W soon!). Think about can get all of your shopping done all in one place, as The Bellevue Collection is the Northwest's prime shopping location. (Attention all of my Cheesecake Factory lovers: Bellevue has a stunning location, which you will be sure to enjoy!)

    • W Bellevue: The W Bellevue is one of the coolest hotels that I've come across recently - the chic three-star luxury hotel is home to stunning bars serving up stunning, tasty cocktails and mocktails. I had the pleasure of visiting The Porch, which flaunts picture-perfect views of the city where you can sip your cocktail while enjoying a refreshing breeze from up top. Along with the views, The Porch provides comfortable couch and swing seating, and a fire pit. You will truly feel like you're living your best city life (shoutout to my city girls, this is the place for you!) You can also check out the W's other restaurant and bar offerings, including The Living Room Bar and modern speakeasy Civility & Unrest.

I want this wood fired oven in my future house!
  • Castilla Restaurant: Bellevue's global community is a reason for the city's robust international cuisine options; from Japanese to Mexican to happy hour options galore, everyone can find a meal to enjoy in Bellevue. One of those options is a Spanish tapas bar called Castilla. Castilla's centerpiece of a hearth oven makes the restaurant feel open and warm and adds to the Spanish flair. Be transported to the Castilla region of Spain with traditional tapas such as tortilla española, garlic shrimp, grilled octopus leg, and more, or their rustic Spanish flatbreads or paellas.

  • Hop around Bellevue using BellHop, which is a free, on-demand electric shuttle service which serves 6 square miles, or Sound Transit, a light rail which is launching passenger service to an initial segment which consists of six new stations in Bellevue, and two new stations in Redmond.

  • Seeing my friend Anna Yan from Visit Bellevue - if you're reading this Anna, it was great to catch up and let's plan a trip to Japan soon!

Happenings around Bellevue, Spring 2024:

  • There's now a floating sauna in Bellevue called Von Sauna that overlooks Lake Washington!

  • Recent and upcoming restaurant openings include Daeho Kalbijjim, a traditional Korean restaurant, Michelin-rated Jiang Nan in April, and Japanese cheesecake shop LeTAO in June.

  • EarthFest is happening at Bellevue Botanical Garden on April 20, 2024 from 11 am - 3 pm. Details here!



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