48 Hours in Seattle: Where to Eat, Where to Stay and What to Do

by Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan breaks down the musts for a weekend in Seattle.

I didn’t know a lot about Seattle (other than it looks pretty on Grey’s Anatomy and a friend had mentioned a great food scene) when I decided to make the three-and-a-half hour bus ride from Vancouver. And while the promise of McDreamy-esque boys and good eats was enough of a draw for me, there’s much more to Seattle. It’s a city that’s easy to fall in love with — despite the grey, rainy weather. In fact, Seattle was named last year by Business Week as the country’s second best city to live in (behind San Francisco). What makes it a top city in my books? Here are my top five things to do in Seattle.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Stay at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel

The grandness of the Fairmont Olympic (which was built in 1924 and is part of the National Register of Historic Places), along with its central location makes this my accommodation of choice. In the lobby, be sure to look up to admire the soaring ceilings decorated with ornate chandeliers. It’s easy to imagine elegant balls taking place here decades ago. The rooms are just as handsome and well-sized, something this traveller especially appreciates after too many stays in tiny Manhattan hotels.

Another draw? Seafood lovers can satiate themselves at Shuckers Oyster Bar, where the fresh catches of the day can be ordered grilled and served alongside a Niçoise salad (start, though, with a selection of oysters from the wide range on the menu). For dessert, share an enormous slice of the restaurant’s signature chocolate fudge cake with a friend (or two or three — it truly is that large a slice!).

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Drink Fantastic Coffee

I made the requisite coffee lover’s visit to the very first Starbucks (and you should, too, if you want to pick up beans and mugs exclusive to the Pike Place location), but the indie coffee shops around the city are the ones worth discovering. Two of the craft coffee roasters in the city where you should grab a cup of joe are Caffe Ladro and Victrola Coffee (each have several locations).

Eat at Revel

I ate and drank as much as one girl can every day and I had good meals aplenty, but there was only one meal that had me and my travel buddy groaning in foodie pleasure as we took each bite: brunch at Revel. This airy restaurant is in Fremont (a neighbourhood that’s about a $10 cab ride from downtown). The must-have? The kalbi short-rib burger. It’s so juicy and full of flavour that you may find yourself both happy and angry with each bite: happy because it is beyond tasty (it might be the best burger I have ever had) and angry because it means you are one bite closer to finishing it.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Visit Chihuly Garden and Glass

Yes, Seattle’s got the Space Needle, but the view of the city is not that remarkable from the top of this landmark, in my opinion. My vote for top tourist must-see goes to Chihuly Garden and Glass located at the base of the Needle (you can buy a combo ticket to both attractions if you’re keen on the Needle; the combo ticket will save you $5). Dale Chihuly is the freeblown glass guy (if you’ve been to the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas then you’re probably familiar with his work—the fantastical glass flower ceiling is his art). Inside the gallery, you’ll find breathtaking glass pieces, including the ornate, oversized chandeliers the artist is known for. Outside, Chihuly’s glass pieces are incorporated into a lush garden where the vivid pieces create an otherworldly atmosphere that will leave you in awe.

Check out the Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is a great spot to go to if you’ve overindulged on great food at the nearby Pike Place market—not that you need an excuse to go to this top-notch museum. There is a wide range of art, and yet the entire museum is not so large as to be overwhelming. If you happen to be in town the first Thursday of the month, plan your SAM visit for then, as admission is free (there may be a charge for special exhibitions, however) and you can enjoy live music performances, which creates an exuberant party atmosphere.