It seems that, as I get to know people in Cleveland, more and more of them are starting to move to my home city of Seattle. Because of this, I have decided to write a short post about what you need to do if you move to Seattle.
- Dick’s Drive In: Forget the Space Needle, the ferries, and the traffic jams. You can’t say you live in Seattle without eating at Dick’s Drive In. They have had almost the same formula for over 50 years, which works amazingly well. They have a number of locations throughout the Seattle area. Be sure to have a milk shake. Note that they only take cash.
- Rattlesnake lake and Rattlesnake ridge: Just 35 miles east of the city, you can find one of the best hikes in the area. This has become fairly well known over the past few years, so be prepared for a lot of people if the sun is out. The trail is beginner friendly, just under 2 miles long, with a 1100 foot elevation gain. My secret: try to get up there in time for the sunset, and then stick around a few minutes for the stars to come out. If there are no clouds, the view and the stars at night are beautiful.
- Starbucks: on the 40th floor of the Columbia Tower. Why pay for the Columbia Tower observation deck, when you can buy a coffee on the 40th floor? It is a cozy little cafe, usually filled with business people, and of course only open on weekdays during work hours. Worth checking out if you are in the area and it’s open.
- Fort Casey Sate Park: kill two birds with one stone, and take a ferry out to Whidbey Island to check out Fort Casey. Originally constructed for the naval defense of the Puget Sound, it is now both history lesson and a park, and you get to take a ferry to get there! Fort Warden and Fort Flagler are similar defense bases, although only Fort Casey still has the old guns. If you want to get away for a weekend (or a whole week) Fort Warden allows you to rent the old officer and junior officer houses, and Fort Casey lets you rent the barracks for larger groups.
- MOD Pizza: I know it’s in other cities around the country now, but you should still try it if you haven’t yet. It’s a flat price for a 10 inch pizza with whatever you want on it. I personally prefer the “Dillon James” with sausage added.
- The Olympic Peninsula: Yes the whole thing. It’s big, and it’s beautiful, with one of the few temperate rainforests in the world. If you need help planning a trip, let me know and I’ll pull up some of my family’s old travel plans.
- The Seattle Art Museum (AKA The SAM). Just go. Especially if they have a special exhibit. It’s really well done, and really interesting.
- Mount Rainier National Park: You know, that mountain you can see on the three days a year it’s not raining. In the summer, there are some amazing day hikes around Paradise, the base camp. During the winter, there is snow.
- Independent coffee shops throughout the city: don’t be afraid to go somewhere that’s not Starbucks. If you see an independent little cafe, try it instead of Starbucks. Most of them are better too.
- The Pike Place Market: even though it’s not really secret, no list about Seattle would be complete without it. Be sure to see the flying fish, and if the line is not too long get some mini donuts. Also, Seattlites like to point out that there is nothing special about the first Starbucks, mostly because there is nothing special about the first Starbucks.
And finally, a few tips from somebody who grew up in Seattle:
- Avoid Mercer Street. One day you will forget this, and try to drive through South Lake Union during rush hour, and you will finally know why it’s called “The Mercer Mess.”
- Public Transportation is not terrible: it’s not great, but if you need to go between two places with a bus line in between, the busses are usually pretty clean and mostly on time. If you come back in like 20 years we might actually have a light rail system too.
- If you might have kids, and you are buying a house, look at the high schools you might want your kids to go to, and try to live near there. Your kids will thank you when they have to drive or bike to school.
- The city is generally pretty bike friendly. Buy a nice bike, and then actually use it when it’s nice out.
- Check out the theatre! Just off the top of my head, some good ones include: The 5th ave, Seattle Public Theater, Taproot Theatre, and Pike Place Market Theatre. Also, some of the high schools put on good productions a few times a year (Bishop Blanchet, Seattle Prep, and Ballard High, just to name a few I’ve seen).
Please let me know if you want more information about any of this, or about living in Seattle in general. I am happy to answer any quetions, or point you to somebody who might know the answer.