If you’re on the go, there are hidden gems in Seattle.
My stop in Seattle occurred on the drive between Portland and Vancouver. Conveniently, Washington’s largest city fairly accurately divides the distance between the two places in half, making for a perfect lunch stop amongst a day of driving. Our ultimate goal that particular day was to reach Vancouver before nightfall, which left us minimal time to explore the vast majority of the city. However, the following describes a whirlwind tour of the clean, modernist expanse of urban forms in Seattle.
With food looming on the mind, our first stop took us to Pike’s Place Market. Along the waterfront of downtown sits a string of restaurants, shops, and a temporary art/trinket market. Similar to a bazaar in Northern Africa or a flea market in Europe, the stands sell everything from handcrafted wood figures, to cans of honey, to pieces of graffiti artwork, to fresh fish and crab. Across from the sales tents sits the permanent row of eateries and cafes. Pike’s Place serves as home to the world’s first Starbucks location, which exists as more of a tourist trap than a place where you’d actually want to spend a substantial amount of time. We ate at the highest rated deli in the city, just a few doors down from Starbucks. The Michou deli had a variety of Panini-pressed deli sandwiches to choose from, sold by the half or the whole. Never have I paid so little for such a delectable sandwich ($2.50 for a sizable half). I’m convinced that no other place in that part of town serves a meal with comparable taste and affordability.
Although visiting a public library may not sound like something that most people want to do when coming to a new city, Seattle serves as home to one of the most interesting contemporary pieces of public architecture in the world. OMA, an architecture firm led by Rem Koolhaas, designed the Seattle Public Library on the premise of creating a variety of different zones or realms within the same building. Each floor serves a different purpose that can only be properly experienced in person.
If you’re one of the outdoorsy types, you may want to pay a visit to the original REI store, complete with a mountain bike single track for test riding bikes, a climbing wall, and a hiking trail (in urban Seattle!).
If you have some more time and want to enjoy one of America’s most ingeniously designed parks, head across the water to the Gas Works Park. The heavy, dirty industry of the Seattle Gas Light Company once sat on this beautiful point in Lake Union. Richard Haag took reins of the site with the vision of creating a park through bioremediation. To remind visitors of the previous identity of the site, Haag left rusting relics of the coal producing industry on the site while utilizing a variety of plant life to break down the toxic compounds present in the soil. Other than providing a beautiful place to enjoy some afternoon sun and solace, the park makes a powerful statement about industry and its inherent presence in our society.