Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club
This casual waterfront eatery offers up more than just traditional Mexican fare. Agua Verde also rents kayaks and paddleboards in the warmer months so visitors – likely post-meal to work off that heaping helping of nachos con carne – can explore the famous and vibrant houseboat community on Portage Bay.
Although it first opened as a restaurant and saloon in 1892, in the time since, Central Saloon has been many things: a post office, an employment hall, a card room and bar, even a brothel. Today, it’s back to being a bar, where many of the famous Seattle grunge bands, such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, got their start performing at the brick and mahogany-accented venue in the late ’80s. That spirit is still alive with live music most nights.
This hidden gem encompasses all the hip, vintage fun of the Pacific Northwest. A store dedicated to the love of movies, with more than 127,000 titles in its video collection, it’s the largest you’ll find in the country. But this location is more than just a glorified Blockbuster; it’s also a non-profit dedicated to archiving and preserving our past in film and supports local art and film creators.
Theo is quintessential contemporary Seattle: Not only is the chocolate delicious, they were the first in the nation to use 100 percent organic, fair trade cocoa beans in 1994. Since then they have opened up their capabilities to include caramels, honey candies, and hot chocolate. The factory offers tours seven days a week that includes samplings of different chocolates along the way.
How to spend 36 hours in Seattle, with Graduate Seattle as your base camp.
6 p.m. | Dinner at The Backdoor
Walking through the backdoor of the Roxy Diner, which accesses this unique speakeasy (hence the name “The Backdoor”), does not prepare you for the riot of décor that awaits. Chandeliers and old window frames fight for air space as they dangle from the high ceilings. Murals, frescoes, and “gently vandalized” statues create a whimsical and creative space to enjoy some comfort food and expertly crafted house-infused cocktails.
8 p.m. | Catch a Show at the Tractor Tavern
A six-minute drive from The Backdoor up Leary Way brings you to the Tractor Tavern, a local hotspot surrounded by exposed brick and retro metal details like old signs and vintage promotional fridges. Friday nights in this small venue include performances across every music genre including experimental piano rock to Southwest-infused pop to alt rock and beyond.
2 p.m. | Stroll Pike Place Market
Can it even be considered a trip to Seattle if you don’t stop at Pike Place Market? Consisting of 11 buildings along the Seattle waterfront, the market is home to stand after stand of owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, merchants, and more. While you stroll, grab a quick to-go lunch at one of the many take-out counters, like the Chinese street food at Country Dough or southern-inspired sandwiches at Cycene.
5 p.m. | See a One-of-a-Kind Museum
Set in a 1910 building in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown-International district is America’s only Pan-Asian museum: The Wing Luke Museum. This Smithsonian-affiliated gem presents multimedia exhibits, costumes, oral histories, folk art, and historic structures from the region’s Asian populations – and is currently home to a highly-acclaimed Bruce Lee exhibit, on display now until September 2017.
7 p.m. | Dinner at Bateau
This classy and contemporary steakhouse has more going on than just a fire grill. Owner/chef Renee Erikson’s dedication to offering the best products possible led him to buy a farm on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, where he raises the grass-fed cows that are butchered and, the meat, dry aged in-house at Bateau.
9 p.m. | Fun and Games at the Rabbit Hole
Though once featured on Grey’s Anatomy, this cavernous dark bar has remained a quirky locals-only kind of hangout. Featuring hanging black-and-white photos of cowboys, old newspaper clippings, and antique frames, the eclectic lounge and bar has people from around Belltown gathering to sip on any of the 87 whiskeys and compete in skeeball leagues and tournaments.
9:30 a.m. | Breakfast of Belgian Waffles
What could be better than a thick Belgian waffle? A thick Belgian waffle served with your choice of several sweet or savory toppings, from berry compote and bruleed bananas to herbed goat cheese, hazelnuts, and havarti. Sweet Iron Waffle Bar serves up their locally sourced brioche-style goodies in a bright sunny dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows that were made for people watching.
10:45 a.m. | Argosy Bay Cruise
Take in the panoramic views of Seattle’s historic waterfront while learning about the history of the ever-changing Emerald City. While touring around Elliot Bay on this sightseeing cruise, you’ll get up close and personal with petit harbor seals and California sea lions. After the one-hour crash course of a tour, you’ll know the Seattle skyline almost as well as a native.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Fremont Mischief Distillery
This small craft distillery uses only organic, heirloom, and small-farm grains and botanicals to make its whiskies, vodkas, and gin. A dedication to sustainability is one thing Mike Sherlock, the owner and distiller, attributes to the superior flavor and quality of his spirits. The other is his high-quality stills – crafted by Arnold Holstein Co., a German family that have been hand making stills for decades – which allows for pure, flavorful spirits in the very first run.
U-District Farmers Market
Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., University Way (known locally as “the Ave”) transforms into a street bazaar full of artisanal food, farm-fresh veggies, local beer and wine, and deep-fried fair food. Along with the goods, there is also cooking demos hosted by local chefs and talks about the importance of artisanal products and how to get involved.
Ugly Mug Coffee Roasters
Seattle is the capital of coffeehouses, but for a truly elite product, head to this husband-and-wife–owned micro-roaster located one block south of Hotel Deca. Focusing on creating perfectly balanced light and medium roasts, they sell their coffee by the bag online or by the cup at their cozy, art-filled store where they also offer serve breakfast and lunch.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
From traditional ice cream flavors (strawberry and chocolate) to artisanal delights (lavender honey) and even vegan-friendly options (coconut chunk), Molly Moon’s has something for even the pickiest of eaters. They partner with local farmers and producers – from jam-makers and beekeepers to strawberry farmers and coffee roasters – to turn the most creative local flavors into the best ice cream.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Seeing Secret Seattle | Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
After the fire of 1889 that leveled Seattle, the city decided to build right over the destruction rather than repair it. Today, it has been excavated to reveal an underground world of abandoned storefronts and walkways. This 75-minute walking tour departs from Doc Maynard’s Public House every hour and explores both the forgotten underground as well as the more humorous, forgotten aspects of the city’s history.
Set Sail on Lake Union | The Center for Wooden Boats
This is no stuffy “hands-off” museum. In addition to offering rotating exhibits dedicated to preserving and documenting the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest, the center offers a fleet of historic classic wooden sail and row boats for rental, allowing visitors an active way to learn about the Pacific Northwest’s history on the water. Take a boat out on Lake Union or enroll in a workshop in sailing, kayak building, bronze casting, and more.
Seattle’s Famous Thoroughfare | Burke-Gilman Trail
Popular with walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters, and commuters, this 20-mile paved bike trail starts in Woodinville (a northern suburb of Seattle) and runs south along a historic railroad bed into the city. Popular trail-side attractions include the 18-foot tall Fremont Troll sculpture under the Aurora Bridge and the Ballard Locks, a canal where the freshwater of Lake Washington meets the saltwater of Puget Sound.
A Bird’s Eye View Over the City | Kenmore Air
Tour the Emerald City from the air during this scenic seaplane tour, a 20-minute narrated tour that takes passengers over metropolitan Seattle where they can marvel at the skyline – including the Space Needle, the University of Washington campus, and Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners) – all backed by the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier.
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A Gemstone Collection Hotel
Graduate Seattle, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle,WA 98105 P: 206-634-2000 Toll Free Reservations: 800-899-0251