An Innkeeper’s Guide to Seattle

Travelers are drawn to the coastal city of Seattle, Washington for its eclectic mix of neighborhoods, as well as its noteworthy musical history, multiculturalism, and highly navigable public transportation system. Known as the “Emerald City” for its proximity to the lush evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle offers something for everyone, from the urban to the outdoors, the artsy to the chic, and the gritty to the down-to-earth. When you stay at a Seattle bed and breakfast, you get the insider’s guide to the best of the city. This Seattle city guide is filled with tips from local innkeepers to help you make the most of your stay.

Things to do

Seattle sunset bike ride

While Seattle has a reputation for rainy days and gloomy skies, the locals know that the weather is pretty pleasant outside of the rainy season (November through March), especially during the summer months. This is why all of our innkeepers advise spending as much time outdoors as possible.

Three Tree Point Bed and Breakfast suggests riding bicycles around Alki Beach Park, renting boats at Lake Union Park, or hiking up to Twin Falls at Olallie State Park. Korby Kencayd and Randal Potter, avid hikers and innkeepers at the Sleeping Bulldog Bed and Breakfast, recommend hitting the trails at the Mountains to Sound Greenway, an area measuring 1.5-million acres in size and defined by watershed boundaries.

If you’re looking to surround yourself by even more nature, the proprietors of the Inn of Twin Gables say that Discovery Park and Golden Gardens Park are must-see destinations, while the innkeepers at the Shafer Baillie Mansion recommend taking in the view at Louisa Boren Park and walking up to the observation deck of the Water Tower at Volunteer Park. During the summer months, you can catch performances of Shakespeare in the Park in various locations around the city put on by the Seattle Shakespeare Company.

Visitors wanting to treat their palates can take the Chelsea Station Inn’s suggestion and sign up for a factory tour at Theo Chocolate. Or, they can explore Woodinville Wine Country, a favorite activity of the Bulldog Bed and Breakfast. On the weekend, the Chelsea Station Inn recommends wandering through the Ballard Farmers Market, while the Inn of Twin Gables suggests searching for unique treasures and trinkets at the Fremont Sunday Flea Market.

Where to eat

One of the best ways to get to know a city is through its restaurant scene.

Seattle restaurants

These restaurants have been suggested by multiple innkeepers:

  • Olivar: This quaint bistro located in the historic Loveless Building serves a seasonal menu inspired by the cuisines of France and Spain as well as fresh, organic ingredients found in the local farmers markets or sourced from local providers. The menu offers a hearty selection of both hot and cold small plates that can be shared or combined for a personal tasting experience. Grab a bite to eat here and then head across the street to the Harvard Exit Theater for a movie.
  • Poppy: At this Capitol Hill restaurant, you’ll experience the innovative fusion between the cuisines of southern regions of Asia and the finest seasonal ingredients and fresh spices available in the Pacific Northwest. Meals are served in a style similar to traditional Indian and Nepalese meals made up of a variety of dishes. Enjoy tasting portions of seven different dishes presented all at once in individual bowls set on a wide platter. And, after you’ve filled yourself with plates of Pickled Figs and Nigella-Poppy Naan, order up the Nutter-Butter Squares that all the locals are buzzing about.

Other restaurants suggested:

  • Canlis: If you’ll be celebrating a special occasion during your visit, then aim to make a reservation at Canlis, widely considered one of the Seattle’s finest restaurants. Not only will you dine on food prepared with modern techniques and presented in contemporary ways, but you will also be treated to sweeping 180-degree views of the city, Lake Union, and the Cascade Mountains.
  • Dahlia Lounge: The first restaurant of James Beard Award-winning chef Tom Douglas, Dahlia Lounge has been at the epicenter of Seattle’s local, sustainable, and organic food movement for over 20 years. Among the items listed on the Asian-inspired dinner menu, the Dungeness Crab Cakes stand out as a diner favorite. For dessert, go for the Triple Coconut Cream Pie or the addictive Made-to-Order Doughnuts.
  • Ray’s Boathouse: Originally opened in 1939, this sleek and sophisticated waterside restaurant in the Ballard neighborhood has earned a special place in the hearts of Seattleites. The restaurant features a weekly rotating Chef’s Tasting menu that highlights the region’s fresh fish and seafood. If you’re looking for small plates rather than a full dinner, then take a seat at the 30-foot waterfront bar and sip on a hand-crafted cocktail while taking in the view of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

-Recommended by Three Tree Point Bed and Breakfast

Seattle Seafood
  • Cheeky Café: Focusing on classic American comfort food with some Asian twists, this restaurant in the Central District serves up a side of nostalgia with each plate. Owners (and sisters) May and Wendy Wong regularly rotate the items on the menu based on customer suggestions, so repeat visits may reveal new dishes among long-time favorites such as the Spicy Mac kicked up with kimchi, the Cheeky Burger seasoned with katsu sauce, and the Meatloaf Sandwich topped with house-made barbecue sauce.
  • Salty's: This restaurant on Alki Beach has been consistently voted “Best Waterfront Restaurant” and “Best Sunday Brunch” in the city. Take in the sweeping views of Elliott Bay and Seattle’s breathtaking skyline while you dine on a wide assortment of the region’s freshest seafood. In nice weather, request a table on the seaside patio or on the wrap-around deck to take full advantage of coastal landscape.
  • That's Amore: Locals consider this Italian bistro a “hidden gem” in the city. If you’re looking for an authentic meal based on the traditional dishes of Tuscany, then this is the restaurant for you. Enjoy the Wild Boar Ragu based on a 1,000-year-old recipe while sipping on a glass of wine and watching the sun set out beyond Elliott Bay. On a clear night, you might even be able to spot the Olympic Mountains off in the distance.

-Recommended by Sleeping Bulldog Bed and Breakfast

  • Chinook's at Salmon Bay: Suitable for family dining, this seafood restaurant is located in Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal, which has served as the base of the North Pacific fishing fleet since 1913. The views of the boats draw groups of tourists and locals alike, but if you can stomach the crowds, then it’ll be worth the wait for a fresh seafood meal that won’t break the bank. Guest moorage is available right in front of the restaurant through the Port of the Terminal for diners arriving by boat.
  • Elliott's Oyster House: Through their long-standing relationship with regional growers, this landmark restaurant on Pier 56 has the local reputation for serving the freshest oysters in Seattle and the national reputation for seafood specialties such as sustainable Dungeness crab, wild salmon, Alaskan halibut, and Pacific Northwest shellfish. Grab a table outside and enjoy the Progressive Oyster Happy Hour, during which you’ll slurp down the chef’s choice of freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell.
  • Stumbling Goat Bistro: The staff at this neighborhood restaurant believes that food is about more than just what you eat. Food is about the people with whom you share the experience, and the best experiences come from dishes created with seasonal ingredients from local farms and purveyors. Along with delicious food and a down-to-earth atmosphere, the bistro also has a rich history of featuring local artists, allowing them to showcase their work and providing a space for the Seattle art scene to thrive.

-Recommended by Inn of Twin Gables

  • Coastal Kitchen: Another restaurant featuring the work of local artists, this Capitol Hill establishment is the quintessential neighborhood fish house and oyster bar that is committed to sustainably-raised and wild-caught fish. Oyster-lovers can order their favorite bivalves for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the lengthy international menu that changes from season to season and features a different coastal region with each rotation.
  • Jamjuree: This family-owned restaurant is a Capitol Hill favorite for the curries and noodle dishes notable in traditional Thai cuisine. While the food is simple, the portions are generous and the flavors are authentic, as the restaurant has roots in Bangkok. If dining in isn’t feasible for you, then take advantage of the restaurant’s take-out service. Recommended dishes include the Spring Rolls, Cashew Nut Chicken, and Yellow Curry.

-Recommended by Shafer Baillie Mansion

Seattle Clam Chowder
  • Red Mill Burgers: If you’re looking for a burger while you’re in Seattle, then make your way over to Red Mill Burgers. Most of the burgers at this cash-only restaurant feature traditional toppings like cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, but there are a handful of specialty burgers on the menu for those wanting more. To complete your all-American meal, order a side of freshly made onion rings and a thick milkshake or malt.
  • The Walrus and the Carpenter: Inspired by the Lewis and Carroll poem, this oyster bar in Ballard combines the elegance of a French bistro with the casual vibe of a local neighborhood pub. In addition to oysters harvested from regions within the Pacific Northwest, the daily-changing menu also includes local varieties of clams and mussels, house-smoked fish, and specialty meat dishes such as their Steak Tartare.
  • Tilth: This intimate restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood features New American cuisine prepared with certified-organic ingredients, as well as ingredients sourced from local farmers. James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef and owner Maria Hines has created an elegant atmosphere all while making guests feel as if they are enjoying a meal at the dining room table in her home rather than at a table in her restaurant.

-Recommended by Chelsea Station Inn

Where to shop

While developing your strategy for exploring what Seattle has to offer, don’t forget to add some of the local shops and markets to your list. Since Seattle is such a diverse city, you will undoubtedly stumble across stores to meet your every possible shopping need.

Seattle Pike Place Market

The following is recommended by multiple innkeepers:

  • Pike Place Market: This Seattle institution overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront is one of the oldest continuously-operated public farmer’s markets in the United States and a must-see destination for artisanal and specialty food products, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, regional seafood, and locally-produced meat and poultry.

Other shop suggestions:

  • Alexandria Rossoff Jewels and Rare Finds: This Downtown shop specializes in original Art Deco, Edwardian, and Victorian jewelry and collectible gems from around the world. They also carry a selection of antique and period jewelry, as well as heirloom pieces and custom designs.
  • Rhinestone Rosie's: Rosie’s is a specialty jewelry store in the residential area known as Queen Anne Hill that features thousands of pieces of vintage costume and estate jewelry.

-Recommended by Inn of Twin Gables

  • Aprie: This women’s boutique has locations in two of Seattle’s busiest shopping districts and offers fashion-forward clothing, shoes, and accessories.
  • Casita International: This little house of international wares is packed with unique items from local artists and craftspeople as well as fair-trade vendors from all around the world.
  • Flowers on 15th: The florists at this Capitol Hill shop offer customers over 30 years’ worth of experience handcrafting fine floral designs and one-of-a-kind floral arrangements that are available for affordable, same-day delivery within the city limits.
  • Take 2 New and Recycled Apparel: This Capitol Hill shop has been offering customers well-priced new and consignment apparel items, as well as accessories and jewelry, for nearly 30 years. Items are listed in their online store for two weeks, after which all unsold items are moved to their physical storefront in Seattle, guaranteeing an ever-rotating selection.

-Recommended by Shafer Baillie Mansion

  • Blackbird: This unique store sells a selection of specialty products for the modern man such as incense, cologne, soap, and shaving accessories.
  • Drygood's Design: This Ballard shop not only sells a fine selection of fabrics, notions, trims, and other crafty goods, but it also offers sewing classes suitable for both adults and kids.
  • Monster Art and Clothing:This clothing store specializes in sustainable goods and accessories for men, women, and children, as well as artisan gift ideas. They also feature the work of local artists and craftspeople.
  • Venue:This shop sells exclusive pieces made by local artists and designers. You’ll find unique home accessories, fine art, and great gift ideas. The store offers on-site studio space for artists, so you may even be able to meet some of the designers while you’re shopping.

-Recommended by Chelsea Station Inn

Where to go for nightlife

Seattle Martini

To fully understand the intricacies of a city, you need to balance your daytime activities with some nightlife. Our innkeepers have come up with a list of must-hit spots to visit once the sun has set for the evening.

These venues are recommended by multiple innkeepers:

  • Dimitriou's Jazz Alley: Jazz Alley has been a fixture of the live music and dining scene in Seattle since 1979. The small club atmosphere allows patrons to sit within arm’s reach of the greatest names in jazz as they perform each set.
  • The New Orleans in Pioneer Square: For more jazz from local, regional, and national musicians, head to the New Orleans Creole Restaurant in the historic Lombardy Building in Pioneer Square. As you dine on your meal of Creole and Cajun food, you can soak in the sounds that make up America’s musical heritage.

Other venue suggestions:

  • Annex Theatre: This theatre in Capitol Hill is dedicated to premiering works by local playwrights and producing unexpected interpretations of existing scripts. Over the past 25 years, they have put on more than 300 individual performances.
  • Century Ballroom: If you’re looking for a night of dinner and dancing, then head over to the Century Ballroom, where dancers of all abilities are welcomed equally. Classes are available to those who want to brush up on their moves before making their public debut on the dance floor.
  • Neumo's: This concert venue plays host to musical acts representing a variety of genres including indie rock, singer/songwriters, hip hop, punk, country, and metal.

-Recommended by Shafer Baillie Mansion

  • Fremont Outdoor Cinema: On Saturday evenings during the summer, bring your lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy movies projected on the big-screen. Audience members are highly encouraged to join in and interact with the show.

-Recommended by Three Tree Point Bed and Breakfast

  • High Dive:This 21-and-over music venue is one of the hottest nightclubs in Seattle. You’ll enjoy excellent barbecue, serious rock, and strong drinks, all at affordable prices.
  • Showbox at the Market: Founded in 1939, this music venue has been providing music fans a diverse offering of music covering a wide range of genres and has played a vital role in developing the local Seattle music scene.
  • The Triple Door: This dinner theater, lounge, and music venue is located in the Mann Building where the Embassy Theater once stood. The venue often hosts concerts for folk and indie musical acts and world music groups.

-Recommended by Chelsea Station Inn

  • Teatro ZinZanni: Teatro ZinZanni has been described as “the Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil”. Visitors will experience part circus and part dinner theater. Over the years, performers have included Joan Baez, Martha Davis of the rock group The Motels, and Ann Wilson of the rock group Heart.

-Recommended by Inn of Twin Gables


Art festival

While planning your trip to Seattle, check the dates on the following popular events to make sure you don’t miss them while you’re in town.

These events come highly recommended by multiple innkeepers:

  • Northwest Folklife Festival: This festival is an annual festival hosted at Seattle Center that celebrates ethnic, folk, and traditional art, crafts, and music. Admission to the festival is free, but greeters at the entrance encourage visitors to make suggested donations of $5 per day. (Memorial Day Weekend)
  • Seafair: This summer festival encompasses a wide variety of small neighborhood events leading up to several city-wide celebrations. The most popular events are the Torchlight Parade and accompany Torchlight Run, the Seafair Cup hydroplane races, and the Blue Angels show. (Summer)
  • Bumbershoot : Bumbershoot is the largest urban arts festival in North America drawing artists representing the best in music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, and performance and visual arts. (Labor Day Weekend)

Other event suggestions:

  • Capitol Hill Block Party: This three-day event showcases over 100 of the best bands to appear on local stages in the Pacific Northwest as well as at venues located all across the U.S. Listen to some music and take in a culture that promotes independent thought and progressive politics. (Summer)

-Recommended by Shafer Baillie Mansion

  • Seattle PrideFest: PrideFest is the largest free pride festival in the United States, featuring four stages, silent disco, world-class entertainment, and measurable action and advocacy for the LGBT community. (Summer)

-Recommended by Three Tree Point Bed and Breakfast

  • Issaquah Salmon Days Featival: This two-day festival in Issaquah, Washington, located approximately 20 miles southeast of Seattle, celebrates the return of the salmon to their birth-waters, and highlights the city’s history, culture, and ethnic diversity. You’ll find four stages of entertainment as well as an arts convention showcasing the crafts of artists based in the Pacific Northwest. (October)

-Recommended by Sleeping Bulldog Bed and Breakfast

Where to go for day trips

Seattle Ferry

These day trips come highly recommended by multiple innkeepers:

  • Bainbridge Island Ferry Trip: Our innkeepers overwhelmingly recommend scheduling time to take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The trip takes 35 minutes (one way) and offers a scenic tour of the Puget Sound. Once on Bainbridge Island, spend the day exploring the sights and the shops and then take the return ferry back to the city for dinner.
  • Mount Rainier: Mount Rainier is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States as well as the Cascade Volcanic Arc and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. While climbing the mountain is reserved for highly skilled climbers, Mount Rainier National Park offers visitor a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and backcountry skiing.

Other day trip suggestions:

For a shorter day trip, the Shafer Baillie Mansion suggests visiting Snoqualmie Falls. This waterfall on the Snoqualmie River is one of Washington’s most popular scenic attractions, perhaps best known for its appearance in the television series Twin Peaks. Make the most of your visit by packing a picnic lunch to enjoy in the two-acre park and take in the views while testing your fear of heights at the observation deck.

If you want to really pack your day full of activities, the Sleeping Bulldog Bed and Breakfast recommends continuing on from Snoqualmie Falls across the valley to explore the rich culture of the city Duvall, the historic home of the Snoqualmie and other ancestral Tulalip Native American tribes. After that, head to Woodinville Wine Country located just 30 minutes outside of Downtown Seattle. You can choose from over 90 wineries and tasting rooms to explore before ending the evening in Kirkland for dinner on the waterfront.

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