Weekend Away: Seattle

View from the Space Needle

A few weeks ago, I took a solo trip to Seattle, Washington. I was testing out the waters to see how I felt about traveling alone and staying at hostels because I’m planning a trip abroad next year.

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I found that it was great to be on my own timeline. I could take as long as I wanted in certain attractions and as little in others. The problem I find with going on long vacations or traveling with a companion is that I like my alone time and space. When you’re on vacation you’re with the person (or people) all day long from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. I’ve found that I liked waking up earlier than others when I’m traveling to have a morning tea or coffee alone. It recharges me to start the day with others.

It was different when I went to Seattle since I was alone from the get-go. I spent one day alone going to all the major tourist attractions in Seattle, then spent a second day with a friend who moved to Seattle for work. It was fun meeting new people at the hostel, but small talk quickly got old for me. And it was really great to see an old friend and have more meaningful conversation after a day of site seeing. I’m not sure what the solution will be when I travel next summer, but I do know that I was able to see a lot of Seattle in a short amount of time.

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I stayed at a hostel that was directly across the street from Pike Place Market.

The hostel I stayed at was decent. I was funny that the privacy curtains that each bed had was five inches too short. So if you laid down and turned towards the bed on the other side of the room you can see clear through to the person in that bed.

Pike Place Market:

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I’ve stopped through Seattle on a road trip to Canada before. I was only able to see a portion of the market then. After spending more time there I can see how large and maze-like it is.

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I tagged along a free market tour and learned lots of fun little facts about the market. Did you know it takes up nine acres of the downtown area? Or that the Starbucks that everyone goes to isn’t the real first Starbucks store? The first one burnt down, the one that is still standing is the oldest store.

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I got to see the Gum Wall. It was intriguing and gross at the same time.

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Everywhere I looked there were signs pointing to more shops! On the tour I took the guide said the marketplace took up 9 acres of the downtown area.

Seattle Public Library Downtown:

This was a fun pit stop on my way to dinner the first night in Seattle.

Ferry to Bainbridge Island:

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I woke up early to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island the first full day I was in Seattle. I wanted to make sure I could see the skyline as the sun was rising because I got a tip from a fellow hostel dweller that it was gorgeous. I would assume the view of the sun setting on the ferry would be breathtaking as well.

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I went to several places with beautiful views of the Seattle that weekend and this was hands down my favorite.

Bainbridge Island:

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If you have access to a car when visiting Seattle, I suggest taking your car with you on the ferry to explore the island. I walked the island on foot and quickly realized that it was too big to get anywhere. The downtown area is walkable and a nice diversion, but doesn’t take long to explore completely because it takes only about ten minutes to walk from one end to the other.

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There was a short waterfront park and path nearby the ferry port that was within walking distance.

The other parks that I’ve hear about on the island were too far to walk too (hence why I suggest bringing a car). Or possibly booking an island tour.

Ballard Neighborhood:

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Paseo Carribean Sandwich- I was told I had to go eat a sandwich from this place. It was worth the long line. Be warned that it’s cash only, but there’s an atm at the store next door if you need it.

The rest of the neighborhood itself was filled with cute stores, restaurants and bars.

Chittenden Locks:

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I was walking back from Ballard neighborhood and stumbled across this park. I was imagining large locks when I saw the sign directing me to the park, but when I got to them I quickly realized it was really a stair lock to help ships and boats up.

Fremont Neighborhood:

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Artwork- I mainly went for the troll, but quickly found that there were tons of sculptures scattered around the neighborhood.

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The buildings themselves were works of art.

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Sunday Farmer’s Market- I didn’t mean to get sucked into shopping, but I did. It was an interesting mix of farmer’s market, artisan market and flea market.

Olympic Sculpture Park:

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It’s about a half mile from the Space Needle. And is full of sculptures ranging from big to enormous. Many of them were nestled in between trees and shrubs, blending into their environment.

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Others commanded the space they were in.

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Space Needle:

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I mostly went up because I felt like this was the one tourist attraction I was obligated to go up. I’ve been told by countless people that the view from Sky View Observatory was beautiful too (and had a better skyline because the Space Needle was in it), but I felt like I had to go up it once or I’d regret it.

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I went around dusk, so the lighting was beautiful and it wasn’t too crowded.

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The Space Needle felt very high tech with it’s wall of touch screen information. It had a fun interactive app that allowed for you to “see through the floor”.

Chihuly Glass and Garden:

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Favorite tourist attraction I went to all weekend. I’m familiar with Chihuly’s work, but have not had the opportunity to see any of his exhibits (except for the one in Bellagio at Las Vegas, but who’s paying attention to the ceilings when you’re in Vegas?).

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This was a perfect example of when I loved traveling alone. I took an absurd amount of time at each piece and I know if I was with someone they would have been tired of waiting for me.

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Volunteer Park:

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I wanted to go to see the conservatory, but sadly it was under construction. Instead we went up the water tower that was in the park and got a mediocre view of trees between the iron bars that covered the windows.

Kerry Park:

We took a quick stop here for the view. According to my friend who was playing tour guide to me that day, the park is very popular for this view. I was expecting a large park, but it’s very tiny.

University of Washington:

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I originally didn’t intend to make this a stop on my trip, but my friend convinced me to go. The campus (especially the library) was beautiful.

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And there were a series of fun sculptures all across the campus.

Gaswork Park:

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This was a large park with a gorgeous waterfront view of house boats and fun colored gas set ups. I thought it was a bit odd the city decided to keep the original gas structures, but it was fun to poke around and explore.

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The great thing I noticed during my weekend there was that every place I went was close to the waterfront.

Seattle’s urban areas were fun to explore, but I wished I took some time to go to some of Seattle’s parks and taken a hike. I’ve been told that the hikes around Seattle are wonderful. When I go back again, I’ll be sure to plan for those hikes in the future.

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