1. The food

The fact that Seattle isn’t on every single one of those “top foodie destination” lists is a shame. And when it is, it’s practically criminal that the blurb only talks about our seafood and coffee. The food scene in Seattle is so much bigger and more complex! (Although, yeah, seafood and coffee are in excellent abundance as well.)

Caribbean sandwich joint Paseo serves one of the “best sandwiches in America,” according to Esquire. And vegetarians, don’t be deterred; while the slow-cooked Cuban pork sandwich is the most lauded, their tofu sandwich is also quite amazing. And I have yet to find another restaurant like the Trinidadian Pam’s Kitchen. Their paratha, a doughy flatbread with a flaky croissant-like texture, is so good that after writing this sentence, I’m looking up airfare to Seattle. I’ll also never forget Crumble & Flake, one of the absolute best bakeries I’ve been to, where they fill your cream puff to order.

There’s just some seriously good food in Seattle.

2. The weather

People who haven’t lived in Seattle for a long time don’t really get the weather. “Doesn’t it rain all the time?” people ask. “Look, you brought the rain with you!” they accuse when you’re visiting another city.

Here’s a fact you should all internalize: Seattle’s average annual rainfall is less than New York’s, and pretty much the entire Eastern seaboard’s. Seattle’s just really gray. On average, the city has 201 cloudy days per year. And it’s kind of perfect because most days are that kind of day where you just want to curl up with a book and a cup of hot cocoa. Plus, any day that’s actually sunny is, like, the best day ever, and everyone celebrates by having picnics and smiling at each other. It’s a beautiful thing.

3. All that natural beauty

After nearly a year on the road, I still consider Seattle one of the most naturally stunning cities I’ve seen. It’s surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascades to the east. The best days are when “the mountain is out.” That’s when you can spot the majestic sleeping giant, Mt. Rainier, rising out of the southeastern horizon.

Also, each vista of the city skyline includes a sparkling body of water, as the city’s flanked by the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Throw in all those perennially green trees, and each photo of Seattle is postcard worthy.

4. The neighborhoods

Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own personality. You could choose to spend a day somewhere depending simply on your mood.

Capitol Hill is an intriguing mix of everything that makes Seattle unique and has the vibrancy of a young, creative metropolis. Visiting the casually sophisticated Ballard, a historically Scandinavian area, is like spending a day in a European village, with its mix of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. And let’s not forget Fremont, the notoriously quirky neighborhood and self-proclaimed “center of the universe,” whose notable monuments include a giant statue of Lenin and a massive troll living under a bridge.

5. The parks

More than one of the city parks are big enough and lush enough you can easily forget you’re still in a city. Discovery Park, for example, is on the shores of the Puget Sound with forests, beaches, prairies, and bluffs.

Gas Works Park may not be a forest paradise like Discovery, but it’s one of the best in Seattle. And it’s kind of famous for being the setting for that paintball scene in 10 Things I Hate About You. Paintballing doesn’t really happen there in real life, but there’s a hill specifically for kite flying.

6. The proximity to other cool places

For being on the West Coast, an otherwise fairly spread-out area of the US, Seattle is surprisingly close to some really exciting destinations. Staycation takes on a new meaning when you can drive to another country in just three hours (yes — Vancouver, BC, is that close). A short drive in the other direction brings you to Portland.

Also within driving distance from Seattle is the super quaint town of Leavenworth, whose citizens decided to model it after a Bavarian village in an effort to boost the local economy through tourism when the logging industry went bust in the 1960s.

7. All the pho

Although pho is technically a food (we’ve looped back to #1), it deserves its own header, since pho restaurants in Seattle are almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks locations. Pho, for the uninitiated, is a Vietnamese noodle soup that can be customized to one’s taste with a variety of garnishes that come with the dish. And it’s one of my all-time favorite foods.

Sadly, other cities don’t have Seattle’s abundance of pho restaurants, so my official first stop on every Seattle visit is to the nearest pho joint.