Don’t pay to go to the top of the Space Needle.
There is absolutely no point in paying $14 to see what is, frankly, not the best view of the city. Not to mention the lines and tour buses. The Space Needle may be the symbol most associated with Seattle, but next to Pike Place Market, it’s also the hotspot for tourists and overpriced food.
Do go to Kerry Park.
Haven’t heard of Kerry Park? Good, then we’re a step in the right direction. Tour buses do ascend Queen Anne Hill to show its passengers one of the best views of the city, but it’s hardly overwhelmed with people at any given time. Not to mention: free.
Don’t drink at Starbucks.
No, not even at the original location. I can guarantee you the $6 beverage you’ll buy there is the same as the one you’ll find at your Starbucks back home. Every American used to complain about the increasing frequency of Starbucks, but Seattle took that to a whole new level; just walk down Pike Street and you’ll see what I mean.
Do drink a beer at local breweries.
Seattle may have earned its reputation for good coffee, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s home to a score of microbreweries. You can stay there for months and have a different brand and type of local beer every day. Elysian Brewing Company is a solid choice.
Don´t assume it rains 300 days/year.
Ok, yes, it does rain a lot. So does Portland. So do a lot of cities. But summer in Seattle still has its fair share of sunny days and outdoor festivals. FYI: unless you want to look like a tourist, leave the umbrella in your hotel room.
Do enjoy nature on the sunny days.
You’re always within sight of Mt. Rainier (clouds permitting), and an hour away from some very decent hiking. The Washington Park Arboretum offers an unforgettable getaway without even leaving the city limits. If you’d prefer to go further east near Carnation, you’ll find the trails that inspired Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.
Don’t expect sandy beaches.
Just like San Francisco, Seattle has it’s fair share of coastline… which is completely useless to everyone expecting a Southern California experience. It’s usually windy and the water is freezing. Ali Beach in West Seattle barely qualifies as a beach, with volcano rocks and not much in the way of sand.
Do enjoy the water.
However, just because you can’t swim comfortably in Puget Sound doesn’t mean that’s all the water has to offer. There’s some great kayaking spots in the Sounds and Green Lake. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try to find a friend with a sailboat.
Don’t go to Pike Place Market on the weekend.
I’m a fan of Pike Place, but there’s no denying it gets ridiculously crowded on the weekends and holidays. If you’re thinking of escaping the crowds on Tuesdays, be aware many of the shops on the lower levels are closed.
Do check out Chihuly anytime.
The one stand out to the Space Needle area is its artwork: the Olympic Sculpture Park and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Chihuly is the designer behind the entrance to the Bellagio in Las Vegas, among other things. His flower designs and use of color in glass are mustsees in Seattle.
Don’t ferry to Bremerton.
Although the journey is certainly scenic, the Bremerton ferry isn’t alone in this feature. The town itself has only one draw: the USS Turner Joy. While you might think a navy museum is appealing, good food, beer, coffee, and everything that makes Seattle unique are lacking.
Do ferry literally anywhere else.
Day trip? Vachon Island for kayaking? Weekend or short vacation? Whale watching on San Juan Islands. Or take the slow and float all the way to Alaska.
Don’t leave the city for a good time.
Why would you want to go to the Eastside? I-90 is always jammed in one direction, and Nintendo isn’t giving away free samples at their HQ. There’s nothing of note south between Seattle and Tacoma, and heading north is quite a journey… You might as well keep driving to Vancouver.
Do understand that despite the traffic, housing costs, and rain, Seattlites love their city.
Seahawks fans are more devoted than any I’ve seen. Summer festivals such as Bumbershoot and block parties take advantage of limited sunny days with insane amounts of fun. Culinary offerings like Biscuit Bitch and Serious Pie keep stomachs full and minds off the cloudy skies.