Tours (NOT a complete list)
Ride the Ducks
This is a lively, humorous 90-minute tour of Seattle via amphibious vehicles, which costs about $29/person. Group tours are available if booked in advance. Tours depart daily from Westlake Center, located at 400 Pine Street; about a 4-minutes walk from the Sheraton. The website for the tour is ridetheducksofseattle.com, and the phone number is 206 441 DUCK (3825).
Savor Seattle Tours
Savor Seattle offers a variety of 2-3 hour tours oriented around food and drink in Seattle neighborhoods, including Pike Place Market, Chocolate Indulgence, Hip on the Hill, Booze and Bites, and Gourmet Seattle tours. Prices range from $40-$70 per person, depending on the tours, which all include some food and drink sampling. All meeting locations for the various tours are walking distance from the Sheraton. You can book and also see a lot more information at savorseattletours.com or call 206 209 5485.
Seattle Wine Tours
The Seattle area and Washington State in general has a thriving wine industry, and one way to find out more about it is to take one of the tours offered by this company. The tour lengths range from 4 hours to overnight, depending on how far afield you want to go. Three more locally oriented tours include the Wine and Snoqualmie Falls, the Seattle Wineries and Big View, and the Woodinville Wineries tours. This may be a good activity to plan and reserve in advance for a group of 10-12. In terms of pricing, a four-hour tour for about 12, including wine tasting, will run about $82 per person. The website is seattlewinetours.com and the phone number is 206 444 WINE (9493).
A well rated option for sightseers who would like to get some nice pictures of the Seattle area, this outfit has at least a couple of tour options which are feasible from Seattle, including a Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour (about four hours, about $65/person) which leaves from Pike Place Market and a longer Mt. Rainier tour (about $129/person) which picks up from downtown Seattle hotels in the early AM. The website is shuttertours.com and the telephone number is 425 516 8838.
Evergreen Escapes Cascadia
This outfit has a number of tours. One of interest is the Explore Seattle Half Day tour ($75/person), for a maximum group size of 10. The tour picks up and drops off from Seattle hotels. There are many other tour options, including Seattle oriented kayaking, craft brewery, photography and seaplane tours, as well as tours further afield, including wine tours, cycling tours, and tours of Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Saint Helens. The website is evergreenescapes.com and phone number is 866 203 7603
Seattle Free Walking Tours
These tours, for which you only “pay what you feel,” include an hour walking tour of Pike Place Market called The Market Experience, and a two-hour tour called Seattle 101. Tours start from the corner of Western Ave and Virginia, walking distance from the Sheraton. Reservations are strongly recommended. The website is seattlefreewalkingtours.org and the phone is 360 201 5611.
Seattle by Foot
These tours include Seattle’s Original Coffee Crawl ($30/person if booked online, 2 ½ hours), Downtown by Foot ($20/person if booked online, 2 hours), a beer oriented Pub Tour (3 hours, $30/person if booked online) and private/customized tours. Again, best to book in advance. The website is seattlebyfoot.com and phone is 206 508 7017.
Some Tours of Pike Place Market
The market (walking distance from the Sheraton) is fun on your own but there is plenty to see there. If you’d like a tour to point out the many points of interest, you may want to consider, among others, the well rated Public Market Tours (private groups only, $232 total for 1-16 people, one hour, publicmarkettours.com, 206 582 3504), a self-guided tour using the maps you can find at pikeplacemarket.org, or a history/haunting oriented tour with Market Ghost Tour (seattleghost.com, 206 805 0195, $15-$17/person, 1 to 1.25 hours). Check Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.com) for many more, including food oriented, market tours.
Some Tours of Pioneer Square
If you want a self-guided tour of this historic part of Seattle, check out this map and highlighted points of interest from National Geographic. There is a similar tour you can explore at the seattle.gov website, under the “Visiting Seattle” tab. For a look at the history that literally lies under the surface, you might like Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour (75 minutes, $18/adult, undergroundtour.com, 206 682 4646) or you might enjoy the formerly living history angle of the Spooked in Seattle tour of this area (spookedinseattle.com, 90 minutes, $16/person, 425 954 7701).
Places of Interest (NOT a complete list) in Downtown Seattle
A helpful jingle to keep track of Seattle streets, south to north: “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest,” an acronym for Seattle’s James, Jefferson, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike and Pine streets.
Getting around by bus: This is very easy to do by using Google Maps and clicking on the bus icon to plan your trip, or by using King County Metro’s tripplanner.kingcounty.gov. Pay with exact change or pick up an Orca card to use on mass transit at the vending machine at Westlake Station at the transit tunnel mezzanine level at 4th and Pine.
Getting around by car: Seattle is highly congested and parking is expensive. One option that might work if you are not renting is Zipcar (zipcar.com). Taxi services include Yellow Cab (seattleyellowcab.com), Orange Cab (orangecab.net), Farwest Taxi (seattle-taxiservice.com), Uber (uber.com) and Lyft (lyft.com). Among the additional options for airport transfers are Shuttle Express (shuttleexpress.com $18 each way) and light rail from the airport (soundtransit.org).
Get on the Water
Seattle is surrounded by bodies of water, not least of which is Puget Sound. One way to experience the Sound is to walk down to Colman Dock (southeast on 6th, right on Union, left on 1st and right on Marion) and hop a Washington State ferry to either Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. Ferries leave often. The walk on price is about $8/adult, the food on board isn’t bad and the view is incomparable. The website is www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. Another option is Argosy Cruises, which offers pleasant cruises from its terminal on the waterfront at 1101 Alaskan Way (variety of cruises from 1 hour to 2 ½ hours long, for $25/person upward, argosycruises.com, 888-623-1445. At the time of this writing the waterfront area is under construction so the usual ability to stroll on foot alongside it may be limited, but still accessible among other waterfront attractions are the Seattle Great Wheel Ferris wheel, located at 1301 Alaskan Way (seattlegreatwheel.com, 206 623 8607, $13/adult) and the Seattle Aquarium at 1483 Alaskan Way (seattleaquarium.org, 206 386 4300, $22/adult.)
There are too many wonderful shopping locations in Seattle to list, including the stalls of Pike Place Market (pikeplacemarket.org), which runs north and south from Pike Street and First Avenue, and the stores and art galleries of Pioneer Square, which runs south from 100 Yesler Way. Neither area is far from the Seattle Sheraton. In addition, quite near the Sheraton are some sophisticated shopping locations, including Westlake Center at 4th and Pine, Pacific Place shopping center at 6th and Pine (pacificplaceseattle.com), City Centre at 1420 Fifth Avenue, and the downtown Nordstrom store at 5th and Pine.
There are Starbucks stores, complete with free Wi-Fi, all over downtown Seattle, but two locations are of particular note. One is the very tiny original Starbucks tucked into in the Pike Place Market between Western and Virginia. Expect a 30-minute wait in line and a chance to buy some beans and mugs with the original logo. So, is it really the first Starbucks? Actually no, that was a coffee bean company, which began in 1971 at a now vanished location at 2000 Western, but this store did open early, in about 1976. And then there is the new spiffy Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room (roastery.starbucks.com) at 1124 Pike Street, which debuted in December 2014 and also includes a great Tom Douglas pizza place, Serious Pie. To get there from the Sheraton, walk eastward on Pike for a third of a mile, then turn left on Melrose.
There is no movie theatre like the Cinerama, one of the gems in Paul Allen’s crown. It is an easy walk from the Sheraton, at 2100 4th Avenue. The seats are large and leather, and pre-assigned by row and number – you book online in advance. The sound system is incredible, as is the screen. Movie memorabilia decorates the lobby. The concession stand is like no other, serving local products like amazing chocolate popcorn, Full Tilt ice cream, Cupcake Royale cupcakes, Uli’s Famous Sausage, artisanal quality beer on tap, wine, cider and more. Check what is playing and buy your tickets at Cinerama.com.
Seattle has many great museums, and a few are quite easy to get to from the Sheraton. Consider visiting the eclectic and often impressive collection at the Seattle Art Museum, a fairly short walk away from the Sheraton at 1300 1st (seattleartmuseum.org). A brief bus ride away is the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience at 719 South King Street in the International District. In the Seattle Center area, easy to reach via a quick bus ride or by taking the Seattle Monorail (seattlemonorail.com) from Westlake Center, is the Pacific Science Center (pacificsciencecenter.org, 200 2nd Ave N), which has an Imax Theatre, the Chihuly Garden and Glass (chihulygardenandglass.com, 305 Harrison Street), Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project (EMP) (empmuseum.org) and, of course, the Seattle Space Needle (spaceneedle.com) which is not a museum but has quite the view and a decent, if pricey, restaurant. Further afield but readily reachable by bus is the Frye Art Museum (704 Terry Ave, fryemuseum.org), the Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 East Prospect Street, seattleartmuseum.org) and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (University of Washington, 17th Ave NE and NE 45th, burkemuseum.org). Even further away but doable via a bus ride, a tour or by car is the wonderful Museum of Flight (museumofflight.org).
Parks and Recreation
Seattle is a big city with many neighborhoods, only one of which is the downtown core where the Seattle Sheraton is located. Each neighborhood has its own personality, great restaurants, and points of interest. But this is the Emerald City and there are parks everywhere, and many passionate gardeners. There are less green spaces in downtown, but you can walk from the Sheraton to the Olympic Sculpture Park (seattleartmuseum.org, 2901 Western). Readily accessible by Metro bus are some of Seattle’s loveliest parks, of which a few are Waterfall Garden Park, a tiny tranquil oasis in the Pioneer Square area (219 Second Ave South), Kerry Park (beautiful views of downtown from small Queen Anne park, 211 West Highland Drive), the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (3015 54th NW, also adjacent to the Carl S. English Botanical Garden), Gas Works Park (3300 Meridian Ave N, and also located in the inimitable, funky, lively Fremont neighborhood), the remarkable Volunteer Park Conservatory (1402 E. Galer, located within beautiful Volunteer Park), the Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Drive East, 230 lovely acres including a visitor’s center and the exquisite Japanese Tea Garden at 1000 Lake Washington Blvd.), a hidden gem in South Seattle, the Kubota Garden (9817 55th Avenue South), and of course Green Lake Park, where there is always more happening than in a Brueghel painting (7201 East Greenlake Drive) and rugged, spectacular Discovery Park, pride of the Magnolia neighborhood (3801 Discovery Park Blvd). And if you really feel like some recreation on your vacation, consider renting a bike and helmet from one of the new downtown Pronto Bike Seattle kiosks (prontocyclesshare.com) — there is one close to the Sheraton at 7th and Union. Or you could rent a kayak to paddle, for example at Lake Union at Northwest Outdoor Center (nwoc.com, 2100 Westlake Ave N, 206 281 9694). You can also hop a streetcar to Lake Union from Westlake Center, which is very close to the Sheraton. The website for the streetcar service is seattlestreetcar.org and the price is $2.25/adult.
Seattle has a thriving musical community, and it is impossible to list all the venues. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. Here are a few which are walking distance from the Sheraton: the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall (seattlesymphony.org, 2nd and University), Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley (jazzalley.com, 2033 6th Ave), the Triple Door (tripledoor.net, 216 Union Street), the Highway 99 Blues Club (highway99blues.com, 1414 Alaskan Way), The Crocodile (thecrocodile.com, 2200 2nd Ave) and The Showbox (since 1939! Showboxpresents.com, 1426 1st Ave.) Slightly further afield but accessible by bus or taxi is the piano bar, Keys on Main (keysonmain.com, 11 Roy Street) and, for those who like dance with their music, Pacific Northwest Ballet (pnb.org, 301 Mercer St.). This is merely a sampling: there are busy music clubs, often with cutting edge bands, in Pioneer Square, on Capital Hill, in Fremont, and in Ballard, to name a few more neighborhoods near downtown.
Shows and Plays
Seattle has one of the most active off Broadway theatre scenes, and plenty of more traditional musical theatres as well. Some of the locations that are close to the Sheraton Seattle include the 5th Avenue Theatre (classic musicals, 5thavenue.org, 1308 5th Avenue), the Moore Theatre (live acts of all types in Seattle’s oldest theatre, stgpresents.org/moore, 1932 2nd Ave.), and the Paramount (since 1928! Broadway shows on tour, stgpresents.org/paramount, 911 Pine St.). Also fun is Teatro ZinZanni, (like a campy, comic circus, zinzanni.com, 222 Mercer St.) There are almost too many live play venues and companies to list, but two worth considering are the Seattle Repertory Theatre (seattlerep.org, 155 Mercer St) and ACT – A Contemporary Theatre (acttheatre.org, 700 Union St.) If you like your drama sung, consider the fabulous Seattle Opera (seattleopera.org, 321 Mercer St.). And Seattle has plenty of comedy clubs, including Parlor Live Seattle (parlorlive.com, 1522 6th Ave) and Comedy Underground (comedyunderground.com, 222 S. Main St.).
Restaurants (NOT a complete list) in Downtown Seattle
Tom Douglas Restaurants
Tom Douglas, who may be Seattle’s most famous chef and won the 2012 James Beard restaurateur award, owns several delightful downtown Seattle restaurants (website for all is tomdouglas.com), including the Dahlia Lounge (famous, 2001 4th Ave.), the Palace Kitchen (a favorite of mine, 2030 Fifth Ave), Serious Pie (seriously great pizza, seriouspieseattle.com, at 1124 Pike, 401 Westlake Ave and 316 Virginia), Lola (remarkable breakfasts AM and Mediterranean food PM, 2000 4th Ave), and Etta’s (very good seafood and breakfasts, 2020 Western Ave.).
FX McRory’s Steak Chop and Oyster House (including a renowned whiskey bar, and an oyster bar, fxmcrorys.com, near Qwest field at 419 Occidental Ave S.,) Daniel’s Broiler (schwartzbros.com, closest of the three locations is Lake Union, 809 Fairview Place N), Brooklyn Seafood Steak and Oyster House (classic and always good, thebrooklyn.com, 1212 2nd Ave), the Metropolitan Grill (where the professional ballplayers eat, themetropolitangrill.com, 2nd and Marion), El Gaucho (some think it the best steakhouse in town, elgaucho.com, 2505 1st Ave.), and four outposts of high quality chain steakhouses, Sullivan’s Steakhouse (sullivanssteakhouse.com, 6th and Union), The Capital Grille (thecapitalgrille.com, 1301 4th Ave), Ruth’s Chris (ruthschris.com, 727 Pine St.) and Morton’s (mortons.com, 1511 6th Ave.).
Restaurants In or Quite Near the Sheraton
Consider Loulay (especially well rated for breakfast and dessert, thechefinthehat.com, 601 Union), Tulio (Zagat rated Italian and brunch, tulio.com, 1100 5th), Palomino (always tasty, palomino.com, 1420 5th) , Blue Water Taco Grill (fresh fast Mexican and breakfast, bluewatertacogrill.com, 600 University St.), Barolo Ristorante (well rated Italian, baroloseattle.com, 1940 Westlake Ave), Andaluca (top notch Mediterranean, andaluca.com, 407 Olive Way in the Mayflower Hotel), Japonessa (“fanciful” takes on Japanese cuisine, japonessa.com, 1400 1st), RN74 (global takes on US and French food with a big wine list, michaelmina.net, 4th & Pike), Shuckers (classic seafood, fairmont.com, 411 University), Purple (wine bar and small plates, purplecafe.com, 1225 4th) , Icon Grill (comfort food including breakfast, surrounded by tasteful kitsch, icongrill.com, 5th and Virginia), Sazerac (a delicious Southern take on Pacific NW food, sazeracrestaurant.com, 1101 4th), Assaggio (good Italian, assaggioseattle.com, 2010 4th), and FareStart (every Thursday a local chef produces a 3 course meal with homeless and disadvantaged culinary students, farestart.org, 7th & Virginia.)
Classic downtown Seattle Restaurants
Besides the Metropolitan Grill and Dahlia Lounge, listed above, well established restaurants include Il Bistro (Italian, with a cozy bar, ilbistro.net, 93 Pike in the Pike Place Market), Place Pigalle (artfully seasonal with a killer view, placepigalle-seattle.com, 81 Pike Street in the Pike Place Market), The Georgian (traditional French, with a nice breakfast too, in the beautiful Fairmont Olympic hotel, fairmont.com, 411 University), The Hunt Club at the Sorrento (A classic restaurant in a classic lovely hotel with an exceptional cocktail lounge area, hotelsorrento.com, 900 Madison St.), The Pink Door (longstanding favorite for casual Italian or drinks on the deck, thepinkdoor.net, 1919 Post Alley), Wild Ginger (Pacific Rim cuisine, wildginger.net, 1401 3rd), Café Campagne (French, nice brunch too, cafecampagne.com, 1600 Post Alley), and Shiro’s (remarkable sushi in Belltown, shiros.com, 2401 2nd).
Classic (but not downtown) Seattle Restaurants
All of the following are well loved and established Seattle restaurants, though these are not located downtown and reservations well in advance are highly recommended for most: Canlis (tops for over 50 years, canlis.com, 2576 Aurora Ave N), Palisade (lovely seafood and view, palisaderestaurant.com, 2601 W. Marina Pl), Il Terrazzo Carmine (wonderful Italian food, ilterrazzocarmine.com, in Pioneer Square at 411 1st Ave S.), The Herbfarm (a remarkable food experience including herb garden tour, with prices to match, theherbfarm.com, 14590 NE 145th St. in Woodinville), Salty’s (seafood and a famous brunch with a view, saltys.com, 1936 Harbor Ave SW), Ray’s Boathouse (seafood on the water, rays.com, 6049 Seaview Ave NW), Café Lago (Italian, founded 1990, cafelago.com, 2305 24th Ave), the Wedgwood Broiler (time travel to the 1970s, wedgwoodbroiler.com, 8230 35th Ave NE) and the divey Beth’s Café (since 1954, featuring all you can eat hash browns and 12 egg omelets, bethscafe.com, 7311 Aurora Ave N).
Some Hot Newer Downtownish Restaurants
Too many to list! These include Boat Street Café (French techniques and local ingredients, boatstreetcafe.com, 3131 Western Ave) Umi Sake House (sushi, umisakehouse.com, 2230 1st), Chan (Korean fusion, chanseattle.com, 86 Pine St.), Lecosho (European influenced locally sourced food, lecosho.com, 89 University, midway down the Harbor Steps), Shaker and Spear (modern seafood, shakerandspear.com, 2000 2nd at the Palladian Hotel) and Lark (locally sourced foodie, larkseattle.com, 952 East Seneca.) Slightly further afield from downtown are Altura (foodie Italian, alturarestaurant.com, 617 Broadway East), Mistral Kitchen (foodie American, mistral-kitchen.com, 2020 Westlake Ave, Nue (very hip takes on world street food, nueseattle.com, 1519 14th on Capital Hill), Spinasse (well reviewed foodie Italian, spinasse.com, 1531 14th) and Omega Ouzeri (classic and modern Greek small plates, omegaouzeri.com, 1520 14th on Capital Hill). If you want to try two of the best places in super-hip Ballard, consider The Walrus and the Carpenter (oyster bar plus seafood, no reservations taken, thewalrusbar.com, 4743 Ballard Ave NW) or Staple and Fancy (Italian inspired, make reservations way in advance and always opt for the “fancy,” the chef’s choice menu, ethanstowellrestaurants.com, 4739 Ballard Ave NW.)
More Great Restaurant Choices
Some additional options include ART Restaurant and Bar (classy Pacific NW cuisine, artrestaurantseattle.com, 99 Union), Six Seven (Pacific Northwest cuisine with a beautiful view and notable brunch, edgewaterhotel.com, 2411 Alaskan Way in the Edgewater Hotel), Branzino (warm seafood focused Italian bistro, branzinoseattle.com, 2429 2nd), La Fontana Siciliana (delicious Sicilian cuisine, lafontanasiciliana.com, 120 Blanchard,), Aqua by El Gaucho (top rated seafood and view, elgaucho.com, 2801 Alaskan Way. Two side by side restaurants with the same owner in the Seattle Center area are worth a special visit, for brunch, drinks, lunch or dinner – they are Toulouse Petite (inspired by New Orleans cuisine, toulousepetite.com, 601 Queen Anne Ave N., and Peso’s (inspired by Mexican cuisine, pesoskitchenandlounge.com, 605 Queen Anne Ave N). Also worth a try is the Tilikum Place Café (tasty takes on seafood and meat, tilikumplacecafe.com, 407 Cedar St.)
Some additional casual places
Other memorably wonderful downtown but more casual Seattle places to eat include but are not limited to Armandino’s Salumi (remarkable soups and sandwiches, salumicuredmeats.com, 309 3rd Ave S.), Le Panier (French bakery, lepanier.com, 1902 Pike Place), Ellenos (Greek yogurt, ellenos.com, Pike Place and Pike St.), Tat’s Deli (tatsdeli.com, 159 Yesler Way), Bakeman’s Restaurant (ultimate turkey sandwiches, bakemanscatering.com, 122 Cherry), The Frankfurter (hot dog heaven, thefrankfurter.com, 1023 Alaskan Way), Ivar’s Acres of Clams (fried seafood the way everyone in Seattle used to eat it and great clam chowder, ivars.com, 1001 Alaskan Way), Matt’s in the Market (tasty lunches, mattsinthemarket.com, 1st and Pike), Zaina (great falafel and other Mideast “street food,” zainafood.com, 109 Pine St.), Top Pot Hand Forged Doughnuts (toppotdoughnuts.com, flagship store at 2124 5th Ave.) and Gelatiamo (ice cream, gelatiamo.com, 1400 3rd Ave).