Visiting Gay Seattle: Downtown

Published Date Author: , October 7th, 2013

Seattle Skyline

seattle, washington, gay travelSeattle’s city center is just a $2.25 ride on the monorail away from the Seattle Center, and of course, it’s packed with things to do, starting with shopping – visit Westlake Center for your Macy’s or Nordstrom’s fix, or to check out the big food court there. Marvel the blue trees in the plaza (and yes, most of them are still very blue a year after the first time we saw them), and take in a game of chess (giant chess) with a cup of bubble tea in hand.

Seattle ScenicNext door, you’ll find Pacific Place, a small but beautiful four story mall, and just south, there’s City Centre, another beautiful little mall (but with fewer interesting stores).

Want fresh? Spend a couple hours at the Pike Place Market at the foot of Pike street, also the location of the original Starbucks (yes, you’re on their turf now, so don’t mention the “Peets” word).

The Seattle Aquarium here has my favorite – sea otters – soooooo cute!

The architecture here is fascinating too, especially the library and Ranier Buildings – the former a glass confection of crazy angles and the latter a skyscraper perched on an impossibly small base.

You can also take in the vistas from the Columbia Tower, the largest skyscraper in town.

Things to Do:

Seattle AquariumSeattle Aquarium (www.seattleaquarium.org/‎): This one’s in another part of town – in fact, it’s just below the Pike Place Market, so you can kill two seahawks with one stone. It’s a nice aquarium, filled with interactive exhibits – ever wanted to touch a starfish? See the seals and otters above and below the water? You can even descend below the sound and see some of the native sea-life.

Pike Place Market (www.pikeplacemarket.org/‎): This is a hectic, bustling place, filled with all kinds of vendors, not just the pescivendoli (fish vendors), although (be warned) there is a strong fishy smell in certain parts of this covered market.

Pikje Place Market - FlowersOur favorite find? The pasta vendor who sold both fruit-flavored and chocolate-flavored pasts (and who gave me a piece to try). Wander the stalls for an hour or so, and then retire to the Starbucks across the street – it’s the original, and still has the old brown sign with the, ahem, chesty mermaid.

When we were here, we also ran into a cute girl band, dressed and singing in the style of the old USO girl groups from the forties – really cute and added a little more ambiance to the scene.

There’s also a bigger, newer Starbucks just around the corner on Pike Place. And yes, there is a Starbucks on every corner here. No exceptions.

Funny story – we proudly showed our friends, Marco and Fabry, the “original” Starbucks, and even took pictures, only to find out we were at the new Starbucks, and the original one was around the corner ad down the street. So look for the one with the brown signs before you start taking pictures!

Westlake Park (www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=332‎): This is a small, triangle-shaped park in the heart of downtown, next to the Westlake Shopping Center (where the monorail stops).

Westlake Park

This is a great people-watching spot, and when we visited, it was filled with interesting things – a giant chessboard, where two guys with messenger bags jousted for the win; a bubble tea place (see the Seattle restaurants blog for more info), genderless statues posed on benches and standing around the park (which made for some great photos), and blue trees.

Yes, really – apparently a local artist painted them blue to bring attention to the problem of deforestation. Again, really cool for photos.

Olympoic Sculpture ParkOlympic Sculpture Park (www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/osp/‎): Though we didn’t get to it this time, we have visited it before – it’s a park filled with oversized sculptures, and best of all, it’s free!

Seattle,Washington,skyline,aerialView Spot:

The Sky View Observatory (http://skyviewobservatory.com): The best view of Seattle, hands-down – although it’s not a full wrap-around, the 73rd floor view deck is fantastic – from the tallest building in downtown. Situated on the south end of the CDB, you have great views of the waterfront, Pioneer Square, the two stadiums, and Bellevue across the water.

Breakfast:

Specialty’s Cafe (www.specialtys.com/‎): If you’re downtown and looking for a great little coffee place, check out the Specialties Cafe at the edge of the City Centre – a cute, casual place with outdoor seating for people watching.

Lunch:

Pane PanePane Pane (www.panepanesandwiches.com/‎) – Right next to Gelatiamo in downtown – a cute hole-in-the-wall sandwich place with great sandwiches – my favorite was the curry egg salad sandwich. Closed weekends.

Dinner:

Ruth’s Chris (www.ruthschris.com/Restaurant-Locations/seattle‎): Our third (and final) night out. OK, yes, it’s a chain, but it’s still one of the best steakhouses around. Especially the filet mignon – melts in your mouth like butter. And the onion rings are divine.

Il BistroIl Bistro (www.ilbistro.net/‎) Our first night in Seattle, we went looking for a good Italian place, and we found Il Bistro. It’s kind of hard to find – it’s tucked away next to a pargaing garage ramp just south of the entrance to Pike’s Place Market – but it was legant and surprisingly good. We both had the pear gorgonzolla raviolis in brown butter sauce – delicious – and the Panna Cotta for dessert was amazing.

Snacks:

GelatiamoBobachine (www.bobachine.com/‎): A cute little Bubble Tea place. For those who have been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know bubble tea is one of my favorite things. You get a sweetened tea (often with milk) filled with “bubbles” – tapioca pieces that you suck up through an oversized straw while you drink the tea. This one’s along Westlake Park i the heart of downtown.

Gelatiamo (www.gelatiamo.com/‎) – one of two gelato places we visited this trip, this shop is really cute, and is in the heart of downtown, at the corner of 3rd and Union. Good gelato here, but the waffle cones were a bit stale. The raspberry + chocolate combo is awesome!

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