When you lived in a city for many years, it’s weird to return as a tourist. Seattle was my home for high school, college, and my swinging 20s, until I journied east to New York City. Since then, I’ve returned only a handful of times. Each visit has reminded me how dynamic a city can be—especially one like Seattle, where the economy has been an unstoppable force ever since Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and other mega-companies sprung up there decades ago.
So on my recent homecoming, it wasn’t shocking that Seattle had evolved with shiny new towers, an expanded bus system, and slick restaurants. I still recognized the Emerald City’s forward thinking citizens and ever-hip vibes as the familiar metropolis where I came of age, and I still loved it. I just had to adjust to all of its incredible newness.
My first stop is always Capitol Hill. It’s Seattle’s LGBT zone, and home to endless restaurants, bars, shops, and cafés, plus sprawling Cal Anderson Park, home to open lawns, public art, and all-gender restrooms. Most of the action happens on the “Pike/Pine corridor,” two parallel boulevards that cross Broadway, which is itself a great walking strip. At the corner of Broadway and Pine, a Jimi Hendrix statue rocks out for eternity in his hometown. His full-throttle stage posture embodies the spirit of Seattle’s musical history, where the 1990’s grunge era unleashed bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.
Capitol Hill was my ’hood. I lived there and knew every corner. Thankfully, a lot of my favorite places are still around and kicking. Number one is the Wildrose (1021 E. Pike St. Tel: 206-324-9210. www.thewildrosebar.com), one of the oldest lesbian bars in the country, where Seattle dykes and their gay boyfriends have drank, played pool, and danced the night away since 1984.