For big city travelers, Seattle may well be the crowning jewel of the Pacific Northwest. After all, this town touts a youthful vibe, an urban chic attitude and a miscellany of offerings. There are famous must-see attractions here, of course, from the views atop the Space Needle to the spectacles at Pike Place Market. But Seattle's must-do list is much longer, and here are some of our favorites. And bring an umbrella, just in case.
Skip the Bookshop, Check Out the Library The Seattle Central Library – an 11-story structure made of angled glass and steel – is impressive on visuals alone. But inside, it's like a sanctuary for the culturally curious. Nonfiction books, DVDs and newspapers are housed on floors 6 through 9; the shelves spiral and are connected by ramps, so navigating the tomes is easy by design. And when it comes time to kick up your feet and read, the library offers wonderful venues, including the airy living room on the 3rd level and the reading room on the 10th floor, with its 40-foot ceilings, seating for 400 and lovely views of Elliott Bay. The library also houses hundreds of free-use computers and impressive collections that cover everything from aviation to genealogy.
Skip the Coffee, Savor the Tea Even if you're not a fan of the coffee at Starbuck's, you know the story: The giant coffee brand was born in Seattle and you can still buy joe-to-go at the original store inside Pike Place Market. So yes, the coffee scene thrives here. But don't overlook the tea. Cederberg Tea House in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood pulls finely ground Rooibos tea through an espresso machine, just like coffee, and concocts soothing latte, cappuccino and frappe drinks; their edible offerings are South African-inspired and include tarts, sponge cakes, scones, vegan cookies and, of course, finger sandwiches. Other area tea joints that get high marks include Floating Leaves, New Century and Seattle Best Tea Co.
Skip the Needle, Do the Shore It's tough to beat the 360-degree views from the famous 52-story Space Needle. This is a must-do landmark. But every Seattle native will share his or her own alternative viewing spot, and many of them exist on distinct spots along the shore. Kerry Park, with its benches and picnic areas, offers a slimmer perspective – more like 180-degree views – but you get to gaze at passing ferries and enjoy wide views of the Space Needle, itself, as well as Mount Rainier, Puget Sound and the downtown skyline. And it's free.
Don't Just Sip it, Make it Next time you belly up to the bar at Tommy Gun, you could try to learn how to make the perfect martini by watching the barkeep in action. Or better yet, take a class. This popular cocktail haven in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood offers Mixology 101 classes throughout the year. The interactive 90-minute lessons take place right at the bar and cover everything from which glassware to use and how to set up your own bar at home to bartender techniques and classic drink recipes. Themes vary – will it be Intro to Whiskey, Bitters and Vermouth, or Holiday Cocktails? – but you get to munch on black truffle popcorn and taste in earnest every time.