Hidden Seattle: Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do, Eat, and See

Put away the guide book and check out some of Seattle’s best hidden gems with this list of things to do, restaurants, and more.

1428 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Taking just the ‘right’ wrong turn on a visit to Pike Place Market can land you in Post Alley, where spearmint, wild cherry, and tropical punch bubble gum drizzles down the window panes and grape, peppermint, and lemon ice gum-cicles form from sills. It may be one of the lesser-known Seattle tourist attractions, but it certainly makes a big impression with plenty of chaotic color on a rainy day. And if you’re a gum chewer, be prepared to stick a drop of your own favorite flavor to leave a colorful mark on the city.
1521 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
The Elliott Bay Book Company is the Seattle bookstore and, thankfully, survived its move from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill with soul and towering cedar bookcases intact. Elliott Bay lost a significant chunk of square footage during the move but gained a home right in the heart of Capitol Hill. Which makes it even easier to execute the ideal lazy Sunday afternoon combo: new novel + Fonte latte and one of the book-size housemade muffins from the on-site café (if it’s sunny, make a beeline for the grassy Cal Anderson park, just across the street). The food is northwest downhome—unpretentious salads with local greens, wholesome soups—but the abundant outlets and cozy café vibe make up for any food misses.

Try it there: The lemon crepe

Bring it home: Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice and tickets to a Neptune Theater reading
913 S Jackson St suite A, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
With one of the largest Cambodian communities outside of Southeast Asia, the Seattle area is an ideal place to be introduced to Khmer cuisine. Twenty five years ago, the family-run Phnom Penh Noodle House in the Chinatown/International District was the city’s first Cambodian restaurant. My favorite standby when I revisit my erstwhile hometown is “Battambang’s Favorite.” The menu description of this dish reads: “Ground shrimp and pan roasted peanut with salted radish and pickled cucumber, served over a bed of roasted sweet soy sauce thin rice noodles and bean sprouts. Finished with a hardboiled egg, green onion, and cilantro.”
2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Gas Works Park should be one of the places to stop and explore if you go to Seattle. It offers an amazing view of the city, which looks just as good at night as it does during the day so whenever you choose to go will be perfect. Gasworks Park was the site for the manufacturing of gas from coal back in the early to mid 1900s. But later in 1975, the city opened the park to the public. Check out the graffiti on the machinery, visit the sundial on the top of the hill, or sit down and look out across the Lake Union. It’s also a great spot for photography so bring your camera as well! *the picture shows the view from Gas Works Park.
860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Better known as MOHAI, this collection dives deep into local history, from the region’s maritime history to its tradition of technological innovation. Highlights include Boeing’s first commercial plane, the 1856 Petticoat Flag sewn by women during the Battle of Seattle, and the original Rainier Brewing Company neon R sign. Behind the stunning building—overlooking Lake Union—bob National Historic Landmark vessels: most notably the star of the 1934 MGM movie Tugboat Annie and the 1921 Virginia V, a steamer that opens its decks for balls, excursions, and trivia nights. The Center for Wooden Boats has displays and rents vessels on the neighboring docks (cwb.org).
4743 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
A mainstay on lists of the top seafood restaurants and oyster bars in the United States, this Ballard hipster hangout is captained by Renee Erickson, whom the James Beard Foundation named 2016’s Best Chef Northwest. Sit at the marble-topped bar and pair expertly shucked bivalves with creative cocktails, like the Ambergris (aquavit, Dolin dry vermouth, and grapefruit oil) or Smuggler’s Batida (cachaça, sherry, and lime-piña cordial). Mix in small plates, ranging from roasted carrots to grilled sardines with walnuts. Dairy fans shouldn’t miss the cheese plates offered, which combinine the efforts of Oregon’s superb creameries, honey producers, and makers of delights like saffron apricot jam.
3419 Fremont Pl N, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
It may not look like much from the simple street entrance, but vintage-loving shoppers will find plenty to browse at this underground, two-floor antique mall. You’ll find black velvet paintings, vintage pinup magazines and comics, and antique collectibles, plus some truly impressive taxidermy mounts downstairs. For a more packable souvenir, try one of these colorful and charming Pyrex pieces or some midcentury barware.
1531 Melrose Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
You’ll want to arrive early at Sitka & Spruce to allow time for browsing the other shops inside Melrose Market: Calf and Kid’s artisanal cheeses, Rain Shadow Meats’ sausages and steaks, Glasswing’s home decor, and Marigold & Mint’s fresh flowers. At Sitka & Spruce, chef Matthew Dillon features a rotating menu of hyper-local Northwest cuisine in shareable small plates and mains. The artfully arranged charcuterie platter is a must-try, and don’t skip the bread — the Columbia City sourdough loaf with whipped butter is a local favorite. Just want a snack? Try Bar Ferd’nand next door, also co-owned by Dillon, for a glass of wine and simple bar snacks, or take home a bottle.
92 Pike St # B, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Pike Place Market isn’t just fish-throwing and flower bouquets: it’s also home to Left Bank Books, a collectively owned and operated anarchist bookstore that sells primarily political and philosophical nonfiction, but also literary fiction, poetry, periodicals, zines, clever T-shirts and posters, and more. They’re also active supporters of the Books to Prisoners program which provides free books to prisoners throughout the United States. You won’t find bestselling paperbacks here, but they do have general-interest books and a decent selection of used titles.
222 Yale Avenue North
Sprawling over 80,000 square feet, this timbered cathedral is a monument to all things outdoors. The Seattle landmark’s spire, a 65-foot rock pinnacle, is the world’s third-largest indoor rock-climbing wall. Take a class or just reserve a 15- or 30-minute time slot for a single climb ($15 for members, $25 for nonmembers). No experience is required; REI supplies gear from its Outdoor School. The store also has a mountain bike test track outside, as well as a small café and a tree house play area for kids.
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