Hey folks! I'm Chelsea, travel and style blogger at @truelane. I grew up in Seattle, and just found my way back after spending the last five years in the midwest. I've been writing truelane for six years and spend my free time drinking coffee, listening to Rooney, and working on my first book. It's been so much fun rediscovering my city as an adult, and today I'm stoked to share the places in Seattle I keep coming back to.
Visiting the Hiram M. Chittenden locks—or the Ballard Locks, as everyone calls them—has been one of my family’s favorite activities for years. During salmon season, you can see thousands of fish swimming through the fish ladder, but the rest of the year, it’s gloriously entertaining to watch the boats transfer from one water level to the next. It’s like Ballard’s very own miniature Panama Canal. Stop for lunch at the Lockspot Café right outside when you’re done, and then stroll the beautiful botanical gardens right in the park!
(at Ballard Locks)
Coffee is taken quite seriously in our emerald city by the sea, and no one flavors a blend like Italian roaster Caffe Umbria @caffeumbria. Their downtown café in Occidental Square is a perfect little corner of Italy in a bustling, cobble-stoned city square. Not into coffee? Grab a scoop of their delicious gelato, a swoon-worthy pastry, or a cold Italian beer and people watch on their roomy patio.
(at Caffe Umbria)
Much of Seattle’s charm comes from its integration of industry into the landscape and lifestyle. Centennial Park on Elliot Bay seems to simultaneously remove itself from the city hustle while embracing it at the same time, and there’s a ton to see while you’re there. Grain elevators, shipping barges, a 400-foot fishing pier, and a beautiful rose garden are just the beginning of it. It’s a wonderfully calming place to spend a sunny afternoon!
(at Centennial Park)
If you’re like me and always hunting for hip yet unpretentious coffee hangouts, Cuban-inspired El Diablo @eldiablocoffee is for you. The coffee and baristas are crazy good and talented, and it’s a magical atmosphere in which to spend an hour or two. You can’t predict the next customer that will walk through the door since their regulars include flannel hipsters, suited businessmen, college kids, grandmothers, and everything in between. I usually stick to a classic cappuccino and it’s always exactly what I want.
(at El Diablo)
Marina strolls are what Seattle dreams are made of, and there’s no better place to do it than at Fisherman’s Terminal. There’s always something worth watching going on—it’s the home base of the North Pacific fishing company. There’s also delicious food and an amazing fish market for when you’re hungry now and later. Seattle is such a fascinating city in the way it functions, and spending some time at Fisherman’s Terminal gives a perfect at-a-glance look at why.
(at Fisherman’s Terminal)
Kerry Park is a small but lovable viewpoint in the beautiful and lively Queen Anne neighborhood. Sit on the wall or a blanket on the grass and watch the sunset over the Space Needle and Mount Rainier. I love it because there are usually only one or two other people around since the park is so small! You can’t take a bad photo from this spot.
(at Kerry Park)
Lake Union is a huge hub for sea planes, house boats, sailing and more. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Seattle, and it’s beautiful from every side. Grab a kayak from Moss Bay on the south side and go for a morning paddle before daytime water traffic picks up. A gorgeous view of Gas Works and the skyline awaits!
(at Lake Union)
I’ve had fish and chips from several places (and regions!) over my lifetime, but so far, Chinook’s @anthonysrestsnw is the best in my memory. Buttery, perfectly crispy fish that melts in your mouth without flaking into pieces in your hands, paired with dreamy fries that have just enough seasoning…a Pacific Northwest girl couldn’t ask for more.
(at Little Chinooks)
Oddfellows @oddfellowscafe is one of the prettiest restaurants in Seattle, and they’re doing it the right way. Committed to a sustainable lifestyle, most of the décor is salvaged or recycled, their disposables are all compostable, and they use organic and local ingredients as much as possible. They do a wide variety of breakfast foods, snacks, sandwiches, and dinner entrees (make sure you pay attention to their serving hours as they’re very strict about switching from breakfast to lunch to dinner), but I keep coming back for their iced vanilla soy lattes. They’re the best I’ve encountered in the world.
Opened in 2007, the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park @seattleartmuseum is a newer local experience, but a lovely one nonetheless. Open all day every day, rain or shine, it’s a blast to walk through and see pieces that were built 30 and 40 years ago, or even in the past few years. My favorites: Louise Bourgeois’ creepy eyeball benches, Mark Di Suvero’s 1965 “Bunyon’s Chess,” and pictured here, “The Eagle” by Alexander Calder. Grab a coffee at Cherry Street on 1st and Clay before your walkthrough.
One of three locations, Slate Coffee @slatecoffee in the University District is an infinitely cool space with even cooler coffee. Order their deconstructed latte for a coffee experience like you’ve never had before. If Leo’s working, you’re bound to hear a pretty sweet selection of music as well. With minimal décor and a wall of windows for natural light, coffee is the true focus here, just as it should be.
(at Slate Coffee)
Westward @westwardseattle is the first place I recommend to visiting friends. Locals and tourists are equally enchanted by this whimsical restaurant on the shores of Lake Union, where you can lay back in an Adirondack chair and watch the sunset with a spritz, or park your boat on their private dock before enjoying happy hour at their beautifully retro, nautical-art-chic bar. It’s the kind of place you never want to leave. Or at least come back for weekend brunch.