I've been wanting to visit Seattle for years, mostly because I love Dale Chihuly and I heard his Garden and Glass Museum was amazing.
Without actually knowing much about the city, when I thought of Seattle the things that sprang to mind were Pearl Jam, Starbucks, Sleepless in Seattle, and rain. Then I started doing some research, and discovered this piece by Brendan Sainsbury for Lonely Planet, which got me properly intrigued.
"Visitors setting out to explore Seattle with a blank canvas should think of the city as... a family of affectionate but sometimes errant siblings. There’s the aloof, elegant one (Queen Anne), the cool, edgy one (Capitol Hill), the weird, bearded one (Fremont), the independently minded Scandinavian one (Ballard), the grizzled old grandfather (Pioneer Square) and the precocious adolescent still carving out its identity (South Lake Union)."
Our first stop was Pike Place Market, a Seattle institution, and one of the oldest farmer's markets in America. Overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront, the market was bursting with a vibrant community of local farmers, fisherman, craftspeople, and artisans.
We stopped for breakfast at Lowell's, to discover they made a world famous Dungeness Crab omelet. What luck! Apparently this omelet was written up in The New York Times, reviewed by Mario Batali as his favorite breakfast in GQ Magazine, featured in Bon Apetit Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, Coastal Living Magazine and countless more. It was very delicious; the freshest Dungeness Crab meat, folded through local farm fresh eggs, and topped with Parmesan cheese. Seattle does seafood well.
Pike Place Market really is an epicenter of fresh produce and specialty foods. One creative vendor sold handmade pastas with interesting flavors such as dark chocolate linguine, lavender fettuccine, and mustard penne.
Before our visit, I didn't realize the extent that Seattle is bursting at the seams with galleries, museums, and iconic landmarks. It was nice to have such a broad selection of options to choose from.
The aquarium was a hit with Rosie, and the elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle was a thrill for the whole family.
We'd recently visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in Spain, and were fascinated to visit the Museum of Pop Culture, another building designed by architect Frank Gehry.
The building itself was very impressive, especially the use of brightly colored metal sheets covering the exterior, and the exhibitions were also a lot of fun. Fans of sci-fi and fantasy in general, Star Trek, Jimmy Hendrix, or the Muppets, would all be in heaven.
Luckily for us, Seattle didn't live up to its reputation as a rainy city, and we had blue skies and sunshine for our whole stay.
The city has a really great vibe. Locals were super friendly, good food was easy to find, and there was more to see than we could squeeze into a 48 hour visit. With all of that said, the absolute highlight for us was Chihuly Garden and Glass.
The exhibition led you through various rooms displaying a wide range of Chihuly's work. His understanding of how to highlight his work using light is superb. I loved how the museum incorporated dark indoor spaces, a huge glass light-filled atrium, and an extensive garden, to showcase the sculptures in a variety of settings. I also loved the vast scale of so many of the installations - they were quite literally awe inspiring.
If this exhibition was all that we had seen on our visit to Seattle, the trip would have been entirely worthwhile.