Moving from 8 years of living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington is one of my most life-changing experiences. Life can get overwhelming at times, but whenever I look back to the list of all of the places I’ve been to and the things I get to experience ever since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2017, I get emotional.

In this blog post, you will get an insight into what living in Seattle is actually like in my eyes. There are actually a lot more things to do and places to see, so be prepared for a long post.

I live in the north of Seattle, but my partner and I drive outside of the city very often. I think if you’re visiting, I highly recommend getting a car to best explore Seattle and the areas around. Be sure to plan a hike somewhere and start with easy ones.

If you see a (*) next to something, that means it’s my personal favorite.

The Ultimate Seattle Guide

  1. Iconic Must-See Places
  2. Seattle Neighborhoods
  3. Seattle Parks
  4. Unique Local Markets
  5. Seattle Restaurants & Good Eats
  6. Coffee Shops
  7. Desserts & Tea Drinks
  8. Shops
  9. Washington’s Great Outdoors
  10. Seasonal Things You Shouldn’t Miss
  11. Fun Group Activities
  12. My Top 5 Tips to Search for New Places and Things to Do in a New City


  • Pike Place Market* (The Original Starbucks store, Gum Wall, Post Alley)
  • Space Needle, Seattle Center (various art installations), the Monorail, International Fountain, Pacific Science Center, the MOPOP, and Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Seattle Great Wheel
  • Seattle Central Library
  • Ballard Locks
  • Fremont: Fremont Troll, “Waiting For The Interurban” (gray figures standing under a pergola)
  • Occidental Square
  • Amazon Doppler & Spheres
  • Alki Beach for summer festivities and Seattle Skyline across the water
  • The Museum of Flight (great for kids)
  • Smith Tower or Columbia Building for Seattle skyline from above
  • The Center for Wooden Boats (free tours on Sundays) next to MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry)
  • Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee Grave Sites (any Asian dads would appreciate this!)
  • Kenmore Air & Seaplane tour
  • King Street Station
  • Alki Beach & West Seattle area


  • Downtown Seattle (where all of the tourists are! Pike Place, etc.)
  • Capitol Hill (young and hip crowd, bars, and restaurants)
  • South Lake Union (lots of boats in the summer, Fred Hutch – my old workplace, 400 Fairview, MOHAI)
  • Central District
  • West Seattle (Alki Beach)
  • Ballard and Fremont (vintage shops, hip shops, and restaurants)
  • University District (UW, students, cheap eats, free parking at University Village shopping area and lots of shops)
  • Belltown & Queen Anne
  • Waterfront (currently being renovated, but the Seattle Great Wheel is there!)
  • Pioneer Square (historic, all the cool shops and restaurants)
  • Wallingford, Green Lake, and Phinney Ridge (There’s Green Lake, coffee shops, and lots of hidden gems)
  • SODO & Georgetown (industrial area South of Seattle)
  • Columbia City
  • First Hill
  • Central District
  • Chinatown/International District & Little Saigon
  • West Seattle, Alki Beach
  • Shoreline, Lynwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Everette (cities north of Seattle)
  • Mercer Island and Bellevue (east side of Seattle)
  • White Center, Burien, SEA-TAC airport (south of Seattle)
  • Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville (Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and more wineries & tours)
  • Bainbridge/Bremerton (west side of Washington. You can drive from Seatlte or take the Washington State Ferries there)
  • Renton, Tukwila
  • Tacoma (Glass Museum and more cool shops downtown)
  • Kirkland (where Costco HQ used to be!), Redmond (lots of tech people!)


  • Volunteer Park (“Black Sun” art), the Conservatory* and Water Tower
  • Magnuson Park*
  • Discovery Park*
  • Kerry Park* (panoramic view of downtown, “Changing Form” steel sculpture)
  • Gas Work Park* (“Sundial” art)
  • Golden Gardens Beach Park* (summer sunset and bonfire)
  • Olympic Sculpture Park (many public art pieces)
  • Jim Ellis Freeway Park
  • Seattle Great Wheel & Waterfront Park*
  • Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Garden*
  • Woodland Park & Zoo
  • Carkeek Park
  • Seattle Japanese Garden (costs money, small but it’s pretty cute inside)
  • Kubota Garden* (free)
  • Juanita Beach Park
  • Dr. Jose Rizal Park
  • Belltown Cottage Park
  • Greenlake Park
  • Sam Smith Park
  • Waterfront Park*
  • Elliot Bay Trail
  • Bellevue Botanical Garden*
  • Seward Park
  • Myrtle Edwards Park (“Adjacent, Against, Upon” rock art installation)
  • Cal Anderson Park (“Waterworks” – endlessly streaming river flowing from a volcano settles in a reflection pool)
  • Daejeon Park
  • Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden
  • Seattle Chinese Garden
  • Point Difiance Park*, Tacoma


  • Uwajimaya (Japanese supermarket and stationery/gift shop)
  • Melrose Market* (next to Glasswing in Capitol Hill)
  • Fremont Sunday Street Market (year-round weekly vendors and eats)
  • Asian: Food Center, H Marts, 99 Ranch, Lam’s Seafood* (I go here for Vietnamese grocery, fresh seafood – get their live Dungeness crabs when in season and steam them at home, super fresh and yummy!), Thanh Son Tofu* (They make fresh tofu and soybean milk here. It’s also a deli, so expect banh mi, sticky rice, rice crepes, Vietnamese snacks, and che – Vietnamese desserts, here)
  • Leavenworth Reindeer Farm*, Leavenworth


FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM. I have Seattle food highlights and recommendations up-to-date there!

Brunch: The London Plane* (my fav.! part bakery, part flower shop, part cafe), Oddfellows Cafe* (It’s cute here, but I think food is ok!), 5 Spot (breakfast!), Portage Bay Cafe (huge fresh fruits and salad bar), Pike Place Clam Chowder* (amazing on cold rainy days), Mr. West Cafe* (downtown and U Village), Sitka & Spruce*, Belden Cafe*

Vietnamese food: Pho Than’s Brothers* (cheapest & it’s my most favorite pho I’ve tried in Seattle! Go to the UW location), Ba Bar (pricier but I love the vibe here, go to the Capitol Hill location.), Tamarind Tree* (go-to spot for large family gathering), Pho Bac Soup Shop, Green Leaf, Stateside (also pricy, creative food presentation, and cute decor), Hue Ky Mi Gia* (Chinese/Vietnamese noodles soups, get the duck soup and chicken wings!), COBA – Viet Kitchen & Ales, Banh Town, Melong Village, Sizzle & Crunch, Vien Dong Restaurant (housemade pho noodle, big bowl pho challenge), Bun & Oc (snail dishes)

Modern Taiwanese food: Din Tai Fung (3 locations), 19 GOLD, Facing East* (Bellevue) and QQ BIte by Facing East (downtown), Gourmet Noodle Bowl

Chinese food: Xi’an Noodles (get their hand-pulled noodle with lamb), Qian Noodle (near Asian Food Center), Gourmet Noodle Bowl. Dim Sum: Jade Garden, Harbor City Restaurant, Dim Sum factory, Dough Zone* (local chain). Chinese BBQ (pork & duck): Kau Kau BBQ,

Hot pot: Morfire (Thai), Boiling Point (Edmonds), Tasty Pot (Shoreline), the Dolar Shop (Bellevue, fancy and I have yet to try), Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot* (all you can eat, Chinatown)

Cuban sandwiches: Un Bien, Paseo

Caribbean-themed plates: Bongos*, Pam’s Kitchen*, Jerk Shack

Sandwiches: Tat’s deli, Tubs Gourmet Sub Sandwiches*, Sai Gon Deli* (the best and cheapest banh mi in Seattle), Seattle Deli, HoneyHole Sandwiches,

Korean food: DAWA*, Traditional Korean Beef Soup*, Korea House Restaurant*, Hae-Nam Kalbi & Calamari* (I love every single dish I’ve tried here, the flavor is on point!), Hosoonyi Tofu Korean restaurant, One Pot Korean Stew.

Fried chicken wings: DAWA*, Ma’ono Chicken* (Hawaiian fried chicken, 2 locations serving very different styles of wings: University Village – inside Rachels’ Ginger Beer store and West Seattle – bigger restaurant), Bok a Bok Fried Chicken (many locations), Stars In The Sky* (karaoke), Chi Mac, Bon Chon.

Thai food: Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen* (Lynwood, get their hat-Yai chicken and a side of sticky rice), SOI, Pestle Rock*, Poppop Thai Street Food (get the Khao Soi), Bai Tong restaurant, Sen Noodle Bar, Little Uncle, Kin Dee Thai, Bangrak Market Thai Street Food, Amazing Thai* (UW)

Asian fusion: Reckless Noodles. Joule*, Revel*, and Trove: all 3 founded by the famous chef Rachel Yang, hip, unconventional Korean/Asian/new-American fusion type of food, small dishes with unique flavors, Marination, Chan’s Seattle, Nue

Indian food: Taste of India*, Saffron Grill*, The Roll Pod* (food truck)

Malaysian: Kedai Makan*, Malay Satay Hut

Sushi: Sushi Kashiba*, Nishino* or Shiro’s (for omakase), Umi Sake House* (great HH menu), Adana Seattle* (I love this place and their impressive small plates with bursting flavors!!), Momiji, Suika* (fun atmosphere!) and Tamari Bar (same owner), Umi Sake House* (great HH menu), Wataru*, Wasabi Sushi & Izakaya, Japonessa Sushi Cocina (almost all-day happy hours, I tried once just to go see why it had so many Yelp reviews, but thought it was okay!),

Ramen: Menya Musashi Seattle* (get their tsukemen), Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya (multiple locations), Betsutenjin Ramen* (small shop, only 2 ramen options & some appetizers), Ramen Danbo, Ooink, Yoroshiku Japanese Restaurant, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (Bellevue and U Village), Kamonegi*, Aloha Ramen Japanese Noodle (I love their fried rice), Udon Fresh Japanese Noodle Station

Burgers: Uneeda*, Dick’s (local, cheap & cheerful. I love just sitting down in the parking lot and inhale 2 burgers at once! It’s fun!), Pick-Quick Drive-In, Katsu Burger (multiple locations, known for panko-breaded deep dried meats burger.), 8 oz. Burger (UW), Shake Shack (downtown, overrated). Full list, here.

Fish & Chips: Spud, Sunfish, Emerald City Fish & Chips, Wally’s Chowder House & Broiler* (seafood, chowder)

Italian: The Pink Door*, Le Messe

Soup Dumplings: Din Tai Fung* (multiple locations. I’m addicted to their spicy sauce, omg!), Dough Zone Dumpling House (multiple locations, better priced than DTF, also local)

Tacos: Taco Chuki’s, Red Star, Fogon Cocina Mexicana*, Taqueria El Sabor* (get their fried fish, it’s amazing!), Pecado Buono, El Camion (restaurant and food truck), more tacos here.

Pizza: Serious Pie* (so pricey but worth it!), Delancy*, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria – Wallingford, Humble Pie* (I go here for happy hours, $8 pizzas), Veraci Pizza (pizza sold in slices), Rocco’s*

Irish bar: Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar

Mediterranian food: Mamnoon Street, Lola (fancy! I went here for NYE dinner when visiting Seattle in 2017!), Bodrum Bistro- Anatolian Kitchen (The waiter told me they made the best baklava in the west coast. It was pretty good as advertised! :P)

Poke: Seattle Fish Guys* (the best poke in town), Fremont Bowl* (poke and katsu bowl), Gopoke, Fob Poke Bar* (I get everything in my poke bowl, so cheap here!), 45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar, Poke Lover, Ono Poke* (Edmonds)

Tapas: Ocho, List

Hawaiian food: Kona Kitchen*, Ma’ono (West Seattle), Ohana Kitchen (Burien)

French food: Lecosho

Pasta: The Pink Door*, Pasta Bella

Restaurants that are hard to get in but well worth it:

  • JunBaby* (I got in after the 4th time, still had to wait for an hour and a half after coming in to put our name down right away when they were open for the night.)
  • The Walrus & The Carpenter** (oysters, seafood, ah so good!)
  • Staple and Fancy (right next to The Walrus & The Carpenter)

Restaurants that I’m dying to try: Canlis, Elliott’s Oyster House, Taylor Shellfish, Salty’s on Alki Beach, Dolar Shop, How to Cook a Wolf, Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge,


  • Milstead & Co.*
  • Pilgrim Coffeehouse*
  • Moore Coffee Shop (cute animal latte art)
  • Storyville* (many locations. My fav. is at Queen Anne because there’s free parking in the residential area.)
  • Starbucks Reserve Roastery* (cool touristy location in Capitol Hill or SODO where its HQ is. I get Starbucks on the daily since it’s convenient and every block here in Seattle!)
  • Victrola Coffee Roasters
  • Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar
  • Capitol Coffee Works
  • Street Bean Coffee Roaster
  • Bedlam Cafe
  • Zoka Coffee Roasters and Tea Co. (spacious, free parking on the street)
  • Anchorhead Coffee*
  • La Marzocco Cafe* (Seattle Center, hard to find parking)
  • Retreat (Green Lake)
  • Slate Coffee Roasters & Callus
  • Cafe Ladro (multiple locations)
  • Cherry Street (not my fav. coffee, but they have lots of convenient locations)
  • Cascade Coffee Works
  • Broadcast Coffee (2-hour limit wifi)
  • Stumptown Coffee*
  • Belden Cafe* (Bellevue)
  • Honor Coffee (Bellevue)
  • 203 Fahrenheit Coffee (located at the Village at Totem Lake shopping mall in Kirkland)
  • Sip House* (great Vietnamese coffee spot in UW area)
  • Hood Famous Cafe & Bar (Filippino)


I love beers & red wine but don’t drink a lot of fancy cocktails, hence a non-alcoholic list.

Doughnuts: Top Pot Doughnuts*, General Porpoise Doughnuts*, Krispy Kreme* (classic glaze!)

Tea: Miro Tea, Tea Republik, Atulea*, Nana’s Green Tea

Grass jelly desserts: Meet Fresh* (Bellevue), Black Ball Taiwanese Desserts

Shaved Ice: Milkie Milkie Dessert Cafe (Korean calls it bingsoo), Citra

Ice cream: Sweet Alchemy*, Molly Moon, Frankie & Jo’s (plant-based, vegan), Salt & Straw*, Nana’s Green Tea* (get their matcha parfait)

Bakeries: Bakery Nouveau* (birthday cake), 85-degree bakery (also try their sea salt coffee and bubble tea), Holy Cannoli, Pie Bar (pie by the slice!), Gelatiamo (ice cream cakes), Macrina Bakery (I frequent the 1st av. location), Piroshky Piroshky (Russian bakery in Pike Place), Sugar Bakery & Cafe, Lady Yum (macarons, 3 locations), Le Panier French Bakery, Deep Sea Sugar & Salt

Boba Tea:

  • TP Tea*
  • Coco Fresh Tea & Juice* (Bellevue, my fav. order is the Three Guy.)
  • 20 Oz. Tea*
  • Kungfu tea* (Lynwood)
  • Happy Lemon* (their bubble waffle is my favorite, and drinks are alright!)
  • Don’t Yell At Me
  • Mi Tea (inside Bellevue Square)
  • Rain Cafe (at the Asian Food Center)
  • Tea Addict
  • Boba Up (boba bar/buffet style)
  • Yifang Fruit Tea (brown sugar boba*, fruit teas)
  • 19 Gold (try their brown sugar boba)
  • Tea Addict Bubble Tea House (closing late)
  • Jazen Tea (inside Pho Hoa)
  • Boba Lust Tea House (Tukwila, cool vibe)
  • Share Tea (multiple locations)
  • Citra (UW)
  • Moo Bar (downtown Seattle)
  • Rabbit Rabbit* (downtown Seattle)
  • Seattle Best Tea
  • Young Tea
  • Ding Tea Seattle
  • Oasis Tea Zone (not my fav., but it’s old and well-known in Chinatown)
  • Lollicup Fresh (Kirkland)
  • YAN Tea (UW)
  • Bobbalust Tea House (Tukwila & more locations)
  • Timeless Tea (UW)

Vietnamese desserts: Bambu Desserts & drinks*(Chinatown and Lynwood location)

Chocolate Shops: Theo Chocolate (local, shop in Fremont has free samples)

Ginger Beer: Rachel’s Ginger Beer* (U Village* or Pike Place), Fran’s Chocolates (U Village and downtown Seattle)


Big shopping areas: Pioneer Square, Fremont area, Ballard and Fremont, Chophouse Row & Capitol Hill area: Melrose Market, Bellevue Square, Pacific Place & Westlake Center* (downtown), University Village* (free parking), Northgate Mall

Headquarters: Amazon, Nordstrom (downtown), Starbucks (SODO), REI (Kent), Costco, Microsoft, Expedia Group, Zumiez, Zulily, Eddie Bauer

High-end shops: Totokaelo* (high-end designers and home stuff),  Baby&Co. (unique designer store in downtown), The Bravern in Bellevue has Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta, etc.), Flora and Henri, Nordstrom HQ* (5 floors downtown ), Le Labo Fragrances* (Capitol Hill), Aesop, Glasswing* (plants, clothes, beauty. home stuff), Essenza, Yoogi’s Closet (online pre-owned luxury, based in Seattle)

Cute clothing local boutique & more: Pipe + Row (Fremont), Moorea Seal, Prism*, Baleen (local jewelry brand),

Stationery shops: Join Shop, Paper Hammer, Uwajimaja (Japanese gifts & stationery stuff, International District), Butter Home*, Fry Art Museum Store*, Made In Washington

Outdoorsy stores: REI Coop, Patagonia, Fjall Raven, Luna Sandals (Queen Anne, outdoorsy sandals), Outdoor Research, Feathered Freinds, MiiR,

Book stores: Elliot Bay Book Company, Amazon Books (U Village)

Clean Beauty: Follain. (U Village) K beauty: Hello Banana (U Village)

Plant shops: BLOG POST HERE

Furniture, Kitchen & Decor: West Elm, Crate & Barrel, CB2* (U Village), Ballard Furniture Consignment shop, Restoration Hardware (RH, U Village), Blu Dot (Capitol Hill), The Furniture Guy Consignment, Sur La Table


  • Goodwill Outlet (SODO)*** and all of the Goodwill retail shops (read my Goodwill Outlet Thrift Guide, here)
  • Deseret Industries Thrift Store***
  • Fremont Vintage Mall*
  • Mercer Island Thrift Shop* (I love their men’s section.)
  • Buffalo Exchange
  • St. Vincent De Paul Thrift (multiple locations)
  • The Salvation Army (multiple locations)
  • Value Village (multiple locations)
  • Crossroads Trading Co.
  • Lucky Dog Clothing
  • Lucky Vintage*
  • Fremont Sunday Market
  • Revival Shop Seattle
  • Valley of Roses
  • Bon Voyage Vintage

Zero Waste shop: Eco Collective

Cool Pop-up Shops: Periodic Shop*, Pop-In Shop at Nordstrom* (downtown Seattle, third floor)

Cool Sneaker Shops: Sneak City (store in Fremont), Likelihood (Capitol Hill), BAIT

Designer Consignment Shop: Yoogi’s Closet (only online)

Sandals: Luna Sandals (shop in Queen Anne)

Sewing shop: DryGoods Design (Pioneer Square), Sewing Machine Service Co Inc (Renton)


I cover this section extensively on my blog, please refer to my Travel/Pacific Northwest category. I recommend tons of easy to difficult hikes including nature spots that require no hiking, family, and pet-friendly.

    1. Mt. Rainier National Park
    2. Mt. Baker, North Cascades National Park
    3. Olympic National Park: Hurricane Ridge

Washington Coast: Long Beach, Cape Flattery, Second Beach, La Push, Rialto Beach,

Hot Springs & Ski resorts


Flowers. Flowers. Flowers! Spring in Seattle is amazing! Cherry blossom at the Quad (UW, the beginning of April), tulips at Roozengaarde in mt. Vernon (mid-May), lavender farms in Sequim (July). Read my Washington Flower Guide, here, and my Tulip post, here.

Fruit picking: Strawberry picking (which I am going this weekend! Jun-July) Apple picking (fall time, obviously! I went to the Apple Creek Orchards last year, bought a bucket full of apples for $15, ~60 apples total, hah!)

Skiing: The Summit at Snoqualmie, Steven Pass

Catch seafood: Oysters *(year-round, and you can eat the oysters at the beach!) and seasonal are clams and razor clams* (super fun!), more information: here, crabbing, and fishing.

Pumpkin patches: here

Fall foliage: All of the parks and trails.

Washington State Fair

Watch fireworks: NYE and July 4th on Alki, Gas Work or South Lake Union

Wineries/wine tour & tasting: Chateau Ste Michelle* or Woodinville area (so many wineries)

DAYTRIP: Leavenworth* (I highly recommend it! I’ve never been there in the winter but heard it’s amazing as a weekend getaway. Check out Reindeer Farm! Summer is great as I’ve been there every year for cherry-picking and hiking at trails nearby!), take the ferry to Bremerton or Bainbridge, San Juan Island, or go on a hike

Things I want to do: go to some more wineries, whale watching (San Juans island), kayaking, squidding.


  • Go on a hike!!!
  • Rent a car and go on a road trip anywhere else but Seattle
  • Take the ferry to Bainbridge, Bremerton, Olympic Peninsula and many islands (can do with or without a car)
  • All levels rock climbing at Stone Gardens Seattle
  • Food crawl, tacos crawl (which I’ve done), pub crawl, restaurant crawl 🙂
  • Escape Room at Quest Factor Escape Room
  • Games, billard, bowling at Round 1
  • Mini Golf at Flatstick Pub (Pioneer Square and South Lake Union)
  • Karaoke (lots of locations depending on wherever you are. I’ve been to Stars In The Sky, and they have songs in a few languages)
  • Wine tasting at Chateau st. Michelle
  • Seaplane rides to the San Juan Islands
  • Kids: The Museum of Flight, Seattle Aquarium, parks, zoos
  • Rent a kayak at South Lake Union or Alki Beach


1. Utilize the good old Google Maps for navigation and places near wherever you are, Yelp for food reviews, Hotel Tonight for cheap and last minute hotel booking, Uber/Lift for a ride, Car2Go/ReachNow for car rental, Spot Hero for cheap parking. 2. Instagram. I’d often search for specific hashtags, such as #seattlefood #seattleeats for food photos and recommendations for food. For me, when I first moved to Seattle, by searching the #seattleblogger or #seattlephotographer, I was able to find out a lot about the bloggers, their styles, and the blogging community here. I’d also scroll through their feed to find out outfit shoot locations (if they’re tagged, of course!), Instagrammable ones, hiking trails, and locations this way! Try #PNWwonderland, #PNWcollective, or #That PNWlife, there are a ton of amazing outdoorsy places that I have added to my bucket list by using this Instagram hashtag trick. 3. Look for travel guides on travel blogs (my favorites are,, flyers at your hotels, famous touristy restaurants, gift shops, etc. I still do this often when I’m at the cashier section about to pay for my stuff, I’d pick one up if there are any on the display, especially in big cities. In the summertime, cities such as Seattle often have art walks, farmer markets, walks/runs, local events, and often times there is a list of local shops, restaurants, and things to do in that certain area that are worth checking out as well. 4. Museums, zoos or parks are often failed-safe options in the day time and cheap local dive bars at night are good to kill for a few hours if you do have some to spare. Otherwise, look for a local/seasonal calendar online for unique things to do. 5. Be open-minded and flexible: Sometimes, I’d just go with my gut and check out that underrated place that is on the way. It means less of a wait and less of a crowd, and sometimes that is just all I need. Stop by a local shop if it’s on your way, it might end up being your personal favorite spot because who knows!


10 Locations in Seattle that are perfect for outfit photos, PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4

Travel Oregon – Stunning Coast & Great Outdoors

The Portland Guide – Where to Eat, Visit, and Shop

Twin Cities, Minnesota Travel Guide

The California Road Trip Guide: How to Plan & a Downloadable Packing List

I hope you’ve found a few cool places to try out for yourself or add to your bucket list. Let me know if you have anything to add and please feel free reach out to me via DM on Instagram. Thanks for reading!