A Well-Traveled Guide To Seattle: The Very Best Hotels, Restaurants & Packing List
The Pacific Northwest is a wellness destination for good reason. The awe-inspiring coastlines call for tranquillity. The lush and dense forests are a hikers paradise—a perfect place to get in touch with nature and find grounding. The nearby mountains beckon for adventure. Even the cities—from Portland to Vancouver—are full of eco-minded destinations.
Well, here, we're exploring the heart of the Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Washington, has long reigned as the region's metropolitan epicenter. The city is nestled in the Puget Sound, so you're never too far from water, the mountains, or evergreen forests. It's also a thriving hub for growing tech industries, green innovations, and wellness culture.
Indeed, the Emerald City offers an urban escape for anyone looking to capture the majesty of Cascadia.
From mountainous lodges, waterfront city escapes, and trendy downtown offerings, there's a place to stay for every traveler type.
Yes, Seattle can act as a gateway to the great outdoors, but it's also famously an arts and culture hub. This mid-century modern boutique hotel captures Seattle's appreciation for modern art and flair for casual sophistication and still highlights the city's stunning natural beauty. (Floor-to-ceiling windows offer the most breathtaking views.) While there, beauty enthusiasts must check out the renowned spa; it offers Biologique Recherche facials, noninvasive facial rejuvenation, full-body treatments, and so much more.
- Price point: $$$
- Area: Downtown Seattle
- Amenities: World-class spa; 24-hour fitness center; sauna and steam room; daily breakfast served; and the 16th-floor restaurant features local ingredients.
- Book now: https://www.lottehotelseattle.com/
The Edgewater Hotel
It's truly impressive how this hotel seamlessly blends together coastal lodging aesthetics, cityscapes, and views of both the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. It's the best of Seattle aesthetics all mixed into one home away from home. But that's not all: Over the years, it has hosted scores of musical legends, including the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles (who fished in the Puget Sound out of their suite's window).
- Price point: $$$
- Area: Just north of downtown, right on the Puget Sound
- Amenities: Award-winning restaurant with fresh & organic ingredients; coffee shop that features local vendors; guitars, sheet music, and recording equipment available for rent.
- Book now: https://www.edgewaterhotel.com/
Salish Lodge & Spa
For those who prefer towering evergreens over skyscrapers, drive 30 minutes east of the city to this decadent lodge that sits atop Snoqualmie Falls. (The 268-foot waterfall is one of the state's best attractions.) The hotel will give you easy access to some of the best sightseeing Washington has to offer, in addition to a well-rounded spa and loads of eco-friendly and adventurous attractions. We're partial to the hotel's commitment to preserving the state's bee population through their in-house beekeeping program.
- Price point: $$$$
- Area: Snoqualmie
- Amenities: Spa; dining with local ingredients; access to a plethora of activities, including hiking, horseback riding, golfing, and fishing
- Book now: https://www.salishlodge.com/
There's so much to explore in and around Seattle:
Shop at the Pike Place Market.
You can't visit Seattle without swinging by the (arguably) world's best farmers market. Pike Place Public Market Center fits in restaurants, local craft vendors, artisans, retail shops, eateries, special food markets, and, yes, that famous farmers market—where you can find the best of the upper Northwest. Be sure to check out the programs and events calendar prior to your visit; they often host shows and special festivals.
Hike the Olympic Peninsula.
The beauty of the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park must be seen to be believed. It's roughly a two-hour drive from downtown but worth it for a day trip. Hike the lush Hoh Rain Forest, which is dense with biodiversity, babbling waterfalls, and beautiful, mossy scenery. Visit the Dungeness Spit in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. Walk along the National Park's 73-mile rugged coastline, which is as picturesque as it comes. There are many routes to explore, and you can't go wrong with any of them.
Walk among glass art and gardens.
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a stunning long-term exhibition located downtown in the Seattle Center, which was once the home of the World's Fair and now serves as a civic hub where arts, education, and community collide. This exhibition features the work of Dale Chihuly, whose primary medium was glasswork. It's made up of eight galleries, the garden, and the centerpiece that is the glasshouse. The garden is particularly spectacular for nature enthusiasts, as it blends together striking glass sculptures among a lavish botanical garden.
Stroll through Discovery Park.
While the Olympic National Park tends to garner all the attention of the area, this city park is just as delightful a way to spend the day (especially if you don't have time in your trip to make it to the national park). Discovery Park has 500-plus acres of walking trails, views of the Puget Sound, coastal bluffs and beaches, active sand dunes, and evergreen forests.
Enjoy live music.
Relive the magic of quintessential '90s grunge by stopping by a local music venue. (Moving to live music is a great workout, mind you.) There are several local favorite spots to pick from. Tractor Tavern offers indie, bluegrass, and folk. The Triple Door offers a broad selection of entertainment—and a seated dinner with food from their sister restaurant (which offers fresh Asian fusion food complete with vegetarian and gluten-free options). The most legendary is the Showbox, where you'll find loads of up-and-coming acts.
The Northwest Pacific coast is known for prioritizing fresh, organic fish and farm-to-table ingredients.
The Walrus & The Carpenter
The last paragraph of Lewis Carroll's poem "The Walrus & The Carpenter" reads, "O Oysters,' said the Carpenter, you've had a pleasant run...they'd eaten every one." And if you visit this sunny, oh-so-welcoming oyster bar, we'd wager you, too, will be tempted to eat every last one yourself. The restaurant is helmed by James Beard Award winners Renee Erickson, Jeremy Price, and Chad Dale. Their exquisite taste shines through the casual setting. Sit, laugh, and enjoy the fresh oysters and side dishes.
- Price point: $$
- Area: Ballard
- Dietary consideration options: Pescatarian; locally sourced
- Setting: Very casual; walk-in only
- Menu & info: https://thewalrusbar.com/
This vegan restaurant specializes in elevated bistro fare that's absolutely mouthwatering. While the restaurant is the main event, there's also a "chopped"-style salad outpost, catering services, ice cream, and a pantry at City Centre. The visionary behind the expanding Plum empire is celebrated and lifelong vegan chef Makini Howell, who is beloved not just for her incredible palate but her commitment to community.
- Price point: $$
- Area: Capitol Hill
- Dietary consideration options: plant-based meals; organically grown seasonal vegetables; non-GMO soy; local produce and hers from family-owned farms; gluten-free.
- Setting: Casual
- Menu & info: https://plumbistro.com/
The name means "earth to plate," which is exactly what you'll find here. The seasonal menu uses fresh, organic produce from sustainable farmers to inspire creative, yet comforting dishes. (They also offer a variety of meats and fish.) Finally, the restaurant has also partnered with the Food Is Love Project to make meals for those in need—you can contribute should you be able to. (For example, $50 will prepare meals for three to five people.)
- Price point: $$$
- Area: Northeast of downtown
- Dietary consideration options: Plant-based; gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan
- Setting: Casual
- Menu & info: https://www.terraplata.com/
The best things to bring on your journey.
Jones Road The Best Pencil in Black
- Comes in 6 colorways
- Can achieve multiple looks, from graphic to smoky
The indie rock aesthetic is back in full force (now it's called "indie sleaze"). Pay homage to the epicenter of '90s grunge by bringing along your favorite eye pencil and wearing an oh-so-cool smoky, smudged liner. This option is a clean upgrade on the classic tool: It's made with cottonseed oil, glides on effortlessly, and doesn't melt away midday.
Girlfriend Collective Provence Please Recycle Tote Bag
- 3 colorways
- Zipper closure
- Water resistant
- Interior pocket
Girlfriend Collective is not only ethically produced, stylish loungewear—but it was founded in Seattle. (We love a hometown brand!) This tote bag makes for a solid carry-on when flying, and then use it as a shopping bag when you make your way over to the public market. It's made of recycled water bottles and can be recycled once you've gotten your use out of it (which hopefully, will be plenty).
Hunter Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
- 4 colorways
- Certified vegan
- XXS to XL sizes
- Lightweight design means easy packing
- Has a hood to keep your head dry
You'll want to pack rain-resistant outerwear—one that can ideally work for exploring the city or while on hikes. This sleek number is as efficient as it is versatile: The durable fabric keeps you dry, while the innovative design makes it breathable, and the closures mean that what's in your pockets stays safe, too.
- BPA-free, LFGB Certified silicone
- 20 colorways
- Comes in 10, 12, or 16 fl. oz. designs
This city is known for its high-quality coffee. Take advantage of that with a reusable coffee cup that's easy to use on the go: This product folds up into itself, so when you're not using it, it doesn't take up a ton of space in your bag.
From music and coffee to mossy forests and idyllic coasts, this Northwest Pacific city has it all. Be sure your visit is an equal blend of exploring the city's rich culture and the equally rich great outdoors.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.