Seattle, Washington…The Emerald City. Many articles have been written on it, many movies have been filmed here, Buzzfeed loves it, and people seem to flock here in droves to start a new life, myself included. And that’s because it’s freaking awesome. And once you’ve lived here for several years, you learn a thing or two. Like how to pronounce “Puyallup” (go ahead, try it.) Or the fact that 99 is almost always faster than I-5. Or that there is no bad weather, just bad gear. Or that you’re going to be called a wimp if you’re seen using an umbrella. (I don’t think I’ve ever met a population more stubborn than Seattle. Apparently being soaking wet and freezing looks way cooler than holding a protective shield over your body.) Also, jeans and a button-down shirt are considered dressing up here. And if you’re a dude, you probably sport a beard. One so big you can store flowers and candy in it. And you probably use coconut oil to condition it every day. And you probably wear a flannel shirt. And Seattle has a name for you; it’s lumbersexual. Don’t worry, that’s a compliment.
You will experience many rites of passage, such as waiting in line for six hours in 20-degree Fahrenheit weather in January for the annual REI garage sale because YES buying gear at 80% off is always worth it. Or going to Dick’s at 2:00 AM because you’re drunk and you want a burger (admittedly, I’ve never done this one before but I hear it’s a thing.) Or realizing that at some point you’re going to have to stop bitching about the rain and just go outside anyway and dance in it. Because after all, Seattle is so damn beautiful because of all the rain. And it doesn’t actually rain all that much, it’s just the gloom. When I moved here in 2014, everyone said “oh yeah, the winters suck, but you’ll get used to it. Give it two years.” When they find out that I’m from Hawaii, they change their answer to “give it five years.”
But the summers…let’s talk about the summers here for just a minute (see my album Pacific Northwest Outdoor Photography to get an idea of just how beautiful Washington is during the 3 – 4 months of glorious weather.) Ah, weather. This brings me to one of the main reasons I did choose to move here; seasons. All four of them!
So here’s pretty much what a full year looks like in Seattle (I’ll begin with my favorite season):
Summer: you leave work early every Friday to take a long weekend somewhere awesome, probably someplace that requires taking a ferry. Because they’re fun and you can go out on the bow and pretend like you’re Rose from “Titanic” (you’ll be slightly judged but don’t worry, everyone does it). People stay outside until 10:00 PM when the sky finally gets dark. Nothing gets done in your personal life (forget about “adulting” for the next three months – who needs to do laundry when you’re outside playing in 16 hours of daylight?) You pick wild blackberries and plums and eat them until your stomach hurts. You walk to farmers markets, bike, climb, go hiking, backpacking and camping every weekend and swim naked in glacier water. Restaurants open their patios for outdoor seating and you wonder why you ever thought Seattle was so bad in the first place. People turn off their Seattle Freeze for the next few months and actually acknowledge your presence, and dogs are everywhere.
Fall: Pumpkin lattes. The pumpkin latte fiend rears its trendy head yet again, even though you thought it was over last year. Colors start to change and you will go out of your way to step on a crunchy-looking leaf. You try a little too hard to see your breath in the air, and girls start wearing boots over their yoga pants. In fact, yoga pants start to become the daily choose of clothing. You start checking the “Hiking in the Pacific Northwest” Facebook page for the best hikes to see Fall colors. Apples are in season, so naturally you bring along your reusable bag to the farmers market and load up. Dogs are everywhere.
Winter: You suddenly can’t seem to wake up in the morning because it’s so. damn. dark outside. You buy firewood and increase your carbon footprint by burning fires every night while listening to Christmas music. You’re depressed because hiking is now limited but you’re excited because the ski lifts are open. Hot yoga becomes your daily attempt at exercise, but it isn’t enough so you still gain ten pounds of “winter layers”. You forget what Green Lake looks like without a thousand people walking around the rim and you dream about being on a beach in Hawaii, but can’t quite remember what sunshine looks like. You visit a lot of breweries with friends and dogs are everywhere.
Spring: This is the first time in five months that you have seen the sunshine in Seattle, and you start to feel a glimmer of hope. You go for a jog and feel blinded while running past other people, which confuses you, but then you realize it’s just their transparent skin because they’re running in shorts and a T-shirt for the first time since October. On the first sunny day of the year, everyone comes back to work the next day sunburnt, and thus you enter allergy season. Cherry blossoms. People go crazy and flock to UW in droves. The parks begin to come to life again and dogs are everywhere.
Now I will begin my Seattle post with the most cliche photos of Pike Place Market. And for God’s sake, please don’t call it any of the following names:
Pike’s Place (it doesn’t belong to Pike)
If you’re a local, you just call it “The Market”.
You’ll find fresh produce year-round.
You’ll see some interesting vendors
And some pretty funny signs.
Beecher’s is a Seattle favorite and the best spot for paninis and home made squeaky cheese made right in the window! You will be ruined forever once you try their macaroni and cheese. (*moment of silence to allow for involuntary salivation*)
If you enjoy standing in lines, you’ll love the “First Starbucks”
And later learn that it isn’t actually the real “first” Starbucks (dreams smashed and shattered).
The views are pretty epic, especially when the mountain is out (Seattleites will know what this means).
The architecture is pretty rad.
And I hear people do yoga everywhere…
The Burke-Gilman Trail is a great way to get around on bike, especially in the Fall when the colors pop!
Ride the trail to the University of Washington (better known as “U-Dub”) where the cherry blossoms bloom in Spring and everybody gets hay fever.
Or you can take the S.L.U.T. (South Lake Union Transportation) – I’m certain the acronym was well planned out in advance.
But don’t even think about driving in Seattle unless you want your vehicle to be crushed by a giant cement troll living underneath a bridge in Fremont.
Explore the many parks, including Alki Beach (pronounced “Al-kai”). If you say it like “Al-key” you’re immediately pegged as a tourist.
The sunsets over the Olympics in the summer are pretty epic. So naturally, you partake in beach acroyoga with friends and go crazy with silhouette photos.
Or play beach volleyball at Ballard’s Golden Gardens until sunset (which, in the winter time is at 4:00 PM and summertime is at 10:00 PM).
The Space Needle annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show is pretty spectacular. (I’m not wildly biased or anything, it’s not like I worked there for 2.5 years.) 😉
Unleash your inner nerdy child at Archie McPhee in Fremont, a weird Seattle staple.
Check out my Ultimate Guide to Seattle for all the best eateries, both new and hot and old-time favorites, along with all the other great things to do in Seattle year-round.
No visit to Fremont (or Wallingford, Capitol Hill, or U-Village) is complete without a visit to Seattle’s best ice cream place, Molly Moon’s.
Start the day with Morsel (Ballard and University District locations), biscuit brekkie sandwiches.
It’s kind of sacrilegious if you support any other football team besides the Seahawks, and even if you couldn’t care less about TV sports (this girl right here), you’d better know who the 12th man is or you will receive very judgmental looks from your colleagues when sports is the topic of discussion (50% of small talk is typically centered around sports.) The other parts are weather (30%), traffic (10%), coffee (8%) and when the hell Bertha is going to get up and running again (2%). When you’re outside of work, the topics of discussion move more towards outdoor adventure (remember, there is no bad weather, just bad gear), which mountain you plan on summiting next, and which problem you’re trying to solve at SBP. And politics. Sometimes politics. Politics a lot lately.
And regardless of where you come from or what your ethnic background or sexual orientation is, Seattle welcomes you with open arms and an open heart.
There are lots of colorful rallies and marches filled with people from all walks of life, race, ethnic and social backgrounds.
But at the end of the day, any day, during any season, as you drive/bike/walk/jog through your neighborhood, you can’t help but think to yourself how incredible this place is and how lucky you are to live here, even though sometimes it can feel like a love/hate relationship. In a place where you can see both the Olympic and Cascade ranges on a clear day, be only a few miles away from water at almost all times and just a two-hour drive from mountains, ocean, rainforest and desert, and have the luxury of living in a big/small city and in the middle of nature, Seattle truly has it all.