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Mistakes Tourists Make When Visiting Seattle

by YAR

Seattle, Washington is known for its rainy weather, but that doesn’t scare tourists away. The city has long drawn visitors with its impressive art scene, delicious seafood, and jaw-dropping mountain views.

But those who travel to the Emerald City for the first time tend to get a few things wrong. We asked locals to share some of the most common missteps they’ve seen.

From going to the wrong coffee shop to missing out on the best experiences, here are 10 mistakes tourists often make when visiting Seattle, and tips to avoid these mistakes during your trips to the Pacific Northwest.

Get coffee from the original Starbucks

“Many tourists love to visit the iconic original Starbucks location, but I have some news for you: It’s just a Starbucks with added paraphernalia. If you want to wait in line for your Hazelnut Latte, you’d normally get it at home, by all means. Seattle is known as the coffee capital of the United States, so visit one of the many local coffee shops around Seattle. If you’re at Pike Place Market, head to the second level of Storyville Coffee or walk a block for latte art at Moore Coffee Shop. If you’re not near Pike Place Market, there are local coffee shops that make great coffee a stone’s throw from where you’re staying.” ― Nelson Lau, co-host of “Seattle Foodie Podcast”

“Don’t bother going to the Starbucks at Pike Place Market. Incredibly long lines are not worth it. Take a photo outside, then head to the Starbucks Reserve Seattle Roastery on Capitol Hill. It is about nine blocks away and offers tourists a better in-store experience with food, coffee, merchandise, and seeing the coffee production process. You’ll also be able to explore the rest of what Cap Hill has to offer, as it’s a very walkable neighborhood.” ― Ishea Brown, Digital Creator and Associate Producer

Alki beach is missing

“One mistake I see people make is not going to Alki Beach in West Seattle for one of the best unobstructed views of the Seattle skyline. It’s very easy to get there from downtown Seattle by taking the water taxi at Pier 50. It’s a scenic drive of less than 10 minutes that’s also a fun experience in itself. Once you arrive in West Seattle, you will be greeted with a beautiful view. And while you’re there, and if the weather is nice, I suggest you take a walk on the beach and explore the area’s restaurants, before heading back downtown in a water taxi.” ― Erika Diama, content creator

“Aliki Beach is a beach to sleep in West Seattle, but it’s worth a visit. Grab a bite to eat at Marination Ma Kai and rent a bike to ride the trail. You’ll get great views of the Seattle skyline, the water, the mountains, and you can enjoy the shops along Alki Beach. If it’s a sunny day, you can play beach volleyball or end the night with a bonfire on the beach. If you’re looking to enjoy some local favorites, you can grab ice cream at Homefront Smoothies and Ice Cream, grab burgers at Pepperdock, or grab fish and chips at Spuds.” ― Brown

Planning to stay alone indoors

“It doesn’t always rain in Seattle. Seattle is one of the best places to visit in the summer due to the mild temperatures, making it a great place for outdoor dining and evening picnics. Do as the locals do and head to Gas Works Park for a picnic. Grab a poke bowl from 45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar and then walk a couple of doors to Tres Lecheria for the best tres leches cake in Seattle. Don’t you like the thrust? Wallingford also has Dick’s Drive In, home of the Seattle Burger. Grab a Dick’s Deluxe, fries, and a strawberry milkshake, and you’ll be ready for sunset at Gas Works Park.” ― Lau

Tourists don’t always understand that Seattle also has sunny seasons.

Waiting in line for attraction tickets

“Tourists are waiting in line to buy tickets for the Spire or other attractions when they could easily buy them online.” ― Karla Ilicic, yoga teacher and freelance writer

“Don’t wait in line for every little attraction and shell out your money to pay for each one separately. The Seattle Pass is the move to hit ’em all in no time for less.” ― Lauren Baker, student

Don’t anticipate crowds

“One thing to know about traveling to Seattle in the summer is that unlike many other cities, the locals don’t leave here in the warmer months! We love our summers, which means it’s not only a little crowded from June to August, but you’re competing with the locals for everything from ferry traffic to dinner reservations, so keep that in mind when making plans. My favorite month here is September, when the weather is still cooperative but the crowds thin out a bit.” ― Cassandra LaValle, Interior Stylist

glued to the center

“Tourists love to visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle while they’re in town, but the truth is our downtown is pretty generic when it comes to dining and shopping. While I’d recommend a visit to the Seattle Art Museum, I’d focus your daily schedules on other neighborhoods in the city. Ballard is one of the most fun and full of things to do: visit the locks, do some shopping, explore the Nordic Museum and make a reservation at any of the delicious restaurants on Ballard Ave (San Fermo is my favourite!). Pioneer Square, Fremont, and Capitol Hill also offer plenty of dining and activities.” ― LaValle

“Downtown Seattle is NOT a trendy place to dine. Unlike other metropolitan cities, most locals don’t go to downtown Seattle to eat. Instead, tourists should take a rideshare or the Sound Transit Link light rail to gourmet neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Ballard, Belltown or the International District/Chinatown. Whether it’s sushi, seafood, ramen, steak, pasta, or steak, you’ll find better options in all of these neighborhoods than downtown.” ― Lau

Not planning activities in nature

“I see a lot of visitors who come to Seattle and never take a day to go out to one of the best things our city has to offer: nature! As a city surrounded by mountains, water, and lush national parks, I highly recommend a quick day trip that allows you to experience one of these. Take a ferry to Whidbey Island and explore Ebey’s Landing or Deception Pass, rent a car for the day and drive to Mt. Si, or stay local and visit Discovery Park, where trails take you to a picturesque beach and lighthouse.” ― LaValle

“If you have a rental car, get out of town for more fun activities. 30 minutes east of Seattle is home to many hikes in the town of Snoqualmie with spectacular views.” ― Lau

No new restaurants

“As far as I can tell, tourists make the mistake of going to the same promoted restaurants when there has been a boom of amazing restaurants all over the city. Definitely worth a visit.” ― illicit

Prioritizing the Space Needle

“Don’t visit crowded tourist landmarks, especially during weekends. The top of the Space Needle can be underwhelming and Pike Place Market can be very crowded on the weekend. Don’t wait in lines. Many tourists love to visit the Space Needle, but locals love to go to the Smith Tower for a drink and a bite to eat. The Smith Tower is located in Pioneer Square and is Seattle’s original skyscraper. Take the elevator up to the Observatory and Bar and be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Seattle without the crowds. Then, enjoy cocktails and handcrafted snacks as you take in the view. This is the perfect place before going out to dinner or after a drink.” ― Lau

do not do excursions

“If you’re not a fan of hiking, head to Woodinville and visit one of the many wineries in this town. Chateau St. Michelle is the largest winery in Woodinville, but you can visit one of the many smaller wineries in town. If you don’t have a rental car, take a ride to the Seattle Waterfront and walk to the ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry terminal, it’s a short walk to Main Street for shopping and dining. Enjoy this cute little town with some of the best restaurants in Seattle including Ba Sa, Café Hitchcock, Bruciato and Mora Iced Creamery.” ― Lau



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