In part 1, I outlined the best touristy places to go to in Seattle (some are well known, others slightly less so). Now, I want to highlight the areas that locals love and you will too!
Ballard, Capitol Hill and West Seattle top the list of trendy neighborhoods that combine great food, fun nightlife and lots of people watching. Conveniently enough, the neighborhoods are north, east, and south of downtown (don’t go west, you’ll fall into the water).
Here are some of the top choices for each neighborhood:
Ballard Avenue is the major street for bars and restaurants (and a huge Farmer’s Market every Sunday). All sorts of cuisine and alcohol can be found here. In addition, one of the best dessert places in Seattle, Hot Cakes, is here. Just be prepared to wait in line.
After (or before) eating and drinking, check out the Ballard Locks. It’s a beautiful area to walk and watch boats cross to and from Lake Union and Elliott Bay. You can also venture a little bit further past Ballard to Golden Gardens. It’s on the beach and perfect on a hot day. Parking can get tough if you come in the afternoon so try to arrive early. Both places are great for kids of all ages, with the locks letting kids gawk at boats and Golden Gardens having trails for hiking, a good-sized kids playground and volleyball nets. You can barbecue or even rent some of the spaces if you’re lucky enough to get one in the summer.
Capitol Hill is definitely the trendiest part of town these days. Tons of bars and restaurants (and let’s be real, tons of hipsters too) and Broadway is the main thoroughfare here and how many streets can you say were memorialized by Sir Mix A Lot (Posse on Broadway)?
For those of you coffee lovers (or haters, depending on your opinion on the quality), Starbucks’ first Roastery is in Capitol Hill. It’s a huge homage to all things coffee and there’s plenty of space to relax and enjoy your new libation.
Capitol Hill is very walkable, but probably not the best place in Seattle to go with younger kids. It’s not because it’s unsafe, but it’s like walking around New York. You can do it, but your (young) kids probably aren’t having as much fun as you are.
West Seattle is the quirky kid that every parent loves. Given its relative isolation (you mean I have to cross a bridge??), it’s kept a lot of its charm. It’s more spread out than the other neighborhoods, but there are some real gems all over.
An extremely popular area in the summer (admittedly, somewhat overly commercial now) is Alki. The beach has one of the most magnificent views in Seattle, overlooking numerous islands and downtown. The beach itself has a lot of space for laying out, barbecuing and even to get into the water. It’s perfect for kids of all ages as there are no waves and it feels great on those hot days. Lots of restaurants surround the beach and there’s even a water taxi to and from downtown that kids would love and, which make it convenient to get to if you’re staying downtown.
There are some great neighborhoods that offer a unique twist on Seattle. They’re all very easy to get to from downtown, with plenty of buses providing access or short drives (though parking in Ballard and Capitol Hill can get dicey). If you have a longer stay, definitely check out the Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge, and Greenlake neighborhoods (the lake in particular in the summer is gorgeous and extremely lively). Seattle is a fantastic place to be in the summer with an amazing array of outdoors and food/nightlife so take the time to enjoy!