In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, designer, illustrator, and photographer Julia Manchik shares Seattle’s spoils.
Although I grew up in a small town, I adore Seattle. It may be a big city, but it’s surprisingly easy to escape to the outdoors — we have great food, music, and shopping within walking distance of our apartment in Capitol Hill, but we’re also just a short drive from areas where we can bike, kayak, ski, and hike. I love that the city is built around water and mountains — even downtown, it’s incredibly green. I love it. I could see myself living here for a long time.
Volunteer Park Cafe, 1501 17th Ave E, (206) 328-3155
If you didn’t already know it was here, you’d probably miss Volunteer Park Cafe. It’s truly a neighborhood cafe, tucked away among craftsman homes on a residential street. The restaurant itself looks like a big yellow house. Look more closely and you’ll discover it’s a lovely place for breakfast, lunch, or a just a quick coffee and a pastry. The menu is fresh, local, and seasonal, with ingredients harvested from the backyard garden. A bonus? There’s a long communal table in the middle of the restaurant that’s a good place to get to know your neighbors.
Here, we ordered the apple + brie panini served on baguette with lavender honey, and their specialty—caramelized banana brioche French toast.
Moorea Seal, 2523 3rd Ave, (206) 728-2523
You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you visit the Moorea Seal store. My guess is, you’ll immediately see ten things you’d like to buy—and then you’ll realize everything is actually affordable. Moorea stocks her store with amazing home decor, accessories, shoes, and jewelry, made in house or by local artists. It’s the kind of stuff you’d pin on your Pinterest boards, but rarely see in real life.
Seattle doesn’t have many boutique hotels to offer, but it does have a ton of amazing Airbnb apartments or homes for rent. I recommend renting in Capitol Hill, an easily walkable neighborhood that’s also pretty big—you won’t get tired of it, even if you don’t venture far. (It’s also home to all of the best bars, restaurants, and music venues are, so chances are, if you don’t stay in Capitol Hill, you’ll be driving over here anyway.) It’s also close enough to walk downtown if you want to see the classic Seattle sights—the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, etc. I’d recommend catching a ride back, though, since it’ll be an uphill walk.
If you’re lucky, you might find an apartment with a rooftop deck. You’ll have amazing views of downtown [see top image] and the Sound, since Capitol Hill—surprise, surprise—is on a hill.
Kayaking on Lake Union
Any time someone visits from out of town, I try to take them kayaking. It’s a favorite summertime activity in Seattle, but it’s definitely possible in the winter, too—if you’re willing to bundle up, of course. One of my favorite spots to kayak is on Lake Union. You’ll have fun rowing past charming floating homes, dodging sailboats, and watching sea planes land and take off—plus, you’ll get a great view of the Seattle skyline. If you’re up for a long kayak, you can head out of the lake to the Washington Park Arboretum, where you’ll paddle through thousands of lily pads. If you rent a double kayak, it’s a perfect activity with kids.
Kayak rentals on Lake Union:
Northwest Outdoor Center – $14/hr for singles, $20/hr for doubles, $22/hr for triples
Moss Bay – $14/hr for singles, $19/hr for doubles; rent two hours, get two free
And here’s one closer to Washington Park Arboretum:
Agua Verde – $17/hr for singles, $22/hr for doubles—kayak rentals and Mexican restaurant in one place
A cozy cardigan, Madewell $75
The weather in Seattle is mild but somewhat unpredictable. Since it’s close to the water, it’s often gloomy and chilly in the morning, but clears up in the afternoon (or vice versa). Because of this, I’m rarely without a cardigan, even in the summer.
Thank you so much, Julia! Looks dreamy! Visit Julia’s website for her beautiful design and illustration work; find her photography at Yuriy + Julia. (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series.)