Now that I’ve talked about what I ate in Seattle, it only feels fitting to talk about what I did in Seattle. This trip for me was part business you could say, part fun. The most important part of my trip was meeting with representatives at the University of Washington to discuss their dietetics program. After that I had two and a half days just to explore.
Green Tortoise Hostel
So I did not tell my family this beforehand, sorry, but I stayed in a hostel in Seattle. The way things worked out I scheduled this trip pretty late. By the time I was looking on AirBnb most of the places available were in people’s houses. If I had been with someone and the door had a lock I would not think anything of this. But being that I was alone, this idea made me a bit uncomfortable. And I did try to keep the trip as low cost as possible, so a hotel was pretty much out of the question.
But while I explored AirBnb’s website I found a hostel. The only time I have stayed in a hostel before this was on my study abroad to Ireland. The thing about that hostel experience was that we were traveling as a group and took up the whole hostel. So really it did not seem like much of a ‘real’ hostel experience. I also talked it over with my brother who has stayed in hostels in Europe and decided to go for it.
I stayed at The Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle. It was super close to the market and very easy to get to from the airport. And I had a great experience. It was not anything super fancy, but it worked for me for the three nights I was there.
I stayed in an all girls room and unfortunately only got to talk to one of my roommates during my trip. Each room has its own room key and under the bunks there are huge storage spaces. You can either bring a lock, or rent one from the desk. I locked my stuff up every day and had no problems. They lock the outside doors at around ten, but there is almost always someone at the desk to unlock it.
I think one of the best things about this hostel is that they organize events. Maybe this is pretty common for hostels, but I am not quite sure. They organize Seattle tours, pub-crawls, karaoke and more. It was a fun environment to be in and the guests were also great. I definitely suggest giving this hostel a try if you are looking for relatively cheap accommodations while in Seattle.
The Light Rail
The light rail in Seattle is very user friendly. This is because there is currently only one line and it pretty much starts at the airport and ends at the University of Washington. There is one stop past the airport, but anyways super easy. Like I struggle with directions, and turn the wrong way while using a GPS and only rode the wrong direction once. For me that is definitely an accomplishment.
The payment system is different than I have seen before. There are many options as far as payment including single ride tickets. I went ahead and bought a prepaid card. With this you have to tap it as you go into the station, and coming out of the station you get off at. The rates are different depending on how far you go. And if you forget to tap it on a scanner one of those ways you will get charged a flat fee. It took a time or two to remember to tap the card at both stations. But after that it felt normal. The main other place I have used public transportation is Chicago. In Chicago the rates are the same no matter where you are going, or how many trains you get on to get there.
I used the light rail as my main mode of transportation. They also have a bus system. I never got on any of the buses, so I cannot speak to how they are. I also used a Lyft to get to Discovery Park and back. But I imagine you know about ride share services and have your own opinions or experiences using them.
What I Did
This suggestion came from a friend I met up with while in Seattle. It is a big and beautiful park in an area of town called Magnolia.
The park itself is a bit far from the main tourist attractions, but it is worth the drive. If you do not have a car using a ride share was about a twenty minute ride. It definitely is worth the money and time to get up there in my opinion.
There are many trails throughout the park. The day I went there were many dogs and people around. Obviously I cared more about the dogs. Some trails were a bit more difficult. I mean that may have also been because I was not dressed to hike. I wore my Birkenstocks that day not thinking I was going to hike. Personally I chose not to go on the hardest trails. But the signs were informative and expressed the difficulty of the trail. So you have the ability to choose how difficult you want your walk to be.
All around the views were breathtaking. The vegetation was so lush, the trees so green, and the Puget Sound so calming. Visiting Discovery Park was an unplanned adventure, but I am glad I ended up there. If you like hiking, or enjoying nature at all this is a must when visiting Seattle. Just trust me, and go.
Pikes Place Market
Pikes Place Market was by far my favorite touristy spot in Seattle. I loved the hustle and bustle and seeing as many vendors as I could. Due to my hostel being so close to the market I was able to go every single day I was there. I am sure you could tell if you’ve read my gluten free Seattle eats post.
On the Saturday morning I was in Seattle I even took a tour through the market. This tour was through free walking tours of Seattle. At the end of the day it really is not free because you are expected to tip, but they offer some good tour options. My tour guide was Joe and he was a pretty fun guy. He had a lot of knowledge on the market and you could really tell he loved showing people a place that he loves. During the tour he was able to get samples from some of the vendors too. I imagine this happens on most tours, and that it was not just due to Joe having done tours for a while. I personally did not try any of the samples other than the ones from the Simply The Best vendors.
The tour itself was worth it in my opinion. You get to learn more about the market than if you just went to the market. During the tour we got to see it all. It was a relatively early tour, so some of the art vendors were still setting up. We got to see the difference between the high stalls and the low stalls. We saw some fish flying and some gum sticking. It was a good time.
In my opinion the craziest thing is to see the difference between when the market is open and closed. Most of the big markets I have been to have mostly permanent vendors. There are permanent vendors at Pike Place Market, the ones with high stalls. But the vendors in low stalls have to bring everything in, set it up, sell all day just to pack it all up and take it away in the evening. And seeing the arcades in the evening completely empty is just such a contrast.
So go to the market. Get samples if you can, aka if you do not have to worry about dietary restrictions. Buy something from real people, not huge companies. And enjoy the experience.
Sailing on Puget Sound
Sailing was not on my plan for Seattle. But being so close to the water gave me the urge to be on the water. And this story actually exemplifies the fun in traveling alone. My original plan was to grab a ferry to Bainbridge Island. I was legitimately going to pay to get on the ferry to be on the water. On top of that I had heard great reviews of a winery on Bainbridge, but mainly I wanted to be on the water.
As I was walking to the ferry I saw a sign for sailing. For an hour and a half sail it cost $39 plus tax and the next sail was starting in less than five minutes. I asked the lady working the desk if I was reading the sign correctly and she said yes. I felt excited. She yelled down to the guys working on the boat to wait and charged my card and I skipped down to the boat. I did not have to ask a travel companion if the change of plans, or the higher price of sailing compared to the ferry was alright because it was just me. The funniest part is that I am usually so indecisive with things. But this was just so spontaneous for me and I am so happy I did it.
The sailing company that I went with is not a tour guide company. But they did say they would answer our questions if we asked. At first I was just taking it all in. Being on the water and on my first ever sail boat trip. I moved around a couple different times to get some different views. I spent most of my time in the back talking with the employee. It was nice because he gave me some suggestions and his thoughts on moving to Seattle. Again me being on the boat and having the conversation with the employee and getting his advice reminds me of things I probably would not have done had I not been alone.
This is another thing I definitely suggest doing. It was a bit cold, but this company did have some blankets on board. The views were beautiful and I mean I just think its cool to say you went sailing. I imagine there are multiple companies that offer this sort of excursion. The company I sailed with was called Sailing Seattle and I enjoyed my experience with them.
Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel is a giant ferris wheel located near the water. It is on Pier 57. It is different than other ferris wheels because the seats are enclosed in what they call gondolas. When I went it was not very busy so I got my own gondola. But I believe they can sit up to six people.
It was interesting because the seats themselves face inwards toward each other. So not everybody gets the same views. I sat on the side that faced the water, because the views are amazing. One thing is that you cannot get up during the ride, so you have to choose what you want to look at as you enter the gondola.
The ride itself was relatively cheap for a tourist trap sort of attraction. Only $14 for an adult ticket. In my opinion I am glad that I did it, but I do not imagine I will do it again. Unless I am with others who want to.
The Space Needle
The Space Needle was pretty cool, and something I knew I had to visit when I decided I was going to visit Seattle. I definitely would suggest getting tickets beforehand. I went relatively early, but imagine ticket lines getting busy later on in the day. And it was super easy you show them the electronic ticket on your phone for entry.
Around the Space Needle there are a lot of attractions. I did not do anything other than The Space Needle, but it was a fun place to walk around and visit. Inside the Space Needle itself was really cool. As you walk in they have displays of old photos from when it was being built. As parts of these displays they also have some hands on things like a radio that played music from the years it was being built. I had plans to try to get to Bainbridge Island, so I did not read all of the information, but appreciate that it was there.
So I got to the front of the line and went up in the elevator. The ticket itself says you only have fifteen minutes upstairs. Despite that nobody was really monitoring how long people were there. Maybe they would be during busier hours. Once I got upstairs I walked around for a while checking out the views.
I then went down the stairs. Here they have a clear-bottomed revolving floor. It does not move super fast, so you would have to stay there for a while to see the whole city. But it was fun to look down and see the city. I mean a little scary too. I think the funniest part was that people kept taking pictures on the floor and getting fingerprints all over it. And there was an employee whose job was to wipe the floors of those fingerprints.
I definitely think this is something that anyone visiting Seattle should do at least once. The views were amazing. On one side you look out at the Puget Sound and the mountains and on the other side you look out towards the city. It is a very cool experience. Although it is a great experience, it is a bit pricey and it definitely is not something I would do all the time. But I am glad I did while I was there.
The University of Washington
Like I mentioned earlier my main reason for visiting was to visit the University of Washington. I had a meeting and walked around the campus for a couple of hours. The campus itself is beautiful and huge. There are so many trees everywhere on their campus. The architecture on campus was cool too. Many of the buildings were still older style, but there were some pockets where newer style buildings were being built.
The day I was on campus was fun because it was graduation weekend. The University is on quarters, so they do not graduate until June. That was odd to me as I did undergrad at a university that utilizes semesters. But it was a hustling and bustling place that day.
The light rail ends at the University of Washington, so it is not difficult to get there at all. Once you get off you are on the campus and ready to explore.
I loved being back on a college campus, and honestly cannot wait to be back in that environment. I know, I’m a nerd who likes school so this may not be for everyone. But I really enjoyed it and it is a cheap option if you have a tight budget for your trip.
So that’s all for now friends. I did not to get to do nearly everything in Seattle. The things I was able to experience I truly enjoyed. And I hope you have a wonderful trip to Seattle and that some of my suggestions are helpful to you!