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September 11, 2012 / Liz

Alumni City Guide: Seattle

We recently asked fans of our Facebook page to name their favorite Seattle places to take out-of-town guests – and we were flooded with responses! The next time you’re visiting Whitworth’s neighbor to the West, check out the following attractions, as recommended by Eric Vander Hayden, ’10, ’11; Ira McIntosh, ’12; and Jenna (Ronnquist) Spitzer, ’03.

Best Eateries

For the best Seattle restaurants, here’s what Eric recommends:

The Ave, or University Avenue, has been called the last true melting pot of Seattle culture. Running parallel between I-5 and the west side of the University of Washington it is an eight street global food court with enough coffee shops to power all the Maasai tribesman of Africa for 18 years. With a smattering of bubble tea shops (WOW Bubble Tea is the best) it also hosts the U-District Street Fair usually in late May that is ideal for food lovers. It’s the place to be in Seattle for an eclectic collection of the food and people of Seattle; get your education on The Ave.”

Other contributors recommended: Peso’s Kitchen & Lounge, King Street Bar and Oven, Pacific Inn Pub, Ivar’s Salmon House, Bick’s Broadview Grill and Dick’s Drive-In.

Seattle Art Museum
photo courtesy of

Best Free or Cheap Things to Do

Ira suggests the Seattle Art Museum: “Normally you have to pay $12 or so to get in, but the first Thursday of every month is free to all guests. They have some awesome things there and they bring in wonderful traveling exhibits.” And while you’re there, check out the Olympic Sculpture Park, recommended by Jenna.

Runners-up (two or more votes each): Green Lake Park, the Ballard Locks and the Fremont Troll.

Other suggestions: Snoqualmie Falls, Golden Gardens, Kerry Park, Discovery Park, Gas Works Park, the Seattle waterfront, the Kirkland waterfront, the Puget Sound ferries, Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club, Alki Beach and the Lakeview Cemetery (resting place of Bruce Lee).

Best Museums or Attractions

For this category, we return to Eric:

“For the people who regularly attend Compline at St Mark’s on Capitol Hill, words seem to be too much to describe such an event. It’s one of the most pure, cleansing, fulfilling experiences Seattle offers. St. Mark’s is located on top of a bluff upon Capitol Hill overlooking Lake Union and the Seattle Center and is an enormous cathedral that is filled with the magnificent voices of the Compline men’s choir every Sunday night at 9:30. The regular attendees are the most diverse gathering of travelers as they drape themselves over the pews, floor, and even alter. Most people use it as an immeasurable place of peace and meditation to end one week and start another. Every once in a while after the choir has left an organ player will fill the giant pillars of the building with the rare sounds such a large organ. If you want to end a week well this is the place to be.”

Other recommendations: Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Museum of Flight, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Glassblowing Studio, Klondike Gold Rush Museum, and The Seattle Center and the surrounding area (Center House, the International Fountain.)

Best-Kept Secret:

Scarecrow Video
photo courtesy of Henry Art Gallery blog

According to Jenna, Seattle’s best-kept secret is the University District’s Scarecrow video, which claims to be the largest video rental store in the country with over 100,000 titles. “If

you can think of it, they have it – but perhaps only on VHS and, if it’s extremely rare, they may require a hefty deposit,” she says. “But the store is a favorite among film directors, so it’s not unusual to discover movie cases signed by filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino.”

Runner-up: Bagel Deli on Capitol Hill

Best-Independently Owned Coffee Shop:

Since this is Seattle we’re talking about here, our list would be amiss without mentioning coffee shops. Clearly, there are a plethora of coffee shops to be found, each bringing something unique to the table (and taste buds). But Ira’s vote is Caffe Umbria in Pioneer Square, near CenturyLink Field. In addition to the coffee, which Ira claims is some of the best around, Caffe Umbria also offers something you wouldn’t expect in a coffee shop: gelato.

Runner-up: Espresso Vivace

Underground Seattle
photo courtesy of Flickr user docmaynard


Quirky/Unique to Seattle:

We end today’s tour with those places in town that are a bit off-kilter, or else one-of-a-kind in town. Jenna recommends the Seattle underground tour, featuring the Seattle of yesteryear when the city was a full street-level below where it is today. And, of course, during the course of the tour you’ll pass underneath 42 Starbucks.

Runners-Up: The Duck Tour and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop


Thank you to Andrea Idso, ’12, for spearheading  this informal city guide. Did we miss your favorite spots? Add them in the comments!

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