Cara Llewellyn’s Guide to Seattle

In collaboration with our friends at Visit Seattle, we sent New York Yodeler Cara Llewellyn to Seattle to shoot some photos, share some insight, and create a Visit Seattle Travel Guide just for you. 

Name? Cara Llewellyn

Occupation? Art Director and Book Designer

Place you live? New York City

Have you been to Seattle before? I visited Seattle once before, about 15 years ago when a few college friends and I were clearing trails in Olympic National Park. We spent a few days at the end of the trip in Seattle proper, drinking coffee, eating seafood, and nursing our blisters. I had a splendid if whirlwind stay and have been itching to visit again ever since.

Can you sum up Seattle in a paragraph? I found Seattle to be a city of beautiful dualities. At once gregarious and reserved, techy and artsy, oceanic and mountain-ranged, Seattle provides the best of both worlds in almost every sense.

Can you sum up the people of Seattle in a paragraph? Like the city itself, I found local Seattleites to be a delightful mix of outgoing and introverted. Often quick to say “good morning” or recommend a favorite coffee shop, everyone I met also seemed just as likely to let me explore on my own and give me space. Maybe that’s the hidden meaning behind the iconic Space Needle’s name!

What did you find unique about Seattle? So many things about Seattle are very different from my current haunt, New York City. Seattle felt much more outdoorsy, and much more adventurous, light, airy, and oceanic, which I completely adored. The smell of the fresh ocean breeze and the view of majestic snow-capped mountains all around is a mixture that is hard to find anywhere else.

What do you love about Seattle? One of my favorite things about Seattle was its connection to the water – all the boats and locks and ferries, and the seafood. Especially the seafood!

What would be surprising about Seattle to someone who has never visited? I was surprised by how small and cozy the city felt, and, at the same time, how very different each of the neighborhoods came across. Almost like visiting many different little cities all at once!

If Seattle was a person or character who would it be? Seattle would definitely be a mermaid. The perfect balance of gritty and refined, land and sea, a mix of friendly hippie-haired warmth and cool sporty seafarer. A lovely mermaid also happens to grace the windows of a certain little, local coffee chain – whose original shop resides down by the water on the edge of Pike Place Market.

Can you us about your favorite neighborhoods in Seattle? Much like the two sides of our lovely mermaid, Fremont and Ballard are the perfect foils to one another. Fremont boasts artistic and free-spirited hippie vibes, while Ballard has deep maritime roots, many of which come across in the shops, restaurants, and attractions in each neighborhood.

Can you tell us about the hotel you stayed at? Motif Seattle is a welcoming, modern place to stay in the heart of downtown. I thoroughly enjoyed the huge room, sweeping views, and super fun outdoor patio space complete with fireplaces, swings, and games!

If someone was visiting Seattle for 24 hours what would you suggest they do? Start with an early morning jaunt down to Pike Place Market to beat the crowds, wander around watching the fish sellers and flower artisans setting up the show, then take a peek at the famous (and ever-growing!) gum wall before heading to breakfast. Make your way to Biscuit Bitch for a brilliant and filling culinary start to your busy day. After breakfast, turn back to the hotel for your walking shoes and a bit of a rest on the lovely outdoor patio – then head over to Fremont.

Grab a super cool new water bottle and some delicious homemade soda on tap at the MiiR flagship shop, then hike up the hill to take a gander at the iconic Fremont Troll. Make sure to get a picture with the VW bug in his hand! Next, find some lunch. A short walk further takes you to the Paseo Caribbean sandwich shack. There you order the Paseo Press with extra banana peppers and take tons of napkins and hot sauce to their cute outdoor picnic tables.
Once lunch is over, head to Ballard for some sightseeing. Watch the boats going through the Ballard Locks, and walk a little further across (follow the medallions set on the sidewalk) to cheer on the salmon jumping up the little waterfalls of the salmon ladder. Be sure to say “hello” to the sea hawks and blue herons hanging out around the dam. Walk back towards Ballard Ave and your delightful dinner destination, The Walrus & the Carpenter. Oysters on the half shell are the order of the day in this super cute local haunt. Be sure to leave room for dessert at Hot Cakes just up the avenue. One more stop before heading back to the hotel: now head over to Golden Gardens Park to watch the sun set over Elliott Bay and scrunch your toes in the sand. The perfect end to a perfect day in Seattle.



Best place to eat:

Biscuit Bitch for breakfast (try the Smokin’ Hot Bitch), Paseo Caribbean sandwich shack for lunch (get the Paseo Press), and The Walrus & the Carpenter for an oyster-filled dinner (try the killer tomato salad as well) and Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery (you HAVE to try the s’mores squares) or Dahlia Lounge for dessert.

Best place to drink:

Anchored Ship Coffee Bar or Miro Tea in Ballard for some caffeine or Barnacle Bar for lovely libations. Around happy hour, check out the MiiR flagship for either coffee or a delicious beer on tap.

Best place to shop:

Check out Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop for some amazing taxidermy and odd antiques (be sure to take a gander at the two-headed cow and giant giraffe leg lamp). Also stop into The Palm Room just a few doors down for some gorgeous little house plants or head over to Eyes on Fremont for some brilliantly priced subversive eyewear.

Best outdoor activity:

Visiting the Ballard Locks to watch the boats and jumping salmon or taking a stroll through one of the city’s many parks. I also absolutely adored the beach at Golden Gardens Park in Ballard and the beautiful views from Gas Works Park in Fremont.

Local tip:

If you get up early enough, take the 6:10 ferry to Bainbridge Island for a beautiful view of the sunrise over the city. Warm up with coffee and some bluebarb (blueberry/rhubarb) pie at Blackbird Bakery, a ten-minute walk from the ferry dock, and make it back to the city all before 10 am!

If someone was visiting what must they do:

The Seattle Public Library’s Central Library is a short walk up the street from Motif Seattle and is a must see. One can never go wrong with billions of books and gorgeous modern architecture. Grab an old fashioned glazed donut from Top Pot Doughnuts for the walk over and you will have started your day off just right.