Jenn Elliott Blake’s Local Guide to Seattle

We asked Seattle local and photographer extraordinaire, Jenn Elliott Blake, to shoot some photos, share some insight and create a Visit Seattle Local Guide full of tips and local secrets just for you.

Sunset View of Seattle from the Columbia Tower by Michael Matti

Name: Jenn Elliott Blake

Occupation: Prop Stylist

Can you sum up Seattle in a paragraph? Seattle is unquestionably beautiful, vibrant in culture and cuisine and is endlessly creative. It’s the perfect blend of city and nature all wrapped up in one. There are a million and one ways to spend time outdoors during the day but then be just steps away from nightlife in the city when the sun goes down. It’s a city that fulfills the thrills and passions in anyone who visits.

Can you sum up the people of Seattle in a paragraph? People who live in Seattle are incredibly ambitious, active, and exceptionally smart. They are accepting, open-minded, engaged, artistic and curious. Seattle is spontaneous in nature and energy, exhibited by the variety of street markets, parades and events around the city all throughout the year.

Tell us about the photos you shot for this Visit Seattle Local Guide: The photos I chose for this project all represent a landmark or spot that I hold near and dear to my heart and visit often with my family in tow. When all put together, side-by-side, they are the most accurate representation for me of the last 10 years I’ve spent falling in love with this city. The charm, activity and foggy goodness of Green Lake; the bounty of fresh produce and flowers at the Sunday Ballard Farmers Market; the quirkiness of the Fremont Troll; iconic and bustling Pike Place Market; the eye-catching architectural wonders of the Space Needle and EMP Museum; the glorious waterfront with its Puget Sound backdrop; the charm and mystery of the lighthouse at Discovery Park; the casual ease and neighborhood vibe of dining at The Fat Hen in Ballard; the unmatched summer sunsets at Golden Gardens; the wonderment of the carousel at the Woodland Park Zoo; and the ever so stunning central anchor of the city that is Lake Union.

Why is Seattle a family friendly city? There are so many restaurants that welcome kids, families and large groups and there are a plethora of outdoor and indoor (on rainy days!) activities for kids. Whether it be kayaking, a day-trip ferry ride, an afternoon at the beach, an educational trip to a museum or the zoo, there are so many amazing ways to entertain children young and old. Also, there are lots of parks for stroller strolls.  This is not a city you will ever hear someone call “boring”. Just ask a neighbor or a friend or someone you’ve casually met on the street and you are bound to find a new activity to enjoy with your family or a fun event just around the corner!

What are the best family friendly activities in Seattle? Sounders FC games!! So much energy and lots of hours of fun. Also, trips to the weekly neighborhood farmer’s markets for music, eats and sweets! Also, the beaches (Discovery Park, Golden Gardens, Alki, and Lincoln Park) are all great ways to teach kids about nature and let them run free. The Seattle Center has a lot of activities for kiddos including the Space Needle, the EMP Museum, the Monorail and The Pacific Science Center. The waterfront offers the Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Great Wheel and amazing views of the sound for walking or bike riding.

What is your child’s favorite thing about Seattle? My son is only eight months old but he loves taking walks around the Green Lake Loop or finding a beautiful park to swing at or play in the dirt. He also loves people watching at the neighborhood farmer’s markets.

What is a perfect day in Seattle? A morning hike through Discovery Park followed by brunch in Ballard and a visit to the Sunday Farmers Market. An afternoon ferry ride and then views from the Seattle Great Wheel followed by dinner out and dessert to end the day at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery.

What do you love about Seattle? I love so much about this city: the immediate access to city life – great shopping, amazing restaurants and activities galore. And then within seconds you can feel like you are in a totally different place with the beautiful landscape at your fingertips by taking a walk along the beach, a ferry ride across the sound or a bike ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail. The variety here in every arena is phenomenal.

What would be surprising about Seattle to an outsider? People always talk about the “Seattle freeze” meaning they don’t typically feel welcomed here but I have found most people to be very friendly, eager to share experiences and offer advice on the next best thing. A smile and a hello go a long way. Also, Seattle has AMAZING food. Too many options to count, from simple food trucks to more fancy eats – there is something for everybody!

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? Lighting is everything. A good light source is your best tool. Variety also makes for the most interesting feeds – people, places, eats, the outdoors – photograph from a place of passion and people will always respond well. Also don’t be afraid to shoot fewer details… tight shots of food and flowers are always so dang captivating and pretty!





Best place to eat:

Breakfast: The Fat Hen, Portage Bay or The London Plane. Weekend brunch: Tallulah’s or Geraldine’s Counter. Lunch: Volunteer Park Café or Oddfellows Cafe + Bar. Dinner: Delancey.

Best place to drink:

Café: Oddfellows Cafe + Bar, Anchored Ship, Elm Coffee, Preserve and Gather. Drink: Essex, Bastille, Chucks Hop Shop (SUPER family friendly!)

Best place to shop:

Lucca, Glasswing, E. Smith Mercantile, U-Village (an outdoor mall that has all the basics), Homestead Seattle, Watson Kennedy, Totokaelo, Ballard Consignment, Fremont Vintage Mall, Les Amis, Prism. Kid-friendly: Top Ten Toys, Clover Toys, Childish Things (Consignment), Once Upon A Time.

Best outdoor activity:

Kayaking Lake Washington or taking a ferryboat to one of the islands. The neighborhood farmers markets are also amazing!

Local tip:

The Ballard Locks are a great place to visit with a family. They are super fascinating and you can hit up Golden Gardens Beach right after!

Tip for visitors: 

A ferryboat ride is a must! You can drive your car right on and make a quick day trip of it. It’s the best way to see the city and the Puget Sound. The ferry lines on the way back to the city can get really long on the weekends. Make sure to head back towards the loading dock earlier than you would expect you’d need to! Also, Pike Place Market is so much fun – really it’s a MUST. So much good food, flowers and fish throwing.