Karen Grubb’s Guide to Seattle
Name: Karen Grubb
Occupation: Marketing/Project Assistant at Tetra Tech, Inc.
Place you live: San Luis Obispo, California
Have you visited Seattle before? I once flew into Seattle en route to Iceland, but this was the first time actually visiting anywhere other than the airport.
Can you sum up Seattle? Eclectic, ebullient, progressive, creative, clean, surrounded by picturesque mountains and water. The views from every corner of Seattle are pretty spectacular. The city has something to offer everyone from an abundance of epicurean options and trendy shops to museums, plenty of outdoor recreation, vibrant nightlife, and a healthy live music scene. The city is full of adventure and it’s all within a short walk, water taxi, or Uber ride.
Can you sum up the people of Seattle? Friendly, genuine, hip. It’s difficult to generalize based on the few people that we met, but everyone was out-of-the-way friendly and helpful. Several people stopped on the streets while we were looking at a map on our phone to ask us where we were going so they could help with directions. At Easy Street Records Cafe, the waitress hung out with us for a while, sharing her favorite places to visit in West Seattle – she even came back after her shift had ended to share more ideas of places she thought we might like! The laid-back sociable vibe of the locals we met was a refreshing change from most big cities I’ve visited.
What did you find unique about Seattle? I used to think San Luis Obispo had it all – community-centric vibe, ten minutes to the beach, a few hours to the mountains, but Seattle REALLY does have it all. It’s the perfect blend of city life and outdoor recreation. I love a place where you can start your day skiing and end it kayaking at sunset followed by a night of live music.
What do you love about Seattle? No matter where you are in Seattle, you are still so close to nature. When I think of big cities, I think urban jungle. That’s not the case with Seattle, from the mature trees lining the streets of downtown to the lush forests nearby and Mt. Rainier looming outside the city – you always feel the presence of nature despite being in a bustling city.
What would be surprising about Seattle to an outsider? Instead of a homogenized big city feel, the atmosphere of Seattle strikes you more as a conglomerate of community-oriented townships, each with their own distinct personality. I found it pleasantly surprising that it didn’t have the sometimes manic vibe that a lot of other big cities do.
If Seattle was a person or character who would it be? That’s a tough one as all the various neighborhoods in Seattle have a different vibe to them. If I had to pick, based solely on my first weekend there, I’d go with James Bond: adventurous, sophisticated, charming, cool and collected, surrounded by cultural diversity, and loves a good drink.
What neighborhood did you enjoy when in Seattle? I enjoyed the neighborhood of West Seattle. Taking the water taxi across the bay was a treat in itself, offering a different view of the downtown skyline. Once on the peninsula, we decided to forego the line at the highly recommended Marination Ma Kai and instead caught an Uber over to The Junction, considered to be downtown West Seattle, to wander the vinyl-filled aisles at Easy Street Records. After stocking up on music and merch, we headed over to the new trendy chemistry-inspired cocktail bar, Alchemy. From the cozy setting and impeccable décor to the delicious small bites and cool cocktail creations, this was one of my favorite stops during the weekend. Following a few drinks and delicious bites, we headed over to Alki Beach, where a salsa party was in full swing along the white sandy stretch. It honestly felt like we had stumbled into a mini Venice Beach, only with a beautiful view the Olympic Mountains across the water. West Seattle felt slightly more laid back than the rest of the city, and surprisingly more like being in a coastal California town. Separated from downtown by the waters of Elliott Bay, West Seattle feels like a city of its own. Along Alki Beach, there are plenty of outdoor activities, from kite surfing and kayaking to volleyball courts and biking along the coastal pathway. Further inland, The Junction is chock full of various shops and eateries to suit any mood. This neighborhood is brimming with a fun, funky vibe.
Can you tell us about the hotel you stayed at? The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle is a hip hotel, centrally located and within walking distance of many of Seattle’s main attractions, shops, and restaurants. If you don’t feel like walking, they have bikes on hand. Wine hour every evening was a nice touch, and if you’re feeling like you need some extra company in the room, they’ll even provide a goldfish for your stay. Hospitality was on point and after staying there two nights, I would say that you could absolutely not go wrong with the Kimpton Hotel Monaco as your choice.
If someone was visiting Seattle for 24 hours what would you suggest they do? I’m too much of a Seattle newbie to give a definitive recommendation, but I can tell you what we did on our perfect day. We started out early at Pike Place Market to join the crowds watching the famous fish toss. After a little exploring around the market, we headed over to the humorous Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour for an interesting lesson on Seattle’s gritty history. The tour meanders through subterranean tunnels that were left when the city rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire in the late 1890s. Following the tour, we grabbed a bite at the popular Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and headed out to the Seattle Center to visit the Space Needle and tour Chihuly Garden and Glass, an impressive collection of whimsical glass sculptures. Heading back towards downtown, we made a stop at Kerry Park to view the iconic Seattle skyline with Mt. Rainier in the distance. At the recommendation of a few locals, we headed back to Pike Place Market for dinner at Il Bistro. Following dinner, we ventured out to the legendary music venue The Crocodile to finish our perfect day with a perfect night filled with live music from The California Honeydrops.