Neal Kumar’s Guide to Seattle
In collaboration with our friends at Visit Seattle, we sent Chicago Yodeler Neal Kumar to Seattle to shoot some photos, share some insight, and create a Visit Seattle Travel Guide just for you.
Name: Neal Kumar
Place you live: Chicago, Illinois
Have you visited Seattle before? I’ve been to Seattle once before for a weekend to visit friends last year.
Can you sum up Seattle? Seattle is composed of many unique neighborhoods that are closely arranged to make the city easily manageable. From coffee shops to restaurants to small businesses, Seattle prides itself on local flavors and offerings to create experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
Can you sum up the people of Seattle? The people of this growing city are clearly hard working, but also easily approachable and extremely friendly. Even as a tourist, I immediately felt welcome upon arriving.
What did you find unique about Seattle? Seattle certainly takes advantage of its coffee and food culture by allowing locals to share their culinary creativity without boundaries. The fresh seafood in this region can be seen in restaurants all over the city, all prepared in different ways. The coffee scene also makes Seattle unique and offers people a full variety of drinks and preparations with some of the freshest coffee and local kinds of milk.
What do you love about Seattle? I love that Seattle is not about chain restaurants and large commercial centers or malls. The city is about the diverse expression of the region’s history, culture, innovation, and creativity. Not only do you have a progressive, high-tech growing city, but there are also breathtaking mountains, forests, and outdoor activities surrounding the city.
What would be surprising about Seattle to an outsider? Seattle has quite a diverse collection of neighborhoods that are all well accessed but each offers its own culture and experiences. Each neighborhood has its own personality, whether it’s trendy, modern, historic, or scenic.
If Seattle was a band who would it be? Seattle makes me think of the band Radiohead. Their style is clean, diverse, progressive and enjoyed by a wide variety of listeners.
What neighborhood did enjoy? Capitol Hill was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seattle. The culture here is like no other area and combines musical culture with art, coffee roasters, landmarks, and theaters. The grunge subculture actually emerged from this region and sparked an explosion of musical venues and culture of all musical genres. Seattle is known for its coffee scene, but Capitol Hill, in particular, has a large collection of coffeehouses as well as coffee roasting facilities. The most prominent roastery is probably the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which offers a relaxed but educational coffee experience with unique drinks and world-class whole bean coffee selection. Bars and restaurants here are just as unique and are easily explored on foot.
Can you tell us about the hotel you stayed at? Hotel Andra was centrally located and allowed me to easily visit many areas of Seattle. Most of downtown is walkable from the hotel. The exterior of the hotel has an older, more classic appearance, while the interior is both modern and artistic. Immediately upon entering, you will notice large couches and seating area for guests to meet friends or lounge before heading out. Large windows provide ample natural sunlight and a fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere. Directly attached to the lobby is an amazing restaurant and bar called Lola, which is perfect for grabbing a drink or dining on some of Seattle’s best food offerings. The hotel room itself is quite spacious with plenty of window space overlooking downtown. I even received text messages from the front desk after checking in to make sure everything was ok. I couldn’t locate my key for the fridge and after a simple text message, I was given another one.
If someone was visiting Seattle for 24 hours what would you suggest they do? If you are an early bird or photographer, Seattle offers some great locations to view the sunrise over the city. Kerry Park is located just to the west of downtown and opens at 6 am for early skyline views of Seattle. To get energized for the day, you can next visit one of the many well-known and creative coffee shops in the area such as Street Bean or Citizen. Moving closer to downtown, you can go to the Space Needle which opens up at 8 am. Coming to the observation deck early in the morning actually gets you a discount on tickets and offers sweeping views of the city and mountains. From here you can easily visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, which was created by the Seattle Art Museum and includes nine acres of outdoor sculptures and beach. On your way to downtown from here, you will pass Pike Place Market, which is an iconic and unique attraction in Seattle. This public market overlooking the waterfront has everything from fresh seafood to quick bites to small unique shops. A couple blocks from the market is the Dahlia Bakery, known for its Triple Coconut Cream pie, which is a favorite of President Obama’s. Moving southeast is the heart of downtown as well as the Seattle Art Museum that showcases both current and classic artwork collections. Afterwards, be sure to walk through Pioneer Square, which is one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in the city. If you have never had a deconstructed latte, make sure to stop by Slate Coffee Roasters where you can individually taste the milk, espresso, and combined latte to appreciate the local flavors. Next, you can head north away from the water to explore the rest of central Seattle. The Smith Tower Observatory is much less touristy than the Space Needle but offers equally impressive city views. Continuing north, you will run into Capitol Hill which is a neighborhood rooted in a musical culture that started with the grunge scene but expanded to a variety of genres. The restaurants here are equally as unique including Stateside which combines Vietnamese, French, and Chinese influences. After dinner, take your friends to Rock Box nearby which is a Japanese style karaoke lounge that will be sure to impress your group. Cap off the night with some homemade ice cream at Molly Moon’s where you’ll find innovative flavors such as Early Grey, Lavender, and Ginger Beer.