Seattle Solo Vacation 2017

This fall, I took a week-long solo trip to Seattle, mostly to try the many coffee shops there and just explore the area. After taking over 2,000 photos, I’ve culled it down to 140 photos that best represent my Seattle solo vacation. These pictures are mostly in chronological order, though I rearranged a couple of photos, such as grouping all the cat photos together or putting exterior shots of coffee shops before interior shots. Considering that it was a “no agenda” vacation, I ended up doing a lot more than I planned, and still didn’t see all I wanted to see.

Wednesday

Convertible

I ended up getting a Ford Mustang convertible. A big step up from my Buick. Too bad I didn’t really need it that much. (Seattle is pretty walkable.)

My rental car had little projectors on the bottom the the doors, shining a Mustang logo onto the ground whenever you got out the car. Completely unnecessary but still cool.

Samoan Store

I found a Samoan store that really brought back waves of nostalgia.

The Samoan store had a whole wall of Pisupo (canned corned beef). I don’t really like the stuff, but still fun to see!

Airbnb

I stayed at an Airbnb near Capitol Hill. It was amazingly decorated. I loved the gold damask on the living room walls.

My host added a basement under his house and added an apartment (where he lives). I love that he kept a random rock in the floor.

The half-bathroom was wallpapered in vintage maps. I want to buy a house just so I can do a room like this.

My Airbnb had a really nice kitchen, though I didn’t do any cooking while I was there.

Instead of a front yard, my Airbnb host had this little walled garden with a koi pond. It was nice place to sit back with a book.

Recycling is mandatory in Seattle, with an elaborate guide to help you sort garbage, recyclables and compostables.

Cats!

My host had two cats. This is the male, Ali, sleeping on the balcony.

I sat on the floor and Ali got right up on my lap.

My host also had a female cat named Lula. She was super soft!

Lula the cat looking in from the balcony.

Capitol Hill

The balcony from my Airbnb had a really nice view of downtown, First Hill and Seattle University.

I spent most of my time around the erroneously-named Capitol Hill. It’s the primary LGBT neighborhood in the area, with rainbow crosswalks!

My first night I walked from my Airbnb to I-5 and Pine, before realizing I was exhausted and heading back.

Thursday

Stumptown Coffee

My Airbnb was right by Stumptown Coffee. While it’s a Portland import, I still wanted to try it. It was amazing!

Stumptown was really cool. Seemed like a good place to get some work done.

Victrola Coffee

Victrola Coffee is one of the best coffer shops in Seattle. I went to two different locations and I was impressed both times.

My go-to drink in both Dallas and Seattle is a cortado, similar to a latte but with less milk.

Pike Place Market

I went to Pike Place Market early in the morning to beat the crowds. It was cool watching them set up for the day.

The guy next to me on the plane said there was a really cool breakfast place near this pig. but I never found it.

My best picture of the famous “Public Market” sign.

The “Original” Starbucks

Finally made it to the “Original” Starbucks (which is a replacement, but let’s pretend.) Can you tell how excited I am?

Other than a few signs and plaques, the Original Starbucks is no different than any other. Still excited though.

I drank my coffee at nearby Victor Steinbrueck Park, where I watched nearby car traffic and boat traffic.

More of Pike Place Market

They had the guys throwing fish at the market, but I didn’t get a good picture.

A picture with the (in)famous Gum Wall, which had recently been cleared off, so it wasn’t quite as gummy as usual.

I forgot what it was like in a Blue State. So many political posters!

I spent several hours at Pike Place Market, and it was starting to get busy as I left.

Metsker Maps

There’s a map store not far from the Pike Place Market. Of course I went in!

I could have spent hours at Metsker Maps, though I only stayed about 20 minutes. In the end, I bought a decorative map of Seattle and a book about the regrading of the city.

Of course, the map store also had flags. Here’s American Samoa.

Seattle Coffee Works

I stopped at Seattle Coffee Works near Pike Place Market. It was good, but overshadowed by other places I tried.

After walking around for a couple of hours, it felt good to get a cortado at Seattle Coffee Works and look out at Pike Place Market.

I didn’t get a chance to go into any museums, but I loved this moving sculpture outside of the Seattle Art Museum. There are much smaller versions at Northpark Mall in Dallas.

The hills in Seattle are seriously insane. Pictures don’t do it justice. This sidewalk came with stairs, but most didn’t.

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park is an old industrial site that’s been converted to a beautiful park. I love that they kept the original machinery!

Gas Works Park sits on the northern shore of Lake Union, with an awesome view of downtown.

I got some nice pictures of the skyline from Gas Works Park.

A nice picture of me in front of Lake Union and the downtown skyline.

I went to the Seattle chapter of my graphic design group, AIGA, at this cool bar on Pike Street in Capitol Hill.

Friday

Espresso Vivace

Espresso Vivace is a pioneer of modern coffee shops. I heard their original sidewalk stand is the best location. While I can’t vouch for the other stores, it exceeded my (already high) expectations.

I got a Cafe Nico at Espresso Vivace. It was kind of like a cortado with orange and cinnamon. My favorite drink of the trip!

Twice Sold Tales

After Espresso Vivace, I went to a cool little bookstore known for its cats. I loved the exterior sign.

A sleeping cat at Twice Sold Tales bookstore.

Beacon Hill

A view of Beacon Hill from the 12th Street Bridge. I loved the Art Deco Pacific Tower, but I didn’t have a chance to explore the area any further.

A nice view of the downtown skyline from the 12th Street Bridge. The field in front is land that was regraded 100 years ago, leaving a precarious slope.

Chinatown/International District

Chinatown, aka the International District. I feel like every good Chinatown needs one of these gates.

I stopped off for a boba tea at a place called Oasis Tea Zone. It was pretty good, and I liked the vibe of the place.

King Street Station. This clock tower was once the tallest building in town.

The International District borders Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. I wanted to explore more but I was too tired that day.

Aren’t all cats anarchists?

Canon Bar

I went to a place called Canon Bar, which specialized in really awesome cocktails. Look at all those bottles!

The bartender at Canon Bar cooled my drink with liquid nitrogen.

I ordered two drinks off the “Roulette” menu. You just tell them what kind of booze you want and they put something together.

Saturday

Here Be Monsters

The Fremont Troll is a famous sculpture in the city that lives under the enormous Aurora Bridge.

Aurora Bridge from the Fremont Troll. It has to be a massive structure to allow for ships to pass beneath it.

Wildflowers right by the Fremont Troll. These actually reminded me of Texas somewhat, though I’m sure they’re botanically very different.

Yes, there’s a statue of Lenin in Fremont, salvaged from Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism.

More Bridges and Sculptures

The massive Aurora Bridge as pictured from the older Fremont Bridge.

The Fremont Bridge opens up to let water traffic through. It’s the busiest bascule bridge (drawbridge) in the country.

This somewhat creepy sculpture is known as “Waiting for the Interurban”.

Locals are known to dress up the “Interurban” statues. Looks like the kid had a booboo.

Milstead Coffee

Milstead Coffee in Fremont. Probably my favorite place in terms of environment.

I absolutely loved the patio at Milstead. What a perfect day to sit out with my laptop.

The Milstead Coffee patio had more great views of the massive Aurora Bridge.

More from Fremont

I stopped off at a distillery named Fremont Mischief for a whiskey flight.

The Fremont Canal connects Lake Union (and Lake Washington) with the Puget Sound.

Gas Works Redux / U District

I went back to Gas Works Park for a barbecue with the coffee meetup. These old pylons looked like some weird kind of Stonehenge.

I didn’t get to explore the U District much, but I did snap a cool picture of this Japanese place.

Sunday

Caffe Vita

Caffe Vita, another pillar of the Seattle coffee scene.

I got a “Pacnor” at Caffe Vita, which was similar to a cortado, but with half-and-half and a higher percentage of espresso. It was amazing!

Midcentury Modern Architecture

Dallas isn’t the only city with a park over its freeway. The creatively-named Freeway Park is famed for its Brutalist architecture.

More modern architecture. I really liked the archways on this Midcentury Modern office building.

Waterfront

A nice view of the waterfront piers and the Great Wheel. The area was pretty touristy, but still fun.

A closeup of the Seattle Great Wheel, one of the newer additions to the city skyline.

Haley and I went to a fish place on the waterfront called Ivar’s. It had a great view of the ferries (and the seagulls.)

I loved seeing a map on this manhole cover. Note that the Kingdome is still on there.

Pioneer Square

Haley took me to the Utilikilts store. I didn’t buy one, but I asked if he carried Samoan i’es. He didn’t, but knew what I was talking about!

Haley and I discovered this secret garden with a waterfall in Pioneer Square. Very cool area!

I loved this street that had been converted to a tree-lined pedestrian mall.

We stopped at Glasshouse Studio in Pioneer Square. I couldn’t afford anything, but it was fun to look.

Seattle Central Library

The Seattle Central Library, designed by famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus.

Interior of the Seattle Central Library. I didn’t even notice until I was looking at the picture that there was a map room nearby.

Haley and I at the Seattle Central Library.

The fourth floor of the library is painted all red for some reason. It’s even trippier in person.

Looking up at the downtown skyscrapers.

A bar near my Airbnb was clad entirely in old street signs. There was almost something Frank Gehry-like about it.

Monday

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Pike Street. Even other coffee snobs recommended it to me.

The Starbucks Roastery was really cool on the inside, and larger than many grocery stores.

I loved the steampunk look of the Starbucks Roastery.

Getting a picture at the Starbucks Roastery. Unfortunately they sweetened my coldbrew, so I can’t vouch for the coffee.

Lake Washington from Kirkland

I stopped off at a park in Kirkland for a selfie by Lake Washington.

Me in my rental car in front of Lake Washington. I flagged down a passerby so I could get a photo of me in it.

Seattle Coffee Gear

Seattle Coffee Gear in Bellevue lets you do free coffee tastings. I’ve never seen so many grinders in a row.

Little mini pourovers at my coffee tasting at Seattle Coffee Gear.

Microsoft

I had to stop at the Microsoft campus, if only to defend my geek-cred.

I bought a punny “Word Up” tee-shirt at the Microsoft Store. It looks like something I’d design myself.

Another tee-shirt I really liked at the Microsoft Company Store. Too bad I’m not a big enough football fan to wear it.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls, about 45 minutes east of the city.

A picture of me at Snoqualmie Falls at sunset.

Capitol Hill at Night

I had walked past this corner several times, but only noticed the Jimi Hendrix statue after almost a week in town.

Seattle has a fleet of “trolleybuses” that don’t ride on rails but do use overhead electrical lines (catenaries). They actually looked kind of cool at night.

Tuesday

Bainbridge Ferry

I stopped off at Storyville Coffee on my way to the Bainbridge Ferry. It was pretty good, maybe third or fourth on my list.

Got a picture with the downtown skyline right after I got on the ferry, though unfortunately, I’m standing right in front of the Space Needle.

I had a great view of the Seattle Great Wheel and downtown skyline from the Bainbridge Ferry.

These ferries are massive, holding up to 200 cars and 2,500 people. In the middle of a day on a Tuesday, however, it was practically deserted.

I’m on a Boat!

I could not get enough pictures of the skyline from my ferry. Seriously, I took over 100 like this. It took a while to cull it down.

The Space Needle looks impressive sticking out of the cityscape, moreso than Reunion Tower.

My ferry offered great views of Mount Rainier.

I’m the King of the World!

Bainbridge Island

I stopped off at Bainbridge island for breakfast/brunch and a quick tour of the little downtown. I mainly just went there for the ferry ride however.

It was nice to stop at this beautiful little park on Bainbridge Island.

Ferry Back to Seattle

While everyone else was getting Space Needle shots, I nabbed this picture of the massive cranes along the waterfront, in front of Mount Rainier.

Pulling back into Seattle, I had more great views of the waterfront.

Pioneer Square Underground Tour

I mostly stuck to cortados and americanos, but I did treat myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte while I was there.

The famous Pioneer Square totem pole, or as best of a shot as I could get of it with the sun behind it.

I took the underground tour, where they showed us these skylights in the sidewalk. They were originally colorless, but the manganese in the glass has turned purple.

The underground tour was awesome though not very photogenic. However, I did get a pretty good picture of the purple skylights.

Rooms cost significantly more nowadays. Though as the tour guide explained, this was cheap even back then. More flophouse than hotel.

Smith Tower

Smith Tower was the tallest building in Seattle (and on the West Coast) when it was built.

Though dwarfed by other buildings now, Smith Tower is still pretty damn impressive.

I sat in the Wishing Chair in Smith Tower. Supposedly a single woman who sits in it will find true love soon after. No word on whether it works for men.

Ceiling tiles at Smith Tower. The observation deck was once a Chinese restaurant.

Smith Tower afforded great views of the downtown skyline.

There was a massive flock of birds circling Smith Tower. I captured them in my photo by fortuitous accident.

Space Needle and Seattle Center

As someone who grew up on the Jetsons, I always wanted to live in a Space Needle.

The Space Needle is currently undergoing major renovations, which include adding glass floors.

The exterior of the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the EMP). I really wanted to go inside, but they had just closed, and it was the last day of my Seattle solo vacation.

A cool totem pole outside the Space Needle. I looked it up, and it was added just a few years ago in memory of a Native American artist killed by police.

A View from the Top

I spent a while looking out at the skyline from the Space Needle. The “halo” around the building adds a nice effect.

I asked a woman at the Space Needle to get a picture of me. It turned out really well! And she really liked my shirt too. 🙂

Mount Rainier towers over the city, reminding you of how small humans are compared to Mother Nature.

Lake Union nestled amongst a quickly growing cityscape.

Space Needle at the Golden Hour

I was glad to go to the Space Needle during the “Golden Hour”. The lighting added this perfect tone to my photos that I could never replicate in Photoshop.

A closeup of the Space Needle from the base of the tower.

The Space Needle looked amazing from a couple of blocks away, especially with that Golden Hour cast.

A selfie with the Space Needle. One of the rare photos where overexposure made the photo look better than a properly taken picture.

My Seattle solo vacation was one of the best trips I’ve never taken. If you’ve never been on a solo trip, I highly recommend it. And if you’re a coffee shop nerd like me, you owe it to yourself to go to Seattle.

Have you have taken a Seattle solo vacation or similar trip? If so, what was your experience? Let me know in the comment sections.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://steve-lovelace.com.

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