Have you been to Seattle lately? It’s a boom town thanks to Amazon and the other high tech employers. The city is very LGBTQ friendly. Indeed the new mayor, Jenny Durkan, is a lesbian. The city has reclaimed its waterfront by knocking down the Alaska Way Viaduct and putting the traffic in a tunnel instead. Marijuana usage is legal and the whole state is now a sanctuary state. Governor Inslee is running for President.
It makes a great summer get away where the temps are pleasant and there is a lot to do. The city is actually in a rain shadow and the weather is reliably good until September.
I took Alaska Airlines, America’s best airline although Delta now has a hub there to. They both offer lots of nonstop flights.
Be sure and load the GoGo inflight entertainment app before you board the Alaska flight.
When you land, take the Sound Transit light rail to your hotel (just $3). Buy an Orca transit pass so you can get around easily on Sound Transit light rail, King County Metro Bus, the Washington State Ferries, and the two streetcars.
Where to stay
The Baroness Hotel (1005 Spring Street) gives you a small studio in their historic building (around $159) while the Inn at Virginia Mason across the street is also very nice ($129 or so). I got a great rate at The Baroness at Booking.com.
You can enjoy the nearby First Hill neighborhood and it is a short walk to Capitol Hill (the gay neighborhood), downtown, and the attractions. Other bargain hotels are The Moore (from $100 with shared bathrooms). The Springhill Suites on Yale is very nice and across the street from the 24 Hour Fitness and a block or two to the fabulous REI Co-op Flagship Store which features hiking trails in a rain forest and a waterfall.
Seattle hotels can be expensive in the summer due to the cruise line business. Also many now tack on surprise resort or amenity fees so be sure and ask if they do. Kill Resort Fees website gives you the list of shame. I am boycotting any that do. Ditto for those that charge for locking the mini bar or removing food from the room.
If you want to stay out by the airport, I like the Marina Inn in Des Moines (take the #156 line from SeaTac). The rates are great and they are near the marina and Puget Sound. You can hike for miles and enjoy the Northwest vegetation on the nearby hiking trail. The Days Inn by the airport is nice and you can walk there from the airport.
What to do
Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry ($9 round trip) and enjoy Northwest regional treats in the cafeteria. Great shots of downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, and the Olympic Mountains from the less than two hour round trip.
Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill is a must. Great views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown plus a botanical garden and rhodies (Seattle speak for the showy rhododendrons).
Walk around the gayborhood, Capitol Hill, with its great shops and restaurants (and new light rail station).
Take a hike out of town. If you don’t have a car, King County Metro will give you a lift to the nearby Cascade Mountains on the weekend.
Pike Place Market is another must. With the removal of the Alaska Way Viaduct, the waterfront views are even more amazing.
Take a run or walk with the Frontrunners. They meet Saturday at 9 am at Green Lake. Swimmers can join the Orca swim club. They do outdoor swims in the summer on Lake Washington.
Where to Eat
The new Whole Foods at Broadway and Madison has an area to sit down and eat if you grab something from their hot food or salad bar.
Salmon including Copper River Salmon are offered around town.
Grab a baked treat at Sugar Bakery and Cafe (on Madison Avenue near Terry).
Urban hipsters and bears can be found at Pony (1221 E. Madison). The world’s smallest T Dance is on Sundays with dancers and cheap drinks. They have a great patio.
DJ Vinny spins the Disco hits and remakes Sundays at The Cuff (1533 13th). Dance the night away to the Donna Summer and Madonna classics. They also have a great outdoor barbeque.
R Place at 619 E Pine is also fun.
All the bars are in the Capitol Hill neighborhood just east of downtown (Pike, Pine, and Broadway).
If you have a car, Mt. Rainier National Park is worth a visit. The 14,000 foot volcano is southeast of Seattle.
Portland and Vancouver are just a short hop away and both are served by Amtrak. You can also take a ferry to Victoria, B.C. Bring your passport.
You won’t run out of things to do in the great Pacific Northwest which has a distinctly different regional feel than most of North America.
For more information, go to Seattle Gay News (sgn.org).
Bill Malcolm is a syndicated LGBTQ value travel writer based in Indianapolis. His opinions are his own. All photos taken by him. All or parts of this free syndicated column may appear in other publications.