Mistakes tourists make when visiting Seattle

Mistakes tourists make when visiting Seattle

Seattle, Washington is known for its rainy weather, but that doesn’t deter tourists. The city has long attracted visitors with its impressive arts scene, delicious seafood and breathtaking mountain views.

But those who travel to the Emerald City for the first time are doing a few things wrong. We asked locals to share some of the most common faux pas they’ve observed.

Here are 10 mistakes tourists often make when visiting Seattle — from visiting the wrong coffee shop to missing out on the best experiences — and some advice on how to avoid these mistakes during your trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Get coffee from Original Starbucks

“Many tourists love to visit the legendary original Starbucks location, but I have news for you: It’s just a Starbucks with extra accessories. If you want to wait in line for your hazelnut latte, you usually come home anyway. Seattle is known as the coffee capital of America, so visit one of the many local coffee shops in the Seattle area. If you’re at Pike Place Market, go up the second level to Storyville Coffee or go up a block to see latte art at Moore Coffee Shop. If you are not near Pike Place Market, there are local cafes that make excellent coffee just a stone’s throw from your accommodation.” ― Nelson Lau, co-host of the Seattle Foodie Podcast

“Don’t bother going to Starbucks in Pike Place Market. The insanely long lines are not worth it. Snap a photo from the outside, then head to the Starbucks Reserve Seattle Roastery on Capitol Hill. It’s about nine blocks away and offers tourists a better shopping experience with food, coffee, merchandising, and the process of coffee production. You can also explore the rest of Cap Hill as it’s a very walkable area.” ― Ishea Brown, Digital Creator and Associate Producer

Missed Alki Beach

“One mistake I see is not going to Alki Beach in West Seattle for one of the best unobstructed views of the Seattle skyline. It’s very easy to get there from downtown Seattle by taking the water taxi at Pier 50. It’s less than a 10-minute scenic drive, which is a fun experience in its own right. Once you arrive in West Seattle, a beautiful view will greet you. And while you’re there and the weather is nice, I recommend you walk along the beach and explore the restaurants in the area before taking the water taxi back downtown.” ― Erika Diama, Content Creator

“Aliki Beach is a beach in West Seattle but worth a visit. Grab a bite to eat at Marinanation Ma Kai and rent a bike to ride the trail. You have great views of the Seattle skyline, water and mountains and can enjoy the shops at Alki Beach. If it’s a sunny day you can play beach volleyball or end your night with a bonfire on the beach. If you want to enjoy local favorites, you can buy ice cream at Homefront Smoothies and Ice Cream, burgers at Pepperdock or fish and chips at Spuds.” ― Brown

Plan to just stay indoors

“It doesn’t always rain in Seattle. Seattle is one of the best places to visit in the summer due to the mild temperatures that make for great al fresco dining and evening picnics. Do as the locals do and head to Gas Works Park for a picnic. Grab a poke bowl at the 45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar, then head down a few doors to Tres Lecheria for some of the best Tres Leches pies in Seattle. Not in Poke? Wallingford also has Dick’s Drive In, home of Seattle’s Burgers. Grab a Dick’s Deluxe, fries and a strawberry milkshake and you’re ready for the sunset at Gas Works Park.” ― Lau

Tourists don’t always understand that Seattle also has sunny seasons.

Queuing for attraction tickets

“Tourists wait in line to buy tickets to the Needle or other attractions when they could just buy them online.” ― Karla Ilicic, yoga teacher and freelance author

“Don’t wait in line for every little attraction and shell out your money to pay for each one individually. The Seattle Pass is the step to meet them all in a short amount of time for less.” ― Lauren Baker, student

Don’t expect crowds

“If you’re going to Seattle in the summer, know that unlike many other cities, locals don’t leave here during the warmer months! We love our summers, which means that not only is it a bit crowded from June to August, you’re competing with the locals for everything from ferry traffic to dinner reservations – so keep that in mind when making plans. My favorite month here is September, when the weather is still nice but the crowds are a little less.” ― Cassandra LaValle, interior designer

Sticking to downtown

“Tourists love to visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle when in town, but the truth is that our downtown core is pretty generic when it comes to dining and shopping. While I would recommend a visit to the Seattle Art Museum, I would focus your agenda on other neighborhoods in the city. Ballard is one of the most fun and varied things to do – visit the locks, shop, explore the Nordic Museum and make reservations at one of the delicious restaurants on Ballard Ave (San Fermo is my favorite!). Pioneer Square, Fremont, and Capitol Hill also offer plenty of dining and activities.” ― La Valle

“Downtown Seattle is NOT a hotspot for dining. Unlike other metropolitan areas, most locals don’t go to downtown Seattle to eat. Instead, tourists should take a ride or the Sound Transit Link Light Rail to foodie neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Ballard, Belltown, or the International District/Chinatown. Whether it’s sushi, seafood, ramen, steak, pasta or steak, you’ll find better options in all of these neighborhoods than downtown.” ― Lau

Don’t plan nature activities

“I see many visitors coming to Seattle who never take a day to experience one of the best things our city has to offer – the great outdoors! As a city surrounded by mountains, water and lush national parks, I highly recommend a short day trip where you can experience one of them. Catch a ferry to Whidbey Island and explore Ebey’s Landing or Deception Pass, rent a car for the day and drive to Mt. Si, or stay local and check out Discovery Park where you can walk down the trails lead to a scenic beach and lighthouse.” ― La Valle

“If you have a rental car, get out of town for more fun activities. 30 minutes east of Seattle there are many hikes in the town of Snoqualmie with spectacular views.” ― Lau

Missing new restaurants

“As far as I can tell, tourists make the mistake of going to the same hyped restaurants when there has been a boom in incredible restaurants across the city. Definitely worth a visit.” ― Ilician

Prioritizing the Space Needle

“Don’t visit crowded tourist spots, especially on weekends. The top of the Space Needle can be overwhelming and Pike Place Market can get extremely crowded on weekends. Don’t wait in lines. Many tourists love to visit the Space Needle, but locals prefer to go to the Smith Tower for drinks and food. Located in Pioneer Square, Smith Tower is Seattle’s original skyscraper. Take the elevator to the Observatory and Bar and be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Seattle without the crowds. Then enjoy homemade cocktails and snacks while enjoying the view. This is the perfect spot before heading out for dinner or after a nightcap.” ― Lau

Don’t go on trips

“If you’re not a fan of hiking, head to Woodinville and visit one of the many wineries in this town. Chateau St. Michelle is the largest winery in Woodinville, but you can visit one of the many smaller wineries in town. If you don’t have a rental car, drive down to the Seattle waterfront and walk to the ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry terminal, it’s a short walk to Main Street for shopping and dining. Enjoy this cute little town with some of the best restaurants in Seattle including Ba Sa, Cafe Hitchcock, Bruciato and Mora Iced Creamery.” ― Lau

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