Hailing from the Pacific Northwest myself, I knew that songstress Shelby Earl would have a challenge on her hands trying to narrow down a list of places to visit in Seattle, Washington. If you’ve ever heard me gush about the area, and prattle on about the wonderful food, live music and clean air, then I’ve probably told you that if you visit the city in August, you’ll never want to leave. It’s truly an exquisite place to visit, and an even better place to live.
I put myself in this, because I feel akin to Shelby. While she was getting her dues in on the music circuit in the early 2000’s, I was getting my feet wet in the then-muddy waters of online journalism. We both worked mundane jobs and pursued our passions on the side, hoping to make our dreams a reality. Shelby performed various shows at Seattle’s beautiful Experience Music Project – one of my personal favorite places in the world.
Shelby recently released her 2011 album Burn the Boats, earning praise from critics across the nation. Her latest bio is actually a letter written by acclaimed Pacific NW-born pop music journalist Ann Powers, who was inspired by the music on this new project as well as Earl’s overall career.
It’s safe to say that I automatically feel connected to Shelby, so reading her contribution to UrbLife.com’s Run This Town has made me incredibly homesick. No time for all that though! Let’s get down to Shelby Earl’s Top 7 spots you must visit in The Emerald City!
1. Stumptown Coffee (616 E Pine Street / 1115 12th Avenue)
Seattle is known for many things, but we are serious about our coffee. We are the birthplace of Starbucks, but we are also home to a lot of awesome smaller coffee roasting operations. My personal favorite is Stumptown Coffee. Swing by one of their shops for a cup (or a bag) of the Hair Bender Blend and fuel up for your big day in Seattle.
2. Frye Art Museum (704 Terry Ave @ Cherry St)
Seattle Art Museum is spectacular and a definite point of pride in our fair city. But personally, my favorite museum in town is the Frye Art Museum. It may not be on your radar if you’re following guidebooks, but it’s an absolute gem. The building itself is small, but uniquely beautifully. The museum entrance is outlined by a long, modern, Zen-inspired fountain, which perfectly prepares your heart and mind for the viewing of art.
The museum’s permanent collection is massive for such a small space and it offers a broad spectrum of visual delights. There are also some very cool special exhibits and lectures. The Frye is a lovely place to spend an afternoon in Seattle. There are even delicious bites to eat in the Gallery Café! And the best bit? Museum entrance is FREE!!!
One of the reasons I love Seattle so much is the constant and easy access to water. I’m a Pisces (a water sign), and I need water to feed my soul. Seattle’s downtown waterfront offers lots of treats for the palate such as Dungeness crab or clam chowder, but I suggest heading up the road a little and taking in the beautiful water view from Seattle Art Museum’s new Olympic Sculpture Park.
This is one of my favorite spots to hunker down with a book or to ponder my human existence. Whatever you’re in the mood for, really!
4. Pike Place Market (main entrance at 1st Avenue and Pike Street)
This is the most obvious of my recommendations because it’s such a well-known tourist attraction in Seattle (ever heard of the fish throwers? Mhmm), but even as a local, I love it. Parking can be tough, but if you’re hoofin’ it this is a great place to swing by for fresh fish, organic/local veggies, and freshly-baked bread for dinner.
While shopping, you can take in the sounds of multiple street buskers belting their tunes throughout the market – including little old me from time to time! Busking (street performing) is tough, but it keeps me honest!
Or, if you don’t feel like buying food to cook up yourself, you can drop in to any one of the market’s amazing restaurants. One of my fav’s being Matt’s in the Market. I recommend the scallops!
Ballard is my favorite neighborhood in Seattle. This is where I clock the most hours eating, drinking, shopping, hanging with pals, and seeing live music. I think of it as the sort of “Brooklyn of Seattle. “ And similar to Brooklyn, don’t be alarmed if you encounter a high density of beard-wearing dudes. It’s ok, they’re ALL in bands.
Side note: hit up Ballard on a Sunday afternoon for the city’s best neighborhood farmer’s market!
6. Paseo: Seattle’s Best Sammy (4225 Fremont Avenue North)
There are far too many outstanding restaurants and bars in Seattle to even begin to pick a favorite. So instead, I’m going to have to share the secret of Paseo. This place will change your life – no exaggeration. They serve the most bonkers-good sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. They are huge, rich, spicy, Carribean delights on a lightly toasted baguette slathered with aioli, fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeños, crisp romaine lettuce, caramelized onions and your choice of meat, seafood or veggie. Mercy!
The only bum-out about this place is that it’s teeny-tiny and the line is always long. And because this is Seattle, you very well may wait for your glorious Paseo experience in the rain!
Seattle is a music city. There are more bands in this town than there are computer nerds – and trust me, that’s a LOT. Pick up a copy of the Seattle Weekly or The Stranger to find out what’s happening that week, and then visit one of our best-loved music venues such as The Showbox, The Crocodile, Neumos, Tractor Tavern, The Triple Door, The Paramount or The Moore.
There are countless other great ones, but the list is too long to include here. Hell, pick one at random, chances are you you’ll discover something great!
Watch Shelby Earl’s acoustic performance of “Burn the Boats”