I’ve just returned from my week and a half trip volunteering at Special Olympics in Seattle and visiting family in Oregon. While I’m still getting myself situated back home, I wanted to start detailing what I did, what I ate, and *of course* what I wore during my time in Seattle.
First up, I’ll dive into why I was in Seattle, Washington to begin with! Seattle hosted the 50th Anniversary Special Olympics USA Games, which you can read more about here. These Games are sporting events for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The athletes compete at a variety of levels in all different sports from swimming to basketball to bocce. I got started volunteering with Special Olympics when I was 16 because my dad has been volunteering with the organization since the 70s. Every single Games is a truly uplifting, incredible experience filled with so much joy and love. Everyone is there to support one another, and you just can’t beat being in that kind of environment surrounded by such loving people.
Due to the fact that I was volunteering from 8 in the morning until late evening almost every day for the entire week, I unfortunately didn’t get to do as much exploring around Seattle as I would have liked. However, what little I did see gave me a lovey taste of what the city has to offer and I really enjoyed it! And thankfully I did get to indulge in the food scene during dinners when I was there, and I can confidently say Seattle food is amazing!!!
Where I Ate:
There are honestly SO many fantastic restaurants to try in Seattle in every corner of the city. I created a list so long that I need to go back and finish going through all the restaurants when I return! But here are all the dinner spots I dined at:
- Eureka! – ALL the sides were amazing (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and truffle fries) and it’s a chill place that’s great for large groups.
- Pintxo – upscale, delicious tapas with great drinks where you can admire the stunning decor inspire by Gaudi.
- AQUA by El Gaucho – BEST waterfront views and amazing seafood. If you have one evening to splurge on great local fare, this is it.
- Andaluca – a mediterranean cuisine with delicious fish dishes, fantastic risotto, and a TO DIE FOR liquid chocolate cake. They’re not kidding when they say that’s the dish they’re most famous for.
- Ivar’s Seafood – this delightful waterfront setting has an extensive seafood list where you can find something for everyone! The restaurant’s decor is also particularly interesting: Ivar Haglund built an Adams-designed Indian longhouse for the restaurant and in 1971, largely on the basis of the Salmon House interior, the Seattle Historical Society gave Haglund and Adams its Award of Merit for historical contributions to Seattle.
- Cafe Campagne – I stumbled upon this gem in Pike Place Market on my last day in Seattle. My group had a reservation at another restaurant, but when Special Olympics Closing Ceremonies got out early, we decided to switch it out for this Cafe because the menu just looked so good! We were not disappointed – their French food was fantastic (especially on the west coast) and everyone was pleased with their meal. I recommend the delectable cheese board, goat cheese salad, and black olive pasta. That unusual pasta let me leave Seattle on a high note!
Molly Moon’s Ice Cream – you can seriously not go wrong at this ice cream shop. The flavors are creative and OUTSTANDING, the ambiance is so cute (and dog friendly to boot!), and you get the opportunity to try all the flavors beforehand. Honey lavender with lemon zest and earl grey were my top picks!
Frankie & Jo’s – this vegan ice cream is definitely for the more adventurous palates. The salty caramel ash with moon goo (charcoal caramel sauce) was a winner!
Where I went:
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Since I didn’t have much free time, I really had to prioritize which museums and sites I had time to see. Even though I would have loved to go to Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Seattle Art Museum, I really only had time to go to the one at the top of my museum list: Chihuly Garden and Glass. I was slightly familiar with his work from art history courses I had taken in school, but I really became enamored with his work when he created stunning installations for the New York Botanical Garden last year. I was blown away then, and I was blown away by this museum in Seattle as well. You were able to view his sketches, see his process, and walk beside all of his monumental works. My breath was taken away by the beauty of his glass work.
This museum is a MUST SEE when you’re in Seattle. There is simply nothing else like it in the world.
Pike Place Market
I got to visit this Seattle staple for two brief visits during my stay. Each time I felt as though I had a completely different experience – there’s just so much to see! Pike Place Market has the perfect combination of local hangs and shops with touristy hotspots. As with the museums, there was so much I wanted to try out and see but just couldn’t with the limited time. The first time I just walked the main street of the market and looked into all the great shops and smelled the beautiful flowers on display. The second time I went through the various levels and discovered the waterfront patio where you can see the Seattle Great Wheel! Next time I’ll actually ride it, but it was fun just to view it from afar against the lush landscape. You could probably spend days in this market just going to different restaurants and checking out the cute local shops, however I’m quite pleased that I got even a small taste of the experience.
On the outskirts of Pike Place Market is the Gum Wall. This interactive wall has been around since the 1990s when locals started leaving chewing gum there while waiting for shows at Post Alley’s Market Theater. The stench of bubble gum is strong, but this quirky “art” piece is truly one of a kind and worth the crowds and sticky floors!
On a whim I took a quick lunch break to check out this unorthodox city sculpture, the Fremont Troll Monument. In 1989, the city asked the Fremont Arts Council to launched an art competition to rehabilitate the area under the bridge. Later that year a team led by sculptor Steve Badanes won the competition and was inspired by the folktale Billy Goat’s Gruff. You can climb all over the troll and admire fun details like the volkswagon in his hand and his painted eye.
Nordstrom Flagship Store
I’m a true Nordy Girl, so I had to take a quick stop to peruse the flagship store. It’s so glamorous and upscale compared to the chiller Nordstroms I’ve been to in New York and Maryland. It was giving me Harrod’s in London vibes! I recommend stopping in for the pics, the obvious shopping, artwork on the walls, and to see the cute displays!
Mariner’s Game at Safeco Stadium
If you’re a fan of sports and baseball, a trip to see the Mariner’s plan is well worth it! You can easily access it from the Light Rail stop and the stadium is beautiful! The Mariner’s treated all of the Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and volunteers to a game the day before closing ceremonies, which is how I ended up attending. I’m not a big sports person, but I could admire the intricate stadium, beautiful views of the city, and (honestly) great food options! The specialty garlic fries are DELICIOUS.
What I Wore:
When I wasn’t in my volunteering garb of jeans and a t-shirt, I tried to emulate the chill, northwestern vibes of the city. Cheeky printed shirts, high-waisted jeans, graphic accessories, and denim dresses served me well in the laid back metropolis. Seattle is a very walk-able city, so comfy shoes are a must!
I loved every minute of my experience in Seattle – from volunteering to exploring the city! I highly recommend visiting for a quick vacation because you’ll have so much to do and so many great places to eat at. Let me know if you’ve been or plan on going to Seattle!