I’ve talked a lot about how my favorite way to explore cities is through a local’s lens. I’m not really one for major tourist attractions—throngs of people? no thanks!—and I love using social media to crowd-source recommendations for each new place I visit to steer away from the masses. Which is precisely why our latest 24 hours in Seattle of exploring was steered by a pair of locals we’ve known for years.
This post was last updated in December 2022.
Embracing a local’s perspective is my favorite way to travel and luckily, on our recent five-night jaunt to Washington state, SVV and I had our own personal local guides: Kent and Caanan of NVR Guys fame.
This pair of adventurers—and my long-time dear friends—could not be better ambassadors for this fair city; they’ve given me glimpses into their lives as Seattleites on my last two visits to the Pacific Northwest, but this time was different: SVV was with me and he’d seen very little of the Emerald City, and so we got the full on NVR treatment.
Where to stay in Seattle
We’ve been to Seattle many times now, and I’ve always loved Hotel 1000 and any of the Kimpton hotels, particularly when we’re traveling with Ella. You can’t beat the Hotel Monaco, and of course if your budget allows, the Four Seasons and W Seattle are also wonderful.
Want to stay out of downtown and in Ballard instead? I’m a fan of boutique stay Hotel Ballard.
In case you’re heading to Seattle soon, here’s a rundown of how we spent our Saturday in the city before heading out to the coast for the remainder of our time in Washington.
Exploring Seattle’s side sweet
Our day started at Top Pot. After an emergency morning run to the Genius bar to repair my MacBook, our day finally started at the boys’ favorite breakfast spot where we weren’t shy in ordering a half-dozen variety pack. That egg nog doughnut was to die for, and I don’t regret this decision one bit.
Doing yoga in the sculpture park
What, like I’d go somewhere and not bust out a handstand? Not a chance.
I’m glad my companions were also game for some photo shoot fun, too.
Grabbing food-to-go from Paseo
Can it be considered a hole-in-the-wall if it’s Yelp’s most top-rated attraction? Well, this sandwich shop in Fremont is a hidden gem nonetheless—you would not stumble upon it if you didn’t know what you were looking for. We ordered Caribbean takeout and continued on our way.
Eating lunch at Kerry Park
Seriously, if you’re anywhere near Queen Anne Hill, make this viewpoint a priority.
Wandering through the bustling Pike Place Market
OK, here’s where I make the first exception to the tourist claim: You can’t really go to Seattle and not visit Pike Place. Besides, every artisan and booth owner sells homemade and homegrown wares. So it is local at the end of the day.
Sipping craft cocktails at Sun Liquor Distillery
I had my first taste of Sun Liquor vodka on the flight to Seattle and was pleased as punch (uh, rum punch, that is) when the boys took us to their headquarters in Lower Cap Hill for some quality mixed drinks.
Stopping for coffee at Espresso Vivace
Kent and Caanan raved about this tiny cup of potent caffeine, and with one sip of the Caffe Nico I could see why: an orange-infused double shot of espresso with traces of cinnamon—what’s not to love?
Wandering around Ballard
Last time I was in Seattle a year and a half ago, I stayed in this neighborhood north of downtown and fell in love with its artsy vibe. I knew I had to take SVV over there, even if just to stroll through the Ballard Farmers’ Market (every Sunday year round).
Getting a nightcap at Montana
It wasn’t my first time at this Western-themed dive bar, nor will it be my last. You can’t go to Seattle and not grab tortas from Tortas Condesa (SO GOOD) next door then devour them in the bar (yes, you can bring your food inside) with a Montana Mule to wash it all down. I just regret that we forgot to memorialize the night in the photo booth this time!
Drinking alllll the coffee
You can drink a whole lot of coffee in 24 hours in Seattle where caffeine is a way of life, and Storyville Coffee Company was my favorite cafe of them all.
On top of all the local spots, we also tackled one more major attraction: Starbucks Roastery & Tasting Room. Call us sellouts, but we had to stop at mecca. Sorry I’m not sorry! (It was really cool, guys, even though we didn’t buy a thing.)