Jake and I both love Seattle; it’s hard not to, with its beautiful scenery, great food and temperate climate. In fact, we love it so much that we originally thought we’d end up moving there before we ultimately decided on moving to Portland! While we may not be living in the Emerald City, we’re very close by, and a driving up for a weekend in Seattle was on my to-do list for this spring. We took the opportunity to visit over St. Patrick’s Day to burn a free night hotel certificate and to watch my friend perform with the Seattle Irish Dance Company, and it was the perfect first PNW road trip!
A WEEKEND IN SEATTLE
GETTING TO SEATTLE
While the Amtrak connects Portland and Seattle, we chose to drive so that we’d have our car when we got in. I wouldn’t say a car is necessary when visiting the city, but because we were staying one night in Bellevue, it was definitely nice to have.
Portland locals really scared us with their warnings about insane Seattle traffic, but we headed north at about 2 p.m. on Friday and the drive still took less than three hours. In fact, the only traffic we ran into on the way up was between Portland and Vancouver, Washington!
We stayed at two different hotels over our weekend in Seattle (I’ll explain why in the “Miles Math” section below!): the AC Hotel Bellevue/Downtown and the Charter by Hilton Hotel Seattle. I’d recommend both, though definitely for different purposes.
The AC reminded me very much of other hotels in that brand that I’ve visited: The interior was minimal and clean, and the room was comfortable despite the lack of design frills.
Likewise, the Charter fit right in with the other hotels in its brand, too. It’s a member of Hilton’s Curio Collection (my love for which is well-documented here, here and here, to name a few places), and hotels under that umbrella run outside the normal Hilton mold. I love that there’s a bit more of an emphasis on design and on incorporating local products when it comes to toiletries, etc.
One thing to note: The AC Bellevue, as the name implies, is actually in Bellevue, which sits across a bridge from Seattle proper. Whether you’re using cash or points for your stay, staying in Bellevue is a great way to save without being too far from the action—as long as you have a car or another way to get around. The Charter, by contrast, could not be more centrally located. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from Pike Place Market and the waterfront in the center of downtown!
You can find my full review of the Charter here!
For our first night, we ate at Rockcreek, which is a popular seafood restaurant. But despite being vegetarian, I found plenty on the menu and the salads were great. All the seafood eaters gave strong reviews, too! Definitely make a reservation if you’re interested in going; the restaurant was hopping on an Friday night.
Our second night, we went to No Anchor, which is actually a renowned beer bar. But it also curates a selection of snacks, boards and small-ish plates that were perfect for a low-key night that still kept things interesting. The dishes definitely had their twists and presentation was top-notch; even a simple bowl of olives came adorned with garlic chips and flowers!
During the day, we found ourselves grabbing food at the Charter Hotel, which has a couple of different dining options that I’ll go into in a full hotel review post coming soon.
Last but not least, I can’t talk about Seattle without mentioning Molly Moon’s, which might just serve my favorite ice cream in the world. I went on back-to-back days and got two different flavors each time, all of which were outstanding. Fingers crossed they migrate down to Portland sometime soon! I highly recommend hitting up the location on W. Galer St. and then walking a couple blocks to Kerry Park (see below!) with your ice cream if it’s nice outside.
We kicked of the weekend at Fremont Brewing, which overlooks Lake Washington’s Meydenbauer Bay. If it’s nice out, there’s an outdoor tent on the patio that was lively and fun on a Friday evening without being too hectic.
Beer lovers also should definitely not miss No Anchor, mentioned above. The beer list is highly impressive and they do all kinds of beer-food pairings that look really fun.
Because we now live so close to Seattle (and spent a lot of the weekend listening to/playing/watching Irish music and dance for St. Pat’s), we didn’t go all-out on activities the way I have on prior Seattle trips. But a couple things are on my to-do list for every visit, no matter how short.
The first: Kerry Park. This has to have one of my favorite skyline views of all time. From this vantage point, the Space Needle lines up perfectly with the rest of the city’s buildings, and on clear days you can see Mt. Rainier just off to the side. It’s absolutely stunning!
I also love walking around Pioneer Square, with its red-brick architecture and cute shops and eateries. We were lucky enough to have a lot of sunshine, which made the strolling even better.
If you’re planning your own trip, definitely add a visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass and a stroll through Pike Place Market to your list. Pike Place has so much more than the original Starbucks, and it’s worth seeing for the waterfront views alone. Also, if you can fit it in and have a car, Mt. Rainier National Park is so close to the city and there’s really nothing like it. It’s definitely one of my favorite parks I’ve visited, and if you’re there in the summer you can catch the wildflowers!!
We ran out of time (and good weather) to watch the sun set from Alki Beach. While I’ve been to the beach before, I’ve never gone for sunset, and its westward-facing location makes me think it would be the perfect spot!
We also ran out of time to recreate our favorite breakfast of all time at Black Diamond Bakery. A few years ago, we drove out to this homey diner because we read it had great views of Mt. Rainier, but it also has epic breakfast food!
Lastly, I’d LOVE to take the ferry from Seattle to the San Juan Islands sometime, but for that I think I’d need more than a weekend! If you’ve been, leave me a note in the comments—I’d love to hear how you liked them!
As I mentioned above, we had a free night certificate to use before it expired, which factored into our trip planning! It comes every year with the Hilton Honors Aspire credit card, and you can use it at almost any Hilton hotel in the world. Normally, I try to use them at the fanciest hotels possible (you may remember the time I used one here, and we’re using another one here this May!), but I don’t always have time to plan a major trip around them. Rooms at the Charter were also going for 80,000 points per night that night, which is way more than I’d want to shell out for a property that isn’t super high-end, so using the certificate was a great way to get a chance to check out the hotel without burning tons of points or spending cash.
Originally, we also planned to use a free night certificate from the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card, too. Unlike Hilton, Marriott caps how nice a hotel you can use your certificate at, and this particular one was only good for a Category 4 hotel, which is how we ended up with a reservation in Bellevue. A few days before the trip, however, award space opened up at the Petra Marriott, where I was heading in April, so I quickly pulled the certificate and applied it to that trip instead. By that time, the cash price for the AC Bellevue had also sunk to just $136.87, which was pretty affordable. So wins all around!
For more on earning and using points and miles to travel for free, visit the 52 Cities free resource library or register to join me on my points and miles masterclass! For more on Seattle, check out my full review of the Charter Hotel.
What would you do with a weekend in Seattle? Let me know in the comments! >>
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