Food, fins and footpaths in the Emerald City
Editor's note: Ashley Iaccarino is TPA's social media guru who also happens to enjoy food more than anyone we know. She recently scored an amazing Alaska Airlines deal to Seattle and was kind enough to share her adventures, which naturally include lots and lots of delicious meals. Here's her story.
Somewhere on the westernmost coast of the country, light rain mists the streets as Orcas breach the surrounding seas in search of plump seals.
Seattle, Washington is not only opposite Tampa on the map, but its grungy nature and decidedly cloudy weather make it an unusual experience for east-coast natives. That said, Seattle in the summer is a vacation destination worth experiencing – especially when you can get there nonstop from Tampa International Airport.
Here is my experience:
Aboard an Alaska Airlines flight, 6-hours took me 3,000 miles across the country to a city surrounded by water and mountains. As the flight began its descent, mighty Mount Rainier welcomed me, standing tall and ice-capped, skirted in the greenery that is the Emerald City. The flight, one of the most comfortable I’ve experienced, cost a cool $217 roundtrip from TPA and was as painless as any cross-country travel could be. Once my partner and I arrived, we hopped on a quick train from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport directly into the city where we rolled our bags just blocks to our hotel. Surprisingly, it was still light outside after 9 p.m., something Seattleites are accustomed to as the sun doesn’t set until late at night during the summer months. Aside from the west-coast unfamiliarities, my trip was made up of fulfilled hunger, hikes and humpbacks.
This city may be known for its coffee, but the eats in Seattle were savory and satisfying. We started our flavor tour at the famous Pike Place Market with Beecher’s homemade mac ‘n cheese - a spot whose delectable scents pull you in long before you can see it. As we pulled up, we watched cheesemongers push and pull their weight in cheese curds in a giant metal tub. The mac ‘n cheese was creamy, dreamy and delicious and the grilled cheese: smoky sourdough heaven.
The next noteworthy niche was Metropolitan Grill – voted the best steakhouse in Seattle – where photos of celebrities and porterhouse cuts grace the walls. The lobster bisque reached an area of my taste buds I didn’t know existed and the Wagyu filet both sliced and tasted like butter. Not feeling fancy? Don’t worry. Even at the city’s “best steakhouse,” sweats and jeans seem to be the typical attire.
The next night, we feasted on Italian fare at Il Terrazzo Carmine. The restaurant is dressed in classic Italian décor and is hidden in the back end of a tall building in Pioneer Square. There, I had quite possibly the best salad I’ve tasted – grilled romaine with tangy gorgonzola, apples and walnuts. The restaurant offers small or large portions of their pasta, so I tried both a seafood ravioli and a salmon penne with asparagus and vodka cream sauce, both were out of this world. After dinner, we stopped at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream where they’ll stack a cone high as your head or hand-spin a milkshake with your choice of flavors.
Finally, local recommendations led us to Dick’s Drive-in – a burger spot where what you see is what you get, meaning no substitutions to any of their menu items. You won’t want to change anything on these burgers anyhow, as the flavor on these bad boys makes them worth much more than the price at just $4.25 for a ‘Dick’s Deluxe’. Yes, we went back before the flight home.
Other than the cuisine, this next activity was probably the top attraction on our trip: whale watching. Sandwiched between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle’s nearby waters are a popular spot to see different kinds of whales, especially during the summertime. As a true Florida native, the only whale I’d ever seen in person was doing tricks with a trainer somewhere in Orlando, so my enthusiasm for this tour was rich. And I was not disappointed. The tour took us to see a massive humpback as it breached the cobalt waters and we followed a pod of orcas as they searched for their next meal. We booked the half-day whale watching tour on the Puget Sound Express and departed out of Edmonds. Snacks, refreshments and coffee were available during the trip as well as their signature freshly-made blueberry buckle (try it).
Seattle lacks little when it comes to public transportation, but when it’s not raining, traveling by foot is the way to go. The city has 59-square-miles of land, but you can get from the waterfront to a good amount of the downtown area in within 30-minutes or less by walking. Stroll alongside the beautiful waterfront to the city’s landmark: the Space Needle or head to Kerry Park – a spot well-known to boast the best views of Seattle’s downtown.
We took our hiking boots outside of the city to Twin Falls, a 40-minute drive from Seattle, to enjoy a hike with a gorgeous view. Twin Falls gets its name for the two massive waterfalls that can be seen after hiking nearly 3-miles upstream. The hike was clean and beautiful and the sights were spectacular. Bring a raincoat and some boots and get to climbing – this trail has a moderate difficulty level.
From the food to the fins and the footpaths in between, Seattle is truly an experience that everyone should try at least once. Summer months boast the best weather, but the city still has much to offer during its fall and winter months - just bring a parka and keep an umbrella close by.
Book your trip today on Alaska Airlines.