Here’s the conclusion of our Itty Bitty Foodies Guide to Seattle. Part 1 chronicled our food adventures in downtown/belltown and a full day of activities up in the Seattle Center and ending with a killer view of the Seattle skyline at Queen Anne. This post takes you back in history to the gold rush era at Pioneer Square to one of the smallest National Parks in the country to going upstream with salmon at the Hiram Chittenden Locks before heading to the Center of the Universe of Fremont. We’ve also tossed in a beach jaunt to Alki Beach and a day trip wine tasting in Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville.
They’ve certainly cleaned up a lot of Pioneer Square since we lived here. What used to be a dilapidated area full of homeless and day workers, the renaissance is apparent in the funky cool stores and great eateries everywhere.
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park lets us relive the story of the gold rush and tells the tale of Seattle’s role in the era of gold fever. The Klondike Gold Rush National HIstorical Park is not a park as one might imagine, it is located in a small building. Do the scavenger hunt with the kids. They would love being junior park rangers for the day.
Just around the corner from Klondike Gold Rush National Park is the cutest cafe. The London Plane is a mixed use cafe which encompasses a flower and wine shop, bakery, gourmet food and recipe book shop as well as a cafe.
It’s truly a beautiful sight to be surrounded by flowers and artisanal goods. The food is fresh and we ordered a variety of small plates to share.
Try the spiced pork and lamb meatballs in a tomato sauce; lentils, asparagus with poached eggs with pork should or the curried smashed avocado with shaved radish, mustard and cilantro on a piece of chewy, dense freshly baked bread. The croissant with seasonal preserve and cultured butter was delightfully simple.
Ballard and Fremont
During summer, the salmon fish ladder is a must at Hiram Chittenden Locks. The Ballard Locks as most people call them is an engineering feat, preventing sea water intrusion from Puget Sound to the fresh water Lake Washington and Lake Union. A small museum before going out to the locks explains how they move boats from the water of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound and vice versa. The children were fascinated to see it come alive before their eyes as they watched yachts pass through when they went outside.
Further along, is the fish ladder. There are park rangers around to always explain this natural phenomenon of the salmon going upstream and you can view it from their subterranean aquarium as they head up the 21 step fish ladder. Different salmon spawn at different times of the year.
Chinook & Coho: September/October
Steelhead: Late fall & winter
Hiram Chittenden Locks is also connected to Carl S. English Jr Botanical Gardens. This is a gorgeous arboretum that was designed by horticulturist, Carl S. English when the Ballard Locks were being constructed. It’s a labor of love from Mr English who devoted 43 years to the garden so save some time for a blissful walk.
For a little snack break, I highly recommend Hot Cakes in Ballard for organic, small batch and hand-crafted molten chocolate cakes to die for. It’s situated along a strip of eclectic restaurants like Pestle Rock for Thai food from the Isan province in Northern Thailand which borders Cambodia and Laos. The food is more similar to Laotian or Cambodian food so they won’t have pad thai, which is Bangkok style Thai food.
“Trip Trap Trip Trap.” Remember the story of the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff and the troll that lived under the bridge? Prep your kids and tell them they are about to meet the troll on your way to the Aurora Bridge in Fremont. Seattle is full of public art but none so quirky as the ones here in the self-proclaimed Center of the Universe, known as Fremont.
Start at the politically charged, Statue of Lenin and grab a brochure nearby which plots all public art locations on a map. There’s the Rocket, a real 1950s rocket from the cold war to People Waiting for the Interurban, a sculpture of a huddle group of people waiting for a bus that never arrives. Depending on the time of year, look up the calendar of festivals as there are plenty. Watch out for naked cyclists peddling through with just their birthday suits during summer solstice parade.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
We wanted to do a little Washington wine tasting however, with the challenge of a toddler that naps after lunch, we had to plan the day with a few activities beforehand and take advantage of the hour plus drive to Woodinville for him to nap in the car. So our day out is a little convoluted but it worked for us.
First a leisurely breakfast at Macrina Bakery. They have several locations in Seattle and all are packed with lines first thing in the morning. Pastries, breads like brioche or smoked salmon bialy with scrambled eggs and chive cream were wonderful morning indulgences.
After breakfast, go hang out by Lake Union or Green Lake. So many water activities like kayaking and be like our kids, and just dig about and play.
If you’re around Lake Union on a weekend, try the food at Westward & Little Gull Grocery. A stunning seafood restaurant by the lake. We had an early dinner here and were amused to see tons of Seattle locals cycle to the restaurant during happy hour where they can share their space outside by the lake with the ducks.
Raw oysters were incredibly fresh and flavorful. Pikelet loved them. The staff showed our kids how to shuck and oyster at the bar.
For lunch we went via Bellevue to dine at Din Tai Fung. Specializing in xiao long bao (soupy dumplings), Din Tai Fung has a fierce and loyal following. We’ve been to several around the world and the lines are always out the door. Bellevue was no exception. We usually go through 40-50 dumplings in a meal. It was definitely time for a nap after eating so much.
The ride out to Chateau Ste. Michelle is short enough for antsy pants kids but long enough to feel like you’re heading out of town to a quieter, slower world. The winery allowed us to do a tasting outside while the kids just ran about happily chasing ducks. There’s so much to do in Woodinville Wine Country but with three young kids in tow, we opted to do one short afternoon at the winery.
On our way back to Seattle, we stopped off at the most Eastern part of Seattle in the upmarket residential area of Madison Park for dinner at Luc. Chef Thierry Rautureau, also affectionately known as “The Chef in the Hat“, brings French flair to fresh Pacific Northwest cuisine. My salmon with trumpet mushrooms, spring peas and a little poached egg captured the essence of freshness of Seattle with French execution. Perfection.
West Seattle and Alki Beach
Originally we didn’t have time to go to Alki Beach but as fate would have it, we got bumped off our return flight to Dallas and had to spend another 36 hours in Seattle. Boo hoo! So off to the beach we went.
Alki Beach has a strip of restaurants along the promenade. Most are casual burger, pizza and seafood joints like Sunfish where we ate halibut and chips.The beach is bustling on weekends with buskers and sunbathers..
Aside from Volunteer Park, we didn’t find much ‘sight seeing’ or family activities at Capitol Hill. The area, however sports some of the city’s best restaurant and we found ourselves dropping by the area to satisfy our foodie hunger.
Terra Plata: an earth-to-plate concept. Chef Tamara Murphy makes a point of using only seasonal ingredients and local where possible. Snag a seat at the rooftop garden where they grow all their herbs and some berries and enjoy the view.
Omega Ouzeri: Stunning Greek food featuring the best seafood the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We still dream about the grilled octopus and fresh oysters. Meatballs are pita, lemon yogurt and mint are also divine.
Kukai Ramen and Izakaya: What child doesn’t like ramen? Kukai hits the spot with bowls of tonkotsu shoyu ramen in bone broth that has boiled for over 12 hours. The pork bone broth is rich and the ramen springy.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide to Seattle with Itty Bitty Foodies in tow. There’s so much more we’re saving for next time like Woodland Park Zoo, a short hike up Mt Rainier, sailing in one of the lakes and visiting some of the neighboring islands and of course more eating. So glad we have more reason to return.
This post is dedicated to Seattle local, Anna Berman of Snacking in the Kitchen. We met years ago in Dallas before she moved back home. Thanks for showing me your home and those wonderful restaurant recommendations!
Do you have a special place or restaurant you like to eat at in Seattle? Tell us in the comment section below.
Yours in wanderlust.