If you want to savor the Emerald City like a local, start by familiarizing yourself with some of its passions.
If Seattle had a soundtrack it would surely include the whir, hiss, and hum of espressos being pulled by baristas. It may be a cliché, but coffee fuels a huge part of Seattle's cultural identity. Starbucks has local fans, but to understand the coffee culture—and to get a great cup of joe—visit one of the numerous independent shops and local minichains, many of which roast their own beans on-site. With what appears to be half the city telecommuting at any given time, coffeehouses are the de facto workplace for many Seattleites. Spend an hour or two in a shop and you’ll notice business meetings and small armies of freelancers tapping away on their laptops. Some shops, particularly in the north end, host play groups and story times, and an increasing number offer beer and wine as well as evening trivia or music events. Occasionally, shops feature hard-to-get coffees at special "cupping" events, which take on the feel of wine tastings.
Let’s get this out of the way: the city that brought the world grunge has never stopped evolving. While you still might catch a glimpse of grunge royalty, our current crop of local bands is proof we’ve moved on. Today you're more likely to catch alt-country bands, underground hip-hop, or eclectic folk-pop like the Fleet Foxes in the city’s many little clubs, theaters, and music festivals. Seattle’s love of music is demonstrated more outside its clubs than in them. You can see it in the independent record shops, where staff members handwrite poetic recommendations; in the continued success of local label Sub Pop Records; in the fanatical support for local radio station KEXP; in the health of midsize venues that can draw national acts; and the tendency of coffeehouse baristas to treat their shifts like DJ sessions.
Pacific Northwest Cuisine
Fresh, local, organic, and wild—this is a city that takes these buzzwords seriously, and it shows. Over the last decade, Seattle has emerged as a foodie mecca, with a distinctive farm- (and sea-) to-table style and a heavy Pacific Rim influence. Many restaurants get their ingredients from farmers' markets, Pike Place Market, and in some cases from their own organic farms and rooftop gardens. We’d be remiss if we didn’t push you to try seafood throughout the city—from sustainable sushi to the season’s best offerings at midlevel and high-end eateries. Your exploration shouldn’t be limited to the fanciest eateries—be sure to hit hole-in-the-wall pho joints, tiny diners, fish-and-chips shops, bakeries, and food trucks—many of which feature high-quality, local ingredients and a devoted following.www.seattlefoodtruck.com
The Great Outdoors
Yes, it rains a lot … in winter. But summers are gorgeous (as are most falls and springs), and with a major mountain range on each side and Mt. Rainier rising to the south, it's no wonder that Seattleites are obsessed with the outdoors. The best adventures—heading east to hike in the Cascade range; south to Mt. Rainier or Mt. St. Helens national parks; west to camp, hike, and spot wildlife in Olympic National Park; or across the Sound to explore one of many nearby islands on foot or by canoe or kayak—involve leaving the city, but even within Seattle proper, there's plenty to do. Rent a bike or kayak or take a walk around Discovery Park, Washington Park Arboretum, and Seward Park. Enjoying an outdoor adventure is easy and memorable here.
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