So here you are in Seattle. You've just been to the TOM BIHN Factory Showroom to hang out and see some bags in person while you're in the Emerald City. Maybe you've got a new bag that you can't wait to load out and try out in the wild. Either way, you've got the rest of the day to kill. There is so much to do and as a newbie to Seattle (I’ve been here just over a year now) I feel some kinship to your (wonderful) plight, so I will help guide you through this.
First, if you haven't watched Anthony Bourdain's Seattle episode of The Layover (it's currently on Netflix), I suggest it -- it was a great jumping-off place for me. And if you've ever looked up “Things To Do In Seattle”, you may have noticed the ample amount of museums we have. There's so many that it's insane! What's more, almost all of the ones I've been to have been great, so let's focus on museums and the restaurants and attractions around them.
Just south of TOM BIHN is Boeing's Museum of Flight -- which can be a bit wordy (walking through this museum will take quite a few hours if you are a plaque reader like me, but you can also just zoom through and look at the physical exhibits) but has wonderful examples of aeronautic history, some pretty cool galleries, and a circa 1950 Air Force One that you can get up and walk around in! And the museum just opened a new Aviation Pavilion on the west side across the sky-bridge.
Now, when you get here you'll probably want to do one of two things that you've no-doubt heard about from our fair (or overcast, whatever) city: the Pike Place Market or the Space Needle. When it comes to museums and restaurants, both of these major attractions have some great stuff around them. Want that iconic Pike Place Market shot? See below for my version. The guys that throw the fish are right at the front, but venture in for some interesting shops all the same.
Matthew and Beatrice at the Pike Place Fish Market.
One block south of Pike Place Market on 1st Avenue is the Seattle Art Museum (or SAM, for short). SAM sits in a grand 5-story building that encompasses the whole block between Union and University on 1st and 2nd Street (with the entrance on 1st). Between its French collection, the Ceramics Room, and their pre-Rennaisance art you'll always have a good time but if you add to that the fact that they attract varied, world-class traveling exhibitions makes this a wonderful museum an easy pick if you're visiting Seattle. In addition to that, there are some wonderful food options around to get your grub on with: the Pike Brewing Company, Los Agaves and the venerable greasy spoon Ludi's (and many more!) have got you covered in the immediate area with regard to chowing down.
As for the Space Needle, there are better views. Look at it from the base and go up if you must, but know that it's a tourist trap and not nearly the best view in Seattle (try the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Tower downtown, Kerry Park up the hill in Queen Anne, a ride on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, or Gas Works Park on the northern shore of Lake Union in Wallingford for wonderful views with the iconic Space Needle actually in it).
Do walk across from the Space Needle and get yourself a Seattle dog -- hot dog, bun, cream cheese, grilled onions, saurkraut, and jalapeños. I know it sounds gross but you're going to have to trust me on this -- if you want your arteries deliciously clogged there are few better ways. Then, head over to the EMP and/or Pacific Science Center. The EMP is a wonderful pop culture museum, and its especially great for either young people or people coming from out of country to go to in order to get an idea of America's popular culture. There are some cool attractions for Americans into pop culture, too, but a lot of it is going to feel like a trip down memory lane. If you're a gamer like me, you can spend hours and hours in their Indie Game Revolution room, and their rotating exhibits never fail to impress.
The nearby Pacific Science Center is great for children (although adults will find plenty to like) and has a bunch of interactive exhibits. There's a pretty good food court in the Pacific Science Center Armory if you want to nosh, but if you've got it in you to walk a few blocks I suggest walking over to Queen Anne Blvd and Republican for some Dick's Drive-In, Blue Water Taco, or The Mecca. You might even stick around for a movie at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Off the beaten path of the Space Needle and Pacific Science Center, you have some quirky attractions such as the Fremont Troll and the bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin, also in Fremont. Stopping by Add-A-Ball and Brouwer's Belgian Cafe while you're in the area is a good choice to try out while you're down there. If you're into tabletop gaming, Card Kingdom/Cafe Mox is a wonderful game shop and bar.
Capitol Hill offers plenty with the Jimi Hendrix statue and the wonderful and free Frye Art Museum: a small, single-story museum in the heart of Capitol Hill with a distinctly modern feel and unique exhibits that you can get through in an hour or two (it's my personal favorite museum in the Seattle area), the stunning architecture of St. James Cathedral, and the always-open and Lost Lake Cafe and Lounge.
If you make it north in Capitol Hill, don't forget to visit Volunteer Park and the amazing Asian Art Museum that is housed in the Seattle Art Museum's original location. The Art Deco architecture and layout of the building is a real treat and the museum itself is wonderful. It has collections of pottery, ceramics, and statues from multiple eras of Chinese history and, as part of the Seattle Art Museum family, attract wonderful traveling exhibits of both historic and contemporary Asian art. The statues in the foyer are a must-see.
Now get out there and explore!
Matthew is our Documentation Lead and part of the customer service / shipping crew here at TOM BIHN. When he's not at work or seeing the sights of Seattle, he's being as punk rock as sitting around a table rolling dice will let him.