Seattle is arguably America’s original tech hub, and Amazon’s boom—the company is projected to occupy over 20 percent of the office space here within the next five years—continues to raise that profile. Fortunately, if you have a day off in the Emerald City, Seattle is also on the short list of the country’s most beautiful, livable places.
Start your day by ducking flying salmon at the recently expanded Pike Place Market, where breakfasts range from sweet (at the many cherry stands) to sausage gravy (at Honest Biscuits).
The Pacific Northwest’s two favorite sons were both guitar-smashing rock stars who played lefthanded and died at age 27. Get a little more experience with Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain at the Frank Gehry–designed Museum of Pop Culture, which has exhibits on both music legends. Strum a few chords yourself in the interactive Sound Lab’s jam booths—but resist the urge to light your ax on fire.
For lunch, stake out a table at the Taylor Shellfish Farms oyster bar in hip Capitol Hill. The bivalves, all of which are raised on Taylor’s farms in Washington and British Columbia, are divine, as is the sashimi-style geoduck, but if you’re a seafood lover, your life isn’t complete—seriously—until you taste the cracked-to-order Dungeness crab.
Visit northwestern Seattle’s Scandinavian-American hub, Ballard, where the new Nordic Museum opened in May. Come for the replica Viking ships; stay for the contemporary art, including Migration, Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson’s flock of stained-glass birds.
Flit over to neighboring Fremont for happy hour at the new Stampede Cocktail Club. If it’s sunny, sip a Memory Blade (bourbon, apricot, honey, ginger, and lavender) on the porch; if the skies grow dark, keep your outlook bright in the tropical-wallpapered interior.
Brave the line for the elevated soul food at JuneBaby, which the James Beard Foundation named the best new restaurant in America this year. The kitchen is most famous for its Sunday fried chicken, but if you happen in on another day, the catfish with white grits, spinach, and fiddlehead ferns makes for a tasty consolation prize.
Even Seattle’s ultra-strong coffee won’t keep you going forever, so turn in back downtown, at the Hotel Theodore. Boutique brand Provenance reimagined the 1929 Hotel Roosevelt and reintroduced it to the city (on a first-name basis) last year. Take a moment to look at the vintage airplane blueprints on your wall, and to appreciate how the Emerald City combines science, industry, and creativity better than just about any other.