Rain or shine, Seattle is here for you. With summer coming to an end and fall approaching, this is the best time of year to fly or drive up the north coast of California and into the Pacific Northwest for a change of scenery. Starting in September, the fall leaves turn from a brown and green hue to a deep crimson and bright orange, with a splash of sunshine yellow. To maximize this quick 2-day Seattle adventure, I decided to fly to ensure I made the most of the little time I had there.
After working from home over the past COVID year, and having limited ability to do some of the hobbies I used to enjoy, that wanderlust has been building up. Relishing the outdoors and appreciating nature, Seattle has no shortage of options. It’s not nicknamed the Emerald City for nothing. For those wishing to test there adventure spirit or those just wanting to deep their toes in the outdoors, this guide will help you navigate some of the more popular options.
Water actually comprises 41% of the total area of Seattle, with a multitude of different lakes to kayak or paddleboard. I chose to go out onto the beautiful calm waters of Lake Union, an excellent place for first-time kayakers or paddle borders as all boats are monitored for speed. Meaning that the wakes are small and there aren’t too many waves even out in the middle of the lake.
Lake Union is located in upper downtown Seattle, and is adjacent to the channel leading to Lake Washington. I headed to the NorthWest Outdoor Center for a variety of aquatic activities. It cost me $20 per hour for the option of a single kayak, double kayak, or paddleboard. I recommend reserving in advance or going in the early afternoon as it is a popular place for rentals. As you paddle out to the center, you’ll be sure to pass by the abundance of yachts and sailboats the harbor has to offer.
As you walk around the city, you’ll see there are plenty of park options easily within walking or driving distance of the downtown Seattle area. After kayaking, a popular choice is to spend the afternoon at Gasworks Park on the north shore of Lake Union at the south end of the Wallingford neighborhood.
There are easy paths along the water for a casual daytime stroll day that also allows for wheelchair and stroller accessibility. This 19-acre public park is located at the site of the old gasification plant, so it is hard to miss. However, what will catch your eye is the beautiful view you will get on top of the 60-foot hill in the middle of the park. This is a very trendy place to watch the sunset over the water. To see the dramatic PNW colors fill the sky over the lake and Seattle’s downtown skyline. I recommend bringing a picnic basket, wine and a blanket to share with friends at the top of the hill!
Pike Place Market
It wouldn’t be right if you came to Seattle and didn’t hit the infamous Pike Place Market on the waterfront of downtown Seattle. On a weekend day, be sure to get there as early as possible before the lines are out the door for every shop and eatery. Once you arrive, the marketplace can feel overwhelming with the abundance of food options, people, and hidden shops in every alley. Here is a list of my favorites to stop by:
- Old Stove Brewing Company – great beer, food, and a view right on the water
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – get the famous mac & cheese
- The Chocolate Market – a chocolate lover’s galore…
- Truffle Queen – specialty gourmet truffle products
- Radiator Whiskey – Prohibition-era style whiskey and cocktail bar
If you’re a big sports fan like myself, Seattle has a lot to offer, especially during football season. A great way to see a beautiful college stadium and campus is to catch a University of Washington football game. The UW campus, is located in central Seattle, about 4 miles north of downtown, in the University District. The vast campus, spanning 540 acres along the western shores of Lake Washington, covered in fall leaves and with the architecture of a gothic castle is a sight not to be missed. If you’re staying downtown, hop on Seattle’s light rail train system, “The Link” for a quick and cheap ride over to the school. The football stadium has covers for rain and offers a great view along the water. After the game, do yourself a favor a take a walk around the University District as it offers fun dive bars and eclectic art.