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A complete beginner’s guide to Seattle

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Seattle might just be the perfect city. It has a rich history, a bookish local culture, a wide appreciation for music, a bustling food scene, and countless culturally enriching spaces. The Emerald City encapsulates all the best parts about the Pacific Northwest. Get the full Seattle experience with this complete beginner’s guide.

Beginner’s guide to food in Seattle

Prepare yourself for a mindblowing culinary experience in this city. Pike Place Market, Seattle’s first farmer’s market, is a must. Though it is a popular tourist attraction, locals also love the chaos of the market for cheap flowers, fresh food, and other local goods. Take a seat at Market Grill, where you can order the perfect blackened salmon sandwich, and take in the music of the market. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.

Right across the market, you can find Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Flagship. This cheese shop specializes in hand-crafted cheese and has a menu — hot paninis and “World’s Best” smoky Mac & Cheese — that will satisfy all your cheesy dreams.

Looking for the perfect place to have a Spanish mimosa brunch? Look no further. Terra Plata in Capitol Hill will hit the spot with their rooftop garden, homemade potato chips with truffle salt, and pecorino creme fraîche. If there are no tables, head to Stateside, just down the street. This tropical-inspired Vietnamese brunch spot is both aesthetically pleasing and flavorful. Try their coconut yogurt bowl, fried bao eggs benedict, or braised beef pho potstickers.

Lil Woody’s, also in Capitol Hill, the best place for casual burgers in the city. There’s a monthly special menu item by a different local chef, and they have a milkshake named “Crack” for a reason. Maybe even go abroad to Spinasse, where they’ve perfected everything Italian, from the cavatelli with braised beef and roasted cherry tomatoes to the tajarin with butter and sage.

Beginner’s guide to coffee in Seattle

As the birthplace of Starbucks, Seattle takes great pride in their coffee. After visiting the original location of the largest coffeehouse company in the world (right across the street from Pike Place Market), check out these other coffee shops across the city.

Seattle is teeming with French bistros and bakeries where you can find your ideal pastry-coffee pairing. You can’t go wrong with any choice at Oddfellows Cafe + Bar, Cafe Campagne, Le Panier French Bakery, and Bakery Nouveau (their double-baked almond croissant!), just to name a few.

If French pastries aren’t your thing, then get your caffeine rush at Anchored Ship Coffee Bar. Their menu consists of espresso drinks, almond milk lattes, and specials like the lavender lemon cold brew. Not feeling adventurous? Get a solid cup of coffee at Espresso Vivace, an artisanal espresso shop.

A wise person once said that coffee tastes best with a circular piece of bread. That wise person must’ve lived in Seattle. Here, you can pair your delicious cup of coffee with a vanilla custard donut from General Porpoise or a tasty bagel from Eltana. For those looking to work remotely with their coffee in hand, grab a seat at these best working spaces in Seattle with plenty of seating, quiet music, and (obviously) good bites.

Beginner’s guide to things to do in Seattle

There’s so much more to discover in Seattle, besides Pike Place Market and the killer restaurants above. Art-lovers will fall head over heels for the Seattle Art Museum and its outdoor cousin, the Olympic Sculpture Park. You can spend at least a couple of hours admiring all the art and nature by the water.

While you’re downtown, don’t forget to take the Monorail to Seattle Center and come face to face with the Space Needle. Stop by Chihuly Garden and Glass to see the eye-popping glasswork by Dale Chihuly or ride the Seattle Great Wheel, the city’s latest addition to the skyline, by the dock.

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If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, Volunteer Park will be your best friend. The peaceful, forested Volunteer Park features several botanical gardens, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and even Bruce Lee’s grave. Check out the Arboretum for an especially meditation moment on the shore of Lake Washington.

Are you an outdoors person? Then Seattle will feel like home since you’ll have tons of hiking, camping, and road trip opportunities. Just a two-hour drive away, the Olympic Peninsula National Park and Forest is one of the most beautiful scenic trips near Seattle. Drive around the Olympic Mountains and the Quinault Rainforest loop, where you can catch a glimpse of unique species such as the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world and the Western Red Cedar tree.

Bars and nightlife in Seattle

Grabbing a cold beer or treating yourself to a fancy cocktail won’t be too hard to do in Seattle. Some of the more high-end bar spots include Still Liquor, a woodsy 1920s garage serving handcrafted cocktails, and Sol Liquor Lounge, an independent gin and vodka distillery. We also highly recommend Canon, claimed to be one of the best whiskey bars in the country. They’ve got an encyclopedic menu with pages filled with classic and original drinks; some even come in fun vessels like light bulbs and glass skulls.

For speakeasy-lovers, keep your eyes out for Knee High Stocking Co. and Tavern Law. If those two aren’t enough, try finding Foreign National. Once you pass the nondescript door and chain curtain, you’ll find a dark, sophisticated space with a disco ball. Their cocktails (our favorites are Expat punch and Osaka #1) are delicious and complement their beloved cheeseburger bao.

For a more chill night, Bait Shop is a local favorite with nautical memorabilia, frozen cocktails, and fried bar foods. Gather up some friends, order drinks for the table, and play some board games. The Pine Box, once a mortuary, is also a popular spot with a great selection of draft beers, and you can head to Montana, a Western-themed bar, for craft beer.

Getting around Seattle

Seattle is generally a walkable city. Most times, you can walk, bike, or take a rideshare to wherever you need to be. Public transportation, however, is equally convenient and easy to navigate.

The Light-Rail Connection, for fares between $2 and $3, runs from downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma Airport every 6 to 10 minutes. The Monorail is a quick one-stop train connecting Seattle Center Station (near the Space Needle) to downtown, for $2.25 a person.

The Seattle Streetcar is a modern streetcar line, running from downtown to South Lake Union, every 10 and 15 minutes (depending on peak times) with fares of $2.50 a person. The King County Metro, Seattle’s network of buses and trolleys, connects all parts of the city but are not as frequent (but always on time!) because of the numerous stops.

Living in Seattle

Though there are many different housing options in Seattle, Common might be the most cost-efficient and convenient, especially for beginners. Our beautiful studios — starting at $1,000 — are located near downtown in Capitol Hill and First Hill, making it easy to get around town to all the places mentioned in this guide.

Your rent at Common Terry and Common Summit includes a private studio, free WiFi, free weekly cleaning of shared spaces, community events, and shared lounges. Laundry is available onsite, and Common Summit is even pet-friendly, equipped with a pet-washing station.

After moving in, you’ll find yourself near Harvard Exit (one of Seattle’s leading art-film theatres), the Seattle Asian Museum in Volunteer Park, and Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle’s preeminent independent bookstore). Not to mention, Capitol Hill has got multiple grocery stores to shop from — QFC markets, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Coop Central — where you can buy all the produce you can cook up in your own kitchenette.

As a Common member, you also receive tons of perks and exclusive deals at nationally recognized brands. That includes Parachute, Talkspace, and ClassPass. Learn more about Common Terry and Common Summit today (or book a free tour!).

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