This title may be a bit misleading, but there will be a list at the end I promise!
If I was actually going to give you a list of the 10 most popular or best things to do in Seattle, sure you’d go see the Space Needle, the Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, the waterfront, maybe that new Ferris wheel (maybe), and about five other things that are just as famous. You could follow my list all the way through to the notorious gum wall and you would probably have a pretty great couple of sightseeing days but you’d still come home with only stories to share about what you saw. What would you really know about the city or its culture?
But what does anybody really know? If someone were to ask me to describe Seattle’s culture I would probably give nearly them the same definition a Google search on the internet would: still kind of grungy, down to earth, very musical, hipster outdoorsy and environmentally conscious, yes it’s weird if you don’t drink coffee, no it’s not as rainy as everyone thinks, and… better than Portland (just kidding?). Let’s see, we have an International District (former not-so-PC Chinatown), Native American history (like every state in this country), great seafood, and awesome parks and nearby hiking.
I’m probably forgetting a few or more things but that’s what I can offer for now from my 20+ years of living in this city. And what of that would you have had trouble finding on the internet? Also, what of that makes me any more knowledgeable or deserved of belonging to the Pacific Northwest than someone who spends a couple of hours researching it from the east coast? If we have the same amount of technical knowledge, why am I a local and they are a tourist?
And thus my aversion to making “to do” lists for certain places. If residing in Seattle is the only thing that makes me “live like a local” and I can’t even tell you what exactly that means, than who am I to give anyone advice on what they should do in a city that is or isn’t my own?
I would argue that you’ll never know the ten best things you should do in a new place. Almost guaranteed, the best thing you do in Seattle won’t be going up the Space Needle or even eating a Seattle dog after a late night on the Hill. Maybe the best thing you do is talk to a cool bum downtown or almost get run over by a weird family segway tour. Maybe you’ll wander your way into a festival or protest you didn’t know was happening, or get happy drunk on the beach with new friends, or maybe you’ll bump into Bill Nye or Macklemore. Who knows? But all of that sure beats three horrendously slow go-arounds on a Ferris wheel that’s ironically too close and low to the ground to see anything.
So no, I will not post a top ten list of things to do in Seattle or any other place because I dislike the idea of “best things to do” and don’t wish to give myself an unwarranted role. Though I will continue to provide insight and share with you my experiences (the following of which may or may not have all happened) without calling it advice. So as promised, here’s a list of 10 unconventional things you could potentially do in Seattle:
- Go to the beach and meet a guy who wanders around spinning fire balls
- Also go to the beach and be casually offered pot brownies neatly stacked in a shoe box
- Be drunkenly presented with roses on Capitol Hill and drunkenly accept them all
- Climb the biggest tree you can find and just hang out up there for a while
- Dive into a dumpster full of chocolate
- Bike along trails and your own bike lanes while avoiding car doors and the old train and SLUT streetcar tracks (Google it)
- Pet all the dogs walking by
- Give that one homeless man downtown food and/or money to take a picture with him and his sign that says “I need a fat bitch”
- Hear some cool music in the distance and just follow the sound til you get there
- Wait for the kids to leave so you and your friends can play on the playground at night like a pro (with or without a bottle opener)
Of course there are countless other things to do in the Emerald City but when it comes to travel or life in general, there’s never a final comprehensive list, you just fall into things. I should hope more places aren’t so stereotyped into long exciting lists of things to check off. Those just build expectations and end up being the worst bearers of oddly disappointing days. Plus, who’s to say that one who dresses up for an overpriced dinner at the top of the Space Needle is any wiser than one who listens to steel drums at the beach all day and hangs out with a dude who just really needs a fat bitch?