Surprised In Seattle: How The City Defies A First-Timer’s Expectations

I only know Seattle for three things: The Seattle Seahawks, The Space Needle, and Grey’s Anatomy. The last one doesn’t really count because the show isn’t even filmed in Seattle. The point is, my knowledge of the Emerald City was about as scarce as black people living there. Seriously. By the end of my trip I just assumed the other black people I saw were either family/friends of a Seahawk or tourists looking for the fun to be had in the “coolest city in America.”

Lack of visible black folks aside, it was impossible to deny that there really is fun to be had and that Seattle really might be the coolest city. It was perfect for me in particular — a person who usually gets bored by day two or three of being someplace new and wants to revert to staring at the same four New York City walls.

Here’s what I recommend for any first timer to Seattle looking to hit the standard spots while also being surprised.


First, you’ll need a place to stay, obviously. I skipped Airbnb and went with the Motif Seattle, A Destination Hotel due to its location. Property is situated in the downtown area of the city and has plenty of shops within walking distance. There’s also a dope outdoor bar/restaurant called Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails that occasionally has a live band as part of their live concert series. As someone who’s with her headphones for the better part of every day, I forgot how much I enjoyed live music. The food was great too, and because it’s Seattle, a port city, the seafood was particularly excellent.

Here’s a tip: if you want a potent drink, ask for The Log Cabin. I couldn’t take two sips without feeling like I was about to grow a full beard and become a lumberjack.

I found the best thing about the hotel, however, was how they’ve uncovered unique ways to integrate elements of Seattle into its design. They apparently work with local creatives who make cool little artwork for the hotel. One instance is a decorative pillow that bears titles of popular songs written in Seattle. The bathroom also includes a vinyl album cover portrait of iconic albums by Seattleites. This place won’t let you forget you’re in a Seattle, but in a good way.

For a more contemporary option, there’s the Thompson Seattle. It’s also the place to stay if you want to harass celebrities for Insatagrammable selfies. I spotted Issae Rae coming out an elevator and it took all of me not to start singing “Broken Pussy” to her in the lobby.