We Travelled to Seattle and Discovered a Design Lover’s Perfect Trip

By Truc Nguyen

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Seattle might be best known for its rainy state and as the birthplace of grunge music, but the charming Pacific Northwest city also offers plenty of art and architectural attractions as well. For design lovers, there are many noteworthy sights in and around the city, including bold public art installations and buildings by star architects like Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas.

See & Do

The first time you visit the Emerald City, the must-see attractions are clear: Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks, the Space Needle, and, depending on your interests, perhaps a tour of Amazon’s headquarters or a day hike through Olympic or Mount Rainier National Park.

Beyond these popular tourist destinations, design-focused visitors will want to start with a meandering walk through downtown Seattle. Start at the Seattle Art Museum, which has over 25,000 works of art from around the world in its permanent collection and also offers interesting themed exhibitions. Then there’s Rainier Tower, with its eye-catching, tapered concrete pedestal, which was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the American architect behind the original World Trade Center. A few blocks away is the Seattle Central Library, a modern and angular 11-floor structure designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus with a distinctive Book Spiral.

Seattle's Central Library (courtesy of Truc Nguyen). [Seattle’s Central Library (courtesy of Truc Nguyen)]

Next, take a drive uptown to the Seattle Center complex, the site of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. There, you’ll want to go up the iconic Space Needle, for both the views and to experience the only revolving glass floor in the world. Next door is Chihuly Garden and Glass, which features the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly as well as daily glassblowing demonstrations. Also at Seattle Center are the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Pop Culture and the Pacific Science Center, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, as well as a number of public art sculptures and installations by artists like Alexander Liberman, Gloria Bornstein and Dan Corson.

Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass (courtesy of Truc Nguyen). Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass (courtesy of Truc Nguyen).[/caption]

Finally, if the weather is pleasant, you’ll want to walk through the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park, where works by notable artists including Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Alexander Calder and Jaume Plensa are on display. Admission is free and the park is open every day of the year.

Eat & DrinkFresh seafood featured in Seattle's Pike Place Market (courtesy of Truc Nguyen). Fresh seafood featured in Seattle’s Pike Place Market (courtesy of Truc Nguyen).[/caption]

Downtown, there’s The George, a brasserie-inspired restaurant that just opened this past spring at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Under the direction of Chef Eraj Jayawickreme, the dinner menu features elegant, flavourful takes on French classics like beef tartare, bouillabaisse and steak frites. Further afield, Cuidad in Georgetown is worth the short drive for excellent grilled meats and vegetables, and Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar in Capital Hill is a must-visit for seafood lovers.

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The George dining room in Seattle's Fairmont Olympic. [The George dining room in Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic.]


Book a room at the historic Fairmont Olympic in downtown Seattle and you’ll be very centrally located: the hotel is within walking distance of key attractions like the Seattle Art Museum and Pike Place Market, and most other sights are just a short drive away. The 450-room hotel, built in 1924, recently underwent a $34 million renovation, and its restaurant and lobby bars are buzzy, beautiful spaces to people-watch and be seen. While you’re there, don’t miss out on Tea Noir, a glamorous take on the high tea experience that is exclusive to the hotel.