In our first 24 hours in Seattle, we spent more time than I might have preferred at the Target just off Pike Place Market. To our daughters’ delight, though our own heroic efforts to sprint through O’Hare had borne fruit, my baggage didn’t make the connecting flight with us, and I needed something to wear to the wedding. (I shop infrequently, and almost never for makeup, which I wear even less often than I shop, so getting to hang out in the cosmetic section for emergency BB cream was an extra-special treat.)
Although I may not have chosen to spend the first day of our trip this way – preferring instead one of the easily-accessible whale-watching ventures, or to hop aboard the West Seattle water taxi for the 10-minute ride to beautiful Alki Beach, or maybe just a brisk walk along the waterfront near the Olympic Sculpture Park—the shopping adventure endeared me to Seattle. Ultimately, we found the country’s fastest-growing city a great family destination, offering the high energy and myriad activity options of a big city while also making it possible to locate some basic conveniences (kid-friendly snacks, tampons) that are sometimes hard to find when big money takes over a town.
A day of exploring and emergency shopping in a new city must be fueled by a good breakfast. Parents may rightly disagree with us on the appropriateness of this restaurant choice for families. Judging by their wide eyes and stunned expressions as they absorbed that every item on the menu contained the offending word, our daughters would side with them. A few things I can tell you about Biscuit Bitch: 1) With its three locations, independent ownership, and quirky irreverence, its quickly becoming a Seattle institution. 2) The coffee was good. And 3) The biscuit sandwiches gave us just the caloric fix we needed to overcome our air travel hangovers and spur our morning (Note: I don’t drink while traveling. But I often feel a bit hungover anyway.) Biscuits are ubiquitous in the South, and many a restaurant in Asheville has built its reputation around theirs. These bitches could rival any of them.
If the swear words and “trailer iconography as meme” grate on you, we also found plenty of good options for every meal in the Pike Place Market. And though it’s plenty touristy, we discovered plenty of offerings that go deeper. As a general rule, we prefer to skip sitdown restaurants in favor of counter service – it’s cheaper and better for antsy legs, and it allows us to moderate our portions so we can try more things in new places – so though the market does offer sitdown options with appealing menus and gorgeous views, our highlights skew toward stand-and-deliver: flaky sweet and savory pastries at the Russian bakery Piroshky, coffee at the elegant Le Panier or the hole-in-the-wall Ghost Alley Espresso, and effervescent ginger cider at the juice counter adjacent to the dumpling shop.
While you’re at the market, don’t miss the Gum Wall, which began in 1993 as a deposit
spot for patrons on their way into the Market Theater. It has since been cleaned (?) and refurbished into a tourist attraction in its own right. Visitors of all ages might enjoy
contributing a bit of chewed-up color to the wall. Or not. As one tour guide said, “I’ts kind of cool and kind of gross. Like a Nicholas Cage movie.” Finally, we highly recommend a spin on Seattle’s Great Wheel. Though it’s not cheap, its panorama of the bay and the surrounding mountains made it well worth the splurge and cemented it as one of everyone’s favorite parts of the trip.
By 4:00 that afternoon, we were pretty pleased with ourselves. Our first day in Seattle, we had explored some of downtown, (re-)outfitted me for the wedding, and even squeezed in a swim at the hotel pool. We all gathered in the living room in our finery to relax for a few minutes before requesting a Lyft driver to take us to the wedding. Maneuvering through his phone, he suddenly exclaimed, “Crap, we’re missing the wedding!” The time change and the way the events were entered on his calendar had conspired to convince him that the wedding began at 5:00. It was at 4:00.
I burst out laughing. Here we were, having spent months planning and budgeting for the trip, a week preparing to travel – especially the always-frantic run-up in the 36 hours before departure – flown across the country, passed the day locating replacement clothing for the occasion – and we were missing the wedding.
A car came quickly. On the way over, Lily was concerned. “Are we going to miss the kiss?” We did miss the kiss, but luckily, the happy couple did kiss again later, once we had arrived. And when Lily subsequently discovered that the wedding dessert as an ice cream sandwich food truck, she pronounced, “This wedding is perfectly planned. Plus, we missed the boring stuff!”