Friday, August 17, 2012

City Special: Seattle

Currently, I can't leave the USA as I wait on my spousal visa to be processed. Fortunately, my Mum and my sister live in Vancouver and it's a (relatively) short road trip to Seattle. This past week we spent Monday-Thursday exploring Seattle, a city all three of us have spent a decent amount of time in, and always love to come back to.

As opposed to Houston's fattest city in America rating (according to Men's Health 2012), Seattle ranks as the 6th fittest city in America (also according to Men's Health 2012 - http://www.mensfitness.com/training/lose-weight/the-fittest-and-fattest-cities-in-america).  What's Seattle doing that's working so well?

First, the good:

Walking: The moment you hit downtown Seattle, you can't help but notice what a pedestrian friendly city it is.  Sidewalks are wide and easily allow 2-3 people to walk side by side without fellow walkers being pushed into traffic! Many intersections allow four way crossing, with all four directions of traffic stopped at the same time allowing for diagonal street crossing.  The waterfront near Pike Place Market begs you to throw on walking or running shoes and cruise along the gorgeous waterfront. Lastly, the downtown core is fairly condensed, allowing for walking between work, lunch, shopping and much more (high parking prices also discourages the use of cars!).

Pike Place Market: It's hard not crave healthy eats when they're presented as beautifully as they are in Pike Place Market.  Gorgeous fresh fruit practically spills onto the street.  Brightly colored veggies are so beautifully presented that you can't help but want to grab all you favorites. While you're there, ask the knowledgable produce salespeople about the fruits and vegetables you aren't familiar with, they're happy to share ways to cook and eat them. Further inside the market, some of the most appetizing fresh fish is on display.  Check out the great prices on halibut and (when in season) Copper River Salmon.  For a sweet treat, there are tons of places to buy natural honeys, jams and jellies, most of which are locally made.  (In contrast, I asked about 5 people in Houston for fresh markets and ended up with no suggestions. I did find some but considering the wonderful fish, produce and meat available locally in Texas, we shoud really be pushing this option.)

Restaurants: I've listed the specific places we ate below but overall, you see way fewer fast food and drive through restaurants in Seattle.  Patios are abundant, suggesting more of the dining experience rather then eat and run.  Salads tended to include many more veggies (shocking I know!) rather then the heavy, creamy, cheese and meat filled salads found down here.

Gyms/Yoga:  I didn't hit any gyms or yoga studios other then the one in our hotel. However, I noticed several just walking around. Urban Yoga Spa was right down from our hotel and had we been there longer, I think we all would have tried a hatha class or perhaps hot yoga.  And we definitely would have had the massages they offer! (http://www.urbanyogaspa.com/)

Weather:  I feel a little unfair mentioning this one because it's beyond the control of Houson residents and because as a Vancouverite, I refuse to see rain as a reason not to walk outside.  Seattle weather, even when really hot like this week, isn't humid or oppressive. You don't immediately sweat just by stepping outside. The breeze from the water cools you off instantly and having trees and green space in the city provides a nice break from the city heat.  When it does rain, it's like Vancouver - cool, not usually super cold, and generally drizzly, not downpour.

The not so good:

Smoking: Seriously, if you're still smoking, especially while reading a fit site, stop now (the smoking, not reading my site!). It's just so so bad for you.  I noticed a lot more people smoking in Seattle then I was used to seeing either in Vancouver or Houston.  There's not much bad other than that. 


Seattle is a great city, well worth the visit.  The people are friendly, the waterfront is gorgeous, the wonderful food is abundant and even without gym access, you can easily keep fit just walking on vacation there. It's definitely "check out worthy".

Where we ate:

The Obvious:
Starbucks. Can you really go to Seattle and not hit Starbucks (preferably the original one near Pike Place)?  Get your latte with skim milk, or iced tea unsweetened, or frappacino fat free and skip the pastries in favor of a Protein Plate or a banana and you've got yourself the perfect healthy treat.
Starbucks.com

The Best (healthy) Breakfast:
Bacco Cafe
Located at 86 Pine Street, this tiny, super popular breakfast/lunch joint is wonderful. The breakfasts are hearty but can be made healthy with the substitution of green salad instead of potatoes (the waiter even offered it without us asking!).  Local seafood, fresh produce and delicious hearty multigrain toast fills you up for a day of exploring.  I can't wait to go back and try more off this tempting menu.
Baccocafe.net

The "in the know" Restaurant:
The Pink Door
This Italian restaurant has almost no signage so if you don't get directions and remember to actually look for a pink door,  you might miss it.  Try not too though because it's a delightful find. The patio boasts great views and the atmosphere inside is fun and eclectic. The food is delicious.  If, like my family, you limit wheat, there are great choices.  The Deluxe Cheeseboard and the Bruschetta shared  to start, along with Caprese salad and two of Mamas meatball left me feeling full and deliciously satisfied.
Thepinkdoor.net

The Splurge:

We headed to the Pacific Science Center to check out the Tutenkhamen exhibit and Ashley (my sister) and I spotted an ice cream cart with handmade ice cream and (wait for it....) create your own ice cream sandwiches.  I had snickerdoodle with half chocolate and half coffee ice cream and Ashley had molasses cookies with mint chip ice cream. It was hot, they melted faster then we could scarf them down and we both felt a huge sugar hit after. And it was more then worth every single bite!  Just make sure you walk around a lot after this!
(I can't find a website or even name for this cart but it was parked just outside the Starbucks at the Pacific Science Centre.)

What's your favorite thing to eat/see/do in Seattle?

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