Seattle is chock full o’ awesome-ness for people who love design. Here are 10 of our favorite places to visit:
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
The Pacific Northwest is home to one of the world’s greatest glass artists—Dale Chihuly—and you can find some of his incredible work here. The museum is on the grounds of the Seattle Center, near the Space Needle—which you have to go see anyway, right?
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum—or SAM—maintains three facilities, with this main location encompassing varied art from all over the world. Collections include Islamic, Oceanic, and African art, decorative arts and furniture design, and a large Native American collection with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. Get a selfie with the iconic “Hammering Man” statue out front!
Olympic Sculpture Park
The nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park is a free outdoor art venue featuring permanent and temporary pieces. Part park, part open-air museum, you can wander around on your own or take a guided tour about the sculptures, as well the park’s landscape design.
Living Computers Museum
This museum provides a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience with computer technology from the 1960s to the present. The collection comprises the world’s largest collection of fully restored—and usable—supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers and microcomputers. A new main gallery offers direct experiences with robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, big data, the Internet of Things, video-game making, and digital art.
Frye Art Museum
This free museum offers art in many forms, dating from the 19th century right up to the present. Don’t miss the “salon style” viewing, where over 150 paintings are hung from floor to ceiling to be viewed as it might in a stately home.
Fremont: Center of the Universe
The Fremont neighborhood is the self-proclaimed “Center of the Universe.” What better place to view a statue of Lenin, take a selfie with a giant troll, or gaze upon Rapunzel brought to life in neon? There’s always some new artistic discovery in this funky enclave on the northwest edge of Lake Union.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Located next to Seattle’s historic Space Needle, MoPOP houses some of the world’s most legendary pop culture artifacts. Hands-on experiences, iconic artifacts, and award-winning exhibitions featuring luminaries in the fields of music, literature, television, and film make MoPOP a destination unlike any other. The extraordinary (and crazy-shaped) building was designed by Frank Gehry, who apparently tried to imagine a combination of an electric guitar and a heart.)
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
This museum sits right on beautiful Lake Union and showcases the rich and innovative history of the Puget Sound region. The permanent and visiting exhibits run the gamut from maritime history to technological innovation to civil rights.
Archie McPhee is both a toy shop and a local institution, proudly offering up a strange and wonderful collection of toys, miniatures, novelties, and games. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a tour through their world-famous Rubber Chicken Museum!
Seattle Glassblowing Studio
This interactive art gallery and working studio lets you peek in on the world of glassmaking. You can even create your own glassy masterpiece, with sessions as quick as a mere 15 minutes long!
And that’s not all…
Oh my, we can’t stop at 10! Here are five more must-experience Seattle sites that designers will love:
- Paper Hammer: For paper and type lovers alike, this retail store features a large collection of hand-crafted letterpress goods, many from their studio in Central Washington.
- Watson Kennedy: With new, carefully curated inventory daily, Ted Kennedy Watson’s iconic lifestyle store sets out to celebrate the beauty of the everyday.
- Fireworks: This shop features functional merchandise from artists and artisans that endeavors to “Celebrate Life in Art.”
- Theo Chocolate: If chocolate is your thing, a visit to the amazing Theo should be on your list. Tasting room is open for everyone. Factory tours are available every day, but need to be booked in advance.
- Seattle Pinball Museum: This tiny gem features a collection of over 50 pinball games going back to the 1930s. Admission includes unlimited play on the machines during your visit.
Want even more ideas? Check out our earlier list of great spots to visit around Seattle!
[Guest post by Jeff Carlson]
When I travel to another city, one of my first questions is: where can I find good coffee?
Sure, there’s coffee in the hotel, and especially here in Seattle you don’t have to stumble far before running into one or more Starbucks stores—but this is a coffee city! Much of what we know as current coffee culture started here.
So, to ensure that you’re caffeinated with the good stuff, here’s a list of good coffee and espresso destinations I recommend surrounding the conference. Fair warning: I’m a coffee snob, so this won’t be exhaustive by any means.
I’m ordering these by proximity to the Westin:
- Anchorhead Coffee — 1600 7th Ave. — When I’m in this part of downtown, Anchorhead is my go-to place. (And not just because I wonder every time if I can pick up some power converters at Tosche Station.)
- Top Pot Donuts — 2124 5th Ave. — Okay, the coffee here isn’t exceptional, but did you not see “donuts” in the name? (To be honest, General Porpoise makes better donuts, but it’s located in the Amazon Spheres and is open only to Amazon employees, unless you head to their other location up on Capitol Hill.)
- Mr. West Cafe Bar — 720 Olive Way. — To be honest, I’ve only been here once, but it made an impression.
- Moore Coffee Shop — 1930 2nd Ave. — Although the coffee here is good, the appeal is the fanciful latte art that accompanies every milk-based drink.
- Seattle Coffee Works — 107 Pike St. — A little more of a hike from the Westin, but one of the best coffee purveyors in the city. This shop near Pike Place Market does a good job with everything.
- Starbucks Roastery — 1124 Pike St. — There’s your every-corner Starbucks, and then there’s the Roastery. This is the flagship Starbucks showcase store, and it’s as much a visual treat as a caffeinated one. You’ll find limited-edition beans, several brew methods (try the siphon if you have some time to sit and enjoy), and a bakery on-site that makes better, fresher pastries than in most stores. (As a contrast, if you’re at Pike Place Market and you want to go to the “original” Starbucks—it actually isn’t the first, but whatever—by all means take a look and remember the spot and marvel at the line of people waiting to go in; but don’t bother ordering coffee there, because it’s the same stuff you’ll get at most every other Starbucks cafe.)
Venturing further away from the hotel? I’ve put together a list of my favorite places in the area here.