10 Hidden Gems in Seattle

29 February 2020
10 Hidden Gems in Seattle

By Kendal Young, craft beer enthusiast and Seattle dweller, shares his top tips for zig-zag-ing through the modern metropolis.

Edited by Holly Stark

Seattle is a vibrant city of serene outdoor activities, off-the-wall breweries and impressive eateries, as well as dynamic art and music spaces. Walking the city’s urban streets, you will discover there is something for everyone. You’ll see people from all walks of life enjoying Seattle’s hidden gems; it doesn’t matter if you’re a middle aged parent with a dog or a young hipster on your skateboard. Seattle off the beaten path is very much appreciated by all and there are many non touristy things to do in Seattle to experience it at its best, that is to say, like a local. I love that there is something for everybody; bars, loud music and dancing, and lots of tiny hole in the wall places for people who like to go out in small groups. From the arty Sculpture park, to cosy hidden Seattle bars and pubs and labrinth green spaces, the Emerald City won’t leave you disappointed. As of now, in its state of transition, some of best kept secrets of Seattle are still undiscovered while the city is in a growing, cool and inclusive state. Here are my top 10 hidden gems in Seattle to ensure you’ll never get bored, which can be enjoyed by solo travellers, families and groups alike.

Bad Jimmy’s

One of the lesser known breweries, Bad Jimmy’s is my favourite place in the city. I go there often and knew the owners before they opened it. The cosy and cool environment serve up fantastic, smooth, craft beer. One of my ultimate Seattle hidden gems, Bad Jimmy’s is a dog-friendly tasting room pouring bold-flavored brews in a former warehouse with a BYO food policy. You can try any speciality beer before buying it and bring food in from the surrounding areas. Try the IPA, the cocoa, vanilla porter or the the raspberry blonde.The owners will help you to pair the perfect beer to your take-out. It’s a small place, easy to miss and with a communal feel; great for watching a game with family or friends. It’s located in Ballard; a historic neighborhood home to laid-back eateries, a thriving craft beer scene, and attractions that celebrate its Nordic and maritime roots.

Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park

The 9-acre outdoor sculpture museum and park is home to great art, views and a secret Seattle beach. As one of the more eclectic and off the beaten path Seattle attractions, the Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park is great for any contemporary art or architect enthusiast seeking man-made and naturally beautiful things to look at. Designed as a modern, urban model for outdoor sculpture parks, the project park is situated on Seattle’s last undeveloped waterfront space; originally an industrial site divided by train tracks and an arterial road. With a Z-shaped green platform, the arty Seattle attraction is close to the water and capitalises on the beautiful skyline and Elliott Bay. Revitalizing the waterfront into open and vibrant green space for art, the park is one of the lesser-known, newer Seattle hidden gems and gives locals and visitors the opportunity to experience a variety of sculpture in an outdoor setting, while enjoying the incredible views and beauty of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Admission is free.

Barolo Italian Ristorante

With hanging chandeliers and gauzy drapes, Barolo Ristorante is one of the best-kept secret restaurants of Seattle; with a sophisticated mood and incredible Italian cuisine. They have a great happy hour on from Monday to Saturday 3:00 - 6:30 pm then from 10:00 pm - midnight and all day on Sundays starting at 3:00pm, with 50% off the bar menu. Try delicious entrees, the burrata salad, the beet salad or the gnocchi. For those looking for a classy, upscale experience, Barolo is the perfect place to enjoy a great atmosphere. The spot is located north of downtown in Belltown where you can wander through indie boutiques, galleries and cafes. The area is also home to many live-music spots including The Crocodile, where you can grab a pint and enjoy the iconic rock venue which has been serving music lovers since 1991.

Green Lake

Green Lake is one of the more unique things to do in Seattle; it’s a green space in a north central Seattle neighbourhood with a peaceful lake, park and secret Seattle beaches for swimming. Geologists say Green Lake was formed over 50,000 years ago by the Vashon Glacial Ice Sheet, which also formed Puget Sound and other area lakes. Unearthings of Green Lake have revealed volcanic ash from an eruption of Glacier Peak that occurred about 6,700 years ago. The uninterrupted stretches of water and green space at the heart of a crowded, urban city draws people in from all over the city. For bikers, runners, skateboarders, rollerbladers and walkers, the 2.8-mile path around the lake provides the perfect recreational spot. For nature lovers, Green Lake serves as a natural preserve for trees, plants, birds and freshwater species. Visit Green Lake for boating, picnics or swimming in the lake and see for yourself why the park is one of the best kept secrets of Seattle.


Smith Tower

Head up the oldest skyscraper in the city; the Smith Tower, which has overlooked the heart of Seattle since 1914. One of the best things to do in Seattle in 2 days, the neoclassical building offers visitors ‘The Legends of Smith Tower’ self-guided tour, a unique visitor experience with a gathering gift shop of souvenirs, historical exhibits telling tales through time and speakeasy-style bar where you can enjoy a locally-inspired menu of shareable plates and classic drinks. Ride up the infamous Otis elevator which will whisk you up to thirty-fifth floor Observatory. The open-air Observatory has 360 degree views of Seattle and beyond and offers breathtaking, panoramic views and spectacular architectural beauty. Located in Seattle’s concrete, urban heart; the area is full of great bites to eat, yummy cocktails to sip, and cultural hubs to dive into.


Steve Luke is the experimental, mastermind brewer behind Cloudburst Seattle, a 7000 square foot warehouse with a rotating roster of taps that might include a stout brewed with oyster shells, a market fresh saison with cranberries and sage, a blonde ale laced with grains of paradise, coriander, and other spices, and brews with names like Space Dust IPA, Gourdgia On My Mind, and Split Shot Stout. At Cloudburst, there are a few staples on tap, a TV (so it’s great for watching a game) and a tasting house. It’s canine friendly, but not child friendly, with an over 21’s only rule. Policy is bring your own food and try as many whimsical beers as possible.


Capitol Hill

If a visitor had only 1 night in Seattle, I would tell them to walk around the Capitol Hill neighbourhood, since it’s the ultimate Seattle nightlife experience. Watch the sunset and soak up the area of fusion food restaurants, hip bars, LGBTQ+ clubs, laid-back Seattle coffee shops and indie stores. With a late night crowd, the area has plenty of options for food and drink; Comet Tavern; a rough-and-ready venue with local rock bands, pinball and craft brews, Rhein Haus, German Beer Hall, wine bars and Lil Woody’s, burger and fries joint, among others. Volunteer Park, on the hill, is home to lush walking trails, a plant conservatory, panoramic city views and an art deco Asian Art Museum. It borders Lake View Cemetery, where the city’s founders, and Bruce Lee, are buried. If you’re seeking things to do in Seattle at night, Capitol Hill and Fremont, home to boutique indie shops, laid-back bars, quirky coffee shops and a bohemian vibe are the best places to head; both home to the eclectic, weird, off the beaten path and less-crowded spots.

Gasworks Park

The past coal gasification plant found an unexpected second life as a public park, rising above the north shore of Lake Union. At Gasworks Park, rusty towers, vaults and pipeline remind visitors of a bygone industrial age. The 19 acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant used to convert superheated coal and crude oil into synthetic gas. The unique structure has been maintained since the plant’s closure in 1956 and re-opened to the public as a park in 1975. Gasworks Park has seven sections, although much of the works remains closed off due to safety concerns, and the grounds include a “forbidden zone”. As one of the most unusual things to do in Seattle, the Gasworks Park is home to concerts, athletic competitions, kite-flying events and live action role-playing tournaments. It’s showcases great Seattle views and presents the meeting point of history, industry and nature. It’s one of the best free spaces in Seattle, and stands as a curious, charming pull to both locals and visitors alike.



Red Cow

The niche, meat-heavy burger spot is one of my favourite Seattle restaurants; a lively, upscale brasserie offering steak frites and other French classics along with cocktails and wine. Most-loved for its steak frites, the restaurant is a must-try for any meat-lover in Seattle. With around seven steak cuts ranging from a hanger steak to bone-in rib-eye and paired with sauces like a red wine reduction or horseradish cream, Red Cow is one of Seattle’s best restaurants for meat. Each steak comes with crispy rosemary-infused fries and garlic aioli. The spot also offers stand-out, delicious charcuterie, pâté de campagne, rustic, house-made mustards and toast that accompany the meat platters.

The University of Washington

One of the top 10 hidden gems in Seattle is The University of Washington, where an annual spring bloom of the Yoshino cherry trees in the Quad leave the area a picturesque mishmash of blooming reds and pinks. The University of Washington’s Botanical Gardens allows the opportunity to meditate in nature. Around the grounds, pause and reflect at the Sylvan Theater and Columns, Grieg Garden and the Medicinal Herb Garden. The surrounding, leafy neighbourhood is laid-back, cool and young, with a lot to do and see. Check out The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture which exhibits a diverse range of displays for children and adults alike; past exhibits include “Coffee: the World in your Cup” and “In Search of the Giant Squid”. Stop by to soak up the best of secret Seattle’s attractions.