A Night Before Christmas, in Seattle...
My wife and I have something of a near-Christmas tradition where we'll head downtown (Vancouver, BC) and spend a night at a nice hotel, do some window-shopping, take in some good food, and just enjoy the city's Christmas ambiance.
This year, we'd like to do the same in Seattle. So, we're heading to Seattle for the night of December 19th (a Thursday), staying at Hotel Andra, which is about four blocks away from Pike Place Market. We have a car, though with our limited time in the city we'd rather not venture too far away.
We've only recently begun spending any time in Seattle (we've made a couple of trips down your way in the last two years), and we very much enjoy it. We're looking forward to hopefully enjoying some Seattle Christmas ambiance this year!
To that end, we're wondering where we might best be able to accomplish that. Our itinerary at this point is pretty open -- we intend to arrive in time for lunch on Thursday, and we'll leave well after lunch on Friday. So, we've got two lunches, a breakfast, and a dinner. Our only certainty is that we'd like to spend a couple of hours at Pike Place.
Is the market generally done up nicely for Christmas? What about Pioneer Square (which we only very briefly passed through once on a previous trip). Anywhere else that's particularly "Christmas-y"? How's the waterfront area (and Ferris wheel), which we've never visited?
Of course, among all this, we'll be looking for some good eats, too. While nothing's planned yet, we've thought about going to Le Pichet for their small but delicious breakfast then hopping over for our so-far-favourite-Seattle-snack, a lemon-ricotta crumpet at the Crumpet Shop. Other than that -- not sure yet. Previous trips have involved good experiences at Cuoco, The Book Bindery, Sitka and Spruce, Spinasse, and Serious Pie, so we'll probably want to go someplace new, at least for dinner (a lunch at Serious Pie might be nice though -- it's so close to our hotel, too).
We're adventurous eaters, and enjoy pretty much all sorts of cuisines (though oysters aren't really our favourite, so we'd probably not bother with Walrus and Carpenter). Thierry Rautureau's new restaurant Loulay is supposed to open this week, so that might be nice (we enjoyed watching him on Top Chef Masters). We're up for a splurge dinner, and I enjoy a good tasting menu... so maybe Canlis? (Though I'm not totally keen on bringing a separate set of clothes to accommodate their dress code.)
I'll leave it at that for now, and look forward to some suggestions. I'll also continue to do some of my research and will respond later with further ideas.
I third Matt's, and I was going to say the same thing as Lauren--you get a good view of the Market Christmas vegetable lights (when it's dark). And the food's great (happy hour here is wonderful, if you don't want a full meal).
Canlis books far in advance during the holidays, so that might be a bigger stumbling block than the dress code. Having drinks in the bar is really fun--the piano player is amazing, and you can order from the menu (you don't have to follow the dress code there though you'd still want to look nice).
For other Christmas-y stuff...the Sheraton does a gingerbread village. Pioneer Square puts some lights on trees but I think that's about it.
Waterfront area=touristy and not that interesting. But if it's clear, why not ride the wheel? If the weather is good, taking the 30 minute ferry to Bainbridge Island and wandering around main street over there could be fun. There are a few good places to eat, ie Marche and Hitchcock.
The Market doesn't really change personality very much at Christmas time, but it is always a cheerful destination. Downtown's retail core is probably the area where you will get the most sense of the season. There are lights in the trees, an outdoor holiday carousel at the Westlake Center, an exhibit of elaborate gingerbread houses in the lobby of the Sheraton on 6th Avenue and teddy bears on display at the Fairmont Olympic on University and 4th Avenue.
Both Loulay and Canlis would be good bets, and if you dress "business casual" with a sport coat you'll be fine at Canlis. For fresh local seafood that does not center on oysters, consider Blueacre (retail core) or its sister establishment Steelhead Diner (in the Market).
Directly across from your hotel is The Dahlia Lounge, which I think is a very cozy spot in winter weather, and I like the breakfasts at Lola, which of course is at the Hotel Andra.
I'm sure you'll get many further suggestions. Enjoy your visit!
Thanks for reminding me about Matt's -- it had actually slipped my mind, but seems like a pretty good choice (especially as something of a Seattle institution). RN74 looks really nice, too.
Makes sense that the downtown retail core would probably be the "Christmas-y" area.
Is the Olympic Sculpture Park worth a visit this time of year? (How about the waterfront and Ferris wheel?)