“Don’t tell, but it’s beautiful here right now, sunny without a cloud in the sky,” master sommelier and Seattle local Rob Bigelow says when I reach him by phone in early July.
Hear Seattle and one of the first things that comes to mind is rain, and while it does rain, a lot, like Bigelow I have also had the pleasure of Seattle without a cloud in the sky. My father-in-law owns a cattle farm about two hours outside of the city and Seattle is a frequent stop on our journey from the East Coast to a stay on the farm.
Now is an exciting time to visit Seattle. The Pacific Northwest city has all the trappings of a modern big city—a happening music scene, chefs and mixologists creating inventive menus, basically every imaginable outdoor activity—in an accessible way. Bigelow who is one of 236 Master Sommeliers in the world is also the wine director of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates with more than two dozen vineyards including more than 15 in Washington. Here he shares his tips on what to do, and where to eat and drink in Seattle.
What to Do
Space Needle: That view.
The Parks: Frederick Olmsted, the man that designed Central Park, designed much of Seattle’s Park System. Spend an afternoon exploring some of them.
Pike Place Market: Sure it’s touristy, but it’s so Seattle. Stroll the market, see the original Starbucks store and watch the guys throwing fish.
Museum of Pop Culture: Nerd out on all things pop at this museum founded Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Where to Eat
Elliott’s Oyster House
“A spectacular place to visit for Northwest oysters, with an incredible view of the bay,” Bigelow said. Pro Tip: Order Ste. Michelle Wine’s Savagnin blanc with the oysters.
“It has one of the best wine lists and it’s the place for a festive, elegant meal.”
The Carlile Room
For vegetarians, Bigelow recommends chef Tom Douglas’s The Carlile Room, which he said the chef named after his favorite singer is a must-visit for plant-centric options but with enough meat options everyone in your group will enjoy.
Where to Drink
For cocktails and apps, Bigelow said to head to this near the Paramount Theatre. Make sure your try “The Last Word,” the gin based prohibition cocktail that a Seattle mixologist made popular again in the late aughts.
Queen Anne’s Beer Hall
There are almost too many beer halls to pick in Seattle, Queen Anne’s has lots of local options along with some imported.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
About 25 minutes from downtown Seattle, Ste. Michelle Winery is Washington state’s oldest.
If you have more time in Washington state, head across the Cascades to Tri-Cities, where most of the grapes that compose Washington wines are grown. “Stay in Tri-Cities, shop in one of the delis for a picnic lunch and take it on a beautiful scenic drive to one of the surrounding wineries.” Bigelow said. 14 Hands, part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio, is nearby, as are the wineries in Walla Walla, one of Washington’s more developed wine scenes.