From time to time, we hear or read Stay Alfred Seattle guest comments regarding how interesting they found Emerald City culture. Comments like "Coffee is like gold to these people" and "I thought flannel was out of style?" make us chuckle, namely because we're quite familiar with the big “360” just a few hours to the west of our headquarters here in Spokane, Washington.
So, given that famous Emerald City peculiarity, and the fact that more and more travelers these days want to mask their out-of-towner vibe, we thought that, along with our handy Seattle restaurant faves and informative neighborhood descriptions, we’d offer some tips for blending in with the resident Seattleites once you get there.
But first, some humor. Let’s look at a few definitions of “Seattleite” from Urbandictionary.com, some funny, some true, with the first five claiming that a Seattleite is:
- Any person living in or within ten miles of Seattle. Bellevue yes, Kirkland no?
- Easily agitated when tourists ask to see the original Starbucks, Microsoft or Kurt Cobain's house. True Seattleites do not care for these things.
- Someone that considers Seattle to be the best city on Earth.
- A pretentious coffee snob due to the thousands of delicious coffee houses and rostaries that surround them.
- Any person who knows not to visit Pike Place Market on a Saturday.
Despite the tongue-and-check, there are certainly a few Seattle folks who fit the description. And, while there is a local cultural phenomenon known as the “Seattle Freeze,” with Emerald City locals not being particularly friendly, but being extremely polite, sometimes that’s far more than you’d get in other cities, and works great for getting around your new surrounds. For sure though, Seattle is a place that warms up to a nice thaw the longer you stay!
Tips to avoid seeming like a tourist in Seattle
Clouds in your coffee
Maybe it’s Seattle’s cloudiness and subsequent brain fog that craves the “liquid sunshine,” as it’s known here. But, whatever it is, Seattle is regarded as the global epicenter of coffee roasting and many Emerald City locals are coffee enthusiasts so much so that Seattle has a “prominent coffee culture.” Seattleites drink more coffee than in any other American city, and the city has 35 coffee shops per 100,000 residents, putting at least one coffee shop per block in commercial areas. Though Seattle’s Pike Place Market is the birthplace of coffee behemoth Starbucks, Tully’s Coffee, Seattle Coffee Works, and more, coffee drinkers get their caffeinated goodness from local sidewalk stands, coffee houses large and small, drive-throughs of course, and even delivery. So, in Seattle, you’ll need to have a cup in hand at least in the morning, to fit in with the cool kids.
Famous farmer’s market
First, since many Stay Alfred travel apartments are within walking distance of local landmark Pike Place Market, which overlooks downtown’s Elliott Bay and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the United States, let’s talk about what to call it and what not to call it. When referring to the icon, locals usually call it “Pike Place Market” or simply "The Market,” and calling it “Pikes Market” or some other corruption will label you as an out-of-towner right away, so please avoid.
With this major thoroughfare running right over and through downtown Seattle, providing commuters with quick getaways to suburbs as well as connecting the city with Canada to the north and all the way down to Mexico in the other direction. So, it’s important that you call this either “the freeway” or “I-5” and “five” if you’re in a rush, never “the five.” Likewise, the freeway leading west out of Seattle and offering the city’s outdoor enthusiasts with easy access to surrounding mountains and rivers, is just “I-90” or, in a pinch, “90” and not “The I-90.”
Pop or Soda?
Much like anywhere north of Oklahoma City and west of Cleveland, if you’d like to hear a restaurant’s list of soft drinks, asking for the soda list might confuse less experienced servers. So, in Seattle, go with “pop” and you won’t go wrong. Traveling elsewhere in the US with your sweet tooth? Here’s a cool graphic of what to call it where, and a shameless plug for Stay Alfred cities across the US.
Weather or not?
Whether or not you know Seattle weather lingo can make or break your non-tourist deep cover as well as that trip to the beach or Stay Alfred rooftop Vitamin D grab. Here’s some meteorological nomenclature to help you get by. When watching weather forecasts, listen for a chance of “sunbreaks," or breaks in the ever-present Emerald City overcast. That’s when you and the rest of Seattle heads to the rooftop deck, patio, or beach to grab some sun while you can. And, if you hear that “the mountain is out" they’re referring to one of the few days when residents can actually see Mt. Rainier, in all its jaw-dropping majesty, from the city. Look east!
Also, “warm” in Seattle is defined as anything over 70 degrees, and, making up nicely for the lack of sun, a “heat wave” in Seattle is 3 or 4 days of temperatures over 80 F. Traveling to the Emerald City in winter? Listen for the word “stormwatch” in broadcasts, which means forecasts of over 2 inches of snow, which occur seldom enough in the rainy city to mean mayhem on the roads when they do.
Life’s a beach
Not the shore, not the coast –the beach– is where you want to go, and Seattle locals are happy to direct you to the city’s many nice shores, er, ‘scuse us, beaches, if you ask nicely, and correctly. Seattleites love to go to "Alki" to "Golden Gardens" or to "Lake Washington," the city’s three main beaches, so stick to those names and you’ll fit right in.
If data from Duluth Trading Company sales means anything, then, no, cladding the plaid coziness from fall to spring, and any time in between, won’t get your bum kicked for making fun of what would seem by now a Seattle stereotype. With the help of the late local music icon Kurt Cobain, the Emerald City’s 1990s grunge scene brought the punk rock look into mainstream fashion, and here it stays with Duluth shipping more to Seattle, the mecca, ‘er, Nirvana, you might say, of flannel, than any other US city. So, flannel up, and fit in. Maybe just at night; padding around your upscale Stay Alfred in some flannel jammies? Like Cobain sang, “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us!”
Stay Alfred, Your Place in Seattle
Now that you know how to fit in with the locals, if you haven’t already, it’s time to book a cozy Stay Alfred Seattle travel apartment, complete with full kitchens and living rooms that feel like your home away from home, and always in fantastic downtown locations. We hope you enjoy your trip to Seattle to the fullest, and get your fill of coffee and downtown Emerald City fun.