Why Seattle is the Best City in the World (and my marriage proposal)
At a deliberate pace that would annoy any frenetic city dweller that happened to be drudging angrily behind us, my soon to be fiancée and I strolled arm and arm down 5th Avenue. We were making our way to a free wine happy hour at the Vintage Park Hotel, a nightly bonus to guests of the hotel. Of course we weren’t staying at the hotel that night, but we were however resourceful thinkers.
Our agreed upon destination was Seattle’s tallest building, the Columbia Tower. We would never make it there.
I’ll come back to this story later on, but for now I’d like to tell you why and how this monumental night came to be. This city, the city I now call home, is only 35 miles from where I was born and raised. But it is only recently that I’ve discovered how amazing Seattle really is.
Why I Love Seattle
Now let me be clear, I am not one of those hometown people who think their city is amazing just because they have never been anywhere else. In fact for a while, I was a hater.
I blogged in 2009 about how fed up I was living in the area and how I needed to get away fast. This was before I ever discovered my hometown for what it really is. Living in the suburbs nearby a city IS NOT anything like living in the city.
After traveling throughout the US, South America and Europe extensively, let me tell you why Seattle, my hometown tops the list of my favorite cities in the world.
The Culture & Diversity
Seattle is hugely diverse. Rainier Valley, just east of the city is actually the most diverse neighborhood in the country. Now I normally try to avoid that area, but when I do go through, it is usually ok as long as I don’t smile, wink, nod or wave and make sure I take off my watch and ring.
In all seriousness it is a dangerous neighborhood in spots, but it isn’t that bad and Seattle as a whole is a pretty safe city, safer than most that I have lived in. The food here is also on another level. So many options, nearly anything you could want is nearby and they do it pretty damn well. From food trucks parked at the gas station to the high end boutique restaurants you can get whatever you need.
Diversity is welcomed here, similar to how I felt in Berlin (save for the stuck up Germans, which were definitely the minority), Seattle is a melting pot where everyone lives in cohesion with one another and generally we all get along. Sure this might be the image the entire US tries to convey, but things seem much less segregated here than in places like Arizona, where it feels more like the races stay more separated. I can’t explain why this is true, but I can feel it when I travel between these cities.
It is true, there is a bit of a tree hugging, hippie vibe here and you will get scowls for not using the recycling bin. You smell pot on the city streets, and it is basically legalized here. We are overall pretty accepting and welcoming. Sure there are a lot of annoying hipsters and dirty may be the new clean as many guys seem to go for the “Unshaven, withdrawn, wanna-be rockstar on a bender” look. But for the most part, people are pretty normal and nice. I would venture to say it is easier to make friends in this city than most others that I have traveled too. Ballard is where I live, and along with Wallingford, Fremont, Greenlake and Capitol Hill, these are the neighborhoods that are where young professionals and young families are coming too in huge numbers.
Capitol Hill is more the mecca for the young singles, but it is where we all go to party and check out the weird, but awesome bars. Cha Cha Lounge and the Unicorn are among my favorites and the atmosphere and the diverse crowd are great for chilling and people watching, just plan your cab ride home, you’re not driving.
Ballard has changed immensely since the 90’s and home prices, rents and the demographics here are changing daily. Take a gander down Market St. and stroll Ballard Ave and you will get a feel for this areas personality and the ever changing town center. Cranes rise high above of 15th Ave NW and new housing is springing up like crazy in this area. Old houses are being knocked down and new 3200 sqft homes are erected in their place, making better use of these in city lots that are becoming so scarce from the high demand.
South Lake Union is quickly becoming the epicenter of the tech savvy, young entrepreneurs of the city and the Microsoft, Amazon and startup crowd all hang out around this area as new apartments and high end skyscrapers seem to be popping up monthly. A mass movement of high paid, business minded young professionals are flooding the area, driving demand for housing and services up and creating an entirely new, hip community (think San Francisco).
Greenlake is dope during the summer and in general is a pretty cool place to congregate. Forza Coffee is among my favorite places in the area and it is actually where I am writing this from. You can chill, have a coffee, meet clients and hang out and work as long as you’d like, but do be warned, they play Dave Matthews sometimes. They also serve beer which is awesome if you want to call it in early and have a little happy hour action going on. A great way to liquor up your clients and get them to sign the contract for their new home, (kidding, kind of).
Wallingford is sweet, as is Freemont. Similar vibes here, Wallingford has some of the best views of the city in places and is centrally located between the best neighborhoods and nightlife. Fremont is pretty cool too, right across the bridge from Queen Anne and a quick ride into downtown. There are some cool local spots here and I would imagine this area is going to transform in the coming years, much the way Ballard is now.
Downtown is pretty awesome too, and my fiancée and I will take the D line from Ballard into the city to hang out all day and knock back some cold ones before catching a bus back. The Yardhouse is pretty awesome, yes it is a chain, but I love every one of them. Downtown is well laid out and it is easy to walk around to nearly every major attraction weather permitting. If you get a chance, you have to hang on the rooftop deck of the Hard Rock in the summer time, one of the city’s best vantage points overlooking Pike Place Market. This is a good place to saddle up and catch a buzz while in the midst of the massive steel and glass skyscrapers rising to all sides around you.
Where Did I Leave Off?
Stopping at the Vintage Hotel for the free wine, I let Nicole know we would not be making it to the Columbia Tower tonight. She seemed disappointed, I understood. After all, that was my plan, I had to throw her off my scent.
She tried to keep a positive outlook and we headed to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory as she wondered why I wasn’t ready to propose at the Columbia Tower, Did I have cold feet?
After an amazing dinner we headed back to our room at the Westin which is in two circular skyscrapers that look pretty damn cool and provide great views from nearly every room. I conveniently couldn’t find my room key and Nicole opened the door and turned the light on.
“What the Hell?” She exclaimed as she followed the rose pedals through the entry way into the room and saw the dim flicker of candle light off a bottle of Malbec, our favorite wine. As she turned around she saw this on the bed…
And as she turned to me, I dropped to a knee and once again proclaimed my love for her, letting her know that there is no other woman in the world for me and there never would be.
She shuttered a tearful yes and my plan had come to fruition. The city I love, the woman I adore and our future together, building out careers and our family in this one of a kind place, Iit is more than I could ever ask for.
Seattle is the one for me, the city I will always call home. Though I may stray at times on trips around the world to see, learn and grow, I will always come back here. I have made my choices, chosen my city, my bride, my career and the future is bright.
Now it is Your Turn
If you’ve been here, if you are from here, tell me why you love Seattle. What is it that draws you to this wonderful city? I still am a newb having only lived in the actual city since January. Tell me what are your favorite places, bars, restaurants, things to do in and around Seattle?
Use the comments section below, I’d love your feedback!