Right off the bat, the assumption is you know about the U.S. Soccer events (centered around Nike; their Twitter feed is the best way to keep up on that), the American Outlaws' Night Before Party (at Golazo) and the pre-funk at Fuel followed by the March to the Match. You are here for soccer, after all. There is some other soccer you can catch as well.
But you will still have time to do things not related to soccer. You are in the Emerald City, the jewel of the Pacific Northwest, and you have numerous choices.
The Must List
This is a short list of things that outsiders will ask you if you did, all within city limits.
- Space Needle - It is pricey, touristy and iconic. There are reasons not to go and natives do not go often, but it is the symbol by which the city is known. When you return home, your non-soccer friends are going to ask if you didn't go. It is not a long stop, and nearby is the EMP, which is something that is truly not to miss, but if you have the time and budget, check this box, if only to check the box.
- Pike Place Market - You've seen images of the fish-throwing guys forever. Go see it live, and then make your way through the hallways of one of the more unique markets you will find in the country. The multi-level maze can seem confusing, but just enjoy a couple hours wandering through the place. There many great restaurants within and nearby. Pick one with a view — if you cross the street, that means a second-story place.
- EMP - An amazing collection of music history, as well as science-fiction and fantasy displays (it's Paul Allen — he does what he wants). It's at the Seattle Center, next to the Space Needle, and if you skip going up the Needle, you can do some other things in that area as well. If you are staying south of Queen Anne, take the Monorail from Westlake Center and back. You can see how cool we dreamed our city might have been.
- Alki Beach - It's a short jaunt across the water (get there via water taxi or drive using the West Seattle Bridge during non-rush hour). This beachfront park has some memorable views of Seattle when you look east, and extraordinary views of Puget Sound when looking north. Salty's on Alki is experiential waterfront dining with the cost you'd assume, but is also one of the legacy restaurants in Seattle.
- Olympic Sculpture Park - There are several great museums in the area, but this outdoor display of large sculpture is uniquely high-density. You can try to only go when it is sunny, but there's no need. You are in Seattle. Do things without a care for the weather — go native. The Seattle Art Museum manages the sculpture park but is not close by. Visiting both is a power move.
Some Quirky Things
These are those items that when you get home, your friends will be amazed to learn something new. They are unranked.
- Ballard Locks - Soccer fans like beer. Ballard has that. The number of breweries in Ballard is constantly increasing. It and Fremont are quirky sibling neighborhoods. Ballard was once free, with a rich Scandinavian fishing history, while Fremont is just weird. Go to both, visit a bunch of breweries and hit the Locks to see an engineering feat that is both simple and stunning. When you are on the Fremont swing of the journey, see a statue of V.I. Lenin and a giant troll (classical meaning, not internet). Some breweries to find: NW Peaks, Hales, and Fremont. Visit the George & Dragon Pub to take in a bit of Seattle soccer history. It is the pub that defines Seattle's relationship with European soccer.
- Green Lake - It's a bit north of the Ballard/Fremont duo. The somewhat large lake is surrounded by a walking/biking/running path and is crowded no matter the time of day. It's a tiny bit of the great outdoors in the middle of more residential neighborhoods. There, you can escape the city while staying in it.
- Gum wall - Yes, it's gross. You still need to do it. Also, Post Alley is packed with dining and boutiques. But see the gum wall, take a picture, and leave something.
- The Underground Tour - There is no better way to learn the history of the city quickly than on this tour. You go through the catacombs from bygone days, from when there were actually seven hills, a massive fire and struggles to get plumbing to work correctly.
- Capitol Hill - With dense nightlife, dining and museums that overlook Seattle toward the setting sun, Cap Hill is a good way to end a day. You may already be planning to be up there Monday for the AO party, but spend a few more hours to stop by Seattle U and St. Ignatius Chapel, as well as the view from Volunteer Park.
- Uwajimaya - Yes, go to an Asian supermarket. There are others in the International District, as well as classic eating from any portion of East Asia, but this is the icon. You will not be able to read all the labels, but you do not need to do that. Just buy some stuff and enjoy it. If your stay is short, only go to the candy and snack aisles and get things you've never seen.
Other stuff in Seattle
Stuff outside the city limits if you have an extra day
- Take a ferry ride out and back. Just pick one of the shorter routes and do it. The route does not matter.
- Snoqualmie Pass is a quick jaunt east, but it helps capture the nature that surrounds Seattle.
- Leavenworth is a long trip and a kind of invented city, but we like invention, and the idea of a Bavarian town in Eastern Washington is pretty cool.
- Woodinville's wine country is a collection of 66 tasting rooms and vintners.
Fuel, Temple, Merchant's Cafe, Collin's Pub, Elysian Brewing, Henry's, Pyramid, Fado... this list is impossible to fill from start to finish. Pick one or two and enjoy them. Then do the March to the Match and support like you've never supported before.