The Color Lover’s Travel Guide to Seattle
Few cities marry urban environments with nature — and therefore blend bustling city pace with calming landscapes — so well as Seattle. It’s at once serene, evergreen, and buzzing with youthful culture, incredible food, and a million things to do. Today, we’re teaming up with Sherwin-Williams® to bring another installment of our color lover’s travel guide — this time for the ever-majestic Seattle, king of the Pacific Northwest.
This northwest seaside city is dominated by blues, greens, oranges and grays, rain or shine. If the Palm Springs color palette is pastel, youthful, and feminine, then Seattle is its counterpart, with timeless masculine tones and elegant character.
Thanks to the Sherwin-Williams® ColorSnap® Visualizer app, we have a tool to bring these incredible color palettes off of our cameras and into our home. ColorSnap Visualizer app matches colors from your photos and creates a customizable palette using Sherwin-Williams paint colors. With the help of this app, we created the following color palettes from our Seattle travels. We even applied one to a kitchen renovation, which you can take a peek at toward the end of this post.
Let’s get to it!
See for miles and miles from the Sky View Observatory. Located at the tippy top of one of downtown Seattle’s many high rises, the Sky View Observatory is the highest public observatory in the PNW. It offers 360-degree views of Seattle and neighboring suburbs. You can even see Mt. Rainier! BTW: Your ticket buys you access ‘til 11pm, so you should probably come back for sunset :)
Drink some of the best coffee in the world — in some crazy cool coffee shops. Seattle lives up to its global reputation as a coffee mecca. There are cafes on every block, some filled with intimidatingly intricate coffee machines and equally intimidating well-dressed baristas; others with a neighborly casual charm and miscellaneous furniture; even others nestled inside fancy bike shops… frequented by more cool people. Regardless of the ambiance, *every* coffee shop we visited had delicious coffee. If you don’t leave Seattle over-caffeinated, you’re doing it wrong.
Eat EVERYTHING at Pike Place Market. And we do mean everything. Luckily, you can’t go a yard without passing a free sample, so this task is totally doable. There’s the main hall, with fresh seafood, fresh fruit, homemade pasta, local honey, and rows and rows of flowers; there are the dozens of food booths with every cuisine you can name; there are famous sit-down restaurants with a view of Elliott Bay; and there are iconic vintage neon signs helping you navigate the many corridors of this food mecca. You know it’s good when the locals frequent the market just as much as tourists do.
Have mixed feelings at the Gum Wall. After stuffing yourselves silly upstairs, head below Pike Place Market to Post Alley and witness the notorious Gum Wall. Optimists might call it a crowdsourced public work of art; pessimists, a kinda gnarly alley full of germs. But man, those bubblegum colors! You really do need to see this one for yourself.
Stop by the majestic Great Wheel. Really though, every city should have a permanent ferris wheel. It’s gotta raise citywide morale, right?! Seattle’s Great Wheel sits on a pier over Elliott Bay, flanked on one side by downtown’s cityscape and giant rusted industrial cranes on the other. IMO, the view of the ferris wheel is just as lovely as the view on it.
Walk through Pioneer Square. One of Seattle’s business districts (which also means you’ll find tasty food trucks there on weekdays, SCORE), Pioneer Square is a great neighborhood to explore between plans. You’ll wander past up and coming restaurants, local street murals, and even boutiques with bars in the back. In Pioneer Square itself, you’ll find maple trees creating lovely canopies across the walkway. On a sunny day, the dappled light it creates is delightful.
Museum hop. It’s no secret that Seattle is home to world-famous museums. If you wanted to, you could plan your entire trip around visiting these cultural gems. Pro Tip: These popular destinations get crowded! If you can, aim for weekdays for a more relaxed experience.
Lose track of time at the ultra-modern Seattle Public Library. This public space is symbolic of the increasingly postmodern architecture filling Seattle’s most urban area: downtown. Inside, you’ll find bright sculptural elements like these escalators; outside, you’ll see the library’s funky diamond-like shape that’s an architectural feat in itself. It’s a trip!
Spend a morning at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Are we the only ones who are obsessed with botanical gardens? There’s something wonderful about a green house’s lush, quiet, verdant ambiance, you know? This conservatory can be found in the middle of Volunteer Park, an expansive green in Capitol Hill.
Daydream about owning a PNW Craftsman house. We may or may not have spent half a day driving through residential neighborhoods, just to ogle at the beautiful houses. Take this craftsman delight in Queen Anne, a residential neighborhood northwest of downtown. TBH, we’re not sure if the American Dream inspired this home, or this home inspired the American Dream. So many of these homes’ color palettes mirror the sea blues and forest greens that define Seattle’s color story. If you feel like admiring dream homes yourself, explore neighborhoods like Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Green Lake.
Scoop up artisan goods at Ballard Ave boutiques. Minimalists, you’re about to have a field day. All over Seattle, you’ll find novelty shops full of artisan clothing, jewelry, accessories: the works. We were particularly smitten with the boutiques found on Ballard Ave. It’s like EVERY item for sale is thoughtfully handcrafted by a local designer. We’ll take one of everything, thank you.
Walk along the waterfront in Fremont. If you need a detox after the bustling downtown district, head across Aurora Ave to Fremont, a sweet neighborhood full of quirky public art (have you heard of the Fremont Troll?!), trendy folks, and waterfront walkways. After a fancy coffee and before lunch, we strolled along this path to admire one of Seattle’s marinas. Seaport towns, you’re the best.
Read a book at Gas Works Park. We spent the afternoon at Gas Works Park, a Fremont public park resting at the edge of Lake Union, with a killer view of Central Seattle. This view is especially stellar on sunny days ;) You’ll also find an old rusted-over gasification plant, which is now a sort of public art installation/children’s playground. Pretty cool!
Spend a sunny day in the Washington Park Arboretum. It’s places like this that will make you truly appreciate how much nature this metropolitan city has to offer. The 230-acre arboretum is a sweet, green escape from city life — in the middle of the city. It’s also like, the perfect place to walk a dog.
Whatever you do, be sure to take a ferry ride. It’s the absolute best way to take in the Seattle skyline, as well as get a dose of how the locals live. Seattle is surrounded by charming residential islands (like Bainbridge and Vashon Island), and many islanders commute to Seattle via ferry every day. Photogenic commute, no? : )
Explore the Marinas. If you’re feeling adventurous, wander through the many docks throughout this seaport city. TBH, you don’t need to be a self-identified “boat person” to seriously appreciate their beauty. We were kinda nerding out over the fonts and color combos and silhouettes of these gems; some of which were a half century old!
Bonus pier photo! We couldn’t help but snap a photo (or twelve) of these seven-foot high piles of fishing nets also found at the docks. The colors and textural combos — likely accidental — are seriously out of control. Each mound was a work of art, and I’m scrambling for an excuse to apply this color palette to future projects!
If you can, mosey up to the San Juan Islands. It might be a trek, but we couldn’t help but include this destination. The San Juans are a bundle of islands off the northwest coast of Washington. Accessible only by ferry, these delightful islands are all of your retro summer vacation dreams come true; chock full of beautiful cabins, national parks, oyster farms, and rocky beaches. We’re definitely vacationing here again.
LET SEATTLE INSPIRE YOUR HOME DECOR
It wouldn’t be a true B+C article if we didn’t create art from our color inspo! With the help of ColorSnap Visualizer app, we used one of the color palettes above to transform a kitchenette. Scroll on to see how we did it!
The ColorSnap Visualizer app made it a breeze to bring PNW vibes back home with us. All we had to do was take one of our vacation photos and upload it to the app, which captured colors and matched them to Sherwin-Williams paint colors. From there, it was simple to create a custom color palette for our home decor.
We painted the walls Marea Baja SW 9185 and Billowy Breeze SW 9055, then added Fountain SW 6787, Champagne SW 6644, and Secure Blue SW 6508 as accents throughout the kitchenette. We filled the room with copper and light wood accessories, and finished it off with plants, plants, and more plants. If we’re lucky, every time we hang in this space we’ll be reminded of the serene Puget Sound :)
That’s it, folks! We came, we saw, we made color palettes, we painted. And now, we will rest. Thanks for reading!
Putting this travel guide to use on your next trip to Seattle? We want to see! Share photos of your travels on Instagram and tag #britstagram so we can take a peek!
Production + Styling: Maddie Bachelder
Color Palettes: Maddie Bachelder + Rebecca Fong
Photography: Brittany Griffin + Mihael Blikshteyn