10. Portland / Vancouver
Both Portland and Vancouver are only a few short hours away from Seattle by car, or if you prefer, you can take the train. I’ve been to Portland a few times and I really like it. I’ve also spent about a week in Vancouver and it’s also a pretty cool place to be. I have to admit, I prefer the Portland / Vancouver combo to Houston and Dallas.
9. Sushi / Thai / Indian / Teriyaki / Chinese
Let’s face it, Seattle is not known for its Tex-Mex. But once you get over that (if that’s possible), you can learn to enjoy the diverse range of Asian cuisine available here. I’m especially fond of the Sushi… and the Indian… and the Thai. Okay, I’ll only pick my top three.
8. Nerd Culture (VG Live, PAX, Microsoft, etc.)
The nerd culture is very strong in Seattle / Bellevue, and I kinda like it. This is true of Austin too of course, but in Seattle I have attended PAX and Video Games Live, neither of which I did in Austin. Most of my best friends in Seattle play video games with me, which is all kinds of awesome. For some reason my friends in Austin were much harder to convince to play video games with me – weird!
7. Stone Gardens, Vertical World, and Marymoor Park
Seattle is host to two competing climbing gym companies, Verical World and Stone Gardens, and this is a good thing. Between the two and the three Seattle / Redmond locations, you can go for an awesome bouldering experience, an awesome toprope/lead experience, or a mix of both. Vertical World even hosts an “outdoor club” in the summer which takes people out for climbing on Friday evenings. Awesome. These gyms are truly key for the rainy winter season.
Marymoor Park is also excellent, because it features a sizable outdoor climbing structure in the park where you can climb for the completely reasonable price of $1 to park. This is a great place to practice some crack climbing and leading, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Seattle has a lot of bodies of water all over the place. Lake Washington, Lake Sammamish, even South Lake, but my favorite is Greenlake. A relatively small lake north of downtown Seattle, this lake features a 2.8 mile bike/walk path which is absolutely beautiful in the summer. This is my favorite place to run 2.8 miles.
5. Mount Rainier
I’ve never climbed Mount Rainier, but on a really clear day you can see it from Seattle, and it looks awesome. Like a huge distant giant, guarding over the city. You can make a pretty good day trip out of driving around this huge mountain, taking in views from Crystal Mountain, Sunrise Lookout Point, and more. You can also see it from the air when you fly into or out of Seattle.
4. Long Summer Days
The northern latitude makes winters miserable, but the summers more than make up for it. The omnipresent rain goes away, the weather turns into sunny 70s nearly every day, and best of all, the sun doesn’t go down until 9pm in June. I’m not kidding, it’s amazing.
3. Snowboarding at Snoqualmie, Stevens, Crystal, Bachelor, and Whistler
Washington isn’t known for its snow, and it’s certainly no rival to Colorado, but compared to Texas, it’s a winter wonderland. There’s actually quite a bit of variety available between Canada, Washington, and Oregon, with Snoqualmie, Steven’s Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mt. Bachelor, and more. I haven’t even been to them all yet. And did I mention Whistler? It’s like the biggest mountain ever. Seriously. It’s much bigger than Vail.
2. Surfing at Westport
I had no idea when I moved to Seattle that surfing was even an option here. But it is, thanks to the small town of Westport. The city doesn’t produce waves, but the nearby finger jetty does, and every time I’ve been to Westport I’ve caught waves. You might want to check the surf forecast of course, but this town is only 2.5 hours from Seattle, and has 2-3 surf shops that you can rent gear at, as well as a couple great places for lunch or a post-surf snack/beer. Part of me wants to move to Westport just so I can surf every day.
1. Rock Climbing at Vantage, Exit 38, and Smith Rock
Between Exit 38, Vantage, and Smith Rock, you can easily go sport climbing within a half-hour, 2.5 hours, or 8 hours from Seattle, respectively.
Exit 38 is not particularly big, and I’m not super fond of the granite, but it’s a ridiculously convenient crag for its proximity to Seattle. Great for post-work evening climbs in the summer.
Vantage is easily my favorite sport area in Washington. It’s basically several lines of columnar basalt, varying from about 50 feet tall to nearly 100, and I absolutely love the way this rock feels. Since it’s located east of the Cascades in a somewhat desert-like part of Washington, it’s often hot and sunny here even when it’s raining and miserable in Seattle. Some truly epic climbs here, and I have only explored a portion of it.
Smith Rock is well known even outside of Oregon for being an epic place for sport climbing. There are literally hundreds of routes here, and they are stiff. It’s a bit harder to get to, since it’s about an 8-hour drive, but it’s definitely worth it for a long weekend.
In addition to these three, there are numerous other places nearby: Squamish in Canada, Index, Leavenworth, Darrington, Mount Erie, Tieton, and Mazama, half of which I’ve never even visited yet.