We at Tahoma Literary Review are gearing up for the annual AWP conference, and are happy to have the conference on our home turf here in Washington State. As long-time AWP attendees ourselves, we know it’s tough for the overbooked writer to explore the conference’s home city, especially when trying to save on cabs by travelling on foot. However, we want the thousands of writers descending on Seattle to get a taste of why so many of us are proud to call this city our own; in that spirit, we offer some walkable options to see and enjoy while you’re here in Seattle. Just set off from the conference center in some comfortable shoes (it’s okay. It’s the Northwest. We’re into comfortable footwear here) and you’ll get a true taste of our city.
The World’s Greatest Farmer’s Market
Seattle’s first and greatest farmer’s market, Pike Place Market was founded over a century ago and has been a city staple ever since. When the AWP book fair gets to be too overwhelming, walk down Pike Street toward the water and wander the stalls of over 80 local farmers and take in the delicious smells of dozens of restaurants and cafes. Whether you’re in the mood for espresso, wine, dim sum, piroshkies, pho, crepes, or freshly made cheese, with 9 acres of market territory at your disposal, you’ll have more dining options in the market than you can possibly explore in a single visit. A few must-sees include:
Le Panier–a French bakery with the best baguette in town, not to mention a gorgeous assortment of tarts and treats.
Market Spice–if you want to bring home something other than conference swag for those waiting for you at home, we recommend tea from Market Spice. Tucked into a corner behind the famously flying fish in Pike Place, this little shop carries the best range of teas and cooking spices in town.
Beecher’s Cheese–for the cheese lover, it doesn’t get better than this emporium of made-on-the-site cheeses. Pick up a wedge of the Flagship cheese for the hotel fridge. Thank us later.
Starbucks shmarbucks, we say. Sure, Seattle spawned the green-and-white coffee monster that’s taken over every street conner in the country, but we’ve got much better to offer. Hop one street over to Pine and start walking up the hill. We promise the coffee at Stumptown won’t disappoint. Everything on the menu, from the basic drip to the fanciest of lattes, is worth the walk.
…And Other Brews
If there’s one thing the Pacific Northwesterner enjoys more than a good cup of coffee, it’s a microbrew. We’re home to plenty of outstanding local breweries in Seattle, and happily, one of our finest is within staggering distance of the conference hotels. Head up Pike Street from the convention center to Elysian Brewing Company, a Seattle original with 16 locally brewed beers on tap alongside rare German and Belgian beers. The Valhalla Red IPA is a favorite.
If you’re hankering for a little peace and fresh air after a long day in the bookfair, try a walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park. A project of the Seattle Art Museum, the park sits on a former industrial site reclaimed by the city as an environmentally conscious greenspace where locals can enjoy works of art by greats like Calder and McMakin in a beautiful natural setting. We’re particularly fond of walking inside Tony Smith’s massive Stinger.
If it’s too rainy for those of you not inured to the Northwest weather, you can take your appreciation of art indoors to the Seattle Art Museum or head uphill to the Frye Art Museum or the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
To many, Seattle is synonymous with the music scene. If you want to see where Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney all got their start, walk on over to the famous Crocodile Café in Belltown. Other can’t-be-missed staples of the local music scene distance include nearby Chop Suey and The Triple Door.
You may be tempted to skip over Seattle’s bookstore scene since you’ll already be inundated with bookish offerings at the conference itself, but it would be a mistake to miss Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company, especially if you’re in the market for signed editions and carefully selected staff recommendations. Speaking of staff, Elliott Bay has some of the nicest employees in town. It’s worth popping in just to meet the book-loving folks who work here.
Finally, Open Books, one of the world’s few poetry-only bookshops, is the only venue on TLR’s list of must-sees that may require a cab ride. We think you’ll agree that it’s worth making your way north to this Seattle poetry enclave owned by the poet Christine Deavel with John W. Marshall. Bags too heavy with all your poetry purchases from the bookfair? Open Books has you covered: if you spend $25 or more, they’ll ship your books to your home for free.