Sleepless in Seattle

By Jae-Ha Kim / Photos by Denton Morris
May 20, 2017

People complain that Seattle is too rainy.

Wimps! Truth be told, Seattle isn’t even the rainiest city in America. New York’s Rochester and Buffalo took the top two slots, followed by Portland, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Ask any Seattleite what they love about their city and they will bend your ear for as long as you’ll listen.

Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno told me, “People think that everyone from Seattle is into rock climbing, that all the residents are tree huggers and that it rains all the time, which I don’t agree with at all. I prefer to think of it as us earning our summers. I know that when it’s time to settle down, I will return to Seattle and have at least one house there. There’s nothing about it I don’t enjoy.”

Fellow gold medalist Nathan Adrian agrees. In an interview before the 2016 Olympics in Rio, he told me, “I grew up in the Seattle area. Whenever I show people pictures, they say, ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful!’ I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can take a small boat around Puget Sound, visit the University of Washington’s beautiful campus, try the amazing restaurants. … There’s not much I don’t like about it.”

Okay. I’m done namedropping.

I have always loved Seattle. The crisp climate reminds me of my travels in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

And, as a coincidence, my husband and one of my nieces were born in the same Seattle hospital — just a couple decades apart.

I know that it’s cool to say that you don’t like to visit tourist traps. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I enjoy tourist traps, which is why when we took my mother on her first trip to Hawaii, we went to Honolulu. And when you’re traveling with a little kid, it’s fun to re-visit attractions through their eyes.

So, booking a room at the W Seattle was a no brainer. It’s located in downtown Seattle and is close to just about everything we wanted to see.

Like this:

Some would call this art. Others might call this garbage. Located in an alleyway in downtown Seattle, the Market Theater Gum Wall (under the Pike Place Market) is a brick wall that is covered in chewed up gum. It bears the distinction of being featured in Jennifer Aniston‘s film, “Love Happens.” It also was named one of the Top 5 germiest tourist attractions.

Woot! So what do you all think? Did I stick a piece of gum on the wall or did I refrain from doing so?

Speaking of Pike Place Market, I really like this perspective from a nearby restaurant:

Anyhow, we had intended on renting a car to visit Mount Rainier, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Instead, we walked to Pike Place Market. We could’ve also walked to the Seattle Science Center, but the Monorail is awesome (and so clean!). So we rode that for the short ride and visited the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture (which will always be EMP to me) and the aforementioned Seattle Science Center.

Kyle had a spectacular view on the ride back to W Hotel, but he preferred the view of his cotton candy.


When we went to visit the University of Washington campus, we took advantage of the cheap roundtrip bus fares.

Hey, the little guy already is in third grade. It’s never too soon to start thinking about college, right? (I kid. Insert #TigerMom joke here.)

But since #SonOfJae is interested in anything involving Harry Potter — and since his dad graduated from UW — we wanted him to see the campus. It’s pretty, yes?

I’ll geek up here and admit that my husband and I disagree about which of our alma maters is more like Hogwarts. I suppose that’s not a good reason for wanting your child to matriculate there. But … Since they’re both great learning institutions … why not? (Wanna see pix of my old school, the University of Chicago? I’ve got some photos up here.)

Anyhoo … I swear on each trip that I will pack more efficiently and dress nicer when I travel. And then this happens:

And I’m only half joking when I say that this outfit here (aka my hodge-podge PJs) is the most eye-catching thing I wore during my trip.

I had a conversation about this with Christina Ricci (I lied! I’m namedropping one last time) when I interviewed her not long ago. She said, “I like being comfortable and casual, but I also like when people look really put together. I don’t like seeing people in jammies on the airplanes. When I was little, my mother always had a traveling outfit and it was her smartest look. I like the idea of having a sharp travel look. I don’t do it well, but it’s something that I strive for. When I see a woman who’s put together, I want to go up to her and ask how she manages. I think it may be all about the cashmere.”

I have no doubt that Ricci has a nice wardrobe packed away in her suitcase. What about you all? What are some of your favorite go-to pieces that work well throughout a week-long trip?

Give me tips. Seriously!

Now, you might be wondering what I’m doing in this photo:

Well, it’s like this. I thought my son looked really cute listening to his music on his tablet (which, by the way, broke on this trip. R.I.P.) and wanted to get a photo. My husband thought it was a fun shot (i.e. he thought I looked ridiculous), so he took a photo of me taking a photo of our child who’s looking at me like I’m a big weirdo.

In other words, it felt like we were at home. And that’s how the best trips are, aren’t they?

Ways to Seattle:

If you’ve never been to Seattle, check out Visit Seattle to get acclimated.

Also, order the Seattle CityPASS before you go (though you can buy them throughout the city). The passes afford you discount admissions to some of Seattle’s most popular attractions, such as the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium and Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. We did all of that and more. When we went, it was $79 for adults; $59 for children.

Seattle has an array of hotels at all price points. We stayed at W Seattle (1112 4th Ave, Seattle, Washington, 98101; 206-264-6000). Besides its central location, I liked that unlike some hotels, they don’t charge extra for additional guests. We were in a room with one king size bed. Our son slept on the sofa, which he said was as cozy as a bed.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (7)

  1. Steven Lawrence says:

    I was just at the W hotel in Seattle!

  2. Sally Bennett says:

    I just stayed at the W Hotel in Seattle too. I picked it for the same reason as you I really wanted to be close to everything. I took an apple from the front desk every day. haha It was a nice healthy free snack!

  3. Anna Midikoff says:

    I love Seattle and I love this piece. What a fun look at my favorite city in the world! The only way this would be better is if you posted photos of Seattle’s own Nathan Adrian!!

  4. Caroline says:

    Hey Jae, fun piece! I love your take on Seattle.

  5. Steven says:

    I went to EMP as well a long time ago. It’s such an exciting place for kids and parents. Did #Sonofjae enjoy it?!

  6. YoonMi says:

    Seattle has some of the best food I have eaten in the U.S.A. I hope to go back with my family.

  7. Laura Miller says:

    🙂 This article is so funny. I loved it! It made me laugh and smile and want to book a trip to Seattle! Thanks, Jae!

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