The New York Times’ recent article, “36 Hours in Seattle,” gives travelers a tech-centric, meandering itinerary. Here's where they missed the mark.
The New York Times’ recent “36 Hours in Seattle” guide would make one messed up connect-the-dots puzzle.
Speaking of puzzles: Why would someone drive 20 minutes from their downtown hotel for breakfast at Columbia City Bakery, followed by a 35-minute jaunt up to the Ballard Farmers Market? Why would that person end their day at Gas Works Park, placed so conveniently halfway between their previous destinations and obviously better suited to post-breakfast sunning?
We know that The New York Times is aware of our rapidly growing population (it got the requisite mention in the lede). So it’s an unfortunate oversight that their itinerary is only doable if you’re willing to spend much of your day gallivanting from place to place in I-5 traffic. Assuming you’ll walk when it takes you 20 minutes or less, both Friday and Sunday call for about an hour of driving — if traffic isn’t bad. It’s a totally unnecessary time-suck that could be avoided by eliminating weird crosstown trips.
The article might as well have been called “36 Hours in a Rental Subaru.”
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To be fair, the roundup has plenty of solid suggestions. Trading JuneBaby’s hype (and wait) for soba at Kamonegi or ceviche at Manolin gives visitors a bit more “I know a local” cred. The KEXP stop is a smart one most travelers wouldn’t think of (though there are only four Saturday live shows for the rest of the summer, and only one at the article’s suggested time).
A stacked tour of Seattle’s seemingly infinite craft breweries is a must, despite risking a hangover with Friday night’s minimum three suggested drinks. And it does seem a bit impractical to pick breweries that are all at least a 30-minute walk from each other. Try Reuben’s Brews and Populuxe Brewing, both within a few blocks of already-recommended Stoup, for a little less time in transit (and the freedom to knock back a couple extra).
Or head to Optimism Brewing Company on Capitol Hill, which is just a blip on The New York Times’ map, and skip the fancy dinner for food truck eats. Optimism doesn’t describe its brews with traditional monikers like Pilsner and Stout, so it’s a novel experience. Plus, it was founded by an ex-Microsoft couple. How’s that for tech tourism?
Some of the items are basically impossible, which the article acknowledges but understates. A tour of the Amazon Spheres (which also includes the rest of the campus, unless you can manage to get in during public visiting hours) should apparently be booked “weeks in advance,” but it’s full through October.
The itinerary, while impractical, is technically possible if you have a car. If you don’t, good luck. Public transit can easily double your travel time, making the already-erratic schedule difficult to follow. Services like Uber and Lyft will eat into your precious time and travel budget. And you can forget walking, which could theoretically devour 12 of your 36 hours and destroy any semblance of a plan.
The biggest bummer, though, is the premise: Seattle’s “tech-fueled growth” has created (among a slew of side-effects for residents) a new city for visitors to explore. That’s a fair-enough suggestion for travelers who know Seattle and want to see it from a new perspective. But Seattle is not Amazon. And it’s a disservice to this historic, spirited city to suggest otherwise.
But if you really want to live like a local, The New York Times’ advice offers one authentic Seattle experience: getting stuck in traffic. Seattleites hate it, too.