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Embracing Seattle in February

Most people would agree that August is the best time to visit Seattle, when the temperature can get as high as 77 °F and chances of rain fall to near 0%. It’s true. Riding a ferry under blue skies, walking the waterfront, and eating outdoors in August is glorious. But if you want a more authentic Seattle experience, visit in the winter. In February, I set out to embrace Seattle. Fortunately, it was one week after a debilitating snow storm. I was prepared for rain and cold, but not snow.

The Pike Place Market is one of the most iconic Seattle sites, so I booked The Inn at The Market with a view of Puget Sound. When I arrived, the sun was shining and the Olympic mountains revealed their snow-capped splendor. But within 24 hours, the scenery disappeared and I found myself pressing into a bitter cold head wind and pelted by rain. This was not the day to hang out in Myrtle Edwards Park. I headed back to the Market for an indoor walk.

The main arcade of the market is covered and sheltered from wind. There are not too many people out on a nasty day in February, which makes it possible to stroll through the market without fighting crowds. Seeking warmth, I explored the levels below the arcade. I’ve been to the market on many visits to Seattle, but only on this visit did I discover a level lower than I’ve ever been. From the looks of the shops, I’d guess the rent decreases proportional to the level.

Shops included:  a flea-market full of things not likely to sell, several budding artists’ studios, a sous-vide culinary school, a few collectibles shops, and a book publisher. The market provided benches in the center of the floor, with signs stating that proper behavior is required at all times. These benches were popular with some of Seattle’s homeless. I was happy to see a place where people can get a brief respite from the winter weather. When I finally made my way to an upper level, I ended up popping out of an unmarked door next to a restroom. I have no idea whether I will be able to find that lower level again!

Now I was hungry. I grabbed some butter from De Laurenti’s, ginger beer from Rachel’s, a loaf of bread from Three Girls Bakery, and a crab from one of the seafood stalls. I devoured this feast in my hotel room, watching the ferries cross Puget Sound. Winter IS a good time to visit Seattle.

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