While it might feel like Seattle’s Starbucks cups, Boeing planes, and Amazon delivery boxes have characterized the city forever, it wasn’t all that long ago that Seattle was just a small logging town on the frontier. Now you’ll find world-class restaurants and a cutting-edge art scene, but history still echoes loudly through Seattle’s downtown streets. Here are some historical sites where you can get up close and personal with the past.
Visit Historic Pike Place Market Like a Local
Just a short walk from the Kimpton Alexis, you’ll discover the iconic red sign at the world-famous Pike Place Market. The market first opened in 1907 to give farmers a chance to sidestep price-gouging middlemen and sell directly to consumers. It remains a treasured place of commerce for locals today, ever-evolving to welcome great new restaurants. You can grab a drink or snack at woman-owned businesses like Biscuit Bitch and Rachel’s Ginger Beer or peruse the old storefronts in Post Alley, which was constructed with cobblestones from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Take a Longer Look at History from the Water
The city itself might be relatively young—but indigenous people have been living in this area for a long time, and their relationship with the waters and mountains shaped the region’s history. Catch the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, or step onto the West Seattle water taxi for a 15 minute jaunt across Elliott Bay. On a clear day, you’ll see mountains everywhere you look and enjoy a dazzling view of Mount Rainier behind the city’s port.
Tour the Quirky, Spooky or Sophisticated
Book a tour for great tidbits and stories from Seattle’s local experts. Peer up at the city’s historic buildings through purple colored glass on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Glimpse the paranormal with Spooked in Seattle. Check out the architecturally-minded Historic Seattle, whose recent tours include “The Making of Queer Seattle.”
Spend Sunset with a View at the Smith Tower
Built in 1914, the city’s first skyscraper is now home to an observation deck with 360-degree city views and a speakeasy-style bar. Ride the historic Otis elevators, peruse history in the Legends of Smith Tower exhibits, and sip something tasty. Make sure to plan ahead—you’ll need tickets to visit this hot spot.
End the Night with Craft Cocktails in a Former Gold Rush-Era Hotel
The Diller Hotel first opened in 1890 and found success as a stopover for miners heading to the Klondike. The hotel is long gone, with its many lives including a stint as a speakeasy during Seattle’s 1916 prohibition, and its former lobby is now a hip cocktail lounge called The Diller Room. The exposed brick, vintage stained glass, and wooden bar will evoke some old-Seattle nostalgia, but the craft cocktails (and great happy hour deals) are designed for today. If you’re staying at the Kimpton Alexis Hotel, go ahead and order that next round—you’re just a few blocks away.
Enjoy Modern Updates to a Historic Treasure at the Kimpton Alexis Hotel
Housed in a storied building that dates back to 1901, the Kimpton Alexis Hotel has always invited nostalgia to mingle with contemporary design. Located just across the street from where Seattle’s 1889 Great Fire ended, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kimpton Alexis Hotel recently got a fresh new look, adding even more luxe touches to your stay. It’s the perfect entry point to your adventures, with easy access to the light rail. Plus—all the spots listed here can be visited on foot, so wear comfortable shoes and start exploring.