Single in Seattle

I have vacation time, extra cash, but no travel partner. What’s a single girl to do? Wait for someone to show up with roses and airline tickets? Never!

traveling solo to Seattle
A Washington State ferry makes its way across Elliot Bay under the watchful eye of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. Photo by Howard Frisk.

You have to make your own dreams come true. That’s why I decided to book a trip to Seattle and see what kind of adventures would come my way. I chose a city that has long been on my list of stateside spots to visit. Four days in Seattle seemed like the perfect way to infuse my annual trip to visit my family on the East Coast with a little bicoastal zing!

The reactions of my friends to my planned escapade were varied, but often skeptical. “You’ll be mugged all alone” and “What about all those horror stories you hear of women who just disappear?”

Yes, these are viable concerns, but after traveling solo all over the world since my 20s, navigating daily life in New York City and Los Angeles, and surviving without one mugging or assault, I think I can put those fears behind me as long as I’m aware of my surroundings and stay away from risky situations.

I’ve picked up some strategies for my singular journeys. One of them is to book a tour in advance for the first day. It’s a great way to get some history, a feel for the layout of the land and to make note of places you might want to explore further. I always chat with the tour van driver, usually a local and often a great resource for what areas to avoid, what sites other tourists enjoy most and to get tips on hidden gems.

Pioneer Square in Seattle
Historic Pioneer Square is in Seattle’s oldest residential area and a major visitor attraction with restaurants, galleries and pubs. Photo by Tim Thompson.

I chose Tours Northwest in Seattle, recommended by my hotel’s concierge. I also took Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour which provides a lot of entertaining history about Seattle’s early gold rush and logging days, as well as stories about the hilarious challenges the city faced with tides, toilets, sidewalks and a large population of legal prostitutes. Oh yes, Seattle makes history lessons fun again.

If you don’t want to follow a guided tour and prefer to go off on your own, get a deck of City Walk Cards by Chronicle Books (also available on Amazon). There are decks for cities worldwide. I’ve used them in Paris, New York and Boston. The decks have 50 cards with a photo of a unique, scenic walk and information that includes history, sights along the way, notable shops, restaurants and cafes. The deck for Seattle includes Pioneer Square, the International District, Pike Place Market, Ballard, University of Washington and many other great places. For another great travel tool, go to, Inc. where you’ll find an app with city maps and walks for over 450 cities worldwide. Once you download the app, you can purchase maps for the city you want for $4.99 each.

hotel vintage in seattle
A spacious guest room at Hotel Vintage in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Pacific Northwest.

“So,” another friend asked, “don’t you get lonely traveling by yourself?”

Well, honestly, yes, there’s a little loneliness, but look, I’ve already emailed back and forth with the staff at Hotel Vintage and they were eager for me to have a great visit. I’ve talked the van driver’s ear off and met some other fun tourists on the city tour. There are lots of baristas, shop owners and friendly people who love to share their stories, offer advice, or help locate something on a map. Besides, the advantages of solo travel far outweigh any of the drawbacks. Being on my own means I don’t have to stick to any schedule or have a plan other than my own. If it’s hot out, I can stop at every ice cream or iced-coffee shop for a treat all the way from Alaskan Way to 10th Avenue (which I did!).

When a Los Angeles friend texted me to say one of her sorority sisters from college was having an art show at Alki Art Gallery, I scrambled over there after an entire day visiting museums courtesy of First Thursdays − free admission to many of Seattle’s art museums and galleries. At Alki I met some local Seattle artists; we went off and visited another gallery opening, met more artists and ended the evening having a lovely dinner at Von’s with my new Seattle friends. The serendipity you can experience when traveling solo is incredible.

Alki Art Gallery in Seattle
Opening night reception at the Alki Art Gallery in Seattle.
Photo courtesy of Alki Art Gallery.

One night I was off to bed early and a little bored, so I texted some friends a photo of me in the hotel’s luxurious leopard print bathrobe. I told them I loved it so much I was tempted to steal it. “Oh Amy, you behave!” replied one friend. “Looking good!” replied another, and “You know you can buy those online,” said another friend. But why would I buy one, now that my friends all know exactly what I want for my birthday?

“You must be brave to travel alone,” I heard from a couple of people. Well, no, I don’t consider myself brave. Although, solo travel does offer an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, to let your adventurous spirit kick into high gear and show your inner bad-ass self.

There are so many people who are happy to help you and eager to make sure your experience is pleasant and seamless. Locals want you to come back. Other tourists love the comradery. Even dining alone doesn’t mean you are all alone. My first night in Seattle, I was no braver than to go downstairs to the hotel’s restaurant, Tulio, where I had a wonderful meal and great conversations with my server and the bartender. I also discovered the hotel offered a nightly happy hour from 5-6 with wine, entertainment and light hors d’oeuvres. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the other hotel guests from all over the world.

You just never know where the road ahead will lead you. Why then, not raise the stakes and make it a real adventure: a solo adventure where the possibilities are endless.


Hotel Vintage
1100 Fifth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(800) 853-3914 (reservations)

Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington
15th Ave NE and NE 41st
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2280

Seattle Art Museum
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 654-3100

Woodside/Braseth Gallery
1201 Western Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 622-7243

Chihuly Garden and Glass
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 753-4940

Alki Arts Gallery
1124 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 538-0099

Von’s Gustobistro
1225 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 621-8667

Purple Café and Wine Bar
1225 4th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 829-2280

1100 5th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-5500

Copyright © Amy Bender / 2015 Singular Communications, LLC.

Amy BenderSingularCity member Amy Bender is a paralegal with a criminal law firm in Los Angeles. While in college, she lived in Southern France for a year studying political science and honing her adventurous spirit. In her quiet moments she can be found working on her creative pursuits that include jewelry making, knitting, painting and cooking.
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2 thoughts on “Single in Seattle

  1. Excellent article. Amy Bender made me feel that I missed a lot when I traveled to Seattle a couple of summers ago. I enjoyed her thoughtfulness, her intrepid attitude, and her ability to go with the flow of the inhabitants. I am planning to go to Chicago next month. I will adopt Amy’s approach, and I am sure I will have a unique, exciting experience.

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