We sent travelers on a whirlwind journey to discover Seattle’s rich culture and history. The catch? No phones, no planning, no research. Armed with only a notebook and a Polaroid camera to record the experience, our fearless sightseers could only rely on the recommendations of Seattleites to guide their adventure.
Native Californian and professional writer Lindsey Bro is no stranger to travel, wanderlust, and craftsmanship. She founded Cabin Love, an eye candy Instagram account of picturesque mountain homes, as a reflection of people’s creations and their personalities.
Every which way you turn, you’ll find a craftsman or artisan in Seattle. Even if the city is best known for its industry-changing corporations, there’s another side to Seattle that is supported by its small businesses — more than 72,000 of them. That includes clothing and fashion designers, food makers, and craft distillers and brewers. We tasked Lindsey to shop her way through the city in 48 hours and to uncover what attracts so many artisans to Seattle. Here’s her story.
“I knew Seattle was a great makers’ city — I just had to see it for myself.”
A makers tour of Seattle would not have been complete without a stop at Filson. The company has been open in Seattle since 1897; their outdoor clothing was made for the adventurers hoping to strike gold during the Gold Rush. I’ve coveted their work and their goods for a long time.
I started in their flagship store, where they also develop and craft their goods. It felt industrial in the right way: The PNW has heritage in lumber, so it was cool to see a company that nods to the past but winks to the future. I loved being able to see down into the factory — I’m a “pull back the curtain” type of person who wants to see how things get made. I appreciated seeing what happens behind the scenes, from concept to product.
I got to meet some of the people who work there, and it’s clear that, despite being a major company, it is still craft first and foremost. It’s definitely an adult candy store — I wanted everything.
Inside the Filson HQ was a pop-up florist; it was so cool to see how Filson gives other artisans in the area a platform. The owner is a fifth-generation florist and only uses flowers local to the area. It was one of the highlights of my day, because what a delight when you get to stumble upon fresh flowers. I got to learn a little about the seasonality and botany of the area, too. I smelled fresh lilac for the first time and it was amazing.
Ebbets Field Flannels
I had no idea that Seattle was such a sports town, or such a hotspot for baseball. I grew up playing little league with my brother, so I have a soft spot for the cultural experience of baseball. Finding the Ebbets storefront was so unique — it’s such a nod to the old-school way of doing things.
The co-owner, Jerry Cohen, was so obsessed with finding the flannel jerseys from his youth, he started recreating them from scratch — and from totally unknown teams, like the Brooklyn Bushwicks (1949) and the San Francisco Seals (1955). If someone wasn’t bothering to bring the craft of this piece of baseball history to life, these teams would be totally forgotten.
There’s something about touching all the fabrics and being able to appreciate the craft behind them. I got a classic ball cap while I was there and I know that no one else is going to have this same hat.
Someone told me to check out the Ballard neighborhood for more artisan shops and food. That’s where I found Baleen. They stock artisan jewelry and products from around the country, but also sell what they make on site. The husband-and-wife team makes really interesting, art-driven designs.
Plus, I got to watch the woman make the earrings I later bought — she was such a badass! She was so alive and spirited hammering out the metal. I smile when I put these earrings on because I can picture her making them.
Ayako & Family
On the street I met a chocolatier who said she was on her way to buy a woman’s rhubarb jam at the Ballard Farmer’s Market. I was sold! She led me to the Ayako & Family jam stand. I met Alessandra, daughter of Ayako Gordon, who let us sample the jams. I typically find most jams too sweet, but these tasted the way that fruit actually should taste. Their rhubarb jam is the big seller, but their plum jams are also popular. I had no idea that the PNW was so well known for their different varieties of plums.
Earlier in the day, my friend at Ebbets Field Flannels recommended having a drink at Westland Distillery. Craft breweries and distilleries are a huge part of life in Seattle, so I knew I had to make a stop here.
Westland uses local ingredients, like Washington barley, so you can really taste the terroir of Seattle. They specialize in single malts and make lots of single-barrel batches. Each one was so surprising and unique, not at all what I expected from a whiskey tasting.
“Surrendering to the city gave me an experience I could not have expected or created for myself. I couldn’t have done it without letting people show me and inviting me in.”
What I found in Seattle was a true community of makers who were happy to share and lift up their fellow artisans and friends. They wanted to give other artisans in the community a platform because they believe that there is enough success for everyone.
But they also have a lot of pride in what they do and what they’re creating. Everyone was so proud of what was happening in Seattle at that moment and were happy to have a hand in making their city the vibrant place that it is today. That is super empowering to see.
Here’s where Seattleites told me to go.
Our itinerary of stops, mapped.