Washington State is a fascinating place. And it’s more than just the city of Seattle. And Starbucks. And rain.
In fact, don’t bring any of that up when you’re visiting the state. It can already be hard to get past the “Seattle freeze” while you’re here.
People in Seattle specifically are sometimes described as standoffish or distant. But I promise you there are amazing people to meet here.
You just might have to deal with them being overly politely and underly (is that a word?) friendly.
Which is confusing. I had a hard time adjusting to the culture when I first moved here. I’m from New Jersey where we say what we mean. If we like you, you know it. And if we don’t, we tell you.
Some people call us assh*les. I think it’s just a more efficient way to communicate… ::shrug::
But I also learned if you get to know a little bit more about Washington and the people who live here, you’ll be ahead of the curve. And it doesn’t take long for the “freeze” to melt and for everyone to be stoked that you’re here.
And everyone from everywhere gets tired of hearing the same boring, old stereotypes about their state. Has the term “Hotlanta” died yet? Because it should.
So if you’re coming to visit and check out this beautiful state ‘o Washington, there’s a few things you should keep in mind. And then you’ll make loads of friends AND have an amazing time.
No One Uses Umbrellas
Ok, I shouldn’t say no one because you will definitely see umbrellas in Seattle. But they are few and far between. And most of them are from people visiting. You’ll certaintly never see one out in the woods!
But mostly we don’t use umbrellas because the rain is almost never a torrential downpour, just an annoying drizzle. Get yourself a raincoat with a decent hood and you’ll look super PNW. Plus a raincoat is easier to pack 😉
Yes, We Love the Outdoors
There’s a lot of jokes about how everyone in Washington looks ready for a spontaneous hike at any moment. And it’s funny because it’s true.
If we aren’t wearing our sturdy boots and breathable fleece (thanks Jim Gaffigan), you can bet that we have them in the trunk of our car. Which is probably a beat-up Subaru.
Not Everyone Smokes Weed
Go for it if you’re here. Weed tourism is definitely a thing. My brother-in-law was like a kid in a candy story when he visited Washington.
Just don’t assume that everyone smokes or that anyone cares. There’s no need to show up dressed like you’re going to a Grateful Dead concert and use 70’s slang for marijuana. It’s fine, we’re all adults.
Remember that you must be 21+ to purchase, you may not smoke in view of the public and you cannot travel outside the state with it.
Washington is the 2nd Largest Producer of Wine
Fun fact… Besides having a butt load of microbreweries (the beer industry is third in the nation) there are a ton of vineyards! We have more than 900, second only to California.
Put it on your list of things to do when you’re visiting. No one seems to know about the wine culture when they get here. And you’ll definitely be missing out if you don’t partake!
Be Prepared to Hear About the Seahawks
While Seahawks fans might be the most obnoxious NFL fans in the USA, you can be sure that no one in Washington holds back. They consider themselves the “12th man” on the field.
You will hear people yelling “SEA” at any moment, expecting the response “HAWKS”. On the street, in a bar, buying groceries at the supermarket. It’s an intense fever pitch that gets stronger as the season goes on.
If football is your thing, feel free to engage. They’ll love to tell you why the Seahawks are the best and your team sucks. And then probably buy you a shot. Otherwise, avoid sports bars on a Sunday in the fall.
The East and West Side of the State Are Different Countries
What works in Seattle will not work once you go over the Cascade Mountains. The weather is different, the people are different and the politics are different.
And as someone who lives on the east side can tell you, constantly explaining to people that it doesn’t rain here everyday gets old. In fact, where I live in Leavenworth can reach 100 degrees in the summer. And we can have terrible wildfires because everything is soooo dry.
It’s beautiful over the mountains. Take the time to explore more of the state and see everything Washington has to offer.
Expect to Walk (Or Bike)
If you are visiting Seattle, you should know ahead of time that the public transportation is abysmal. Stay somewhere within walking distance to whatever you want, or get a rental car.
A lot of people use bikes in other parts of the state, but don’t forget that Seattle is a hilly city. You might be out of breath after only a few blocks.
There are public buses but it’s not the easiest system to navigate. Fair warning.
Coffee is A Way of Life
Ok, so some stereotypes are true. It seems no one can function without a large caffeinated beverage at the beginning of the day. Or middle. Or before bed.
It’s good to know that espresso based drinks are the rule here, not the exception. And there a loads of independent cafes to get a delicious cup ‘o joe.
Go to the original Starbucks at Pike Place (not Pike’s by the way) and take a pic. Then find a more interesting, local café to support.
The Food is Amazing
As if you needed another reason to visit, this is a foodie paradise. Washingtonians take their produce seriously- the apples, onions and cherries are all outrageously good.
There is also incredible wild caught seafood. Communities love to forage for mushrooms and other wild edibles. You won’t be disappointed by all the incredible cuisine on offer!
Did you Know We Love the Outdoors?
Of course you do because I already told you. And you’ve probably heard about the amazing skiing or great hiking.
But there’s also the Hoh rainforest (whaaaat?) out on the peninsula. We have the most glaciers in the contiguous United States. There’s whitewater rafting and rock climbing in several parts of Washington State. There are even great beaches along the coastline if you don’t mind a few rocks.
It really is a playground. So get out there and play.
There’s all sorts of wonderful things about Washington, but really you should just come visit. Whether you want to explore a city or climb a mountain, you can find your bliss.
Let me know when you get here, I’ll meet you for a coffee 🙂
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