Known for coffee, tech and, naturally, Jinx Monsoon, the beautiful, cosmopolitan city of Seattle is one of the top-ten LGBT-friendly cities in the US (ranked sixth by Queer Index). Last year’s gay pride broke record numbers with an estimated 400,000 visitors, and 2017 is slated to be even bigger with dozens of special events. Pack your bags and be prepared to be “sleepless in Seattle” over June 23 – 25 for the action-packed, annual pride weekend.
June 23, 2017
Check into the brand-spanking new Thompson Seattle, Thompson Hotel’s first property in the Pacific Northwest. Adjacent to iconic Pike Place Market, Thompson Seattle features 158 mid-century modern-designed guestrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a stylish rooftop bar and signature restaurant Scout.
Reach great heights (literally!) with Seattle Great Wheel, perched on the end of Pier 57 over Elliot Bay. At 175-feet tall, it’s the largest observation wheel on the west coast with 42 fully enclosed gondolas. The special VIP gondola has leather seats and a glass floor if you feel like splurging. While the wheel is ideal at night when the city dazzles and sparkles, a day ride gives you a good bearing of the land.
The trans community has never been as visible as it is today (thanks to the likes of Transparent, Laverne Cox and even Caitlyn Jenner bringing attention to the important community). Support our brothers and sisters at Trans Pride Parade, an annual event since 2013, which kicks off at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. The march promptly starts at 6 p.m.
Head back to Thompson Seattle for Rooftop Happy Hour at Nest. Now the highest hotel bar in Seattle (with indoor and outdoor spaces), Nest offers breathtaking, unobstructed views of the city, Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. It’s quickly become a rooftop stomping ground for the LGBT community, and tonight they celebrate all things Seattle Pride with a gay-themed event.
Spinasse, considered one of the top restaurants in Seattle, is a good reason to get back on carbs. This intimate dining spot serves up hearty, Northern Italian fare (the Tajarin al Ragu is the specialty), with handmade pastas and locally sourced ingredients. It’s a nice break from the ubiquitous seafood joints, and it’s a favorite for foodies and gourmands alike. Be sure to reserve a table in advance.
Seattle has a notable drag scene (four native queens appeared as contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race), and all the action is at Neighbours, a long-standing gay nightclub where drag performances are front and center. Not only do local queens take center stage, major drag-queen stars like Sasha Velour and Chad Michaels frequently perform here.
June 24, 2017
If caffeine runs in your blood like most Seattleites, you’ll need to start your day with a cup of joe. Add a bunch of cats in the mix, and you’ve got yourself a truly unique, only-in-Seattle coffee experience. Clear the whole morning for Seattle Meowtropolitan, the city’s first and only cat cafe. Furry felines (from partner shelter Regional Animal Services of King County) purr up to you while you get your morning java fix. Make reservations in advanced, especially over Pride weekend.
If John Waters grew up in Tahiti, the campy and colorful No Bones Beach Club would be his jam. The quirky, cheerful restaurant-slash-tiki bar makes you forget about Seattle rain, and it serves up impressive Polynesian-themed, plant-based dishes (think tempeh kabobs and beer-battered avocado tacos) with a delicious brunch menu (scrambled tofu for eggs, smoked carrot “lox” for bagels and blackberry mango stuffed French toast). While it’s a vegan restaurant, carnivores like to dabble here.
Head to Pridefest Capitol Hill, one of the country’s largest pride festivals in Seattle’s gayborhood. Expect all-day entertainment with dozens of vendors, live music stations and even a doggie drag costume contest!
West-coast gay rag Nark magazine is producing Alternative Pride Festival events that tap into more alternative gay sub-cultures. One of its less edgy events, and destined to sell out, Cruise on The Islander Yacht, which traverses the beautiful waters of Seattle, is a three-hour long, Pride-themed gay cruise, where all types of gays, no matter their scene, are welcome.
A famous poem by Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter happens to be one of the best seafood spots in town. The hip restaurant — specializing in fresh oysters and high-quality, ocean-fresh plates — truly sparked up a modern seafood scene when it opened in 2010. The raw bar is the way to go, and the best seats in the house are right at the bar.
The underground, gay hipster club movement has garnered a global cult following, thanks to the likes of party promoters A Club Called Ronda and Horse Meat Disco. Come Seattle Pride, Bottom Forty and Nark magazine are returning with its popular, hipster-centric Pride is for Everyone gay pride party (which debuted a packed house in 2015), presented by gurus Sean Majors, Shelrawka and Futurewife, in a two-stage, indoor/outdoor venue.
End up at Pony, the city’s hottest gay bar inside a vintage gas station building. Pony pays tribute to the great West Village and Castro bars of the 1970s, and it fully embraces Seattle’s signature grunge with a gay twist. Chill on the outdoor patio or catch a live performance inside.
June 25, 2017
Crawl out of bed just in time for Seattle Pride Parade, kicking off at 4th and Union. Indivisible is this year’s theme, and the parade is slated to be politically driven (a trademark for Seattle Pride), though the message of fun is loud and clear. The parade, lasting about three hours with more than 100 floats, will finish off at Second Avenue and Denny Way near Seattle Center. This year’s grand marshal is Gender Justice League, a Seattle-based, gender and sexuality civil and human rights organization.
Grab lunch at No Anchor, a semifinalist for James Beard Awards Best New Restaurant this year (and winner of Seattle’s Best New Restaurant in 2016 by Seattle Weekly). The stylish restaurant is as serious about food as it is beer, celebrating both homegrown brews and Pacific Northwest cuisine. Get the dungeness crab roll on pretzel bread with ketchup potato chips (yasss) or wild mushroom hash with eggs, a foodie favorite.