Day 1: Strolling Belltown

Bargain Seattle

We chose to stay in Belltown at the chic Ace Hotel. Sleek and fashionably minimalist, rooms with shared baths start at $65 and are within walking distance of downtown and the waterfront. Compared with the hip clientele, we felt a little schlumpy in our waterproof parkas, but we felt smart again when we paid our tab of $141.44, including tax.

I had searched for rates on the Internet and found other good deals that included private baths at downtown's Paramount Hotel. And we discovered that the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau (206/461-5840) features winter discount-lodging deals of up to 70 percent (through Mar 31; 206/461-5882).

After unpacking we headed to the water, turning north at Elliott Avenue for an invigorating stroll in Myrtle Edwards Park. Joggers and dog walkers promenaded with us. We looked out at Puget Sound, where, under a misty gray sky, tankers and ferries chugged along, trailing puffs of white smoke.

To get Jim started on the right foot, we dropped into a coffee shop; in fact, we began at the city's most famous one, the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. As the espresso flowed and the sky darkened, we set a goal to try as many Seattle coffees as possible.

By the time we climbed the Harbor Steps south of Pike Place, night had settled in, and waterfalls along the stairway glowed with decorative lights. We were hungry by the time we found ourselves in front of Wild Ginger, a sleek Southeast Asian restaurant with a mouthwatering satay menu. We tried grilled lamb and shrimp with three dipping sauces, along with other appetizers and drinks. By sampling from small plates, we kept the tab under $40.

Giddy from the good meal, we headed to grungy-hip Capitol Hill and the Capitol Club for even more giddiness ― a Violet Martini for me and a gin martini shaken, not stirred, for Jim. The place was hopping; satiated, fully caffeinated, and just a bit inebriated, we definitely felt the Seattle buzz.

The Tab
 

$350 BUDGET

Day 1

Ace Hotel 
Two nights
$141.44 

 

Myrtle Edwards Park
Strolling waterfront
Free

Starbucks 
First coffee of the weekend $4 

 

Harbor Steps
Sparkling waterfall walk
Free

Wild Ginger
Satay dinner
$38.24

Capitol Club
Drinks and buzz
$18

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