Seattle is a city that has battled itself out of the ashes multiple times, starting with an overturned pot of glue that burned the nascent city to the ground in 1889; the author Rudyard Kipling, sailing by on his way from Tacoma to Vancouver, described the ruined city as “a horrible black smudge, as if a Hand had come down and rubbed the place smooth. I now know what being wiped out means.”
Almost 100 years after the Great Fire, a similar sign of the times would emerge over the economically depressed city, mired in the “Boeing Bust”, in this case a literal billboard put up near Sea-Tac Airport by two real estate agents, famously requesting that the last person in Seattle please “turn out the lights.”
But each time it’s been knocked down, Seattle has rebuilt, reinvented itself, and in doing so reinvigorated the local economy. And one of the ways the city has kept itself relevant is by hosting marquee events, the most notable of which were two World’s Fairs: the Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909 that showcased the rebuilt city, built literally right atop the old one, just ten years after the devastating fire; and the World’s Fair in 1962 that made Seattle a national symbol of the Space Race and set a legacy for technology and innovation that still echoes in the city to this day.
Now, Seattle again has the opportunity to showcase itself on a national stage with the 2023 MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby—sponsored by T-Mobile since 2013, but for the first time hosting it in their namesake stadium—and show how much more there is to this city than techbros and hippies stranded in a remote corner of the USA. It’s a city of art and artists, of often avant-garde music and dance that dates back to its frontier days as one of the lone outposts of U.S. culture in the West. It’s a rapidly diversifying city where pho shops sit next to taco trucks. It’s a flawed city built on the land of the federally-ignored Duwamish tribe that lacks adequate and affordable housing for all of its residents. It’s a city informed by the intense natural beauty that surrounds it and a desire to preserve that beauty for future generations. It’s a city that has known what it means to be wiped out entirely, and a city that knows the meaning of resilience. This might not all come through during the week Seattle is in the national eye, but it’s all there, in a city where the lights have flickered at times but never gone out.
What to eat
T-Mobile Park is an easy walk from the Chinatown-International District, where you can feast on dumplings, pho, hand-shaved noodles, bubble tea, dim sum, and a variety of other dishes. Follow your nose and pick a place–you can’t go wrong. If it’s chilly, check out Fort St. George for Japanese-style comfort food, like cheesy mushroom risotto.
If it’s lunchtime hours (and not a Sunday), pick up a sandwich from Salumi or TAT’s Deli (pro tip: get the Tatstrami) and walk over to Waterfall Park for a quiet respite in the middle of the city. If you just want to wet your whistle with some pre-game drinks, there are several spots around the stadium, although they will likely be crowded. The farther you go from the stadium the easier you’ll find a table or a spot at the bar; if you want a taste of Seattle history, there’s a variety of historic taverns to check out in Pioneer Square like Merchant’s Cafe or the Central Saloon, a key spot in the early days of grunge, where you can peruse vintage show fliers from legendary Seattle acts like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. If you happen to be down on the waterfront, check out Cloudburst Brewing around Pier 66, or Old Stove Brewing in the Pike Place Market (pro don’t-sound-like-a-tourist tip: it’s “Pike Place,” like the street, never “Pike’s Place”).
For dinner, be aware that the area directly around the stadium usually closes down pretty soon after events; if you want to keep the party rolling, grab the light rail (conveniently located right behind T-Mobile Park) and get off on the Capitol Hill stop for a variety of bars and restaurants that stay open late. If you’re a cocktail hound, Zig-Zag Café is a brisk walk up to the Market from T-Mobile but will be well worth it for some of the city’s–maybe the country’s–best cocktails. If you want the ultimate un-tourist experience, check out the White Horse, also in the Market, a tiny, British-style pub tucked away on Post Alley (bring cash).
If you’re looking for in-stadium eats, we’ve got all the T-Mobile Park options for you here. Everyone talks about the grasshoppers (which are fine, but pro tip: sprinkle them over some nachos), but for a real taste of Seattle snag a luau lunch plate and spam musubi from Marination or the Mr. Pig pizza from Moto Pizza.
Biggest Tourist Attraction
In both a literal and figurative sense, the biggest tourist attraction in Seattle is the iconic Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair to commemorate the Space Age and man’s aspirations towards space travel–a literal arrow pointing skyward. If you visit the Needle on a clear day, you’ll be treated to a 360° view of downtown, Puget Sound, and the two mountain ranges that cradle the city, the Olympics to the west and the Cascades to the east, with Mount Rainier to the south. The Needle was given an extensive renovation in 2018 and now features the world’s only rotating glass floor and open-air glass walls on the upper-level observation deck. The lines will be long, but it’s well worth it to experience this iconic Seattle landmark.
Also, if you’re ever feeling like you’re not exactly where you want to be in life, remember that what started out like this:
Eventually became this:
So give yourself a little grace if you’re still in the “sketch of a revolving restaurant” phase.
If you’re planning on visiting a few Seattle attractions and making reservations in advance, the best way to go is to get the City Pass, which includes admission to the Space Needle and the Seattle Aquarium, as well as three other attractions of your choice, including Woodland Park Zoo, the Chihuly Garden and Glass, MoPOP, or Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. The Aquarium and the Harbor Tour are both located on the waterfront, a twenty-minute walk from T-Mobile Park, and the Chihuly Garden and MoPOP are both located in the Seattle Center complex with the Needle.
Everyone goes to the Gum Wall for some reason, and why. The Gum Wall is gross. It is a gross thing. Please stop going there. Also, if you’re going anywhere near the Pike Place Market at a peak time, understand you will be literally shoulder-to-shoulder with people shuffling along through the market stalls—not recommended for those who don’t like or can’t do crowds.
Instead, skip the crush and hop a city bus or ride an e-bike to the north end of the waterfront and visit the nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park. You’ll take in beautiful vistas of Seattle’s waterfront and see works by renowned artists like Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly and Louise Bourgeois. Best of all, it’s free, including the free audio guide you can access on your smartphone.
If you’re wanting to stick closer to the ballpark and were intrigued by the story of the glue pot that ruined a city in the introduction, see if you can book a spot on one of Seattle’s underground tours. After the city burned down in 1889, the city fathers simply…built the new one right on top of the old one, meaning there’s a network of catacombs under the existing city that you can tour and learn all about the city that was, and the city that became. At Bill Speidel’s, the oldest and best-known of the tours, you can go on the OG tour during the day, or choose the “Underworld” tour at night if you really want to lean into Seattle’s history as an open city in the days of the Wild West.
Game Day Experience
T-Mobile Park was originally built as Safeco Field to replace the aging Kingdome, which stood approximately where Lumen Field now is; it was built in 1999 but its timeless design keeps it feeling fresh. T-Mobile took over the naming rights to the stadium before the 2019 season, revamping and refurbishing several areas of the park, including upgrading the stadium’s Wi-Fi network to 5G and installing tons of free charging stations, so don’t worry about toting a cumbersome external battery around with you—there are even secure lockers where you can leave your device to charge up safely while you enjoy the park.
Pregame, check out the free Seattle baseball history museum on the main concourse (sections 135-140), and no matter where your seats are, make sure to get up to the View Level (300) to take in the view of downtown and the waterfront. There’s also a kids’ play area up there for those of you with squirrely young ones, in addition to the (often overcrowded) play structure located above center field on the main concourse. You’ll find shorter lines up on the 300 level, as well, so stock up on your beer and popcorn up on the upper concourse, which features more basic food options but is also significantly less crowded as a rule of thumb. If you want a party vibe, hang out in The T-Mobile ‘Pen, located on the lower concourse by left-center field, but be aware that the short kings and queens among you might have trouble seeing the field. You can also go stand near the bullpens to watch relievers warm up and be weird little guys in general, which is always entertaining, but again, your view of the field will be fairly limited. The center field rail is also a great place to hang out, but you’ll have to get there early to secure a spot.
Don’t hassle with the parking around the stadium, which is pricey and will be difficult to navigate. There’s a Link light rail station right behind T-Mobile Park which will take you north or south (and even to the airport, if you’re getting right out of town), and the stadium is also serviced by a variety of bus routes and even a water taxi that will take you over to West Seattle and Alki Beach.
For a general guide to T-Mobile Park, check out our staff guide here full of tips and tricks from our collective years of attending games to help you have the best day in the best city. Enjoy!