Capitol Hill is a neighborhood in Seattle, WA. It was originally called Broadway Hill, but the name was changed when Seattle was vying to be the state's capitol.
How to spend a day on Capitol Hill
A masturbatory ode and tourist's guide to my neighborhood
You wake up in your room at the Camlin1, next to the Greyhound station but stories above and a century behind. You listen to John in the Morning as you shower and dress. You wear your coolest clothes, as you plan to spend the day in Seattle's coolest neighborhood2.
You walk up Pine toward the Hill. Though the outdoor seating and hipster eye candy of Bauhaus beckon you, you have a different coffeeshop in mind and you continue uphill. Turning left when you get to Broadway3, you walk past Seattle Central and down to Vivace.
Cappuccino in hand, you're ready to brave the waiting list at Crave. You head up the hill to 12th and put your name down. While you wait, you read the Stranger and look for any amazing shows your plans for the evening may have failed to take into account.
Stomach full of food, bloodstream full of coffee, and brains addled by pomegranate mimosas, you are ready to begin your morning hike4. Thankfully, this one is easy compared to the hike that brought you to your current location, as you don't have to walk many blocks uphill to reach Lake View Cemetary and Volunteer Park. (You can take a cab if you feel like you might get a cramp.)
Although it's further, you should go to the cemetary first5. Those interested in history or merely looking at really old stuff can view the resting places of Seattle's founders, many of whose streets you've walked over to get there. Perhaps the names Denny or Yesler ring a bell? If you care naught for history but enjoy hitting and kicking, martial arts diety Bruce Lee and his son Brandon are buried here, as well.
After the cemetary, you should visit beautiful Volunteer Park. There are a number of things to do there. Obviously, you can walk around the grounds, but the appeal of that activity depends on the weather. If you brought a car, you can sit in it and hope for anonymous sex. Or you can satisfy less base urges by viewing the giant Noguchi sculpture and wandering through the Asian Art Museum.
Depending on your personal desire to look at art or receive head from strangers, you could choose to spend all day in Volunteer Park. However, we'll assume you choose to finish6 and move on.
Now comes the really fun part, which would be heading back to Broadway. Broadway is Capitol Hill's main drag and is frequented by a wider cross section of its residents7 than Pine. You'll be starting on the end near the Harvard Exit theater, if you want to catch an independent movie in a haunted movie house. Or you can walk down Broadway in search of some lunch. You'll find a lot of options, mostly fast food. For some local flavor, hit Dick's Drive-In or Seattle's ubiquitous gourmet pizza chain, Pagliacci. If you're in the mood for something more exotic, Broadway has restaurants serving almost any variety of ethnic cuisine you can imagine. You can get Ethiopian at Queen of Sheba, cheap, delicious sushi at HaNa, huge bowls of pho and complimentary cream puffs at Than Brothers, Greek, Indian, Mexican, Chinese... Seriously, throw a rock.
Your appetite is sated. Your belly gurgles happily. Your fingers smell like garlic. Time to go touch some merchandise!
There are a number of things to shop for on Capitol Hill, whether you prefer window shopping or the kind done with money. However, the best shops are those selling homosexual or hipster paraphenalia. There are too many stores to list, but here are a few of the best:
Books: Twice Sold Tales on John is your classic, overflowing, cat-keeping used book store.
Furniture: If you compulsively read Design Within Reach, Area 51 is a good place to lounge around on geometric leather couches pretending you're rich.
Music: Sonic Boom on 15th sometimes has cool in-store concerts. Everyday Music on Broadway has two stories of aural indulgences.
Sex: Inimitable nasty store Babeland8 has one of its two real world locations on Pike. For something a little less warm and fuzzy, the carefully tucked away Crypt offers a wide variety of leather harnesses.
Vintage Clothing: Even though it's a chain and kind of a vintage clothing behemoth, the Red Light on Broadway has an amazing annex of costume wear reminiscent of what the store used to be before it started carrying new clothing. Le Frock is a more boutique vintage shop, but they have the coolest shit.
If you're all shopped out, you might be ready to consider a Happy Hour. You head back down Pine to a hidden former funeral home, Chapel, looking forward to cheap martinis in exciting flavors like pear and sage or honeysuckle9.
When you walk out of Chapel, you briefly consider your dinner options and are quickly won over by the smells wafting through the open windows of Machiavelli. When you open the menu, you're surprised that something that smells so expensive is priced so reasonably. You gorge yourself on delicious Italian food while enjoying the people watching as early birds head up and down Pine, getting their nightlife started.
Speaking of which...
People come to Capitol Hill for all the things you've already enjoyed today, but most of all, they come to party. The Hill is full of concert venues, dance clubs, and standard bars. If you don't have a show to go to and only a night to spend on the Hill, your strategy should be to hit the best of the best.
You get your night started at the Comet Tavern10. You share a pitcher, shoot a few games of pool, and maybe pet some of the dogs who hang out there. You follow that immediately with a trip to the Cha Cha to observe the Capitol Hill hipster in its natural habitat. If you're lucky, Kim Warnick from the Fastbacks will be tending bar. If you're not lucky, people will be doing coke in both bathrooms while you urgently need to pee.
Finally, you reach the time of night you came to Capitol Hill for in the first place. That's right, it's time for some dancing! The Hill's gay bars tend to be friendly to gay people and their straight friends, and have better eye candy and fewer frat boys than clubs in other parts of the city. Depending on what you're looking for, try Neighbours or the Seattle Eagle. The former is very fun, very friendly, very happy. The latter is a more gritty and far more interesting experience.
After a long day of adventure on Capitol Hill, you're ready to head home. If you have a case of the drunks, you may want to swing by Hot Mama's Pizza or the hot dog cart on Pine on the way back to your hotel room. Have pleasant dreams, and thanks for stopping by!
1Ok, this is a minor indulgence on my part. The Camlin was purchased by TrendWest and it's probably no longer a good lodging option. The Hill does have several cool old B&Bs, or there are swankier standard hotels closer to downtown.
2You may have heard this was Belltown, Ballard, or some other part of Seattle. Not true! Belltown is full of yuppies and Ballard, Nordish pirates.
3Insider tip: If you put a cigarette in Jimi Hendrix's mouth, he'll smoke it!
4Yeah, you thought you'd already had your morning hike. Psych!
5You've been in Seattle several hours now. You may find you inexplicably crave another cup of coffee. You're among friends. We understand. Hit Victrola on 15th.
6Not on the upholstery!
7Loose definition of "residents" here, as many of the people who spend their days on the Hill lack de facto residences.
8Formerly Toys in Babeland.
9Not feeling so flush? Try Linda's for friendly hipsters and beer or
Jade Pagoda for genuine dive bar atmosphere (RIP Jade Pagoda). Both have great jukeboxes.
10Nevermind that "Beer before liquor..." business. Show at the Comet you don't want to see? Try Linda's for similar options but a less gritty vibe, or B&O Espresso for something far more refined and appeasing to the sweet tooth.