Well Intentioned: A Chilled-Out Guide to Seattle, Washington

From Kerry Park in Seattle, you have a great view of the Space Needle
From Kerry Park in Seattle, you have a great view of the Space Needle | Photo by Stephen Plopper on Unsplash
Emma Sparks

Meditate on orcas in the Puget Sound and escape to the wilds for forest bathing with our guide to a more soothing city break in Washington State.

Few cities lay on abundant green spaces quite like Seattle. Indeed, the many forests and parks in the Emerald City, studded with evergreen trees, give frazzled urbanites the chance to breathe deep, relax and recharge in the great outdoors in Washington State. Pair that with fabulous spas, healthy restaurants and sweaty fitness classes, and your stress-free, meditative mind will be left wondering if you’re even on a city break at all. Here’s how to peace out in the Pacific Northwest.

1. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Chain Hotel, Luxury

Large double bedroom with view of the water at Four Seasons Hotel Seattle
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Seattle / Expedia

Every room at the Four Seasons in Seattle has both a rainfall shower and a deep soaking tub, and many have enchanting views of Elliott Bay and the Puget Sound – home to everything from sea birds to sea lions and orcas. Wake up to the smell of your favorite caffeine hit – delivered by your coffee concierge, no less – then, head upstairs for a dip in the only heated rooftop pool in the city. Try a Peloton workout at the 24-hour gym or indulge in a digital detox massage to help relieve your ‘tech neck’.

2. Seattle Bouldering Project

Gym, Sports Center

There’s something meditative about bouldering (free climbing) – the way it requires laser-focused attention, perhaps, or the fact you need to tune into and trust your instincts. At this space in Poplar, a day pass gets you access to numerous 13ft to 17ft (4m to 5m) climbing walls, which use differently colored holds to indicate difficulty, as well as a selection of yoga and fitness classes. Join a beginner class if you need someone to show you the (metaphorical) ropes.

3. Washington Park Arboretum

Botanical Garden, Park

Japanese Garden in autumn, Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle, Washington.
© Greg Vaughn / Alamy Stock Photo
Did you know the human eye can detect more shades of green than any other color? Witness the soothing spectrum at this 230-acre (93ha) oasis on the shores of Lake Washington, where you’ll find everything from native New Zealand harakeke (flax plants) to Chilean monkey puzzle trees. Don’t miss the Japanese garden, with its trickling waterfall and purple wisteria. Newbie naturalists should try forest bathing with Cascadia Forest Therapy, which runs guided walks through the arboretum to familiarize visitors with the concept.

4. Elaia Spa at Hyatt at Olive 8

Spa Hotel, Hotel

Elaia Spa at Hyatt at Olive
Courtesy of Hyatt At Olive 8

A 15-minute walk from the food-filled Pike Place Market, the Elaia Spa at Hyatt at Olive 8 is the ideal place for a day of pampering. Book a treatment that’s 60 minutes or longer (the rose quartz hot-stone massages and Pacific seaweed body wraps are a must), and you’ll get complimentary use of the fancy locker rooms, relaxation lounges, gym and lap pool.

5. HIIT Lab

Fitness Studio, Gym

High-intensity interval training may sound intimidating, but the pumping beats and friendly atmosphere at this low-lit studio make the 50-minute fitness classes fun. Expect short sharp bursts of effort, using treadmills, kettlebells, bikes and your bodyweight to elevate your heart rate. Instructors are safety-savvy and super-encouraging – they’ll push you, but, ultimately, you’re in charge of how hard you want to go. Prepare to sweat.

6. Sangha Yoga

Yoga Studio

In Buddhism, Sangha means ‘community’ – a fitting moniker for this friendly, light-filled yoga studio in Queen Anne. Classes range from centering slow flows, where you’ll have time to find and practice alignment, to ‘kickasana’, an intense vinyasa flow for experienced yogis, set to a motivating playlist. Chat to the approachable instructors to find out more about breathwork courses, reiki and other opportunities for healing.

7. Bellevue Club Hotel


Double bedroom at Bellevue Club Hotel with white sheets and dark walls
Courtesy of Bellevue Club Hotel / Expedia

Over in Bellevue, Seattle’s well-to-do satellite city, guests at this luxury boutique stay can enjoy all the benefits of being a member of the expansive health club. Shoot some hoops on the full-size basketball court; try a pilates, spin or barre class; or join a tennis boot camp. Here to relax? Treat yourself to a spot of Swedish massage and reflexology – or opt for the vitamin-C-infused facial for that post-workout glow.

8. Homer

Restaurant, American

Named after the owners’ beloved pooch, Homer in Beacon Hill is a celebration of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine brought to life using locally sourced produce. It’s by no means a meat-free restaurant, but veggies are certainly the stars of the show. A typical plant-based, wood-fired feast includes pita bread with cumin-spiced hummus, grilled summer squash with avocado, and smoked kohlrabi with pecans and preserved lemons, followed by a homemade vegan soft-serve ice cream.

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