This region is home to an impressive roster of world-famous companies, many offering exclusive shopping opportunities and behind-the-scenes tours.
Seattle has long been synonymous with Starbucks, whose prominent green siren logo can be glimpsed at headquarters (2401 Utah Ave S). The coffee giant’s first high-end Reserve store, serving premium small-lot coffees, opened in the lobby in early 2018, and a store on the eighth floor offers exclusive brand swag. Queue up at the company’s Pike Place Market outpost (not actually the “original” Starbucks, yet one of the city’s first stores), or head to Starbucks Reserve Roastery &Tasting Room, where you can witness the coffee-roasting operation, chat with specialists, peruse the Coffee Library’s 200-plus titles, and sip coffee served dozens of ways, from pour-over to Siphon-brewed to as a shot of espresso.
On the candy front, Seattle Chocolates, Theo Chocolate, and Fran’s Chocolates all offer tours that sprinkle in tastings along the way. For a bite of the beloved Tacoma brand Almond Roca (brown-haley.com), visit the Fife warehouse outlet for a quick history lesson and plenty of delicious products available for purchase.
From tasty treats, dive into the world of tech. Amazon offers one-hour walking tours of its headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, while Microsoft’s (microsoft.com) Redmond campus has a visitor center with exhibits about the company’s latest offerings in software, computers, and even artificial intelligence.
Keep the geeky-good fun going at Wizards of the Coast in Renton, makers of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Wizards’ offices aren’t open to the public, but fans can still pose for a picture with the dragon in the lobby. Companies like Nintendo of America and Pokémon Company International are also based in the area but do not offer tours. Meanwhile, Funko—makers of the adorable Pop! line of figurines—opened its new headquarters in Everett in August 2017.Spot the larger-than-life figures outside and shop the full line at the flagship store.
This wouldn’t be the Pacific Northwest without a famous outdoor outfitter—or three. Discover the region’s passion for adventure at the flagship REI store, an early 100,000-square-foot hubin Seattle that features its own climbing wall and a mountain bike test trail. The city is also home to Filson and its 6,000-square-foot store, which shows off the company’s “unfailing goods for outdoor enthusiasts.” Load up on more nature-ready ware in Bellevue at the Eddie Bauer flagship. The 4,200-square-foot space even has an “ice box” that allows shoppers to see how those jackets hold up in subzero temps.
-- Corinne Whiting
Photo courtesy Starbucks