There are plenty of reasons to get out of the city: mountains, beaches, easy parking, the annual fulfillment of an Olive Garden breadstick craving… But where many Seattleites equate suburban excursions with mall visits and outlets, we're here to tell you that there are many (too many to list here!) independent boutiques in the outlying cities and towns as well.
Please check out a shop's website or give them an old-fashioned ring on the phone before stopping by—hours may be reduced (or eliminated in favor of appointment-only shopping) due to COVID restrictions.
Former Seattleite—and owner of beloved paper goods shop Flourish (RIP)—Kristine Lynch took her design talents to Bainbridge years ago, but only recently opened this teeny studio there to showcase all her favorite things: high-quality gift wrap, handcrafted greeting cards, and beautiful office supplies to make business seem more like pleasure.
Gone are the days when board games were ho-hum activities relegated to punishing family "fun" nights. Mox is our favorite in the cadre of game-specific stores, and though the Ballard location was first, Bellevue's is even bigger and better. There's an onsite restaurant and library of games to borrow while you're there, but it's worth it just to stop by and shop—the employees are fantastically well informed and happy to help you make a selection.
Sister boutique La Ree may get more buzz, but this elegant jewelry shop is a destination in its own right (though you should definitely visit La Ree around the corner while you're there). Inside, you'll find cases literally dripping in jewels, but not your standard diamond-store fare—think one-of-a-kind antique rings, customizable lockets, and quirky, colorful artisan-made earrings.
It's not really a home store, though there's houseware aplenty. The best descriptor for Hedge & Vine is a gift shop, but that generic term downplays the magnificence of what you'll find inside: puzzles, cozy socks, intoxicating candles, wine and chocolates, books, throw pillows, and much more.
Owner Tara Arnold got a job in retail as soon as she was old enough to work, and never looked back. In 2017, she and her husband opened Marlowe Boutique, a women's clothing store stocked with trendy—and surprisingly affordable—designs. Arnold says the winter generally brings more neutral tones, but spring and summer fashion are full of brighter colors and playful prints.
Mother-daughter team Kathy Perkins and Alicia Olsen closed the Wallingford location of their darling stationery shop in January 2020—turns out the timing couldn't have been better. The duo is all in at the Burien shop now, selling oodles of letter-pressed cards and quality wrapping supplies, plus plants, candles, bath salts, and other hostess-type gifts.
Occupying the front section of longtime Burien business Glass Expressions, this quirky home goods store is reminiscent of Ballard favorite Camelion Design (RIP), where Sitka Living co-owner Lori Glynn worked for more than 15 years. Expect a mix of custom-made furniture and one-of-a-kind pieces—artwork, jewelry, ceramics, etc.—made by Northwest artists.
Aesthetically, this 20-year-old cooking supply store looks more like Grandma's kitchen than Sur La Table, but isn't that exactly what you want when shopping for cookie cutters and aprons? When you desperately need sourdough proofing baskets or tiny whisks, remember it's even faster to swing by the Wooden Spoon than it is to order next-day delivery on Amazon.
This two-year-old boutique is the very embodiment of shopping local—much of the products, like printed pillows and beautiful trinkets and quirky greeting cards, are created by local artists. That hyper-local focus makes this the perfect spot to pick up a handmade gift (or something lovely for yourself).
Located in an old home with the most perfectly manicured lawn—fitting for a flower shop—this cherished local business delights with stunning floral arrangements and a small but enchanting assortment of high-quality cards and twee gifts, from Turkish towels to bud vases to bandanas.
Arguably the region's best toy store, family-owned Snapdoodle has outposts in Seattle, Issaquah, Redmond, and Kenmore; the latter is the original, and best, in the delightfully Scandinavian Schnitzelbank Building. The charm here is in the variety—Legos! Stuffies! Stickers! Puzzles!—as well as the complimentary gift wrapping station.
Men are notoriously difficult to buy for, and this charmingly rugged boutique (with locations in both Kirkland and Redmond Town Center) is pretty well catered to manly purchases—as long as that man is into Yeti coolers and Filson jackets. It's not all REI duplicates here, though: The uniquely curated assortment of goods also includes fragrances, accessories, and even a few food items perfect to keep stashed in your camper van.
Lake Forest Park
Word nerds adore this Seattle-area trio of bookstores, but Lake Forest Park's epic upstairs space—15,000 square feet of new and used books, with a food court, and stage for author events—blows Ravenna and Seward Park locations out of the water.
If you've fallen in love with Market Street Shoes' Ballard store—obviously on Market Street—then you owe yourself a trip to Redmond Town Center to visit the Eastside location. The selection of shoes skews more toward comfort than style (think Dansko clogs and Blundstone boots), but that's absolutely not a bad thing; we particularly love their assortment of Eric Michael sandals, which marry fashion and function.
Born out of the desire to keep bookstores in the community after the closing of big box chains like Borders, Brick and Mortar Books carries more than 20,000 new books—including a most impressive children's book section.
Consider it a testament to this island boutique's ultra-chic aesthetic that we'd include it here, despite the distance—or rather, ferry hassle—from Seattle. Owners Holly and David Price have curated a beguiling assortment of goods, ranging from statement tableware to baby blankets to an entire line of butter-soft linen clothing, from some 80 independent makers around the Northwest and Europe.
There is no shortage of epic gardening shops in this area, so trust that this oasis for local green-thumbs really is something special. Fruit trees, veggie starts, and expertly designed container gardens? Of course. Indoor plant selection? The best around. Café for sustenance? You got it. If it's got anything to do with plants, you'll find it here.