Capitol Hill, Oddfellows, Totokaelo, Elliot Bay Books

September 4, 2012 |  Category:   life travels

Capitol Hill is a neighborhood in Seattle that I used to hang out in all the time during the early 90s, but for some reason never went back to since. I don’t really shop much when I go on vacation and I never rarely seek out stores when I visit other cities, but this year stopping by Totokaelo was at the top of my list. If there was ever one store that described my aesthetic and housed all the things that I loved, this store would probably be it. Now mind you, I’ve never actually bought anything from their website (most things are out of my price range, sadly) and I walked out of the store on our visit empty handed, but I loved everything there – from all the clothes to the textiles, to the shoes (!!) and even seeing the bubble chandeliers of my friend, Lindsey Adelman, hanging from their ceiling. It’s a stunning store.

Next to Totokaelo is Oddfellows Cafe located in the 100 year old Oddfellows Building. Comfort food is served in this beautiful, spacious space with soaring ceilings, and the interior, which includes an awesomely vintage American flag right in the entryway, is pretty much perfect. Our next stop after lunch was Elliot Bay Books right down the street on the same block. Maybe some of you might be familiar with the book store in the olden days when they were located in Pioneer Square, but Elliot Bay Books was always a destination stop when we would come up to Seattle, you know, in the days when bookstores were the only place to buy books (remember that?). They have since relocated to Capitol Hill in 2010.

With a park and playground nearby and other shops like Everyday Music across the street, this little strip of Capitol Hill is a great place to spend the day. What’s interesting about this neighborhood is that it has a slightly different feel than other Seattle neighborhoods. I don’t know if it’s because it seems more gritty or more urban, but it feels more like…NY than any other neighborhood in the city.

PS. Here’s an interesting article about the history of the Oddfellows Building.

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  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag September 4, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Capitol Hill yo! that’s where my husband grew up, he lived a couple streets away from Volunteer Park, can you believe? I can’t imagine having that as my backyard, essentially. When his folks bought their house way back when, they got it for a song….now the houses in that neighborhood go for a small fortune and that’s not including all the remodeling and updating that usually needs to happen in the really old houses…!!

    It’s so funny to hear you say it reminds you of New York — I’ve never lived anywhere truly urban (Hawaii 30+ yrs ago certainly wasn’t!) and whenever I’m in that area of Seattle, I’m like, oh my this is way too ‘street’ for me…:)

  • Atsuko September 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Love, love, love all the places! I have to visit every one of them. I still love to go to bookstores. Particularly I love Powell’s which has tons of books and serves coffee. I wish there are still lots of bookstore like them. Thank you for sharing these cool spots.

  • Heather M September 5, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Ha, I grew up probably on the same block as Melissa’s husband. When my parents were in the process of closing on their house in the early 70s, they made the mistake of calling the police station to ask about crime statistics and whoever answered the phone asked them if they could get their deposit back!! The family lore says that a cop had been shot just recently in the park, but the crime fear turned out to be mostly overblown. There was a ton of diversity on my block and lots of kids. Great place to grow up.

    I totally read your blog to get my NYC fix (lived in the east village when you were hanging out on Capitol Hill!) and love seeing the PNW through your lens.

  • Jenna September 5, 2012 at 1:12 am

    @Melissa Funny, when I talked with some friends and family about capitol hill, they shared a similar sentiment, saying they sometimes felt out of place or that people there are a bit more aloof than other neighborhoods. I get what they were saying because it does feel different, but we really liked it a lot.

  • Justine September 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    We used to live on Capitol Hill in the early 90s. (Chad used to work at Piecora’s Pizza.) I haven’t been back on recent trips either, but will make sure to go next time. Seems to have changed a lot. Chad and I were really amazed by how much Seattle has gentrified. Seems like buildings are popping up everywhere.

  • Jodi September 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Lovely photos! When stumbled in to Oddfellows when we were in Seattle a few summers ago. It was pretty crowded, so we didn’t stay, but your photos make me wish we had!

  • Jodi September 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    p.s. I can hardly believe how grown up Mia looks in that photo towards the top. Wow!

  • Jenna September 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    @Jodi I know…she really looks like SUCH a big girl.

  • taste area September 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I cannot believe what an amazing place totokaelo is! I knew the website but didn’t expect they would make such a stunning shop..I’m in love.

  • nichole September 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Mia looks SO grown up in that shot. It’s like her entire face has changed this year.

  • Gemma September 7, 2012 at 11:01 am

    We spent such a great day around there when we visited Seattle last year. We browsed in Elliot Bay for a while and then spent ages in Everyday Music looking at, and buying, records. I want to go back to Seattle so badly!

  • Aimee September 13, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I agree about Capitol Hill! When I lived in Seattle, visiting Capitol Hill was always an adventure. Street parking could be iffy depending on the time of day, so I usually just took the bus over and walked around. Such cool places, but it definitely felt more urban than other neighborhoods. And I hadn’t seen the new Elliot Bay Books since they relocated. So much fun to see a photo of the new space!

  • Dana Youlin September 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    mia is looking so beautiful and grown up!