Best Places to Travel: ‘X-Men’ actress Lana Condor escapes to Seattle to eat seafood and to unplug
When actress Lana Condor wants to hide away from LA’s Hollywood scene, she retreats to Seattle, just 35 miles south of sleepy Whidbey Island, where she grew up. “Seattle is so fresh,” she said in a phone conversation. “The air is clean, and the world moves a little bit slower up in that area. Being in Seattle makes me feel grounded, and I can clear my lungs from this horrible smog.”
And she might need some extra chill in her future, especially if her career keeps moving at such a fast pace. The 21-year-old, who played Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse, stars in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which is premiering on August 17 and based on Jenny Han’s YA novel. Then she’s off to Vancouver — “which is actually similar to Seattle and amazing,” she said — to film a new TV show. In December, she’ll appear in James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s latest sci-fi action film Alita: Battle Angel.
So when she does get some downtime with her friends and family in Seattle, she seeks out good food and a “very Seattle” place to lay her head. Here’s where she pushes the reset button.
Where to stay
“I’ve stayed at the Hotel Andra a gazillion times, and it’s so nice,” Condor said. “It’s rustic and casual, and very Washington-like.” That means wooden coffee tables made from Seattle’s fallen trees, a fireplace in the lobby, and 119 rooms with clean Scandinavian design elements, a nod to the city’s Nordic heritage. The location is also tops: Andra is just steps away from the Space Needle and also houses Condor’s favorite Mediterranean breakfast spot, Lola.
Where to get your seafood on
Condor never makes a trip to Seattle without stopping at Serious Pie for a clam pizza, which is baked in a wood-burning oven and is topped with Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme. “I truly think it’s the best pizza ever,” she says. “I really do, from the bottom of my heart — and I’ve tried a lot of pizzas. Oh man, it’s 10:30 in the morning and I want it right now.”
She also loves a good clam chowder, which is her favorite steal in the city. “You can get some really good clam chowder for nothing at all,” she said. Her favorite version comes from Ivar’s, a local chain where you can get a cup of their world-famous recipe for just $6.50. “It’s so fresh and delicious,” she said.
A day trip that’s worth the drive
Rent a car and take the 30-minute drive north to Whidbey Island for a dose of nature. “There are hikes everywhere you go,” Condor said. She recommends taking the ferry (you can drive right onto it) for an extra hit of Mother Nature. When you’re tuckered out, settle into one of Whidbey’s farm-to-table spots, like Orchard Kitchen (you’ll need a reservation in advance), a fine example of the area’s burgeoning food scene.
The touristy spot that never gets old
“Go to the Space Needle!” Condor said. She swears that trip up to the observation deck of the city’s most recognized landmark — 520 feet up in the air — isn’t scary. “No, it’s quite fun,” she said before adding, “I suppose if you’re afraid of heights, then maybe [it’s scary]!”
How to keep it local and give back
Rather than hit up national chains, Condor likes to walk through the local businesses and bars at Pike Place Market, a bay-front food shopper’s paradise, and one of the oldest continuously operated farmers markets in the country. (The Market also gives back to the community via the Pike Place Market Foundation.) And she said she can’t resist a good oyster there, too. “I will definitely splurge on oysters,” she says. “Because they’re local — they literally just fished it out of the water. It’s amazing.”