Seattle’s Most Memorable Movie Locations

Kevin Ma maps out places featured in two '90s Seattle classics: Singles and Sleepless in Seattle

Seattle has been featured in many blockbusters from the Twilight trilogy and 10 Things I Hate About You to the American remake of Japanese horror The Ring. But for Gen Xers, there are two films that truly put Seattle on the pop culture map: Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle and Cameron Crowe’s Singles.

Set before the internet changed the dating scene, Sleepless in Seattle offers a classic Hollywood romance with a twist: the two main characters don’t meet face-to-face until the very last scene. While most viewers remember this climactic encounter on New York City’s Empire State Building (a direct reference to An Affair to Remember), the film’s Seattle locations are arguably even more enduring.

Singles also delves into the complexities of dating, against a backdrop of Seattle’s then-burgeoning grunge scene – the film features a performance by Soundgarden, members of Pearl Jam appear as fictional band Citizen Dick and the film’s characters are regular grunge concert-goers.

Revisit memorable moments from both films in these six Seattle locations.

Old Man on Bench

Opposite the giant Cinerama multiplex, on the corner of Lenora Street and Fourth Avenue, is a small, unassuming park. That’s where you’ll find the Old Man on Bench sculpture, where Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) discusses matters of the heart with her best friend in Singles. The park also has a complementary sculpture, aptly named Old Woman on Bench.

Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar

AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo / Argusphoto

A visit to Pike Place Market is a must for any visitor to Seattle. But for 25 years, fans of Sleepless in Seattle have been making the pilgrimage to eat at the Athenian, where Rob Reiner’s character gives Sam (Tom Hanks) advice on getting back into the dating scene. Arrive early to nab the same seats on the corner of the counter where Hanks and Reiner sat in the film.

Virginia Inn

AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo / Argusphoto

In Singles, Linda and her future beau Steve (Campbell Scott), have their awkward ‘water date’ at the Virginia Inn, located on the corner of First Avenue and Virginia Street. The casual bistro has been around since 1903 and now serves up local northwest produce, from Oregon beef to Alaskan seafood, in a French café-meets-English-pub atmosphere.

Lake Union

Floating Home used in Sleepless in Seattle
Barry Salmons / Shutterstock

In Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks’ character and his son live on a houseboat in the affluent Lake Union district. When the film came out, the houseboat – located just off Westlake Avenue – became the most famous home in Seattle. It sold for US$2.5 million (HK$19.5 million) in 2014, but the exterior remains the same as it appeared in the film. A chartered lake tour will take you sailing past the floating house as well as sights like the Space Needle, Gas Works Park and St Mark’s Cathedral.

Central Saloon

United States, Washington, Seattle, Pioneer Square, Central Saloon
David A. Barnes / Alamy Stock Photo / Argusphoto

The Soundgarden concert in Singles was filmed inside Central Saloon on First Avenue. This 125-year-old bar was a hotbed of grunge, hosting bands such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains and, of course, Soundgarden. It’s still going strong today with live performances every weekend.

Duke’s Seafood & Chowder

In Sleepless in Seattle, Meg Ryan’s character secretly follows Tom Hanks’ character across the city. The spot where Ryan looks on as Hanks and his son play on the beach is a branch of Duke’s Seafood & Chowder. Head to the second-floor deck to enjoy similar views over Alki Beach.

Cathay Pacific launches a direct service to Seattle from Hong Kong on 31 March 2018

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