Movie Shows Real Seattle, Washington



Mt. Rainier, Visible from most of Seattle

Destination: The State of Washington


Movie: The Fabulous Baker Boys

(Find your road trip musical accompaniment at this article about the movie’s sound track, or read our partner on the road trip–Kerry Dexter’s recommendations for the American Northwest at Music Road)

A Guest Post by BETH WHITMAN

Quick – think of a movie filmed in Seattle, Washington. Likely the first flick you thought of was Sleepless in Seattle. After all, who isn’t enamored with this romantic comedy that shows all the best the Emerald City has to offer? (Seattleites, of course, have a thing or two to say about the authenticity of the sites featured – but that’s beside the point.)

Let’s tour my fair city through another movie that is mostly filmed in Seattle. It’s The Fabulous Baker Boys starring Jeff and Beau Bridges, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Seattle Ferry

The plot centers around two washed-up piano playing siblings who take on a sultry singer to liven up their act. Predictably, she shakes up their world beyond their performances. They begin to make a comeback. Things fall apart. But, ultimately, everything works itself out (Hollywood ending and all.)

This film highlights a Seattle that you could possibly find: A world of jazz clubs and lounge lizards. After all, we do have Jazz Alley and there’s no shortage of singers behind the keyboard (stop in at any Nordstrom or high-end mall if you doubt me). It’s unlikely that any of them are as down and out as the Baker brothers, however.

Pike Place Market

Despite the movie’s sad undertone, it gives a lovely nod to downtown as it follows the characters on walks through Pioneer Square and areas near the Pike Place Market. It features beautiful sunsets, ferry rides and quiet streets. Though it lacks coffee and computer nerds, there’s  enough “Seattle” in this 20+ year-old movie that it could still entice people to move to the Pacific Northwest (especially if you believe you could find a Michelle Pfeiffer-like character singing Making Whoopie!).

The film was critically acclaimed when it was released in 1989. Michelle Pfeiffer was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and it was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Score.

Seattle Sunrise

We like to think of our city as award-winning, but along with the rest of the country, we’ve certainly struggled these last few years. Like The Fabulous Baker Boys, we’re hoping to make a comeback real soon…


Beth Whitman is founder and editor of  Wanderlust and Lipstick, a web site for women travelers. Beth is an expert on travel in India and SE Asia, and has published The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo, For Women Traveling to India and is the publisher of Traveling with Kids). She leads tours to several exotic destinations, and is one of the founders of Passports With Purpose.

Thank you Beth, for sharing your home town and state with the Traveler’s Library Great American Road Trip. Readers should know that Beth sent this post to me as–recently returned from attending the Nobel prize ceremonies–she winged off to yet another destination. Aren’t we lucky to have her contribution at A Traveler’s Library?

Stumped for a comment? How about suggestions for books to read about Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii? Or tell us about your own favorite west coast destination.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

17 thoughts on “Movie Shows Real Seattle, Washington

  1. I fell in love with Seattle when we were there almost 4 years ago. It was a gorgeous sunny day, too! What a terrific, lush, green place to live (although I admit that with curly hair I’m a bit skeptical of all the rain!)

    1. I’ve read somewhere that all the talk about Seattle having too much rain is a dirty canard. Actually it’s average is lower than many other cities in the country.

  2. Ah yes, Seattle- a most beautiful place! I’m actually amazed with all the movies which are set in Seattle- one day I want to track every last one of them.

    Loved the pic of Pike’s Place- There is one scene from Sleepless in Seattle which is shot in a restaurant that is in the Pike’s Market- their chowder is to die for! (unfortunately I can’t recommend anything else on their menu)

    I watched the Fabulous Baker Brothers YEARS ago- but I didn’t realize it was filmed in Seattle (probably because at that time I had yet to come here).

    Definitely make Seattle (and Western Washington) a stop on your road trip.

  3. Somehow I missed this movie when it came out. This was a great reminder to add it to the Netflix must watch list.

  4. Love The Fabulous Baker Boys! I’ll have to track down a copy and watch it again – it’s been ages. And of course, Sleepless in Seattle is an all-time favorite.

    Another favorite Seattle film is Say Anything, the classic John Cusack movie where he holds the boom box over his head.

  5. I have not been to Seattle. I had to laugh about the authenticity of how it’s portrayed in movies. We get a lot of that when filmakers show Colorado (or even on TV shows). One episode of Ghost Hunters, for example, shows their vans driving through an area with stunning red rocks … except that location is near my house and NOWHERE near the hotel they were visiting.

  6. Although the first movie I think of when you say “Seattle” is Singles (yes, I DO love the ’90s!), there’s a special place in my heart for the brothers Bridges and The Fabulous Baker Boys. A classic.

  7. I lived outside of Seattle for two years, and I love that area! I’ve obviously seen Sleepless in Seattle, but I hadn’t heard of this movie. Thanks for the recommendation. I’m adding this to my Netflix queue.

  8. I LOVE Seattle. And when I was there, there was no rain in sight. Just beautiful, sunny bright skies. These photos are gorgeous; makes me want to go back again.

  9. Seattle is one of my favorite places in the world. I could (and have) spend days and days wandering around Pike Place. You can get a HUGE bouquet of flowers for $15. The same bouquet would cost you $50 in San Francisco. Even fresh, raw, local honey is cheaper in Seattle.

  10. I was in Seattle for MLK Day. Caught the Picasso exhibit at the SAM, the dinner show at Teatro ZinZanni, hung out at Left Bank Books, coffee at the Seattle Coffee Works, and breakfast at Lowells. I forgot that TBB was filmed there. Thanks for sharing! -r

  11. I love Seattle! It’s a great place to visit for a nice city/waterfront/nightlife experience. Don’t miss Pike Place.. it’s great!

    (What’s next? Portland? Vancouver, BC?)

  12. I love Beth’s photos! I have taken similar shots on those oft-times rare late summer and fall days when the rain clouds lift, giving us all a reminder of how beautiful this city can be on a sunny day.

    I must note, though, that we haven’t seen a lot of sun up here this winter. . .or fall, or . . . well, even back into summer (which we don’t expect to start until the Fourth of July fireworks are over). So anyone tempted by the post or the movie to come visit The Emerald City should be sure to pack plenty of rain gear.

    BTW, anyone read any good books on how to build arks?

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