Considering a trip to the beautiful Seattle area? So what are your plans? Surely you're not going to stay in a hotel the entire time and tell people that you "saw" it, now are you? Here's a number of things that I like to do, and therefore you might enjoy them too!
Seattle is a long, narrow city, running north and south. It's very soul is
pre-determined from it's geography. The Puget Sound on the west, and the long
Lake Washington to the east define the maritime character of the city. It's
pioneers plummed the waters using a horseshoe on a rope line to find the best deep
water port area for ships to dock at. The lowlands were marsh, and the downtown area was
frequently flooded. A devistating fire in 1889 distroyed the downtown, and the
debris was used to fill in the swamp. At the turn of the century, one of the
taller, steeper hills was hosed down, and used to fill in more of the swampy
downtown, and leveling the hill. Remember all of this stuff when you're here,
as there will be a test...
After Seattle's downtown burned, it was rebuilt according to new building codes calling for brick construction, as it was known, even then, that brick is harder to burn than wood. As such, the Pioneer Square neighborhood has some lovely buildings that are over 100 years old, but filled with contemporary spaces required of the modern world. Antique shops, taverns, bakeries, and tourist traps galore await the intrepid explorer. Another possibility includes a tour of Underground Seattle, as when the streets were raised, the old building fronts now became below street level. The streets were extended horizontally, resulting in a curious world of shop spaces existing below the sidewalks. A walking tour of downtown that's impossible to get without a guided tour.
Bruce Lee's grave
Visit the final resting place of famous Seattle dead people! Bruce Lee, star of cinema and martial arts, lies buried near downtown. For the historian, this is also the burial place of several of the founders of Seattle. Or how about Jimi Hendrix? He's buried in Renton, a nearby suburb. And fans of tragically dead young people would want to light a candle at Kurt Cobain's grave if he had one (no, he's not buried here...).
Pike Place market
Where "Meet the Producer" is a rallying cry for domestically grown produce and hand made crafts. Extending along a hill by the downtown waterfront, you can buy fresh produce, bakery goods still warm from the oven, crafts made just for you, and have your own dinner thrown through the air. That's the seafood merchant's main selling point, as it's easier to toss your newly purchased fish from ice to paper than it is to carry it just as far. Very popular with video cameras. Also, a Magician's shop, Comic books and collectibles, second hand stores, beads, smoking paraphernalia, an exotic herb and grocery store and others. Go here just before you go home to make dinner.
Tourist central! Built for the 1962 world's fair, the Seattle Center has undergone many modifications over the years. The Space Needle gives a commanding view of the Puget Sound from it's 600 foot plus observation platform. It hasn't fallen over yet! On any given weekend during the summer, especially over a three day weekend or national holiday, there will be something going on here, usually involving 80,000 of your closest friends. I don't go to the music festival anymore, because it's too damn crowded! An amusement park with roller coasters and other rides give you stuff to do in the warm months. If it's really warm, you can dance in the musical fountain! Also, the new Experience Music Project (holding Paul Allen's music memorabilia collection) calls to the musical historian and budding rock guitarist in all of us. The world's most unusual building...
Woodland Park Zoo or Point Defiance Zoo
What can I say? Two world class zoos exist here, the former in Seattle, the other in nearby Tacoma. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Plus reptiles, primates, African Savannah, nocturnal creatures, and our favorites, Snow leopards. There's also an Aquarium downtown along the waterfront...
University of Washington Arboretum
A good place to see plants both native and exotic, imported from around the world. Garden areas set up to display and showcase similar species of plants in close proximity. Also, plant sales and bee hives!
The Seattle Yellow pages has an entire column of museums, covering a wide range of interests. Perhaps a dozen art museums, ranging from modern, African, Asian, and ancient. An Air and Space museum. A science museum and planetarium. A children's museum that kids can play in. A doll museum. A half dozen history museums detailing the history of the local area. A Coast Guard museum. Railroads. Nordic Heritage. A museum for the history of modern torpedo warfare! A museum celebrating wooden boats. Another that preserves a turn of the century electrical power plant. Two that chronicle local maritime history. A bow hunting museum! A museum for telephone equipment! More museums than I can (or care to) go to! Of course, my house is something of a museum dedicated to bee keeping, gardening, and beer making, but the exhibits aren't very well laid out, and the admission is sure to increase in the near future...
Concerts? Big shows happen at Key Arena, or at the Tacoma Dome (about 30 miles south, but you
could also visit my wife's antique store while you're there!). Papers
like the Seattle Weekly, or The Stranger have great information for upcoming events. The Crocodile
Cafe is a pretty good venue, and The Elysian is a good brew-pub that often has shows.
Depending on the time of year that you come here, you can participate in a number of spectator sports. Seattle has some very good minor league sports teams, including the Mariners (baseball), with other more minor league baseball teams in nearby Tacoma and Everett, the Sonics (formerly the SuperSonics, for basketball), the Thunderbirds (minor leage hockey), the up and coming Seahawks (for what Americans call football), the Sounders (for what we call soccer, and the rest of the world calls football). There's also horse racing if you've got money to burn, or gambling at the local Indian casinos.
Shop till you drop
There are more antiques shops than you could go to in a lifetime of shopping. Both places with bargains and places that charge a premium for their wares. Help revitalize our local economies by purchasing somebody else's cast offs...
Snoqualmie Pass - ½ day
Located about an hours drive east of the metropolis that is the Seattle area, Snoqualmie pass allows those visitors who are not well aquatinted with snow ample opportunity to experience it first hand. (Snow not guaranteed, especially after May or so). We had a visitor from Thailand who had never seen snow before. He was fascinated by the stuff, having his picture taken holding a huge icicle and frolicking in the snow. Plan your visit accordingly if you want to try to ski down it. If the snow isn't happening that day, there are still plenty of places to get out and walk, with tall firs, giant green behemoths, jutting towards the sky, next to babbling brooks and waterfalls. Can be combined with a trip to Snoqualmie Falls, where the story of "Twin Peaks" was supposed to be set. There's a lovely platform that overlooks the falls as the Snoqualmie river cascades over the cliff. Wineries and breweries nearby.
Mt. Rainier - 1 day
Almost guaranteed to have snow year round, the pride of the Western Washington's Cascade range surges three miles into the sky. Did I mention that it's a still active volcano? Mt. St. Helen's is a hundred miles farther south for the more adventursome drivers, but the beauty of this mountain is hard to beat, especially if you come from a geology that doesn't have such things...
Vancouver / Victoria - 2 day
In case one country isn't enough for you, the whole of the Western Canadian experience is available to you, if you've got the time. Vancouver, provincial capital and serious urban experience is a 6 hour leisurely drive from where I live, while Victoria is a, well Victorian town accessible only by ferry. The island that Victoria is on has the world famous Buchart Gardens, which could be on anybody's schedule.
Ferry ride - ½ - 1 day
Less ambitious but still nautical, the Puget Sound has a number of passenger and automobile ferries that can take you to the land on the other side. These ferries can lead to a number of places, both old and new, but mostly old, that expand the Seattle experience. The view of Seattle from the water can be simulated from land, but the Seattle Ferry experience is tough to top. You might get a sample of what that might be like by
looking at this site. Granted, Seattle in 1907 is pretty gray, but that's just the photography process!
In case I've left something out, there are other resources to tell you of the kind of things that are more transitory in nature, things that might happen on only one day, and you have to be here for it. And if that one's not enough for you, there are other guides to choose from!
Rest assured that your visit here will be fun. You may actively lament the fact that your time to be spent here is alltogether too short! Just keep in mind that after a few days, both guests and fish begin to smell bad. Plan your visit accordingly...